I know what you’re thinking reader; What do I do in the 60 some odd days until the Winnipeg Jets first pre-season game? There’s no merch out yet so you can’t sport that new jets t-shirt at the beach. The logo and colours haven’t been announced yet, so you can’t get started on repainting your garage door. There aren’t really any true jets stats to pour over in anticipation of the fall hockey pools. You can’t even break out the PVR and watch last year’s playoff run. So what’s a Jets fan to do?
Apparently a lot of people are feeling the need to dredge up any kind of issue at all, and so we enter into the hopefully short lived era of the history debate. Should TNSE wipe the slate clean and go completely Jets 2.0 with the history being reset and let the exploits of the old Jets stay in Arizona? Or should TNSE fight hard to bring back the past, retire numbers, and recognize the WHA and NHL heroes of old?
The Neo Jets fans are saying and maybe rightfully so that TNSE has paid enough attention to the past and it’s time to start building a new era of NHL hockey tradition in Manitoba. They would contend that retiring the numbers of Hull, Hawerchuck, and Steen isn’t as important as ushering the new heroes Ladd, Kane and Wheeler. The Neo Jets would say what’s next? Playing Van Halens Jump to introduce the team? Maybe bring back Benny as the team mascot? Maybe we can even retrofit the washrooms at the MTSC to resemble the old pi..... well you get my point.
The Paleo Jets fans would say history is important, and again perhaps rightfully so. No other new team entering the NHl has the opportunity to build on a readymade and deep hockey culture the way Winnipeg does. They would say the monumental accomplishments of Hull, Howerchuck, and Steen represents high points not only for the Jets but for Manitobans in general. Honouring that history and fighting for it is just the right thing to do. The new generation of players should respect the traditions of the past and honour those that came before. Besides isn’t it a travesty that Jets banners hangs in Jobbing.com?
Personally I wonder if we would even be having this conversation if there wasn’t more to distract the hard core fan. As is always the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. There is nothing stopping TNSE from holding ceremonies to honour the heroes of the past. I wonder though if we should go as far as retiring numbers. There has to be some differentiator between Jets 1.0 and 2.0, the past must cede to the future at some point. My suggestion would be to sign players we want to honour to one day contracts at the beginning of the season and then create a ring of honour. It’s a tip of the hat to the past while bridging the gap to the future.
New Jets fans need to understand the deep emotions attached to the franchise of your fathers. Those memories are what drove the Chipmans and Thompsons forward in bringing back the NHL. It’s important to recognize the past, but old time Jets fans need to remember the Jets name was an important concession. There is a new generation of fans who don’t know who Van Halen is, don’t want a trough in their washroom and prefer their beer below room temperature.
I’ll end this story with one little morsel. Do you remember during the naming process when it was rumoured that Mark Chipman didn’t want to use the Jets name unless he could get back the official history? Do the math.