It's hard to believe, but today marks the day that saw the Jets leave Winnipeg and move to Phoenix, Arizona some fifteen years ago. While Winnipeg's name gets tossed around every time someone mentions a franchise with financial issues, it's still hard to believe that the Jets left fifteen years ago today. It honestly feels a lot longer to me, but maybe that's because I swore off the NHL for a year or two before she pulled me back in. However, fifteen years it is, and that's why I'm here today with a special article that someone has written.
I'd like to intorduce Jamil Karim, a writer for a local publication in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia called Good News Weekly. It was his email that reminded of this day, and his article is brief, but memorable. With Mr. Karim's article, I began to reflect on some of the players who suited up for the Winnipeg Jets.
- The first superstar that Winnipeg got to know was Dale Hawerchuk. "Ducky" was a great scorer, and still is fondly remembered in Winnipeg for his scoring prowess and leadership.
- Following in the great nickname trend, Eldon "Pokey" Reddick was always a fan favorite. The goaltender was a journeyman for most of his career, but had some memorable seasons with the Winnipeg Jets.
- Teemu Selanne will always be remembered in Winnipeg. The "Finnish Flash" set the rookie record for goals and points in Winnipeg, and was always available for one more photograph with fans and one more autograph. Truly one of the most memorable Jets.
- The man who assisted on more of Selanne's goals than any other player during Selanne's record-setting season was defenceman Phil Housley. Housley was a fantastic player while with the Jets, and really turned in some excellent numbers on an offensively-challenged team.
- Another solid Winnipeg Jet defenceman was Teppo Numminen. Teppo was never the stand-out offensive star, but he always seemed to chip in and rarely took a shift off in the defensive zone. He was a mainstay on the Jets' blueline.
- Tim Cheveldae will always be remembered when he arrived in Winnipeg. Unfortunately, his numbers led him out of Winnipeg as "Chevy" couldn't recreate the magic he had in Detroit.
- Bob Essensa was so close to being a standout goaltender in the old Smythe Division, but he always seemed to be overshadowed by Fuhr, Ranford, McLean, and Vernon. Essensa was a pretty good goaltender, and really provided solid goaltending for the Jets.
- We can't forget about where the "Bulin Wall" got his start. Nikolai Khabibulin was one of the Mike Smith-era Russian picks that actually worked out for the Jets. The other 100 or so Russian players selected by Smith really did nothing.
- Keith Tkachuk was a very good power forward while in Winnipeg, even if his salary demands were a little ridiculous. Either way, when he put his mind to it, Tkachuk was one of the best at what he did so well - scoring goals.
- Thomas Steen was the consummate professional, and always gave 100% while on the ice. The man deserves a statue in Winnipeg for the work he did and the positive promotion he gave the team and its players.
- Tie Domi was the enforcer that Winnipeg needed during Selanne's magical rookie season, and the fans instantly took to the pugilistic professional. Domi's partner-in-crime would actually have a bigger effect on the team because...
- Kris King would come to Winnipeg in the same trade that brought Domi to the Jets, and King would eventually become the captain of the Jets. King was an excellent leader, and he always got the troops to rally when they were at their lowest.
- Who can forget about Randy Carlyle? The man left everything he had on the ice for the Jets, and then returned to Winnipeg to coach the AHL's Manitoba Moose. Again, an absolute professional in whatever endeavour he takes on.
- I always thought Mike Eagles was a lunchbox type of player, but he was the one guy who didn't seem to mind the dirty work. If only all the players had his hustle and drive.
- Another lunchbox guy was captain Troy Murray. Murray came over from Chicago, and instantly showed what the term "work ethic" means. Nothing that a little sweat energy can't cure.
- Winnipeg has a Pepsi bottling plant in town, so it was always nice to see the team supporting a local company. From left to right, that's Tim Watters, Dale Hawerchuk, Laurie Boschman, and Scott Arniel enjoying a cold 7Up.
Fifteen years ago, the Jets left town. Hard to believe it's only been that short of a time, but, thanks to Mr. Karim, we get to relive a little history through videos and pictures.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!