Dave and Ezzy’s Top 10 Winnipeg Jets Home Games

Posted by David Minuk in Columns,Features,General Jets News,Jets Columns,Winnipeg Jets on August 26, 2011 — 10 Comments

Recently The Hockey News did a Top 10 games to watch this season, which included two Jets games (Home Opener vs. Montreal and the December 1st game against the Coyotes) but THN based the order on the dates they appeared on the NHL calendar.

With that theme of Top 10 in mind, Illegal Curve decided to take a look at the Jets home schedule and try to limit ourselves to just 10 home games that most caught our fancy.  Recently, while discussing the schedule with a hockey fan, it was said “but who is going to want to see the Islanders or Hurricanes in December” and the answer was “almost anyone in Winnipeg”.

But in the interest of presenting a Top 10 list, here are Dave and Ezzy’s Top 10 Winnipeg Jets home games for this season:

Dave’s Top 10 Winnipeg Jets Home Games

#10  Hurricanes on Saturday, October 22nd

ReasonIt is the first Saturday night game and it will be featured on CBC.  As well, the Staal family is from “nearby” Thunder Bay, Ontario so it will be a homecoming of sorts for the Canes captainOf course with so many Staal’s in the Eastern Conference, I suspect the family might have to take up residence in the Peg’.

#9  Leafs on Saturday, December 31st

ReasonI’m not really a Leafs fan, but you would have to imagine that the atmosphere will be quite charged for the New Years Eve game.

#’s 8 thru 1 after the jump.

#8  Bruins on Tuesday, December 6th

ReasonThe Stanley Cup champs are coming to town.  Always exciting to see the team which was last season’s cup winners.

#7  Kings on Thursday, December 29th

ReasonI think the Kings could be a force this season, so they would be a worthwhile team to watch.  Will help that Kenora’s Mike Richards and Winkler’s Dustin Penner should have pretty sizable cheering sections.

#6  Capitals on Friday, March 16th

ReasonOvechkin, Backstrom and Semin should make the game extremely entertaining.  Who knows perhaps we will even see Winnipeg product Jacob Micflikier suiting up in front of the hometown crowd.

#5Lightning on Saturday, April 7th

ReasonFinal game of the regular season.  Perhaps it will mean something, perhaps it doesn’t but should have a similar atmosphere as Game 1 did and who knows, it could have an impact on the playoff race.

#4  Penguins on Friday, December 23

ReasonWith all the concussion talk and uncertainty of his return in time for training camp I’ve bypassed the early Pens game in favour of the one 2 months later.  Hopefully by this time a healthy Crosby will be leading his Pens into Winnipeg.  I still remember having tickets with my grandfather to a Penguins game when they were supposed to be led into town by Lemieux, but Mario missed the Jets game on that road trip while recovering from injury.

#3  Coyotes on Thursday, December 1st

ReasonI contend that the Desert Dogs could become the Jets biggest rivals due to our somewhat shared history.  As well the Internet has created a level of animosity that won’t likely be duplicated on the ice but has fans on both sides of the border salivating at the chance to stick it to the other sideBattle of Jets 1.0 vs. Jets 2.0.

#2  Ducks on Saturday, December 17th

ReasonTeemu, Teemu, Teemu.  This game could fall on my list if the Finnish Flash doesn’t return to the NHL but we don’t want to entertain those thoughtsOf course long time Jets 1.0 defenceman and current Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle could bring us some nostalgia.

#1  Canadiens on Sunday, October 9th

ReasonFirst official NHL regular season game in the history of the Jets 2.0.  Similar to my rational for the Leafs game on New Years Eve, this has more to do with the spectacle than who the Jets opponent is.  It is a game 15 years in the waiting, and Winnipeg is going to make this party last all season long.

Ezzy’s Top 10 Winnipeg Jets Home Games

#10  Bruins on Tuesday, December 6th

Reason:  The Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a storied Original Six franchise so I would be remiss if I didn’t include them on this list. The Bruins have some of the best young talent in the game with Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. And of course the Bruins have 6’9’’ tower of power Zdeno Chara, who fans love to hate wherever he goes (especially Montreal, right Habs fans?).

#9  Wild on Tuesday, December 13th

Reason:  The Wild only visit the Jets once this season and as the closest NHL city to ours, it will produce a geographically friendly rivalry.  The Wild are going to be better this year with the addition of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi but the main reason why this game makes this list is because this is the first game of a six-game homestand in December for the Jets and it comes at an important time of the schedue for both teams.

#8  Kings on Thursday, December 29th

Reason:  The Kings are one of the up-and-coming elite teams in the NHL and with the recent off-season acquisition of Kenora’s Mike Richards are now also one of the hottest tickets in the league. The Kings have always been popular in Winnipeg dating back to the early 90’s when L.A. had Wayne Gretzky so their will surely be a few Black and Silver jerseys in the crowd. The Kings also employ Drew Doughty, the best young defenseman in the NHL.

#7  Capitals on Thursday, November 17th

Reason:  Because the Thrashers were purchased by True North and moved to Winnipeg so late in the season (May 31, 2011) the Jets will actually play in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division.  That means that Winnipeg fans will get to see the Washington Capitals three times, beginning with this game in mid-November. Alexander Ovechkin alone is worth the price of admission, while Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin aren’t too bad either. I have a feeling that the Capitals are going to be Winnipeg’s biggest rivalry this season.

#6  Penguins on Saturday, October 17th

Reason: Everyone knows the reason for this one. This will be the first chance Winnipeg fans have to see Sidney Crosby in the NHL (Crosby played at the MTS Centre in 2005 for Team Canada during a World Juniors exhibition game).  Perhaps Crosby will be injured (he has been out since last January with post-concussion symptoms) but Crosby may  be healthy too. It will still be a great game without Crosby because of the presence of superstar Evgeni Malkin, two-way forward Jordan Staal and standout defenseman Kris Letang. If I knew that Crosby was in the line-up, this game would be much higher on the list, maybe even as high as #1.

#5  Flyers on Saturday, November 19th

Reason:  The Flyers seem to always be in the headlines. The last time the Jets were in the NHL, the Flyers had the Legion of Doom line featuring Eric Lindros, Mikael Renberg and John Leclair. Now the Flyers have Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere.  This will be an afternoon game on Hockey Night in Canada and will be the first of two visits to Winnipeg for the Flyers (The Flyers also play in Winnipeg on Tuesday, February 21st).

#4  Ducks on Saturday, December 17

Reason: Teemu Selanne’s potentially triumphant return to Winnipeg. I say that because Selanne was unsigned as of late August due to injury concerns.  In order to avoid being a bigger buzzkill than buzzkillington, we are going to assume that Teemu will be here (I imagine he will be in Winnipeg even if he ends up calling it a career in the NHL) It’s funny, Teemu only played here for 2 and half years but he was arguably the most popular Jet of all time (and yes I’ve heard of Bobby Hull, Thomas Steen and Dale Hawerchuk)

#3  Coyotes on Thursday, December 1st

Reason:  The Jets became the Coyotes in 1996 and ever since then we’ve lived with the ghosts of Shane Doan and Dallas Drake. Because the Coyotes nearly moved here in the spring of 2010, we have followed them even closer the past two seasons. I strongly believe that this is going to be an intense emotional game for Jets  fans as some of us still view them as our team in a way (maybe not so much anymore, sorry Atlanta!). Regardless,  we just don’t like the Coyotes here in Winnipeg.

#2  Habs on Saturday, October 9th

Reason:  The Jets play their first home game in Winnipeg since 1996. The entire city will be watching this game. Heck, the entire country will be watching the game (The Prime Minister has even said he will be in Winnipeg if he can make it). This game will be the first of 22 games to be broadcast on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada this year and it will surely garner media attention from all over Canada, the United States and beyond.  It’s the first of two meetings against arguably the most popular NHL franchise of all time. Is that enough of an explanation for you?

#1  Leafs on Saturday, December 31st

Reason:  It’s the New Year’s Eve game on a Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada. Anybody who knows me knows that I like to party and this game is going to be the biggest party of 2011.  I understand that the October 9th home opener against the Habs will be #1 for most people (including IC’s Dave M) but I’m looking forward to the party at the MTS Centre when the Leafs come into a party that we’re hosting on the biggest party night of the year. Get your champagne ready!

Remember, these are just Dave and Ezzy’s Top 10 lists.  You may have a completely different list.  We always want to hear what you have to say.  Let us know in the comments section, what your Top 10 would look like and why you chose those games.

  • http://twitter.com/zkatz87 Zak Katz

    I will be at the New Years Eve game for sure so that is my #1, and am still trying to find a way into the building for October 9th since I’ll be in town anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Hat tip to Jon Waldman for pointing out that Sidney Crosby played in Winnipeg in 2005 for Team Canada during WJC preseason games.

  • http://twitter.com/zkatz87 Zak Katz

    My List (from the perspective of an out of town Pegger):

    10. Vs. Wild (December 13th): I feel like the Wild are going to be our biggest rival after re-alignment next off-season.

    9. Vs. Penguins (December 23): This game raps up a 7 game home-stand. Hopefully Crosby is healthy and plays in this one if he misses the first one in October.

    8. Jets @ Maple Leafs (October 19th): I have a feeling Jets fans who are lurking in Toronto will invade the ACC while the Corporate suits leave their seats empty for the first period to give our Jets a boost.

    7. Vs. Stars (March 14th): When the Jets left, I began following the Stars. Obviously now that we are back I will be casting the Stars aside, however for me this represents a changing of the guard in terms of my rooting interest.

    6. Jets @ Red Wings (October 10th): A Saturday night game in Detroit that I will be 100% be making the drive down to Detroit to attend. The Jets lone chance to avenge Detroit pulling the plug on Jets 1.0

    5. Jets @ Sabres (January 7th): Another Saturday night game I will be driving down to go represent our team in enemy territory. Interesting contrast, in that the Sabres are now a big-spending team, while the Jets are taking their place as budget conscious grow from within type of team.

    4. Vs. Capitals (November 17): Winnipeg’s first look at Ovie. Will be interesting to hear what the outspoken and unpredictable Ovechkin has to say about our city.

    3. Vs. Coyotes (December 1st): The reception Doan gets will be interesting. He had some comments back in May that rubbed Peggers the wrong way (regarding his desire to stay in Phoenix). Personally, I don’t feel much connection to Doan, considering he played 1 SEASON in Winnipeg as an 18 year old rookie.

    2. Vs. Ducks (December 17): TEEMU

    1. Vs. Maple Leafs (December 31): I echo Ezzy’s thoughts. This is going to be a huge party. I will be there. I can’t wait.

    One game is noticeably absent from my list; the home opener. My reasoning: that game is not just another game like the ones listed above. It is its own category. It will be unlike anything the hockey world has ever seen. I will be in town for the game, but don’t have a ticket (STILL LOOKING, so if anyone needs a companion for the game… ;)) but no matter where I end up watching, this will be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience that won’t compare to any other game. Period.

  • http://twitter.com/TheJetsAreBack Pokey Reddick

    I agree with Zak.  The first game does not belong in a list of “Top 10 Games” but rather on a list of “Top 10 Life Moments”.  As I have not had the privilege of seeing my own child born (nor has one been born to the best of my knowledge) October 9th is right at the top of that list.

  • http://twitter.com/TBonnar Timothy Bonnar

    I am going to 6 games this year, and I will be at 4 of the games off your lists…

    #6  Capitals on Friday, March 16th#3  Coyotes on Thursday, December 1st
    #2  Ducks on Saturday, December 17th
    #6  Penguins on Saturday, October 17th

    I am also going the the Canes game in March (hopefully this will have playoff implications) and the Flyers game in Feb.

    Games I really wanted, but I am not atending:
    Home opener
    Season finale against Tampa

  • http://twitter.com/TBonnar Timothy Bonnar

    The NYE game wasn’t high on my list.

    I wouldn’t have minded booing Toronto, but the fact that it was on NYE and it was a HNIC game actually down graded it for me.  I figured I will probably be out with friends celebrating anyways and the fact that it is on HNIC makes it a great game to watch on television.

    I am probably alone in that thinking, but I passed on it in the 1st round of my draft and I took the Oct 17th Pit game instead.  At that point, reports that Crosby might miss time hadn’t surfaced… but whether or not Crosby is there, the game will be nuts. 

    If you consider how many ticket shares there are out there, a lot of people will be attending their first game. and the 8 day wait between the first two home games will drive people batty.

    As for some of the other games you guys listed…

    I HATE Boston and they were in high demand in my draft I was happy to let them go. 

  • http://twitter.com/dahlonega dahlonega

    My number one as a former Winnipegger and now Atlantan for 25 yrs. is obviously the first exhibition in Nashville on 9-24-11. Definately cheering for The Jets with my old Hawerchuck jersey. Tough game i’m sure though. Remember watching 2 of the first desert dogs games after Winnipeg moved to Phoenix. Similar feeling as watching your wife with another man. We’ll miss the boys along with a fan base of about 10,000 others. Hopefully they will give us a stick salute at end of game..never got that at last Thrashers game since we didnt think they would actually leave.

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    Is there a lot of talk of former Thrashers season ticket holders (or fans of Atl in general) of going down to see the Jets play the Predators??

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    Well hopefully we will see you at a few games Tim.

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    But if you had your choice of ANY game, what would be #1?