Jets Diaspora

Posted by Kyle Kosior in featured4,Featured4,Winnipeg Jets on October 14, 2011 — 7 Comments

The return of the Jets and the reality of seeing that first game back has brought to mind the fact that the Jets mean something big to more than the city of Winnipeg. Jets fans are and were everywhere, and are quite numerous in the contiguous provinces and states.

In my own experience, I grew up an Oiler fan in a very small town in Saskatchewan. Given that I did most of my growing up in the 1980’s, most of the kids in town were Oilers fans, along with a few Flames fans, a couple Flyers fans and the odd Bruins and Canadiens fans sprinkled here and there. But not my little brother. He was a Jets’ guy through and through.

He bled the colours, knew the players and loved every chance we got to Winnipeg and see our cousins and a Jets game. His first (and mine) was a 4-4 tie between Buffalo and the Jets. He was hooked and I just wanted to go back when Gretzky and Co. were playing.

Keith (my brother) would always want to be Dave Ellett whenever the town kids got together for shinny. The teams would always be the Oilers kids versus the leftovers (Jets, Flyers, Habs, Bruins, etc.), so you would have Messier, Tikkanen (me), Gretzky and Fuhr (again, not many kids in town) versus Dave Ellett, Tony Tanti (my other brother), Ilkka Sinisalo and Pelle Lindberg (RIP). My brother played the same game, more or less, as Ellett and he remains his favourite player to this day.

Naturally, there was great excitement in Keith’s house when the announcements came out. He prepared his Jets chairs (two seats from the old Arena) and watched the first game from the comfort (?) of those wooden nightmares. To him, the return of the Jets rights a wrong, a sentiment shared by others, including Eric Burton of Goon’s World.

Burton, a resident of Grand Forks, ND, also remembers fondly the Jets of old, making several trips to Winnipeg to see the Jets with UND classmates and family members. Given that the Jets were the closest NHL team to Grand Forks, there was healthy competition for fan loyalty between the North Stars and Jets.  Part of the reason Burton was happy to attend Jets games was the ease of getting very reasonably priced tickets, often for under $20.

The final observations are from Brad Wentzel of Minneapolis, who is a big Jets fan and holds no grudge for Winnipeg stealing the IHL/AHL Moose from the Land of 10000 Lakes.

Wentzel, who can be found on Twitter @nhlhockeynut, remembers the days when the Jets were rumoured to be going to Minnesota, only have them end up in Phoenix. Feeling that Bettman stole the team from Manitoba, he was very pleased to hear about the return and has now focused his energy on thinking goods thoughts for Quebec City.

Pleased to hear that the team had chosen to revive the Jets moniker, Wentzel and a friend will be making the trip north in December to see the Wild take on the Jets.

Though it should come as no surprise that people are excited about the return of the Jets, Winnipeggers should take note of just how many people outside of Manitoba were happy about the team coming back. Friend of the blog AllyK00 is just one example of the devoted fans who will end up at MTS at some point this winter. Take a minute and talk to the out-of-towners and I bet you would be surprised at the stories you hear.

If you happen to see me, I would be happy to tell you about my trip to Winnipeg as a 16 year old to see the Oilers, only to end up sitting by a drunken cougar and chickening out of taking her offer to “see her room” at the Viscount Gort.

Editor’s Note:  As Kyle said there are many good stories of fans from elsewhere either planning on attending games at the MTS Centre or supporting the Jets when they come to their town(as we saw with the NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota).

Share your plans with us.

  • Great article, KK.

  • The word “Diaspora” usually is used the refer to those who have left a place and moved throughout the world.  There is in fact a large “Diaspora” of ex-Winnipegers everywhere, many of whom, such as I, are following the 2.0 version of the Jets with joy and satisfaction (no matter how well they play frankly – as long as they try).

    We ex-Winnipegers love to say that Winnipeg is a great place to come from 🙂 and we all have to be careful when we go back there because people who have stayed think that the ‘Peg is the greatest place in the world.  We who have moved away might have other opinions by now I’m afraid but I don’t like hurting people’s feelings.  

    None of us miss the COLD, and especially none of us miss the mosquitos, but our love for everything else about the place is never abated.  I am finding myself watching the new Jets and thinking about all the good things about Winnipeg that we have forgotten and it makes me think I could live there again some time. Well maybe not quite ;-).

    Thanx for your post and “Go Jets Go”.

  • Anonymous

    You guys should have a map that allows the Jets diaspora to post where they are. They are truly worldwide and it would be really neat to see the distribution on a map app.

  • Kyle Kosior

    Thats a great idea Dave. Would be cool to see where everyone is at. I have been speaking to a guy in Brisbane, Australia.

  • One more thing …. 

    Having the “Internets” and especially HNIC Live Streaming makes it a whole lot easier to be a Jets fan than it was back in the ’70’s, 80′ sand early ’90s … a BIG way they can increase their fan support worldwide.  Why not?  Man U. is the most popular football team worldwide and largely because of the Internet, so why can’t the Jets become an international force or at least be able to use the Internet to reach out to the diaspora in a way you never could before to expand the fan-base… 

    There’s no reason why you can’t support any team in the world actively these days so it doesn’t matter where you live – ot matters where your heart “lives” 🙂

  • Kyle Kosior

    More good points Dick. I think the Jets should be pro-active in marketing the team worldwide. You make a good point about so many people being “from” Winnipeg. I am sure there is a good market for Jets merchandise and services outside the Manitoba area.

  • Thanks for the Link Kyle and awesome article… I will have to go to a game after the tickets become more available.