Close Encounter of a Jets Kind
IC reader Robert Solmundson had been hearing a lot of negative Jets talk of late and in an effort to offer some balance he wanted to share an experience he and his son had with a member of the Winnipeg Jets squad.
It seems as though there are some negative P.R. stories surrounding some members of our beloved Winnipeg Jets being retold around town. I have heard varying accounts of incidents spread through word of mouth although I have no idea what has or has not actually occurred. Nobody I have talked to seems to have first or even second hand eyewitness accounts to these incidents – it’s always a friend of a friend of a cousin etc.
The positive feel good stories do not receive nearly enough attention or headlines. I hope the experience I am about to share changes that.
It started a few months ago when I was with a group of friends enjoying a post game beverage at Polo Park area restaurant. I was part of a large group made up of friends, and friends of friends. I recognized one of the people in our group, but just couldn’t place him ( In my defense this was back in October after my first game so I had yet to become familiar many Jet personalities). It turned out to be none other than Toby Enstrom. He had recently injured his shoulder and had not played that evening. I was introduced to him and had the pleasure to talk with him over the course of the evening. I asked mostly typical fan type questions about his thoughts on the Winnipeg weather and comparing fan support between Atlanta and Winnipeg. He was very easy to talk to asked me about my “Scandinavian” sounding last name and whether I get to all the home games and whether or not I had a family. Upon hearing that I have two boys, he told me next time I attend a game with my boys, to come find him after and he would possibly come out to meet them. He would miss the next 18 or 19 games due to his injury. We made an attempt to find him at the Jets Skills Competition but due to his injury, he had left early.
This takes us to Jan 19th 2012 in a game vs the Buffalo Sabres which was in fact my 7 year old’s first JET game ever. He bragged about going to the game for weeks to anyone that would listen. Game day arrived and he was ready with his Jets gear on complete with a sign to get himself on the “Fan Cam”. The Jets won 4-1 and he managed to get on the “Fan Cam” in the second period.
His first game could not have gone any better, or could it? After the game, we waited for the crowd to thin out before departing our seats. We headed downstairs and I inquired at the security gate about how to try get a message to Tobias. I was directed to one of the men in charge of security by the name of Dwayne. I explained to him how I had met Enstrom some time ago and that he told me to come find him after. We were instructed to wait and he would go and check with Toby and report back. We were just about to give up hope when he returned and told us to follow him. We were led back into the concourse and down towards the seats behind the Jet bench. There, waiting for us was Toby Enstrom, fresh from one of his best games where he scored and received a well deserved 1st Star. He said he remembered me although I am not sure if he was just being polite. He talked to us for several minutes, posed for a couple of photos, and presented my son with one of his sticks. My son, a hockey player himself, was smiling from ear to ear and was nearly in shock. He will never ever forget his first Jet game experience, and I will never forget it either.
I cannot put into words the gratitude I have for these acts of kindness that will have an everlasting impact on us both. After waiting for us at the entrance ramp, Dwayne was kind enough to walk us out and make sure we knew the directions to get us to our car , parked at the Millennium Library. A huge thank you to both Tobias and Dwayne, I hope they realize how their much their actions meant to one 7 year old boy….and his Dad.
Needless to say that there are many Jets players giving back to our community without expectation that these stories will be spread. This was just one example of a player helping the team both on and off the ice.