The Soaring Winnipeg Jets – A Hockey team setting fire to the ice
For those of you who are unaware, the Winnipeg Jets are doing something magical in the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba. They’ve currently won 9 of their past 10 games, including an 8 game heater that saw them take over the Central Division lead. At the time of writing this article, they’re the only team in the National Hockey League that have yet to surrender triple digit goals this season. It’s January 18th. We are over halfway through the regular season and are staring down the barrel of the All Star Game and trade deadline. Normally when a jet catches fire in flight it makes national news. It’s time that this scorching group of Jets get the conversation they deserve.
Let’s go back to June – the Winnipeg Jets sign and trade their star young forward Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Los Angeles Kings for Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and a 2024 2nd round draft selection. A few days later, Blake Wheeler, who’d been with the franchise since their Atlanta days, signed a deal with the New York Rangers. A team that made the playoffs the year before (and subsequently got bounced by the Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights) was missing key pieces to the team that made the run to fight for the NHL’s biggest prize. But boy did it turn out in their favor.
The Winnipeg Jets are cruising – and still pushing the envelope
Vilardi has more points in less games played than Dubois. In fact, he’s played 16 less games. Iafallo is only 2 points behind PLD as of the completion of this article as well. The Los Angeles Kings are currently in a nosedive, fighting for the top 3 Pacific Division lives. Meanwhile, in the cold, dreary Manitoba winter, the Jets have defrosted the icy hearts of a fanbase yearning for a winner. Winnipeg lost their initial franchise to Arizona (then the Phoenix Coyotes) in the ‘90s. It took Atlanta’s second catastrophic failure of an attempt at ice hockey to finally bring the game back to the Great White North. Early in the season, fans weren’t attending games, Crowds barely cracked 11,000 on a nightly basis – a tragedy written in equal parts apathy and discouragement. As the team has found its groove – and grooving they indeed are – those numbers have begun to climb back up.
There are a myriad of fan bases and cities in the NHL that ache longingly for a winning squad. Some of them have seen it before, and some haven’t. But in my humble opinion, Winnipeg is at the top of that list. From 1972-1996, and from 2011-today, the bustling metropolis nestled in between the rivers Assiniboine and Red has seen a measly 3 division titles, zero President’s Trophies, and not a single Stanley Cup. We will see what kind of moves the front office makes as we rapidly approach the trade deadline, and the return of a healthy Kyle Connor will certainly play a large role in the future success of the team. As a melancholy Columbus Blue Jackets fan, I am pulling for the Jets to find success and sustain it. I’ll always root for the small market team, no matter what. Here’s to the Jets, may they fly high.
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