NHL Preview 2011: Ten Most Intriguing Games on Winnipeg Jets Schedule
The Winnipeg Jets are back, and we are now less than two months away from the 2011 regular season kicking off. With that in mind, which Jets games have the most interest?
There are several games this year that have some extra juice to them.
Some are the renewing of old rivalries. Some of those rivalries are old and bitter...we're looking in your direction Oilers. Others have intrigue because of the relocation history of Winnipeg hockey, and still others just look like fun games.
For a team that missed the playoffs last year, there will be a lot of attention given to the new Jets as they work their way through their 2011 season.
Here are, in the order of the schedule, the ten most intriguing games on the Winnipeg schedule.
Which games are you most excited about?
September 20th, Columbus at Winnipeg
It's hard to get too excited about a preseason game, but this is the first actual game action for the new Jets.
A split squad affair, this is the first chance for the fans of Winnipeg to see their new heroes play in the new sweaters, with the new logo. After all the anticipation, it will finally be time to start talking about something that happened on the ice.
Has there been a more anticipated preseason game in league history before?
October 9th, Montreal at Winnipeg
This will be it, the moment Winnipeg fans have been waiting for. The official return of NHL hockey as the season opener hits the MTS Center.
What better way to start the new Jets era than a match up with Montreal?
If you don't already have tickets for this, you better find a comfortable couch, sports bar, or get ready to mortgage your house to pay scalper prices. Win or lose, the fans and city of Winnipeg will feel like they just won the cup on opening night.
October 15th, Winnipeg at Phoenix
New Jets, meet the old Jets. What a strange journey these two franchises have had this past year.
When the season ended, it seemed that Phoenix moving back to Winnipeg was a sure thing. That didn't happen as Atlanta suddenly went on the block.
This is the first meeting and won't have the same juice as the game a couple of months later will have, but you have to wonder where Gary Bettman will be when this game starts.
November 19th, Philadelphia at Winnipeg
When it looked like Phoenix was moving to Winnipeg, then Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made some comments detailing his concern about playing in Winnipeg. It seems he was worried about the number of city parks available to him.
Now the main guy in Philadelphia, Bryzgalov will get his first chance to check out the parks in person as the Flyers visit the MTS Center.
There should be some good signs in the stands for this one.
December 1st, Phoenix at Winnipeg
This one will be good. The team with the Jets history comes home to face the new Jets. It's doubtful that Gary Bettman will be in attendance for this meeting either.
Winnipeg fans should be pumped up for this one as they get a chance to watch their new boys stick it to the franchise that broke their hearts.
Would it be bad form to get some of the original Jets greats to be at this game for a little pregame ceremony?
December 17th, Anaheim at Winnipeg
Teemu Selanne has yet to officially announce whether he is coming back for one more season. The Ducks would love to have him back as he had a remarkable year last season.
As one of the greatest and most beloved Winnipeg Jets ever, this would be his return to Winnipeg.
Hopefully he does return, if for no other reason than to play in this game so the fans can stand up and cheer for him one last time. Of course, in a perfect world Selanne would sign with the Jets this season, but that is not very likely
December 31st, Toronto at Winnipeg
For some unexplained reason, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the most popular team in Canada. They never win, yet there are hordes of Maple Leafs fans in every arena.
This is the first visit they make to Winnipeg in quite some time. This will be the Jets' fans first chance to mock the Toronto fan in the Wendall Clark jersey sitting three rows in front of them.
For Toronto fans, this game could be scary, as now there is a chance for another Canadian team to have more success than they have.
February 19th, Colorado at Winnipeg
This game is a rematch of sorts of former World Hockey Association rivals. The Avalanche started play, of course, as the Quebec Nordiques in the WHA.
The symmetry is here as both franchises started in other cities and have some distant WHA ties. What do we need to do to get Dale Hawerchuk and Michel Goulet in town for the ceremonial puck drop?
Beyond that, it is a chance to see two teams that have several young stars in the making on their roster.
February 27th, Edmonton at Winnipeg
Another renewal of an old rivalry that dates back to the WHA days when the Jets were a dominant team. Winnipeg and Edmonton often battled it out back then, and the Jets beat the Oilers for the AVCO cup in the last WHA game ever.
The Jets fortunes changed in the NHL where Edmonton eliminated the Jets every time they met in the playoffs. Hopefully after the NHL realigns next season, there will be more Oilers-Jets match ups.
As with the Colorado game, this match-up will be ripe with young talent. It should make for an entertaining game.
Instead of a ceremonial puck drop, they should have Dale Hawerchuk ceremonially drop Wayne Gretzky on his head...for old times sake.
March 8th, Winnipeg at Vancouver
This is a renewal of an old Smythe Division rivalry. The Canucks and Jets go back and have some playoff history, having met two years in a row in the 90’s.
Vancouver fans used to chant “Loserpeg” to try and get under the Jets' skin. Will that return?
What will the Green Men have in store for Winnipeg?
This game is also a homecoming for Jets' stars Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane who both grew up in British Columbia. They will have to be excited to be playing in front of families for a Canadian team.