One of the few Canadian teams out there that still have a chance to win a Stanley Cup Championship. And a Canadian team has not won it since 1993. The Winnipeg Jets are a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is owned by True North Sports & Entertainment and plays its home games at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets began play as the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999–2000 NHL season. True North Sports & Entertainment then bought the team in May 2011 and relocated the franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011–12 season (the first NHL franchise to relocate since the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997). The team was renamed the Jets after Winnipeg's original WHA/NHL team, which relocated after the 1995–96 season to become the Arizona Coyotes.
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. It is near the longitudinal centre of North America and is 110 kilometres (70 mi) north of the Canada–United States border. It is also the place of the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
The city is named after the nearby Lake Winnipeg; the name comes from the Western Cree words for muddy water. The region was a trading centre for aboriginal peoples long before the arrival of Europeans. French traders built the first fort on the site in 1738. A settlement was later founded by the Selkirk settlers of the Red River Colony in 1812, the nucleus of which was incorporated as the City of Winnipeg in 1873. As of 2011, Winnipeg is the seventh most populated municipality in Canada.
On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA). By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA's teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers as part of the WHA–NHL merger. Team owner Barry Shenkarow sold the team to American businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke. Burke and Gluckstern originally planned to move the team to Minnesota (which had lost the North Stars to Dallas in 1993), but eventually reached an agreement with Phoenix businessman Jerry Colangelo that would see the team move to Arizona and become the Phoenix Coyotes. The original Winnipeg Jets played their last game on April 28, 1996.
When they returned to the Winnipeg, Manitoba the Jets made their formal regular season debut on October 9, 2011, when a sellout crowd at the MTS Centre saw the visiting Montreal Canadiens defeat the Jets 5–1, with Nik Antropov scoring the first-ever Jets goal. This debut featured a concert by Bachman–Turner Overdrive where Randy Bachman sang "We Just Got Back The Jets" in place of the title refrain of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". Other highlights on the first Jets schedule included a home-and-home set with the Phoenix Coyotes, Winnipeg's previous NHL franchise (including a December 1 game in Winnipeg, the Coyotes' first regular season appearance in Winnipeg since vacating the city), as well as a December 17 home game against the Anaheim Ducks, which was former Jet Teemu Selänne's first playing appearance in Winnipeg since being traded from the Jets in February 1996.
In the 2017–18 season, the Jets clinched their second playoff spot since relocating from Atlanta. On March 25, 2018, the Jets beat the Nashville Predators 5–4 in a shootout, and clinched a spot in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. On April 11, 2018, the Jets won the first playoff game in the history of the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise when they defeated the Minnesota Wild 3–2. On April 20, 2018, the Jets won their first playoff series in franchise history (and the first series victory in 31 years for the city) with a 5–0 victory over the Minnesota Wild in game 5 of the First Round series, winning the series 4–1. On May 10, 2018, the Jets made further franchise history by advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time, defeating the Nashville Predators 4 games to 3; Nashville were the defending holders of the Campbell Bowl Trophy from the previous season and holders of the President's Trophy for most points in the league during the 2017-18 NHL season. This would also mark the first time that either iteration of the Winnipeg Jets had advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. Facing the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference Finals, the Jets defeated the Golden Knights in the first game of the series 4–2. However, the Jets went on to lose the Western Conference Finals, with the Golden Knights defeating the Jets in the following four games in the series.
After a great 2017-18 season, how do they look for 2019? Well, the Winnipeg Jets have checked most of the boxes on their offseason to-do list in regards to restricted free agents. They’ve agreed to a long-term contract with Vezina-nominated goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, locked up terrific team-first forward Adam Lowry for the next three years, and retained spark-plug fourth-liner Brandon Tanev for another year. In addition, Tucker Poolman, Marko Dano, and Nic Petan will be rejoining the squad for 2018-19. There’s one box that’s still empty, though, and it’s a big one. Top-pairing defenseman Josh Morrissey still needs a new contract. Morrissey is coming off the best season of his three-year NHL career. He’s adapted quickly to the NHL game, and at just 24 years old, is already one of the Jets’ elite defensemen. In 2017-18, he patrolled the left-side of top-line shutdown pairing, flanked by fellow 24-year-old Jacob Trouba, who patrolled the right. The Jets would likely be willing to pay five million a year, or thereabouts, to keep Morrissey around through the mid-2024s. They only offered Trouba four million, but that was an intentional, strategic lowball. They’ll pay Trouba $5.5 million next season, and will have to pay more than that if they want him to stick around, so why would Trouba’s partner, who plays just as a big a role, deserve any less? Let’s see who shows up in September and is ready to power the team into the 2019 post season play.
True North announced they had "recalled" their former Moose mascot, Mick E. Moose, from the AHL. Mick E. had spent the past 15 seasons with the Manitoba Moose of the International and American hockey leagues, entertaining fans at Moose games and community events. Slight modifications to the costume were made, including a new vintage leather aviator helmet. Since the start of the 2015–16 season, Mick E. Moose has served as mascot for both the Jets and the Manitoba Moose. A fan favourite, he also averages over 100 community appearances per season in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba.