Benny and the Jets
by BMS on 09/19/11 at 02:20 PM ET
It all becomes real tomorrow - for the first time, the Winnipeg Jets will take to the ice. While it’s not the full roster, it ain’t just the rookies and prospects and it ain’t in Penticton. And while there’s incredible excitement about the Jets’ home opener at the MTS Centre tomorrow night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it will actually be in Columbus’ Nationwide Arena that the team (at least part of it) will first hit the ice, a full 90 minutes earlier than when the puck drops in Winnipeg. Half of the Jets’ roster is in Ohio to take on half of the Blue Jackets in a 6:00 PM game that will surely have far less fanfare than the 7:30 affair in Winnipeg.
Heck, the game in Columbus might not even have the level of fan enthusiasm that this past Saturday’s training camp session at the MTS Iceplex had. Around 1,500 fans poured into the Jets’ practice rink to watch the only session open to the public, and went nuts as Nik Antropov led the squad on to the ice. It couldn’t have been easy for the rookies to run through drills and stay focused on showcasing their skill in the hopes of making an impression on coaches and management. With the fans cheering every key play, there was no shortage of intensity in the building. Tomorrow night’s game will see that intensity rise tenfold or more.
In the long build-up to the regular season, it will be a night of more firsts - first goal, first power play, first save, first fight, and so forth. But in the end the records will be wiped clean on October 9, when the Montreal Canadiens come to town for the much-anticipated regular season home opener.
For now, fans will take what they can get in the pre-season. Those of us in the area can catch the home game on TSN Jets, which will now officially be carried by major local TV providers MTS and Shaw as well as on Bell TV. Almost every Manitoba man-cave will be jammed with fans, eyes glued to the tube and loud with beer-fuelled colour commentary.
(Drinking game idea - take a swig/do a shot for every “Go Jets Go” heard at the MTS Centre, then call in sick to work on Wednesday.)
David Aebischer and Ondrej Pavelec will be the netminders for the home squad, while Chris Mason and Peter Mannino will man the pipes in Columbus. Skaters for the MTS Centre squad will include Andrew Ladd, Mark Scheifele, Nik Antropov, Patrice Cormier, Zach Bogosian and Dustin Byfuglien, while the away squad will include Carl Klingberg, Evander Kane, Tanner Glass, Blake Wheeler and Jason Jaffray. On paper (or, in this case, on the web), the home squad definitely appears stronger, and will obviously have the raucous support of those lucky enough to score tickets to tomorrow night’s tilt.
It’s been fifteen years. Drop the damn puck.
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About Benny and the Jets
Fifteen years ago, Ben's beloved Winnipeg Jets left town. He begrudgingly turned to the Montreal Canadiens for comfort and found none, and is now struggling to find a place in his heart for the Winnipeg Jets v2.0.
Ben is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer that writes a lot about wine and beer. Expect his son to be drafted into the NHL in 2025.