Face-Off! The NHL puck drops
Chris Reid on Fri, 2011-10-07 12:38
On October 6, Winnipeg played host to a massive party not only to welcome back the National Hockey League for another season, but also to welcome back their Winnipeg Jets.
NHL Face-Off kicked off with a bang at The Forks near downtown Winnipeg with thousands of people gathering hours prior to the start. Parents were taking their kids out of school early to steak out a spot close to the main stage. Many trivia games and contests filled the commercial breaks between the Habs and Leafs game, which was shown on several big screens.
A few bands came on to entertain the massive crowd. Three Days Grace, Winnipeg's Inward Eye, and Bachman Turner played individual sets. In between each song, the die-hard Jets fans would break out into a "Go Jets Go" chant.
Randy Bachman and Fred Turner played during second intermission. Part of that set was shown on CBC. The singers cleverly changed the words from "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" to "You Just Got Back The Jets", much to the crowd's approval.
Some Winnipeg Jets, such as Captain Andrew Ladd, took to the stage and talked to the CBC about how wild this experience had been for him. No doubt: The last city they played in barely cared who they were.
In Winnipeg, these players are local heroes and celebrities.
Synthetic ice was laid out for kids to skate on. There were line-ups for kids to try this was huge going in to the later hours of the festivities.
Hardest shot competitions also gauged interest with many people gathered to see who could take the hardest shot. If you were at the Face-Off early, Jets players were available for autographs.
This event was the icing on the cake for Winnipeggers. After 15 years, the NHL has come back in full force. The Jets have returned home. The team has landed. Say it however you want - this city is overly passionate about a young team with so many possibilities. What's more, is Winnipeggers realize they don't have close to a number-one-ranked team. Yet the passion is still driven. Guaranteed sell-outs for 5 years, with 8,500 anxious fans on a season ticket waiting list. The city is electric with hockey passion.
On behalf of the City of Winnipeg and all Jet fans, a huge tip of the hat to the NHL for allowing the prairie province a chance to host this unforgettable party, and for another chance in the big leagues.
The Winnipeg Jets are back.
And they're here to stay.