Jets ready for lift off
Chris Reid on Mon, 2013-01-14 13:15
And on the 119th day of the NHL lockout, the battle of millionaires versus billionaires, the Winnipeg Jets came back. Again.
A reunion of sorts? Sure. It was definitely a celebration here in Winnipeg as fans cheered the end of the lockout.
Is the honeymoon phase over for the Winnipeg Jets? Not even close. On January 13, the team opened their training camp and invited fans to watch. They also supplied the rabid fanbase with free popcorn and drinks. And the noise level in the building from the 5,000 fans who attended was outstanding.
Sure, the number of fans would have been closer to 10,000 if it were their "welcome back" year.
But that didn't matter.
As the Jets flew out of the locker room and touched down on the ice, fans cheered like it was the playoffs. I'm not kidding. It was loud, abnoxious and fun.
Fans that didn't know each other were high-fiving each other. Kids grinned ear to hear just like seniors who had lived through both eras of the Winnipeg Jets.
But to business now. How are the Jets looking?
Not bad. However the schedule is less than appealing at times, with the Jets still in the Southeast division for these 48 games. This has the Jets flying multiple times to Florida, Carolina and Washington. Sure their rivals have to do the same and brave the blizzardy capital of Manitoba, but we're hoping to see the Jets move out of the Southeast sooner rather than later (hint, hint, Mr. Bettman).
Big Buff took to the ice to a big applause. The man who couldn't be reached during the lockout emerged and looked just as good on the 13th as he did when the season ended last year. No weight gained, no weight lost...although when asked, he wouldn't confirm his actual weight. Nothing new there.
The best part about this season is the Jets have a fair shot at the playoffs. Granted all teams do with the shortened season.
First puck drop for the Jets is January 19 at 3pm Eastern. Fans will be thrilled then, too: they're playing at home at MTS Centre - the loudest, fan-crazed, and smallest rink in the NHL.