Thank you Atlanta for being unable to support an NHL team.
Being a Manitoba boy, I grew up attending Winnipeg Jets games with my dad. I remember going early for the pregame warmups and chasing down pucks that flew into the stands. (This is back in the day when you could get hit in the head with a puck and feel like you were the luckiest person in the stands.)
I remember watching the Jets take on Gretzky after he had been traded to the LA Kings. (I'm sure the rest of the Kings were there too, but who really cares.) I remember some of the awe I felt when I saw him skating around with that jersey tucked into his right side.
I remember when I had officially become a fan of Patrick Roy & the Montreal Canadiens, my dad would take me to the matchup at the Winnipeg Arena. I remember the letdown each year that I saw Patrick sitting on the bench instead of starting the game between the pipes. I still have the ticket stubs.
I remember heading down into the darkest corners of the arena hoping to catch an autograph or two from the visiting Habs only to find disappointingly that very few of them would interact with the fans. But I also distinctly remember my dad pointing out one player, decked out in his suit, lurking in the shadows away from the crowd. The one and only...Andre "Red Light" Racicot. (Two mention in one week. That must be a record!)
I remember parking blocks away from Winnipeg Arena on some side street so we could avoid the parking chaos. I remember making that hike countless times.
I remember loading up the hockey cards and heading to the arena with my dad for the Jets Wives Carnival. We'd wonder around getting autographs from any of the players we could. Teemu Selanne. Thomas Steen. Randy Carlyle. Bob Essensa.
I remember when they left. Although my Habs shirts and jerseys were worn with pride, I still felt bad. It didn't seem right that Winnipeg would be without the Jets.
I'll admit that every rumor of a return to Winnipeg has sucked me in. I've watched. I've waited. I've hoped this day would come. I yelled semi-inappropriate things at Gary Bettman on TV when they announced that Phoenix was going to keep the Coyotes around for another year. (Because we all know that it's all Bettman's fault!)
But at long last it has ended.
The Jets are returning.
And they better be called the Jets.
(But my Habs still come first.)