15 years is a long time to hold a grudge. But that’s what the good people of Winnipeg have been doing for that period of time. We all know the story. The NHL left town in 1996 to Phoenix only to see it return in the form of the Atlanta Thrashers etc.
Tonight however was the return of the former Winnipeg Jets. After 15 years the Phoenix Coyotes returned to this frozen prairie town and did what they used to do here many times when the franchise was located here. They lost.
Yes Winnipeg got its revenge tonight as the Jets blanked the Coyotes 1-0 before a sold-out, hostile crowd at the MTS Centre. Hostile you say? How often do you here an entire team booed for touching the puck? Usually that is saved for a star player like Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin. Or an agitating sort like Sean Avery or Brad Marchand. This game was different. EVERYONE got booed. All the Coyotes, especially Shane Doan, the last remaining Winnipeg Jet still playing for the Coyotes. But it was the fourth line, the grinders, the dude who got a trivia question wrong, the couple who wouldn’t kiss on the kiss cam. Yes it was a boo fest in Winnipeg. I closed my eyes for a second and thought I was in Philadelphia.
But it wasn’t all jeers, there were cheers as well. Bryan Little got the crowd cheering scoring the only goal of the game at the 6:53 mark of the first period tucking home a rebound after Evander Kane hit the crossbar.
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec also received adulation for his 33 save effort. Pavelec was simply sensational tonight as the puck must have looked like a beach ball for him.
The penalty killers were deserving of kudos killing off both Coyote power plays. And in the end when the new Jets emerged victorious, all 15,004 fans stood on their feet and gave a warm ovation to their new heroes.
No the game wasn’t pretty. Yes the booing was a little harsh. But the story does have a happy ending. The home team wins and the villains are vanquished. Now everyone can let go of the grudge and move on to bigger and better things.
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