By Vincent Lee (@vinceleewpg)
Remember that sense of new found optimism in the air surrounding the return of the Winnipeg Jets? It’s still in Winnipeg, and it’s only growing stronger. While walking around The Forks on Thursday, and listening to young and old, the attitudes of Winnipeggers have finally changed for the better. The piece that was ripped from our hearts 15 years ago has been surgically reconstructed and has seemingly made our passion for hockey and this city stronger than before.
Early Thursday morning with the final touches of the Scotiabank stage for the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off party, to the sound and mic check by Bachman & Turner, it really set the mood. After all, we just got back our Jets, and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Winds in the afternoon picked up and there were occasional gusts of sand blown around in pockets of The Forks, but don’t expect that to put a damper on anybody’s plans on making it down to this historic party. After all, it’s sunny and 28°C outside — in October.
With the number of television personalities, NHL executives, or musicians that were interviewed, the vibe is consistent as everyone is excited to having the Jets back.
Local rockers Inward Eye told reporters that while on a trip to Korea, one fan yelled out, “Go Winnipeg Jets” as soon as they heard the band was from Winnipeg. When Randy Bachman was asked whether he had Jets season tickets, he said he didn’t because he was busy, but then looked over at Fred Turner (who still lives in Winnipeg) and quipped, “What’s your excuse?” Though apparently, the two will be in attendance for Sunday’s home opener when the Jets host the Montreal Canadiens at MTS Centre.
George Strombolopolous, host of “George Strombolopolous Tonight” on CBC, will be hosting the day’s events. He recalls working in radio 15 years ago when the Jets left and is glad Winnipeg has a team again.
Festivities run until 9 p.m. CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast from Winnipeg will begin at 5:30 p.m.
If you can’t celebrate tonight, there’s still the After Burner Social on October 9.
ChrisD.ca video/Vincent Lee