I’m a Winnipegger. Born there, raised there, and, until recently, had lived there my entire life. The only live NHL game I have ever been to was around Christmas in 1996 — the visiting Chicago Blackhawks losing to the Jets. I was, and still am, a Blackhawks fan and when the first brand of Jets went south to Phoenix, it didn’t hit me that hard. I was seven-years-old, far more concerned with figuring out mathematics and when I could bring out the toboggan. With fifteen years of support for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose after the Jets departed, I grew up knowing that Winnipeg is a hockey city — not by being told, but from experiencing it first hand.
I’ve written about this before on this blog, but I woke up late the day they came back. In a move that is very uncharacteristic of myself, I called in sick to work — a lie — and headed down to the Portage and Main, followed by a walk to the Forks. The NHL was back. The city was absolutely buzzing; it still is. It was something I had never experienced in Winnipeg.
Lost within the buzz was the reality of what was coming to Winnipeg.