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WHA Winnipeg Jets (1972 - 1979)___________________________________________

In 1972 Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The National Hockey League had recently expanded to 16 teams, adding franchises in many hockey-hungry cities (only one in Canada), but also in Atlanta, Oakland and Los Angeles. The WHA brought major professional hockey to Ottawa, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and later Calgary.

Norm Beaudin - The Original JetThe Jets' first signing was Norm Beaudin "the Original Jet" and its first major signing was Bobby Hull, also known as the Golden Jet. The move -- partially financed by the rest of the WHA's teams -- was widely seen as giving legitimacy to the WHA as a serious rival major league.

The Jets were further noteworthy in hockey history for being the first North American club to seriously explore Europe as a source of hockey talent. Winnipeg's fortunes were bolstered by acquisitions such as Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA's most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed "the Hot Line"), and defenceman Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who would serve as the team's captain and win accolades as the WHA's best defenceman. Behind these players and other European stars such as Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Veli-Pekka Ketola, leavened by players such as Peter Sullivan, Norm Beaudin and goaltender Joe Daley, the Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA. The team won three Avco Cups, including in the league's final season against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets made the finals five of the WHA's seven seasons and were widely considered one of the best teams in hockey, NHL or WHA, of the era.

Another notable accomplishment was the Jets' 5-3 victory over the Soviet National team on January 5, 1978, making the Jets the first team to ever defeat the Soviet elite squad.

NHL Winnipeg Jets (1979 - 1996)____________________________________________

By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA's teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL. In doing so, they had to give up three of their top six scorers--the core of the last WHA champion--and were forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. With a decimated roster, the Jets finished last in the league in the next two seasons, including a horrendous 9-win season in 1980-81--still the worst in franchise history. This stands in marked contrast to the other 1979 Avco Cup finalist, the Oilers, who became one of the most powerful teams the game has ever seen during the 1980s.

The Jets' first two wretched seasons did net them high draft picks, and in 1981, they drafted future Hall of Fame member Dale Hawerchuk. The team developed into a solid core of players by the mid-1980s, with Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Dave Babych, Randy Carlyle, Laurie Boschman, Doug Smail and David Ellett giving the Jets a solid nucleus and a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup championship.

Unfortunately, regular-season success didn't transfer to the playoffs. This was because they played in the same division as the powerful Oilers and Flames (by this time in Calgary). Due to the way the playoffs were structured at the time, the Jets were all but assured of having to beat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to get to the conference finals. For example, in 1984-85, they finished with the fourth-best record in the league, with 96 points--both their best finishes as an NHL team. While they managed to dispatch the Flames 3 games to 1, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in four games. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs 6 times between 1983 and 1990, with Edmonton winning every series, holding the Jets to just 4 total victories. 1987 was the last time that the Jets won a playoff series, defeating Calgary in the opening round — a drought that has continued to plague the franchise's current location in Phoenix.

Fan FarwellAs the NHL expanded in the United States, operating costs and salaries grew rapidly. This hit the league's Canadian teams particularly hard. Playing in the league's second-smallest market (and after the Nordiques' move to Denver as the Colorado Avalanche, the smallest market), the Jets were unable to retain their best players. Various schemes were devised to save the team through a tremendous grassroots effort and government funds. Loyal fans raised over $13 million CAD through various fund raising events in their bid to keep the team. In the end, their efforts were not enough. The Winnipeg Jets played their last game on April 28, 1996 - a home playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-1. The last goal ever scored by a Jet was netted by Norm Maciver. The money that had been raised was later donated to several Winnipeg charities.

During their history, the Jets retired two numbers: #9, Bobby Hull, and #25, Thomas Steen. Both numbers hang in Jobing.com Arena with the new Phoenix Coyotes franchise. Bobby Hull's #9 jersey was temporarily "un-retired" with the acquisition of his son Brett by the Phoenix franchise. Brett wore his father's famous jersey until his own retirement on October 15, 2005, subsequent to which the number was re-retired.

A number of former Jets remain active in the NHL; as of the 2006-07 season, these included Dallas Drake, Nikolai Khabibulin, Teppo Numminen, Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Kris Draper, Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. Shane Doan is the last Jet to remain with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise.

Possible return to Winnipeg_______________________________________________

There is considerable support within the city to bring NHL hockey back to Winnipeg in order to restore the pride the city had in having an NHL team. Many Winnipeg fans have stated that they would prefer for their city to get expansion team as opposed to having to re-locate another city's team, however the NHL has stated that it has no plans for expansion in the immediate future.

Many analysts have concluded that improvements in the economics of both the city and the league, combined with the strength of the Canadian dollar, mean that the city could again support an NHL franchise, as evidenced by the new financial stability of the remaining "small-market" Canadian teams. Pessimists note that even if that is true, such a move would require the support of NHL team owners, who might see little or no benefit to their franchises from having a team in Winnipeg. Optimists note that during the 2006-2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas, Texas, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that Winnipeg could sustain an NHL team. However, many pessimists contend that Bettman only made the statement to put pressure on Pennsylvanian government officials (who were negotiating a new arena lease with the Pittsburgh Penguins) and that it should not be interpreted as genuine support from Bettman for a new NHL team in Winnipeg.

Although a new arena has since been built in downtown Winnipeg to replace the aged Winnipeg Arena, the arena's managers have stated that the 15,000 seat MTS Centre was not erected in hopes of attracting an NHL team back to the city. However, the arena could be easily upgraded to NHL standards.

A frenzy erupted in the local and national media and many Winnipeg businessmen expressed that they were pro-actively approaching the idea and were in the process of forming an ownership group, although as of the end of the 2006-2007 season there had been no official statement.

During the 2007 Manitoba provincial election campaign, Conservatives promised to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg if elected. The elected NDP has also metioned their support for the return of the Jets, with Premier Gary Doer saying he has been in talks to bring a team to the province.

 

WINNIPEG JETS FINAL FLIGHT on cbc.ca

Team Captains

Lars-Erik Sjoberg
1979-80
Morris Lukowich
1980-81
Dave Christian
1981-82
Lucien DeBlois
1982-84
Dale Hawerchuk
1984-89
Dale Hawerchuk,
Thomas Steen & Randy Carlyle
(tri-captains)
1989-90
Thomas Steen & Randy Carlyle
(co-captains)
1990-91
Troy Murray
1991-93
Dean Kennedy
1993
Keith Tkachuk
1993-95
Kris King
1995-96
First Round Draft Picks
Jimmy Mann (19th overall)
1979
Dave Babych (2nd overall)
1980
Dale Hawerchuk (1st overall)
1981
Jim Kyte (12th overall)
1982
Andrew McBain (8th overall) &
Bobby Dollas (14th overall)
1983
none
1984
Ryan Stewart (18th overall)
1985
Pat Elynuik (8th overall)
1986
Bryan Marchment (16th overall)
1987
Teemu Selanne (10th overall)
1988
Stu Barnes (4th overall)
1989
Keith Tkachuk (19th overall)
1990
Aaron Ward (5th overall)
1991
Sergei Bautin (17th overall)
1992
Mats Lindgren (15th overall)
1993
none
1994
Shane Doan (7th overall)
1995
Hall of Famers
Bobby Hull, RW, 1972-80
inducted 1983
Serge Savard, D, 1981-83
inducted 1986
Dale Hawerchuk, C, 1981-90
inducted 2001
Retired Numbers
9 - Bobby Hull
25 - Thomas Steen
Individual Records
Most Goals in a season:
Teemu Selanne, 76 (1992-93)
(NHL Rookie Record)
Most Assists in a season:
Phil Housley, 79 (1992-93)
Most Points in a season:
Teemu Selanne, 132 (1992-93)
Most Penalty Minutes in a season:
Tie Domi, 347 (1993-94)
Most Points in a season, defenceman:
Phil Housley, 97 (1992-93)
Most Points in a season, rookie:
Teemu Selanne, 132 (1992-93)
(NHL record)
Most Wins in a season:
Brian Hayward & Bob Essensa
(1984-85 & 1992-93)

NHL Season Statistics________________________________________________________________________________________

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoff Record
1979-80 80 20 49 11 51 214 314 1251 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1980-81 80 9 57 14 32 246 400 1191 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1981-82 80 33 33 14 80 319 332 1314 2nd in Norris Lost in Round 1
1982-83 80 33 39 8 74 311 333 1089 4th in Smythe Lost in Round 1
1983-84 80 31 38 11 73 340 374 1579 4th in Smythe Lost in Round 1
1984-85 80 43 27 10 96 358 332 1540 2nd in Smythe Lost Division Final (EDM)
1985-86 80 26 47 7 59 295 372 1774 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (CGY)
1986-87 80 40 32 8 88 279 271 1537 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Final (EDM)
1987-88 80 33 36 11 77 292 310 2278 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (EDM)
1988-89 80 26 42 12 64 300 355 1843 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1989-90 80 37 32 11 85 298 290 1639 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (EDM)
1990-91 80 26 43 11 63 260 288 1675 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1991-92 80 33 32 15 81 251 244 1907 4th in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (VAN)
1992-93 84 40 37 7 87 322 320 1851 4th in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (VAN)
1993-94 84 24 51 9 57 245 344 2143 6th in Central Out of Playoffs
1994-951 48 16 25 7 39 157 177 1141 6th in Central Out of Playoffs
1995-96 82 36 40 6 78 275 291 1622 5th in Central Lost Conference Quarterfinal (DET)
Grand Total 1338 506 660 172 1184 4762 5347 27374

Source: Wikipedia

 
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