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The Winnipeg Jets was a professional hockey franchise that played in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). It was based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and played its home games at the Winnipeg Arena. Team colors were blue, white and red.

The Jets were one of the 12 charter franchises in the fledgling WHA when it was formed in Fall 1971. The team was named after a local junior hockey franchise which was also financed by Jets' owner Ben Hatskin. Seeking to establish credibility for the franchise (and the league), Hatskin signed the biggest NHL star not under contract -- Bobby Hull -- to a million dollar contract in a ceremony held at the corner of Portage and Main, in downtown Winnipeg. The Jets were the first North American franchise to seriously pursue European talent, importing stars like Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson and Lars-Erik Sjoberg. The Jets played all seven WHA seasons (one of the few clubs to do so without relocating at least once), winning the Avco Cup three times.

After the 1978-79 season, the WHA folded, and its four strongest clubs -- the Jets, the Edmonton Oilers, the Quebec Nordiques and the Hartford Whalers -- were merged into the NHL. The Jets' first two seasons in the NHL were miserable. Much of their talent was lost either to the expansion draft (Kent Nilson), trades (Hull) or free agency.

The 1980-81 season was the franchise's worst ever, tying a league record low of nine wins for the season. As a result of their poor record, the Jets had the first overall pick of the 1981 entry draft, and selected center Dale Hawerchuk. Hawerchuk had an immediate impact, winning the Calder Trophy (awarded to the Rookie of the Year) and leading the Jets to a playoff spot. Other standout players of this era included Morris Lukowich, Dave Babych and Paul MacLean.

Upon entry into the NHL, the Jets played in the Norris Division, but after the Colorado Rockies franchise moved to New Jersey to become the Devils, the Jets were switched to the Smythe Division. Unfortunately, this move corresponded with the Wayne Gretzky era in Edmonton, and the Jets were forced to play the Gretzky/Messier/Kurri/Coffey Oilers, as well as perennially-strong clubs in Calgary and Vancouver, eight times a year. If the Jets made the Stanley Cup playoffs, a first- or second- round meeting with the Oilers or Flames was inevitable. The Jets never made it our of their division. Their best hope came in the 1985-86 season, when the club notched a club-high 96 points in the regular season. Hawerchuk was injured in the opening round of the playoffs that season, and the Jets were eliminated by the Oilers in the division finals. Notable Jets during this period include Thomas Steen, Dave Ellett, Laurie Boschman and Randy Carlyle

During the 1990 off-season, Hawerchuk was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for defenseman Phil Housley. While Housley was a productive player, Hawerchuk's departure left the Jets without a bonafide star until the arrival of Teemu Selanne in 1992. Selanne set the league on fire, winning the Calder and setting a record for most goals by a rookie (76). Selanne was sidelined for much of the next two seasons with injuries, and has been unable to duplicate his freshman successes to date. Selanne was joined by such Jets stars are Keith Tkachuk, Alexei Zhamnov, Teppo Numminen and Bob Essensa during this period.

The mid 1990's were a contentious period for the Jets. The owners, headed by Barry Shenkarow, were demanding the city build a new arena for the team. Various groups attempted to persuade the three levels of government to finance a new facility and two separate bids were tendered, albeit unsuccessfully, to purchase the team from Shenkarow. In 1996, Shenkarow sold the team to a group led by Richard Burke, who moved the franchise to Arizona for the 1996-97 season. The club now competes as the Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL's Pacific Division. Currently (as of 6/24/02) only two members of the Coyotes roster who formerly were Jets: Numminen and Shane Doan.


Retired jerseys:
#9 - Bobby Hull
#25 - Thomas Steen
Sources:
Winnipeg Jets Tribute Site - http://www.dilawri.com/sites/jetstribute/
Winnipeg Jets Memorial Page - http://www.curtiswalker.com/jets/
Phoenix Coyotes - http://www.phoenixcoyotes.com/

Jets 2.0

Prior to the 2011-2012 NHL season, Winnipeg, Manitoba once again regained an NHL franchise. The Atlanta Thrashers were thrashed out of Atlanta, Georgia when True North Sports and Entertainment bought the franchise and moved them up north. (Interesting trivia: Atlanta became the only American city with the distinction of having not one, but two teams leave and move to Canada, the Atlanta Flames/Calgary Flames being the first one, and the only American team ever to lose a team to Canada - as many Canadian franchises have moved down to the USA, including the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets). Unlike most new teams, the Jets didn’t have to build up a fan base, as there was already one waiting there for them, still mourning over losing the Jets the first time. In fact, season ticket sales started on June 1, 2011 after the announcement of the move, and by June 4 they were all sold out.

The Jets 2.0 made their regular season debut on October 9, 2011, when a sellout crowd at the MTS Centre saw the visiting Montreal Canadiens defeat the Jets 5–1, with Nik Antropov scoring the first-ever Jets goal. Not the best way to open, but the fans were just glad to once again have an NHL franchise.

Being that the NHL couldn’t realign things right away, the Jets in their first few seasons were in the awkward position of remaining in the Southeast Division, inheriting that from the Thrashers, despite being located about 8,000 miles from Atlanta in the true geographic Southeast of the League. But beginning in 2013–14, the Jets moved to the Western Conference to join the West’s Central Division, bumping its number up to 7.

That was certainly better for them, as on April 9, 2015, the Jets clinched their first Stanley Cup playoff appearance since relocating to Winnipeg, and first appearance overall for the Jets 2.0. They won the second wild card spot and played the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks in the first round. Unfortunately they got swept. The following season they failed to quality for the playoffs. But in 2018 they were back. On April 11, 2018, the Jets 2.0 won the first playoff game in the history of the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise when they won against the Wild 3–2. (The Atlanta Thrashers made the playoffs only once but they were swept.) And then they went on to win that series, with their first playoff series win. They went all the way to the Western Conference Finals. But they lost that series to... an expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights. Yes, an expansion team went to the Stanley Cup Finals that year.

The Jets continue to experience mild success, making the playoffs again in the 2018-2019 season.

Retired Numbers

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