Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Two car loads of family drove from Minnedosa to Winnipeg with our CBC sign (Crazy Boyd Clan + Bruce), a two hour journey to watch hockey. With my dad, brother, uncle, and cousins all cheering for Winnipeg, I was the lone Oiler fan and in my opinion, the voice of reason. I refused to dress in white, would not participate in the charge of the white brigade but happily accepted my white pompoms and cheered mightily for my Oilers. As my cousin recently told me last month, I was the annoying Oiler fan on the trip and irritated him immensely during these games. Mission accomplished.
Winnipeg won games three and four, with one going into overtime. I was devastated but my boys refused to die, winning game five and coming back to Winnipeg for game six and seven. I was elated and very annoying to my Jets crew. I took pride in how many people I could annoy. I went to many Oilers games in Winnipeg and was sad when the Jets left town in 1996.
Fast forward a few years and I'm living in Winnipeg getting my Master of Arts in history. The Jets left several years before in 1996 and the only hockey I got was the occasional pre-season game (usually the Oilers) and a trip to Edmonton in 2000 for some playoff hockey. Yes my Oilers lost again to Dallas but it was a close game.
I finally moved to Edmonton in 2003 and during the first year, I was lucky to gets tickets for Grant Fuhr's retirement (front row baby), the Heritage Classic (finally seeing Gretzky in an Oilers uniform) and several years later, I was able to buy season tickets just in time for their run to the Stanley Cup final.
Fast forward six years, the Oilers are in a rebuild and hockey has returned to Winnipeg. While I can never abandon my Oilers, I think I can cheer for Winnipeg as my second team. In any case, I'm escatic that hockey has returned to my home province. I go home two to three times a year so I am thrilled my family will be able to hit up hockey games once again. I am debating about being there for Winnipeg's home opener and have told my family I will actually cheer for them (unless they play my Oilers). It will bring back a lot of good memories.
One final thought, let's hope they are named the Jets. I know it is not the same team returning and continuity will take a hit but Ottawa got their Senators name back (yes a longer break between teams) so why not the Jets? People will still buy the merchandise even though they have Jets stuff. But most importantly, a majority of the fans in Manitoba want the Jets so if you want them to ante up for tickets, you'd better keep a bit happy. Also, I have not liked any of the other possibilities floating around: Falcons, Polar Bears, Moose. They do not work.
Welcome back to Winnipeg! Hockey rules!!