It’s time for the NHL to end the charade and return the original Winnipeg Jets 1.0 history back to the current Winnipeg Jets. With a team in the NHL named the Winnipeg Jets, there is no reason for the Arizona Coyotes to honour the Winnipeg Jets history that took place in Winnipeg from 1979-1996.
This may seem like something minor and petty, but when the Coyotes are honouring events that didn’t happen in their city and the Jets ignore their own city’s hockey history, it doesn’t seem right. Other leagues in the same predicament have simply moved over the records and history.
After True North Sports & Entertainment, picked the Winnipeg Jets as the new team’s name, the team and fans took all of the tradition that came with it. That includes, The Whiteout, The Queen, cheering for Teemu Selanne and starting “Go Jets Go” chants anywhere and everywhere.
As it stands now; the previous Jets franchise’s records and history have remained in Arizona where the team moved, and the new Jets have inherited the Atlanta Thrashers’ history and records.
Earlier this season when Chris Thorburn passed Ilya Kovalchuk for the Jets/Thrashers franchise leader for games played. I said on The Warmup with Matt Leibl on TSN 1290 Winnipeg (at 35:40) that it was a nice accomplishment, but Kovalchuk didn’t play here, Winnipeg hockey fans don’t have any emotional attachment to him, and the true record for games played with the Winnipeg Jets belongs to Thomas Steen with 950 games played.
When Nikolaj Ehlers recorded his first career hat trick on Jan 26, 2016, the NHL’s PR account was quick to point out that Ehlers was the youngest player in Jets/Thrashers franchise history to record a hat trick since Kovalchuk in 2002.
And when Dustin Byfuglien scored a rare 3-on-5 goal the game notes pointed out that it was the first 3-on-5 goal in Jets/Thrashers franchise history since Daniel Tjarnqvist on Jan 18, 2004 at Carolina.
Again, these moments in ‘franchise’ history are great accomplishments, but Winnipeggers are more likely to celebrate Teemu Selanne’s stats recorded in a Jets uniform than anything done by Ilya Kovalchuk in a Thrashers uniform.
The same thing is occurring in Arizona where the Coyotes are forced to honour records that were established in Winnipeg.
On Friday night, Shane Doan passed Dale Hawerchuk for the Jets/Coyotes franchise lead in points. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Shane Doan, but he didn’t need to pass Hawerchuk to be the Coyotes’ all-time leader in points. Hawerchuk never played in Arizona and Doan has been the face of hockey in the desert for the last twenty years.
Professional sports franchises moving locations while their records and history remain has happened in the NFL, NBA and CFL.
In 1995 Art Modell moved the Browns out of Cleveland to Baltimore. The fans and the city revolted and struck a deal to keep the Browns’ name, colours, history, records, award and archives in Cleveland. When Cleveland was awarded an expansion franchise, it remained the Browns. In their history and record books it states that the team was ‘deactivated’ from the years 1996-1999.
The original Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans following the 2001-02 season. In 2004 Charlotte was awarded an expansion franchise named the Bobcats. After the 2012-13 season New Orleans’ franchise became the Pelicans, leaving the Hornets name open. The Charlotte Bobcats quickly reclaimed the name ‘Hornets’ and since May 2014 the old Hornets name, history and records from 1988-2002 were moved from New Orleans back to Charlotte.
When the CFL’s American expansion failed, the Baltimore Stallions moved to Montreal. They were reincarnated as the Alouettes. The CFL now recognizes all the clubs that have played in Montreal since 1946 as one franchise, and the Stallions became defunct. Meaning, the Alouttes didn’t have a 20th anniversary celebration for the 1995 Baltimore Stallions Grey Cup Win. Additionally, all of Ottawa’s CFL teams have been combined into one franchise.
How would it work?
The Arizona Coyotes can continue to grow their franchise and history without having to recognize their past in Winnipeg.
Currently the Arizona Coyotes Top 10 All-Time Points Leaders are: Shane Doan (930), Dale Hawerchuk (928), Thomas Steen (817), Keith Tkachuk (623), Teppo Numminen (534), Paul MacLean (518), Doug Smail (397), Jeremy Roenick (379), Laurie Boschman (379) and Morris Lukowich (345).
After the change, the Coyotes Top 10 All-Time Points Leaders would be: Shane Doan (914), Jeremy Roenick (379), Keith Tkachuk (334), Keith Yandle (311), Radim Vrbata (288), Martin Hanzal (271), Teppo Numminen (269), Ladislav Nagy (249), Mikkel Boedker (210), and Daymond Langkow (196).
The Coyotes Top 10 after removing the Jets history is much more marketable and valuable to the Coyotes franchise than having to recognize Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Doug Smail, Laurie Boschman and Morris Lukowich who never played in Arizona.
What to do with Atlanta?
The Atlanta Thrashers records and history of events that happened in Atlanta, would be in the same spot as the California Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons. (aka defunct). The current Jets can choose to honour certain Thashers’ traditions (aka the Dan Snyder Award).
Having Winnipeg’s NHL history in two different places is confusing to fans and is not fair to their respective cities. Events that occurred in Winnipeg from 1979-1996 are now being recognized and honoured in Arizona, while Winnipeg is forced to celebrate the Atlanta Thrashers history from 1999-2011.
Now that Shane Doan has become the Coyotes franchise leader in all major statistical categories and Winnipeg’s franchise has had five years to establish it’s own identity. It is time for the NHL to move the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 history from the desert back to the prairies.