Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It was a great day for Hockey!

While the final score probably wasn't to the home side's liking, the celebration was on regardless, as the NHL returned to Winnipeg after a far too long absence.

With the storied Montreal Canadiens as the opposition on opening day, the NHL was welcomed back to Manitoba and Canadians joined in on the celebration commemorating the reversal of a dark day in NHL history and the addition of the nation's seventh franchise to the NHL.

The atmosphere in the rink appeared electric as the CBC showed snippets of the pre game skate where the crowd welcomed their newest residents to the ice with rousing, thunderous applause. A theme that would carry through the opening ceremonies and on into the game.

The only break in the cacophony of noise, was when the Jets acknowledged the passing of Rick Rypien, a one time very popular member of the Winnipeg Moose who was to join the Jets this season, an event that never came to pass with the death of the player over the off season.

The passing of Rypien was commemorated prior to the game, the Jets inviting his mother Shelley Crawford to conduct the ceremonial first face off of the Jets return, a gesture that brought home the reality of life in the midst of the excitement of hockey's return.

That moment offered up a mixture of emotions that hopefully reminds us all that there are still more important things in life than a hockey game, one where family, friends and the need to be aware of events beyond the rink are important.

The anthems were next, concluding with a fly past of Royal Canadian Air Force jets, clearly for the benefit of the thousands assembled at outside viewing areas beyond the arena. A quite successful effort on behalf of Winnipeg, which considering the mayhem of Vancouver after the Stanley Cup, shows that there may still be hope for Canadians to gather in large numbers outdoors to celebrate sport and not trash their city in the aftermath

As for the game itself, the Jets showed a few nerves early on but settled in by the middle of the first, however the Canadiens made the best of their opportunities and found the net frequently behind the Jets starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who like many of his Jets teammates had a rather sloppy day of it.

The Jets had their chances in the Montreal end of the rink, however they tended to pass the puck one time too many on far too many occasions and that combined with some stellar goaltending from Carey Price provided the the story of the game for the Jets.

For the record the first Jet to score in the team's return to the NHL was Nic Antropov, who scored the historic marker early on in the third period, the only goal for the Jets on their return, and the answer to future trivia contests and trivial pursuit competitions.

Still, despite the 5-1 final the fans were on their feet for the final few minutes, saluting their team and celebrating the return of the game to a city where it belongs.  Over the course of the next few years we imagine that the fans will become more "fan" like should the Jets stumble on the ice, but for now it's a feeling of "they can do no wrong" and so it should, just having the game back in a market where hockey still has some currency (and we do mean currency) is a welcome thing.

Sunday was so much fun that we look forward when we get to do it all again, oh lets say in a year or so from now when we welcome team number eight back onto Canadian territory, Bonjour Quebec, a la prochaine.

NHL.com had a few items of note posted to their site to celebrate the return of hockey to Manitoba.

Jets' Ladd: 'We were just sloppy"
Mistakes prove costly for Jets
Despite loss, it was a memorable night in Winnipeg
Fans celebrate return of their Jets
Winnipeg Face Off party starts memorable weekend

Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail has been embedded with the squadron so to speak in Winnipeg for the last few weeks, providing fascinating glimpses of hockey's return to Winnipeg and the atmosphere it has brought to the Manitoba capital.

The fork in the road for Jets' boss Cheveldayoff
Harper unveils commemorative coin to mark return of Winnipeg Jets
Gary Bettman receives hero's welcome in Winnipeg
10 Jets to keep an early eye on
Jets look to Kyle Wellwood for leadership
Winnipeg Jets go from darkness to spotlight's glare
What will we do if the Winnipeg Jets win the Stanley Cup?
Reborn Jets trade in sticks for oars in search of team's identity
Hockey is in Manitoba's blood
The explosive world of the hockey goaltender
Profligate Jets squeeze by Canes
No crystal ball for Winnipeg Jets
Troy Bodie yearns to fly with Winnipeg Jets, but...
Jets' preseason a blast for Winnipeg
Coyotes were just '10 minutes' away from becoming Jets
Jets' owners patiently plotted hockey's return to Winnipeg
Start the NHL season already
Watching the Jets take flight
Keep the fourth line on the bench
Winnipeg Jets achieve liftoff
Jets face early chemistry test
Winnipeg Jets first practice 'awesome'
Hockey fever comes early in Winnipeg
Jets players can kiss anonymity goodbye
Winnipeg Jets: the hottest ticket in town
Jets have a new logo, new address, but the goal the same
"Winnipeg Destiny" comes full circle with Jets' return

As well, some of the remembrances of the historic day from the Winnipeg and national media can bet found below.

Winnipeg Sun-- Fans will decide 'real' Jets story
Winnipeg Sun-- Scheifele underperforms in 'average' Jets debut: Noel
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets get litigious over trademarks
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets just want to focus on hockey now
Winnipeg Sun-- Local refs work with heavy hearts
Winnipeg Sun-- Many Jets firsts, except win
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets return a reason to roar
Winnipeg Sun-- Habs pleased to 'spoil' party
Winnipeg Sun-- Open letter to Shelley Crawford, mother of fallen Jet Rick Rypien
Winnipeg Sun-- Emotion not what tripped up Jets
Winnipeg Sun-- Fans know there'll be better nights
Winnipeg Sun-- Canadiens top Jets
Winnipeg Sun-- Cheering is Chipman's reward
Winnipeg Sun-- Game Day
Winnipeg Sun-- Bettman doesn't 'personalize' criticism
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets return is once-in-a-lifetime
Winnipeg Sun-- Scheifele sleepless in Winnipeg
Winnipeg Sun-- Memories of first game still fresh for Jets' Slater
Winnipeg Sun-- 5 questions the rebooted Jets will look to answer
Winnipeg Sun-- Opener ranks high for Jets
Winnipeg Sun-- Jets feeling the love
Winnipeg Sun-- The time is now for Jets
Winnipeg Sun-- Countdown to takeoff
Winnipeg Free Press-- You ain't seen nothing Jet
Winnipeg Free Press-- Plenty cheers, couple of jeers
Winnipeg Free Press-- Rypien tribute strikes a chord
Winnipeg Free Press-- Out of town scribes chip in
Winnipeg Free Press-- On ice product not so hot
Winnipeg Free Press-- Go, Winnipeg, Go!
Winnipeg Free Press-- 'Antropov' answer to trivia question
Winnipeg Free Press-- Habs not spooked by some loud noises
Winnipeg Free Press-- Former villain gets hero's welcome
Winnipeg Free Press-- Jets lose, Winnipeg wins
Winnipeg Free Press-- A day like none other for Chipman, Manitoba
Winnipeg Free Press-- A big homecoming kiss
Winnipeg Free Press-- Highlight Reel: Canadiens 5/Jets 1
Winnipeg Free Press-- Winnipeg Jets -- as Canadian as the maple leaf
Winnipeg Free Press-- Prime Minister joins ecstatic fans Sunday in welcoming Winnipeg Jets...
Winnipeg Free Press-- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman welcomed by hockey fans...
Winnipeg Free Press-- Winnipeg Jets return to NHL but get blow out 5-1...
Winnipeg Free Press-- It's not about winning or losing, at least not yet
Winnipeg Free Press-- Glory days have arrived, have your say
Winnipeg Free Press-- 'Movers' in NHL are 'shakers'
Winnipeg Free Press-- Happy Jets-giving
Winnipeg Free Press-- Thousands gather for Forks family bash
Winnipeg Free Press-- Fight to save Jets spawned fighters
Winnipeg Free Press-- You need to have a cake to ice it
Winnipeg Free Press-- That's mint: Harper introduces Jets coins
Winnipeg Free Press-- Jets gear made here
Winnipeg Free Press-- What they're saying
Winnipeg Free Press-- Proud of our town, our team
Winnipeg Free Press-- Go Winnipeg Go!
Winnipeg Free Press-- Co-pilots ready for takeoff
Winnipeg Free Press-- The Jets and a big league stadium, too
Winnipeg Free Press-- Big day for Winnipeg and the Jets

Winnipeg Free Press-- Claude Noel after Jets opener
Winnipeg Free Press-- Chipman talks before the big game

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