While a few days have passed since the Jets landed in Calgary, the experience is still fresh in my mind. You can listen to our immediate post game thoughts on our impromptu podcast, but this post is about one thing…the fans.
The fans we encountered were nothing short of amazing. Their passion and energy brought life to the Saddledome and I’m not only talking about the Jets fans. Our section in particular made a fun night even better. The Jets fans in it cheered along with us and the Flames fans had good fun with us that was enjoyable for all.
There were no threats or intimidation between fans of different loyalties and all jeers directed were of the good-natured family friendly kind. Granted we were sitting in an area with children so this was to be expected, I can’t speak for how it was up in the nose bleeds where the majority of that crowd is made up of 20-30 year olds.
We had chances both before and after the game to talk to some fans and while the pregame chats were generally more composed and literate, the post game chats – while laced with profanity – were just as or more passionate. We ran into Dave Fried who has a custom goalie mask painting company located in Calgary and his custom Winnipeg Jets mask.
We ran into several Winnipegers that made the trip west for the game. Ryan and Jason Miller were two brothers that did just that in their Jets fighter helmets. We even got a chance to talk to Calgary Flames in-game announcer Beasley who stopped to take our picture because he wanted a memory of how crazy Jets fans were that night.
The day started off like any other Friday for Marshall and I. An early start to record our weekly Winnipeg Jets podcast. We were lucky enough to have a pair of special guests on this weeks episode from the official podcast at CBCsports.ca. That Friday however was going to be very different though as it had been one that was circled on our calendars since the day the schedule had been announced. Shortly after our interview with Jesse and Chris, we got contacted by Amanda Stephenson of the Calgary Herald to do an interview about the game later that night.
After we finished recording our podcast we had our chat with Amanda, with that complete it was time to finish preparations for the night’s festivities. After finally deciding on our signs for the games it was time to bring them to life. Along with the signs was the creation of a custom Jets superhero mask to show of just how much love for the Jets we have. With our signs and outfits ready it was time to head down to Melrose for some pregame fun and a chance to gather together fellow Jets fans to Whiteout the Red Mile. Melrose, as always is a great place to gather before and after the game, something we did both of on Friday night.The game of course did not start off the way we or any Jets fans had hoped with Calgary roaring out to a 3-0 start. The fans for both teams however did not waver in support. When Evander Kane got Winnipeg on the board the countless Jets fans erupted. We finally had something to celebrate in front of the Flames fans sitting around us. While hope remained until the final buzzer sounded, the Jets fans in attendance were just as jubilant after the game as one fan Ashley would chant after the game “win or lose we still booze!”
That chant really summed up the night as this game was a chance for many former Winnipegers and Jets fans new and old that live in Calgary the chance to celebrate the Jets return to the NHL first hand. It was a party from way before the puck dropped to well after the game had ended. It was a celebration of pride for a team lost and now returned and was a night that those in attendance will never forget.
“It was amazing. I had butterflies. It was like going on a first date after being out of it for 15 years.” said Aisling. “It was also like riding bike…you never forget how or what it means to be a Jets fan.”
Marshall felt, “It was awesome. All the fans getting along but still being competitive with each other. Everything from the chants to the annoying stickers.”
To sum up the night in a single quote I’ll say just this, “The NHL won big with this game, and if every game could have an atmosphere like that then the NHL would have a lot less troubles than it currently does. The game was entertaining, the teams played hard and the fans cheered harder while being respectful at the same time. It was a night I’ll remember forever.”