White Out or Stay In

The Winnipeg White Out. It’s not even as synonymous with the Winnipeg Jets as it is with the Winnipeg Jets’ fans; the fans that have always boasted they are the best fans in hockey. Sure the NHL has come back to Winnipeg, but lost in that amazing realization is that the fans of the Winnipeg Jets are back in the grandest stage of all.

The White Out was born in 1985. And yes, it was a tradition that was reserved for the playoffs.  According to the book The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg, the White Out was born as a brain child of the then Jets’ public relations department. In a reaction to the Calgary Flames’ “Sea of Red”, Winnipeg thought to do something with its red, white and blue colors. The idea of “White Noise” came from Rod Palson at the advertising agency working with the Jets at the time and figuring that “look, everyone has a white T-shirt in his closet. Why not Wear White Tonight?” And from that simple concept: Everyone has a white T-shirt; the White Out was born.

Of course with the NHL’s rules of home teams wearing dark, wearing white doesn’t make all that much sense. Sure, but if that’s our argument, then are we canning the White Out when we make the playoffs? There are reasons on both sides of the debate; but I believe that we need to white it out on opening night. Here’s a few of my reasons.

It’s a massive stage. It’s our first Hockey Night in Canada; live coast-to-coast. Don, Ron and the boys from CBC will be in attendance along with possibly our prime minister and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.  With the country watching us play the national institution that is the Montreal Canadiens, what better way for us fans to say “Please allow me to (re) introduce myself”!

We will be THE story in the NHL; if only for that day. Game two doesn’t matter to anyone but us, neither will game 43. But for the first game, everyone’s eyes are on us. This is a chance to show North America what Winnipeg Fans are all about. Watching two of the three home exhibition games on television; I know this, that TV does not do the noise in the MTS Centre justice. After all, television is a visual medium, and when highlights are shown on SportsCentre (both ESPN and TSN) it will be a crowd dressed in unison and solidarity that makes viewers’ jaws drop and take notice.

And maybe as silly as this sounds; it kind of ups the ante for our Canadian counter parts. Sure, hockey fans across Canada are happy the NHL has returned to Winnipeg. But they’ll stop short of admitting we’re the best fans in Canada. They reserve that for their own hometown die-hards. So let’s go all-in. Show them what we’re about. Raise the bar for Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and the rest. Make a statement: Not only are we back in the dance, we’re the Homecoming Kings!

Let’s give the new Jets a taste of what they’re in for if they’re still playing hockey in late April. We can say “the exhibition games were crazy, but we’ll be so much louder on opening night.” I don’t think so. When I was sitting in my seat at the exhibition game I wasn’t thinking “well I’m only going to cheer at 80 per cent. I’m only turning it up to 100 opening night”. No, we gave it our all, but we can go one step further. We can also use this as a chance to show the boys on the ice that come April this is what you’re going to get: An Army of White Noise, uniformed in solidarity, cheering on our team with every last piece of our hearts and every part of our souls.

Bottom line is that if you’re lucky enough to be one of the 15, 000 in attendance, and chances are you shelled out good money to sit where you are, you can wear what you want. But you can also wear what you want to the playoffs, too. But I’m hoping that’s not a debate people will want to raise come this April.

Follow me on Twitter @davec4pone

Show your support for a White Out on Twitter #whiteoutorstayin


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Born and raised Winnipegger. A life long Jets fan, as well as a Pop-Culture and sports junkie. For thoughts on the Winnipeg Jets, the NHL and things irreverent follow him on Twitter.