On today’s date in 2011, the Winnipeg Jets made their regular season debut before a sold-out crowd at MTS Centre (now Bell MTS Place) in Winnipeg, Man.
After a 15-year hockey void in Winnipeg, the reborn Jets were defeated 5-1 by the Montréal Canadiens. Nik Antropov scored early in the third period to net the first goal in modern Jets’ history.
ORIGINAL WINNIPEG JETS (1972-96)
While the current Jets franchise was relocated from Atlanta (former home of the Thrashers), the original Winnipeg Jets team was one of the founding franchises of the World Hockey Association (WHA), which was established in 1971 but played its first season the following year.
By the end of the decade, when most of the WHA’s teams were folding, the Jets joined the National Hockey League (NHL) along with the Québec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers as part of the WHA-NHL merger that began the 1979-80 season.
In April 1996, the original Jets played their final game before relocating to Arizona and becoming the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes).
MODERN WINNIPEG JETS (2011-PRESENT)
In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers were relocated to Winnipeg. Four years later, the Jets clinched their first Stanley Cup playoff appearance since relocating to the Manitoba capital. The team finished the season as the Western Conference’s second wild card to earn 99 points and a first-round series with the Anaheim Ducks, who eventually swept the series 4-0, winning each of the first three games with third-period comebacks. The Jets lost the series 5-2 on home ice.
In November 2011, Canada Post unveiled a set of three stamps (Scott #PP7-PP9) to commemorate the Jet’s return to Winnipeg. Because the announcement of the Jets’ return was made too late to include the stamps in Canada Post’s planned stamp program, the stamps were issued as Picture Postage. The stamps feature two styles of Jets logos while a third stamp features an image of Antropov scoring the team’s first goal on today’s date in 2011. Canada Post president Deepak Chopra was present for the stamp unveiling, and the issue was sold at post offices across the country.
In 2013, Canada Post issued a 63-cent stamp (SC #2675) as part of its Canadian NHL Team Jerseys series. This issue features the team’s current home and away jerseys inspired by its beloved name and the community’s special relationship with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
“When hockey was first featured on a Canadian stamp in 1956, the focus was on the jersey and the word ‘Canada’ emblazoned across the chest,” said Deepak Chopra, Canada Post president and CEO, in 2013. “With the issue of these Canadian NHL team stamps, we turned once again to the love fans demonstrate by wearing their team’s colours not only at home games, but at all times. Team jerseys have become an incredible rallying point.”
Canada Post Stamp Design Manager Liz Wong notes: “The city’s fans have thrown their support behind their new team. On our commemorative, a young fan proudly wears the away jersey of her team. Hopefully, in the future, Winnipeg Jets fans will look back at these stamps and say ‘I remember when I wore that…’ That’s the response we want, that sense of history.”
Also in 2013, Canada Post issued a Canadian NHL Team Pucks series, which also included the Jets (SC #2667).
Stamp designer Avi Dunkelman noted “Winnipeg’s drive to have an NHL franchise return to the city drew heavily on the support of fans. Their enthusiasm really springs from a shared love of hockey, a shared history of pickup games on outdoor rinks and a shared memory of games played and victories won.”