There are a wide variety of ways to describe the Atlanta Thrashers’ metamorphosis into the Winnipeg Jets (scorned Thrashers fans would probably share the most colorful descriptions). Yet amid all the discussions about the team’s new logo, front office moves and other changes, people often overlook just how sudden this change really has been – maybe because the city has been waiting so long for the NHL’s return.
Then again, it’s not as if hockey is totally new to True North Sports and Entertainment, the company that runs the new Winnipeg Jets. They probably put together a preliminary plan or two when their flirtations with the Phoenix Coyotes reached its greatest heights. True North also ran hockey teams at the IHL and AHL levels during the NHL’s absence.
In a way, their two month scramble could probably compare to the NFL’s lockout-shortened training camp challenges. On one hand, many of the pieces of a team were already in place and much of the Jets’ front office would carry over from the Manitoba Moose. That being said, the organization dealt with quite a “to do list” that probably keeps them from soaking in the significance of bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg, something Jets chairman Mike Chipman discussed with Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press.
“I’ll be honest, we’ve missed a lot of the reaction and we really haven’t had a lot of time to daydream,” Chipman admitted. “But every now and again the reality hits you that we’re playing the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9th and you picture how that’s going to look and feel. It’s fun to contemplate on those things but we don’t get the chance to dwell on them for a long period of time because we’ve got everybody going flat-out right now.
“But I don’t want to give you the impression that we’re so overwhelmed here that people are frantic. It’s not that way at all. I mean, it’s very busy, but it’s also very controlled or measured. Everybody’s going real hard, but it’s work that people like to do. When we first got into the business 15 years ago there was really no chance to exhale. Paint was drying on the walls when we opened up.
“Our people enjoy the process,” Chipman added.
“This is what we’ve been living for and working towards for a long time.”
The Jets and Winnipeg will probably be in honeymoon mode through a big chunk of the multi-year commitments that fans made by snatching up season ticket plans. That being said, every move True North makes will be scrutinized because it would be devastating for that small market to lose the NHL again. They will probably be too busy preparing for the team’s season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on October 9 to really follow the criticisms anyway, though.