While current Winnipeg Jets players were playing their games in Atlanta, there were a few things they could count on. They’d have quiet crowds, not much of a home ice advantage, and no worries about being hounded by fans anywhere they went in the city. Now that they’re headed off to the Canadian prairies of Manitoba, while Winnipeg isn’t nearly as big of a city as Atlanta, their worlds are about to be shocked into becoming instant celebrities.
This reality is one that Jets forward Bryan Little was recently made more than aware of. Little, who is opting not to wear his number 10 in Winnipeg out of respect for former Winnipeg Jets star Dale Hawerchuk, got just a taste of what it’ll be like this season and moving forward in his new location as SLAM!’s Paul Friesen shared. Getting hounded in the airport is one thing, dealing with it everywhere you go is something else entirely and Little knows it.
For a guy like Little, who doesn’t crave the limelight, it’ll be different.
“I kind of like flying under the radar,” the 23-year-old said. “It’ll be an adjustment for everyone who’s used to playing in Atlanta. We’re not used to the media, not used to the fans, being in a hockey city like this. It’ll be an adjustment, but probably for the better.”
In the short term, especially.
Over the long haul, that may depend.
Going from being small fish in a huge ocean like Atlanta where there’s the anonymity and the big time nightlife scene was something a lot of players appreciated. In Winnipeg, they’ll be at the top of the food chain in such a small place. At least they won’t have to worry about ever buying a drink again. Even slumping players will have it good… At least for a little while.
This is the one part of the team moving to Winnipeg that will be worth keeping an eye on. The change of going from playing in front of mostly apathetic crowds in Atlanta to a place like Winnipeg where fans will eat, sleep, and breathe everything about how the Jets are doing is going to be a stunning situation for a lot of the guys who spent their whole career with the Thrashers. Guys like Little, Jim Slater, Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane, and Tobias Enstrom are all in for an entirely new experience at home. While it’s likely going to help them out with the home ice advantage, it could prove to make life off the ice a bit more tricky for the sudden superstars and kings of the city.