The Name On The Front Or The Name On The Back?

I really don’t care who’s in a Winnipeg Jets jersey anymore –

For me, being a hockey fan today is light years away from the way I viewed my favorite team 40 years ago.  It’s not even close!  To say I’ve become skeptical, cynical and jaded would be an understatement.

I was a kid from East Kildonan and at times I spent more time at the old Winnipeg Arena than I did in High School.  When the Jets weren’t on the road, I was always at the old barn for their practices and I rarely missed a home game. My buddies and I made many trips to St. Paul, Minnesota to watch them play in that funny rink with the clear boards against the Minnesota Fighting Saints.

I lived and died with the WHA Jets and then NHL Jets 1.0.  I still cheer for the home team just as much but I don’t have the same personal attachment to players I had back then.  That all ended when New York Rangers G.M. John Ferguson hi-jacked Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg to the “Big Apple”.  I, along with thousands of Jets fans, felt like we were repeatedly kicked in the gut. Ironically, John Ferguson later became the Winnipeg Jets G.M. but that’s another story.

If I didn’t realize it after the defection of the two “Super Swedes” to New York, it was going to become clearly apparent to me in the future that hockey was a business.

AnderandUlf

photo courtesy of CurtisWalker.com

I learned to love a new group, lead by a bunch of Houston Aeros, looking for a place to play after their team had folded but they were also taken away by the greedy NHL owners who only cared about themselves, not the fans of the four new teams absorbed into the NHL.  Terry Ruskowski, Rich Preston, Kent Nilsson, Paul MacKinnon and others were plucked away by the NHL power brokers.

Another lesson learned.

Rich and Rosco

photo courtesy of CurtisWalker.com

Just in case I needed to have the business side of hockey reinforced for me again, there was the trading of Teemu Selanne to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the last and final straw was the relocation of the Winnipeg Jets to the desert in Arizona.  I don’t know if I ever recovered from that disappointment.  Even though hockey is a business, I admit I have my favorites but at the end of the day all they are to me are chattel.  They are commodities like what you see traded on the stock market floor.

Jets-Avalanche-11

Evander Kane has probably played his last game as a Winnipeg Jet

I no longer pine for or gush over my favorite player.  Here today, gone tomorrow!

Hockey players, owners, General Managers and agents will all say it’s about the fans.  That is the biggest bag of crap perpetrated on the hockey fan.  It’s only about money and how far they can push the limits of exorbitant costs onto the hockey loving consumer.  The players don’t give a shit about the fans!  They care about themselves and their families and that is it.  I don’t buy all of the politically correct BS spewed during the press conferences to announce their new contracts anymore.  Just say the truth … I’m damn happy to be over-paid by you hockey mad idiots!

I still love the game of hockey and I still cheer like mad for the home team but I cheer for the name on the front of the sweater and not the name on the back.  I love Evander Kane and I have defended him many, many times but his time is up in Winnipeg.  Thanks for your service, good luck with your next team, I’m really going to miss you.

NEXT!

Now, Chevy what can we get for him and just let me know who I’m cheering for next.

You could say 40 years of listening to and seeing this kind of crap has made me jaded … maybe, but I have come to terms with the landscape of pro sports with no illusions about the motives of the men who run the games and play the games.

It’s like Tom Cruise said in the movie Jerry Maguire “show me the money”! Unfortunately, that is what it has been about for quite a while and will always be going forward.

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Comments

  1. I cannot disagree with much in this article. Guess I am a cynical old she-goat myself. Definitely all about the money, not the fans. I do still have my favorite players, though. Not as gutted when they leave and under no illusions that anyone is truly untouchable, because see sentence 3.
    Re Kane – absolutely – good luck with your next team. I can’t say I was a fan, I appreciated his talent but never saw him as the superstar in waiting many did. Solid 2 way played absolutely.

  2. Mitch Kasprick says

    I miss those WHA days.

    • Miss the days of blind, youthful optimism? Hell yes.

    • Claude Saindon says

      I think what you’re really saying Mitch is that you miss your youth. So do I.

      I don’t view the current hockey world quite the same way as you. What you say is true. Hockey is a business. It’s all about money…but it’s more than that.

      I’m in it for the entertainment value. That, of course, means all the skill involved in hockey. But it’s also about passion. This team when it is playing its game has an intensity that is rivaled by view. They are banging in the corners and skating with reckless abandon…and I love it. Last night, against Chicago was a gem of a game. Tight-checking but highly entertaining, don’t you think. I would preferred a win but I still felt good after…cause these guys were giving us their all.

      You can’t ask for more and for some three hours all the focus on money disappears. You can’t ask for more.

      As for the Kane fiasco, this too will pass. The team has lots of very hot young prospects and if he is traded we will soon forget him.

      • Mitch Kasprick says

        I still love the game and the action … hell I’m a season ticket holder for 2 NHL franchises … I’ve lost so many favorite players over the years that I’m now numb to this kind of stuff but I still love my Jets and Coyotes!

  3. Glenn Chernick says

    I do agree with a lot of the comments you made, it is a business, but I am not quite as cynical as you, I believe a lot of players still love their fans and play for the name on the front of the jerseys. When you hear stories about how team owners in the past ripped players off, you can’t help appreciating a little self interest on the players part. Last night a salute to Gordie Howe was held in Saskatoon. It proved to me many former players still love the game and their fans and are not just into the game for their own self interests. Perhaps I am a little naive

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      you’re not naive at all …. I didn’t think this Evander Kane fiasco was going to hit me as hard as it has … it’s still the greatest game in the world played by the best people, they’re just very corporate today.

  4. Thanks for sharing Mitch, yes I feel the same way. I worshiped the WHA jets and the NHL Jets. I even played baseball With Brett Hull at Century Arena with Bobby and Joanne attending the games when they could. I sorely was pissed off when the Jets left and after a few years I didn’t even watch hockey until the rumours during winter 2011 that nhl was coming back. I follow them like I was a 15 year old kid again but I know realize it’s all about the money . Kinda sad in a way…

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      I came to terms with it long ago … but like I said in a previous comment it’s still the greatest game on earth!

  5. Well written, well said. The highlight of my days as a Jets fan were when they knocked off the Flames in playoffs one season a long time ago, the Hawerchuk years. You have a greater history with the team than just the average fan that’s for sure.

  6. I agree with literally every point in this article. I bought a Jets jersey as soon as they became available here in Alberta, I still don’t have a name or number on the back (I may eventually) but I am far more excited to wear the logo in front than any name on the back. I follow junior hockey pretty closely – Go Wheaties Go – and pro hockey now reminds me of that in a way that you might have a favorite player for three, four years if your lucky and then they move on. I have never been a huge fan of Kane but I wanted him to work out here – I really did – but time to cut the ties get what we can and move on and hopefully be better without him.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Thanks for reading Chris …. free agency has changed everything …. after the age of 27 it’s a free for all.

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