Scottie, Luke, And Markus

Winnipeg Jets 1.0 originals Scott Campbell and Morris Lukowich will be in Winnipeg for the Heritage Classic –

Those of you that visit Winnipeg Hockey Talk know I’ve been around for a while. I actually remember and liked “The Association” and “The Troggs”.  Yup, I am old (61 in Nov).  I have seen a lot of Winnipeg Jets hockey going all the way back to WHA days.  WHA Winnipeg Jets owner Ben Hatskin’s vision in convincing the other WHA owners to help bankroll the heist of Bobby Hull out of Chicago started the ball rolling for the fledgling league.  This is the main reason we get to enjoy what we watch today. 

Looking back at the Winnipeg Jets hockey history there have been some good times like winning THREE Avco Cups, beating the Montreal Canadiens on their very first “Tuxedo Night” in 1979, beating the Soviet Red Army in 1978 and the creation of the “Whiteout”.  There were also some very low times like some of the all too frequent bench-clearing brawls and the Jets first couple of seasons in the NHL.  But, overall the Winnipeg Jets have provided us with some very interesting times.


In the 1970’s, the Winnipeg Jets were definitely the flagship franchise in the WHA and Winnipeg was a city and a team that players actually wanted to play for.  In 1978 the NHL and WHA started negotiating informal merger talks.  It was becoming apparent that the Aeros weren’t going to be included in future NHL/WHA merger talks so they decided to fold their tent.  So, in 1978/79 in what turned out to be the WHA’s final season, an interesting turn of events saw the Winnipeg Jets acquire a group of players from one of their fiercest rivals, the Houston Aeros. 

The Jets ended up getting six or seven players from Houston and with all due respect to John Gray, Paul Terbenche, and Steve West, the core was Terry Ruskowski, Scott Campbell, Morris Lukowich, and Rich Preston.  How these heated rivals eventually meshed the Winnipeg Jets core of Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Lars-Erik Sjoberg, Peter Sullivan etc, and made their run at the final Avco Cup was quite amazing.  Beating the arrogant Glen Sather and the Edmonton Oilers was just icing on the cake.


The next season the Winnipeg Jets were absorbed into the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers, and the New England Whalers.  Their entry into the NHL came with a hefty price as the four teams were only allowed to protect three players but the Winnipeg Jets paid the heaviest price.  John Ferguson and the Jets brass thought long and hard about their selections and when it was all said and done, the Winnipeg Jets ended up protecting Scott Campbell; a big, tough, puck moving defenceman that every team in the NHL would have coveted.  Then there was Morris Lukowich; a small, feisty, speedy, goal scorer that could lift you out of your seat.  Last but not least was goaltender Markus Mattsson; a young, up and coming goaltending prospect.  The biggest losses were Terry Ruskowski (Chicago), Rich Preston (Chicago), Kent Nilsson (Atlanta) and Paul MacKinnon (Washington) who went on to be instant contributors to their new NHL teams.

Scott Luke Markus

I guess the gist of my rambling here is that with the Heritage Classic fast approaching I can’t help but wonder how Ben Hatskin and the WHA will be remembered.  I also wonder how that original NHL team with Scott Campbell, Morris Lukowich, Peter Sullivan, Ron Wilson, Willy Lindstrom, Lyle Moffat, Barry Melrose, and the Jets first captain in the NHL, Lars-Erik Sjoberg  (the Little General) coached by Tommy McVie will be remembered.

The problem that I have is that too many people in Winnipeg think the Winnipeg Jets started in 2011.  I don’t feel the message or the story of those original WHA Winnipeg Jets or the NHL Winnipeg Jets 1.0 is getting it’s proper due by the mainstream media.  Outside of maybe Bob Irving, most of the mainstream media in Winnipeg are either too young to remember or they aren’t from Winnipeg and have little or no knowledge of these players or their accomplishments.  It’s really sad.

 As a small website with a limited readership, I am trying to raise a little awareness and help younger Jets fans to learn a little about the original Winnipeg Jets.  I was wondering if TNSE and the Winnipeg Jets had anything planned with the Heritage Classic fast approaching.  Would they be recognized in any way?  

Going into the Heritage Classic it was a tough choice for True North Sports and Entertainment to decide whether to follow the path of “the franchise’s history” or “the city’s history”.  For me, it’s always been a no-brainer.  Our memories are with the Jets history in Winnipeg and not the Thrashers history in Atlanta but a lot of people don’t always see it this way.  Some fans don’t understand the separation of franchise history & a city’s history … they are two completely different things.

In a recent communication with Scott Campbell, he let me know the Mark Chipman had invited him to Winnipeg for the Heritage Classic weekend.  We also know that Dale Hawerchuk who was chosen to pick the Alumni Team has invited Morris Lukowich to play in the Alumni Game.  We know Ron Wilson is playing in the Alumni Game.  Coach Tom McVie will be behind the bench for the Alumni Game.

As the Heritage Classic gets closer, more and more names from the past are reported to be making their way to Winnipeg to either play in the Alumni Game or show up for local events, swap war stories, and have a few pops with old teammates and fans alike.  It looks like TNSE got it right and it looks like the players from the WHA Jets and the Winnipeg Jets 1.0 will be honoured accordingly.  My fears have been alleviated and these great players will get some well-deserved love from their old fans and I’m sure they’ll make tons of new fans as well.  I can’t help but smile.  Those teams were a very big part of a lot of Winnipeggers lives.

More on Scott Campbell –

When the Jets 2.0 came back on the scene, Scott Campbell became an instant favourite on Twitter.  Scott engages with everybody on Twitter and entertains us with stories from the old days and with insights about today’s game that the average fan could never get anywhere else on a personal level.  His allegiance and interest for his old team in Winnipeg along with his willingness to take the time to interact with a new generation of Jets fans made him very popular in Winnipeg.  Scott is like Twitter hockey royalty.  I know he would scoff at that because he is too modest but he has no idea how the “average joe” appreciates his interactions.  This guy was a first-round draft pick in the NHL (St. Louis), a first round draft in the WHA (Houston), AND he is an AVCO CUP CHAMPION but there he is until all hours of the night hanging out with the Twitter crowd.

Of course, I’m a little biased here because as most of you know Scott wrote for us right here at Winnipeg Hockey Talk and currently pens a weekly article for the Winnipeg Free Press during the hockey season.  I have to give Winnipeg Free Press editor Steve Lyons major props for adding Scott to their stable of writers.

I consider Scott my friend and I have a funny feeling he is going to have a GREAT time in his visit to Winnipeg this week.  I hope he has the time of his life during this week’s festivities, he deserves it!




  1. Hey Mitch,

    LOVE the article. You know how much the WHA Jets meant to me, and Scott knows, too. You both also know I am also a huge Habs fan. 15 year old me was there on Tuxedo night 1979, standing room only. I was thrilled to bits when the Jets won – I have to remind people the Habs had just won the Stanley Cup the prior season as well so that was a hell of a feat for our decimated Jets! Good times indeed.

    • Mitch Kasprick says

      Thanks for reading … If I remember correctly Willy Lindstrom had a hat trick, didn’t he?

      • Carol Vermeer says

        That I don’t remember! I do know he was looking great in the Oilers alumni practice today, though.

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