Why Do Winnipeg Jets Fans Have This “Thing”?

 

Why Do Winnipeg Jets Fans Have This “Thing”? …. 

I joined Twitter at the end of January, 2013, having no idea where I was heading.  It’s understandable I found myself among a bunch of Winnipeg Jets fans though, once I understood Twitter.

As a Jets player in the late 70’s/early 80’s, it gave me a brief but substantial glimpse of the Peg.  As someone who had an abbreviated pro career, the Jets were far and away the most significant.  So, it’s not a leap to know I’m a fan and have been since the years following my “final” retirement officially announced in 1986.

ferguson

Winnipeg Jets GM John Ferguson

My last “official” act was to agree to then GM John Ferguson’s request to come to Jets training camp in 1985.  The same Fergie who had traded me to the St. Louis Blues in 1981, at my request, due to health concerns triggered by my asthma.  My old teammate Barry Long was coaching in 1985 and I thought “what the heck”.  Fergie had been good to me and it was tough sell for him but I decided to give it a shot for a few reasons.

I trained hard before camp but got sideswiped in my car on the 401 highway in Ontario hurting my back and neck to the point where I decided that was enough with hockey.

 

Here’s where the title to this blog comes in.

I really liked the people of Winnipeg.  I liked the fans passion for the game.  I had a lot of fun, off the ice as well. 😎  Had many good times including silly things like Kim Clackson and I being enlisted as the “judges” for a bum contest at U. of M.  Packed house!  A blast.  Sorry if I offend anyone.  It was different “back in the day”.  I spent a good part of one summer in the Peg as well and had a blast.  I enjoyed playing on the Molson’s sponsored Jets baseball team in addition to the normal summer time stuff including golf and trips to the lake.  Tough to find fault here.

The extreme winter cold wasn’t welcomed with my asthma but the rest of “Winnipeg” was a very good experience.  I did have a couple of run-ins with Coach Tom McVie and when it happened as captain of the team it was not a good thing.   But, my trade request was based on my health as being a paramount concern for me and unfortunately proved to be so very true.

I came to Winnipeg with a bunch of guys from the Houston Aeros when the whole team was sold to the Jets.   There were a few of us that the owner, Michael Gobuty, negotiated new contracts with.   At the same time, the NHL and the clubs that had drafted us were trying to get us to sign with them. Long story short, we signed five-year contracts and we’re on our way to Winnipeg.

At that time, the Jets had just won the Avco Cup.  We liked the idea of a chance to win even though the NHL was obviously attractive to us.

Multiple points here… Winnipeg equaled a great city to be a pro hockey player in.   The passionate fans which we had seen as visiting players and really nice people.  For me and the others coming from Houston, it was about having a chance to win as the Jets had just won the Avco Cup.

Will Winnipeg Ever Be A UFA Destination? 

When Jets 2.0 finally have that “background”, this destination will be part of a UFA’s plan.  I also believe that the “new world” brings constant communication from players from all teams and it’s easy to get comfortable in something that respected players are saying.

The recent Jet’s “Big Three” RFA signings show the rest of the NHL that the Jets owners are ready to play ball.

So to the Winnipeg “THING” that they’ll never get the best players to play here because of “the city”, I say you have it wrong.  This ownership is spending and if GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is spending right then the rest will follow. “Build it and they will come.”

Don’t worry.   Some will surely say “What does Campbell know?  His time here was a long time ago!”  I’d say Winnipeg hasn’t got that big yet.  Thank heavens.  Just about perfect for a great many players out there.  Hockey players aren’t movie stars.  They are Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little…

I’m just an old player who has no “journalistic” rules but I feel that since I mentioned his name I need to disclose that I’ve hired Little’s agent to handle my new contract at work.  Ha ha ~  Just Kidding!

As a GM-on-the-couch, I was trying to hardball Little keeping Wheels and Bogo happy $-wise and then sign Grabovski with the extra cash.  But as a former player, I’m glad he got his money.  😛

No wonder I never know which way to vote in an election, eh?

 

Comments

  1. Carol Vermeer says

    If I say I agree with you are you gonna get mad?

  2. Scott Campbell says

    I am absolutely shocked, humbled and grateful for your comment. 🙂

  3. R. Stevens says

    Hi, Scott.
    I was searching for stuff about Kim Clackson and came across this web site and was pleasantly surprised to see that you were posting here. I’m a huge fan of the WHA and the Winnipeg Jets teams of that era. I hope it’s ok with you if I ask a few questions about the Jets and the WHA of the late 70’s:
    Firstly, what was your impression of Kim Clackson when you played with him. Secondly, what was it like to play hockey in Houston. Thirdly is it true as some claim that you once got the better of Nick Fotiu in a fight.

  4. Scott Campbell says

    Thanks for reading and commenting Mrs./Mr./? Stevens. 😉
    Nice that you are following up on Clacker. he was a guy I had great times hanging out with off-ice and enjoyed tremendously. He was nothing like his on-ice persona might suggest. And he was a terrific teammate who would do whatever he could to help the team win. Just glad for the times he was on my side. 🙂 He’s a W.H.A. legend for a very good reasons.
    Houston was an awesome place to play. It helped that the weather there was kind to my lungs, which had been prone to asthma my whole life. As a professional rookie, I couldn’t have imagined better teammates. Fan support was good too, which makes me wonder why that hasn’t amplified into a N.H.L. transfer or expansion franchise by now, decades later.
    And yea, I got a lucky punch in on Nick, after he started the game by bumping into Gary Smith, our goalie. He didn’t return to game, although he seemed okay, but bloody. I have to admit, that was probably the easiest pro game I ever played, AFTER the fight. 🙂 Just lucky that day.

  5. R. Stevens says

    Thank you so much for replying, Scott. I can barely believe that I’m chatting with a former member of the Jets, and a W.H.A legend such as yourself, Scott.
    I’m a bit too young to remember the W.H.A but I read everything I can get my hands on about the league and watch everything I can find about the W.H.A on youtube. I only wish there were more complete games from the league on there.
    It was nice to hear that you enjoyed playing in Houston. I can only imaging the contrast, weather wise, from playing in Houston and then moving to Winnipeg. It’s too bad about your health problems and that you had to retire so soon.
    One last question if it’s ok with you, Scott. I noticed that your first W.H.A season was in 1977/78. That was the year that the Birmingham Bulls had all those goons on the team. Do you remember any particular incidents when playing against them and were they as wild and crazy as as many of the
    stories I’ve read years later would lead you to believe.

    Thanks again.

    Sorry for not using my first name earlier. It’s Ryan by the way.

  6. Scott Campbell says

    Hey Ryan, I appreciate your passion to find out more about the W.H.A. There are some great sources for info on the net. I have a few people on twitter that are hockey historians that I follow, and their work is excellent. You may know them. They are all great, including a national presence, Jeff Marek of Sportsnet who has a ton of W.H.A. archives in particular, and a huge supporter of the league.

    And before I forget, thank you on your kind comments regarding me. 🙂

    The Bulls certainly had a unique crew. I try to stay away from one-sided commentary on things, as there is usually another side to be told. The Fotiu fight was easy, as it was so black and white.

    The Bulls had one bad-ass crew, to be sure, but my team in Houston didn’t have any real problems with them, as they were a battle-hardened, tough group of guys who could play the game any way you want. A great place for a rookie to break into the pros in. I learned a LOT.

    I’ll throw out a story, as the main guy became a friend out of the blue. a guy named Keke Mortson, who had played in earlier days of the W.H.A. We ran into a bunch of injuries in Houston, and signed him out of an industrial league he was playing in for fun. in North Bay, Ont. In Birmingham he decided it was a good time to run Dave Hanson from behind, and put him into the Bulls bench. Naturally the Bulls bench attacked and away we go. I remember being jumped from behind and also doing bad things myself :), at the end, I looked up and there was Keke, untouched, chirping the Bulls. haha and every time I reminded him of that he just laughed. Too bad for us. Good guy, Keke. R.I.P.

    There were lots of yard sales, but they weren’t the only team. They just had a boatload of guys who lived for it. 🙂

  7. R. Stevens says

    Great story about Keke Mortson against the Bulls, Scott. Thank you. According to what I heard, Keke was a real character. I read a story somewhere of how he once as a member of the AHL Baltimore Clippers instigated a brawl in Buffalo which escalated to the point where it took 72 Buffalo policemen to escort the Clippers off the ice. All the while the Buffalo crowd kept yelling “Give us Mortson!”

    By the way, I just recently watched highlites of a game between the Aeros and the Birmingham Bulls from the 1977/78 season on youtube, and it was nice to see that you scored a goal in the game, Scott.
    Thanks again for the great story.

  8. Scott Campbell says

    Great Keke story Ryan. He’s hopefully looking down on this thread with a smile. I know it made me do that! “Give us Mortson!” 🙂

    I think that goal must have been a power play goal. I believe there was a line brawl at the time, including the goalies, and I had a clear path to the net. 🙂

  9. “I think that goal must have been a power play goal. I believe there was a line brawl at the time, including the goalies, and I had a clear path to the net. :)”

    Yep, that’s excactly what happened.

    Ryan

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