Winnipeg Jets History

Winnipeg Jets History (Current)

The Winnipeg Jets are a professional hockey team based in Winnipeg, MB. The Jets are members of National Hockey League. The team is owned and operated by True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) which purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and relocated them to Winnipeg. The team plays its home games at the MTS Centre and were re-named the Winnipeg Jets after a lot of public pressure from Winnipeg hockey fans.

 Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets History: The WHA years (1972–1979)

The original Winnipeg Jets logo in the WHA

The NHL had recently expanded to 16 teams, adding franchises in many hockey-hungry cities (only one in Canada), but also in Atlanta, Oakland and Los Angeles. The WHA brought major professional hockey to Ottawa, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and later Calgary. On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the WHA, to Ben Hatskin, a local figure who made his wealth in cardboard shipping containers. The team took their name from the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canada Hockey League.

The Winnipeg Jets’ first signing was Norm Beaudin (“the Original Jet”) and the team’s first major signing was Bobby Hull. Hull’s acquisition, partially financed by the rest of the WHA’s teams, gave the league instant credibility and paved the way for several other NHL stars to bolt to the upstart league.

The Jets were further noteworthy in hockey history for being the first North American club seriously to explore Europe as a source of hockey talent. Winnipeg’s fortunes were bolstered by acquisitions such as Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA’s most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed “the Hot Line”), and defenceman Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who would serve as the team’s captain and win accolades as the WHA’s best defenceman. Behind these players and other European stars such as Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Veli-Pekka Ketola, leavened by players such as Peter Sullivan, Norm Beaudin and goaltender Joe Daley, the Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA. The team won the Avco World Trophy three times, including in the league’s final season against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets made the finals five of the WHA’s seven seasons.

Winnipeg Jets games

A few Winnipeg Jets games

Another notable accomplishment was the Jets’ 5–3 victory over the Soviet National team on January 5, 1978, making the Jets the first club team ever to defeat the Soviet elite squad.

In the last season in the WHA, Kent Nilsson had 107 points, while Morris Lukowich had 65 goals, and Peter Sullivan had 46 goals and 86 points. The Jets made it to the Avco Cup and Gary Smith gave up the last goal in WHA history to Dave Semenko in a 7–3 Jets win.

Winnipeg Jets History: Career leaders (WHA)

Games: Bobby Hull, 411

Goals: Bobby Hull, 303

Assists: Ulf Nilsson, 344

Points: Bobby Hull, 638

Penalty Minutes: Kim Clackson, 413

Goaltending Wins: Joe Daley, 167

Shutouts: Joe Daley, 12

The 1976, 1978 and 1979 Avco Cup winning Winnipeg Jets were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the team category.

This is a link to a web-site that has all the scoring summaries for the WHA and NHL Winnipeg Jets from their first season in 1972/73 through their last season in 1995/96.


Winnipeg Jets History: The NHL Years (1972–1996)

The team began play as the Winnipeg Jets, one of the founding franchises in the World Hockey Association (WHA). The Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA, winning the Avco World Trophy, the league’s championship trophy, three times and making the finals five out of the WHA’s seven seasons. It then became one of the four teams admitted to the NHL as part of a merger that saw the financially struggling WHA fold in 1979.

However, the club was never able to translate its WHA success into the NHL after the merger. The merger’s terms allowed the established NHL teams to reclaim most of the players that had jumped to the upstart league, and the Jets lost most of their best players in the ensuing reclamation draft. As a result, they finished last in the NHL during their first two seasons, including a nine-win season in 1980–81 that is still the worst in franchise history. They recovered fairly quickly, however, making the playoffs 11 times in the next 15 seasons. However, the Jets only won two playoff series, largely due to being in the same division as the powerful Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Because of the way the playoffs were structured for much of their Winnipeg run, the team was all but assured of having to defeat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to reach the Conference Finals. In 1984–85, for instance, they finished with the fifth-best record in the league, only to be bounced by the Oilers in the division finals. Two years later, they dispatched the Flames in the first round, only to be eliminated again by the Oilers in the division finals. The franchise would not win another playoff series for 25 years.

The Winnipeg Jets ran into financial trouble when player salaries began spiraling up in the 1990s; this hit the Canadian teams particularly hard. Winnipeg was the second-smallest market in the NHL for most of the Jets’ existence, and after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995 to become the Colorado Avalanche, it became the smallest market. In addition, the club’s home arena, Winnipeg Arena, was one of the smallest in the league. Despite strong fan support, several attempts to keep the team in Winnipeg ultimately fell through. In December 1995, Jerry Colangelo, owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, along with Phoenix businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke and a local investor group, bought the team with plans to move it to Phoenix for the 1996–97 season. A name-the-team contest yielded the nickname “Coyotes.”

Current Winnipeg Jets Roster

The current Jets roster is a compilation of Atlanta Thrasher roster players and draft picks. The do not have any players on this team that were drafted since moving to the Manitoba capital.

Atlanta Thrashers (1999–2011)

The City of Atlanta was awarded an NHL expansion franchise, named the Atlanta Thrashers, on June 25, 1997. It was the second NHL franchise for Atlanta with the original team being the Flames established in 1972 and re-located to Calgary, AB in 1980.

In their 12 years, the Thrashers qualified for the playoffs only once, during the 2006-07 season and never won a playoff game. Partially due to their lack of playoff success, the team had difficulty drawing fans to attend their games over their final seasons.


Winnipeg Jets (2011–present)

winnipeg jets history

Winnipeg Jets History Re-started May 11, 2011

On May 31, 2011, at a press conference at the MTS Centre, Gary Bettman confirmed that the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North, and would relocate to Winnipeg for the 2011–12 season pending the approval of the sale and relocation by the NHL Board of Governors.


The NHL BOG approved the of the sale and relocation at their June 21, 2011 meeting.


(ref. wikipedia)


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