Jets... We're Not in Atlanta Anymore

By nickmarek

When the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg earlier this year, nobody knew what to expect.

Now NHL fans have a better idea of the kind of hockey the Jets will be playing up north. Certainly now that the team moved to Canada, it will have a larger fan base and more revenue than it did in downtown Atlanta. However, the ownership needs to be aggressive and make a splash in trading and free agent markets next season to keep the fans loyalty.

The past few weeks have been busy ones for the Winnipeg Jets. Yesterday, they re-signed forward Blake Wheeler to a two year deal worth $5.1 million and they were able to bring in many new faces who are used to winning – Something the then-Thrashers could never do. The organization attract plenty of interest during free agency since moving to Canada. Stanley Cup Runner-ups Tanner Glass and Rick Rypien, Washington’s Eric Fehr, and Tampa Bay’s Randy Jones are some of the newest Jets that were added during the free agent period.

Due to the relocation, the Winnipeg Jets are going to be a competitive team in the Southeastern Division and may have the rowdiest crowd in the league (can you challenge them, Caniacs?). The question is will they make a large enough impact playing one season in the East before they tentatively move to the West?

With the Jets moving to central Canada, there have been talks about the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets or Nashville Predators moving to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-2013 season. But before we get too excited about what team is going to trade places with the Jets, lets first focus on the talent that is going to be seen in Winnipeg.

The Jets will be led by captain Andrew Ladd and the goal-tending duo of Ondrej Pavelec and veteran Chris Mason. Will the Jets get fatigued from all the traveling they will encounter next season? They will have to travel to Washington D.C. (1246 miles), Raleigh, North Carolina (1346 miles), Tampa Bay, Florida (1701 miles) and Sunrise, Florida (1893 miles) three times to play against their division rivals.

Three of the teams first six games will be against Canadian teams and two others will be a home ice match-up against Sidney Crosby and company and an away contest against the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Other significant games are a trio of road games against the Philadelphia Flyers on October 27, the Boston Bruins on November 26, and the Detroit Red Wings on December 10. Talk about being battle tested during the first half of the season? The Jets will have to settle in to their new location rather quickly so they can spend more time focusing on hockey.

The Jets will bring a new kind of fan base to the Southeastern Division and may make the division the toughest one in the NHL when it comes to playing them on the road. Last season, the Capitals and Lightning each finished above the 100 point mark and the Hurricanes missed the playoffs by just two points (91 total points).

Even though it may only last one season, this move may be just what the NHL needs to spice up the league and make it more exciting. Lets see if the Jets can wiggle their way into the playoff picture in mid-March. Now wouldn’t that be impressive?

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