Only two players have prepared for the previous 10 regular season games for the Winnipeg Jets.
On Wednesday night in Anaheim, only Captain Blake Wheeler will keep that streak intact when he takes the ice at the Honda Center for the Jets’ season 11 opener since moving from Atlanta.
Mark Scheifele will be in the building. But the Jets’ first draft pick, who has also played in all 10 of those previous curtain-raisers, will have to stay out of his first opening night due to the suspension he received in Game One of the Division final. North. On June 2 against Montreal for a late hit that injured Canadiens forward Jake Evans.
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So aside from the historic 5-1 loss to the Habs on October 9, 2011, when Jets fans celebrated the NHL’s return to Winnipeg, are there other memorable opening nights that come to mind? Wheeler?
“Uh, not really. Honestly, uh no, ”was the Jets captain’s reply. And he wasn’t looking forward to expanding his personal achievement of scoring points in six of the seven most recent season starts, either.
All he wanted to know was what the team’s combined record was in those seven games. And when they told him it was 5-2, Wheeler said, “I like that then. That is my answer. “
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So ditch the idea of taking a walk down memory lane with the man who has played 737 of his 981 NHL career games in a Winnipeg uniform.
Not that it was a surprise that Blake Wheeler stayed away from that conversation. Warm and fuzzy is simply not the mantra for the 35-year-old Minnesotan, who was Arizona’s fourth overall pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft.
Ironically, he never played a single game for the franchise that started in Winnipeg before moving to the desert prior to the 1996-97 season.
But just because Blake Wheeler prefers to wait for Wednesday night in Anaheim rather than look back at the last decade, doesn’t mean we can’t.
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Season Kickoff 1 – October 9, 2011: Montreal 5 at Winnipeg 1
The preparation for this game was incredible, and many Manitobans will never forget it like the day the NHL officially returned to the city and province after a 16-year hiatus.
The visiting Canadians took a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. But Nik Antropov gave Winnipeg some life when he scored the Jets 2.0’s first goal with just 2:27 of the third period to cut the deficit in half.
But Yannick Weber blew the air out of the home team’s sails with a powerplay goal just under two and a half minutes later. However, the end result did not stop fans from celebrating throughout the city center long after the final whistle.
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Season 2 Kickoff – January 19, 2013: Ottawa 4 at Winnipeg 1
The 2012-13 campaign finally got underway after a work stoppage that delayed the on-time start of the season for the third time in 18 years.
The Jets were able to get off to a much better start to this game, with Dustin Byfuglien scoring just six minutes into the game.
But it was all the senators after that, as Winnipeg couldn’t make anything come out offensively after falling behind 2-1 at the end of the second period.
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Season 3 Kickoff – October 1, 2013: Winnipeg 5 at Edmonton 4
For the third time in their brief existence, the Jets opened the season against a Canadian opponent. But this time on the road, and with a positive result, as Michael Frolik started a comeback from a 4-2 deficit with a goal late in the second period.
After Jacob Trouba tied the game just after the middle of the third for a memorable NHL debut, Frolik scored the winning goal with 5:02 left.
Season opener 4 – October 9, 2014: Winnipeg 6 at Arizona 2
For the first time in Winnipeg’s portion of their franchise history, the Jets 2.0 played an American opponent on opening night. To make it even more special, it was against the team formerly known as Winnipeg Jets 1.0.
Blake Wheeler scored goals just 15 seconds apart, approaching the midpoint of the first period. Bryan Little also had a two-goal night as the Jets improved to 2-0 in the opening games of the season on the road.
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Season Kickoff 5 – October 8, 2015: Winnipeg 6 at Boston 2
After falling behind 1-0 at first, the Jets scored three unanswered goals in the second period, then added three more in the third period as the Bruins cut the lead to 3-2.
Drew Stafford and Alex Burmistrov each had a goal and an assist when the Jets 2.0 won in Boston for the first time after going 0-3-2 in their first five visits to the TD Garden.
Season Kickoff 6 – October 13, 2016: Winnipeg 5 vs Carolina 4 in overtime
After starting the previous three seasons with road victories, the Jets started at home in the sixth year. For the first 45 minutes, it looked like Winnipeg would go 0-3 when Carolina scored four unanswered goals after Shawn Matthias had given the Jets a 1-0 lead.
But point out the comeback, as Blake Wheeler scored from an understaffing just nine seconds after the Hurricanes were up 4-1. The captain also helped set up tying and victory goals for Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele as the Jets won their fourth consecutive start of the season.
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Season opens 7 – October 4, 2017: Toronto 7 at Winnipeg 2
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Or did they?
The Maple Leafs became the third different Canadian-based team to win a season opener in downtown Winnipeg. Patrick Marleau scored consecutive goals in his Toronto debut to give the Leafs a 5-0 lead in what, to date, was the Jets’ most lopsided loss in a season opener.
Season opens 8 – October 4, 2018: Winnipeg 5 at St. Louis 1
Back on the road and back in the win column for the Jets who played a division rival on opening night for the first time.
Blake Wheeler had another multi-point performance with goal and assist. But the game’s first star, Connor Hellebuyck, was the story tonight by stopping 41 shots and losing his bet on a shutout when the Blues Vince Dunn scored with just under six minutes to play.
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Season Kickoff 9 – October 3, 2019: NY Rangers 6 vs. Winnipeg 4
The Jets’ perfect 4-0 record in the road season opener was halted as the Rangers overcame a 4-3 deficit in the third period when Oakbank’s Brett Howden scored the winning goal with just over four. minutes to play.
This time, he was the opposition goalkeeper putting on a show when “King” Henrik Lundquist made a 43-save effort. Blake Wheeler led Winnipeg with a pair of goals for his fourth multi-point game on opening night in a Jets jersey.
Season start from January 10 to 14, 2021: Winnipeg 4 vs Calgary 3 in overtime
In addition to playing in the unique circumstances of an empty building as a result of the pandemic, this game also marked Patrik Laine’s endgame as a Winnipeg Jet.
The talented Finn gave his legions of fans something to remember by scoring his second goal of the night in extra time. Nine days later, he and Jack Roslovic were traded to Columbus for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a 2022 third-round pick.
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