"It's been hectic"
That is how Scott Brown, the Director for Corporate Communications and Hockey Operations for True North Sports and Entertainment describes the last 72 days since the return of the NHL to the Manitoba capital. The organization has been going non-stop since the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg was announced back on May 31st. True North has had their hands full the past two months with the task of learning how to run an NHL team compared to an American Hockey League team.
For Winnipeg Jets fans, TNSE is the savior of their hockey team that left for Phoenix back in 1996. Hockey fans in Manitoba have hung on every word and every action Mark Chipman's group has made. The Jets announced the hiring of Kevin Cheveldayoff as the new General Manager and brought back Claude Noel as their Head Coach in June. They drafted Mark Scheifele with their first ever pick, seventh overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the same night they announced to the world that the Winnipeg Jets would in fact be the name they would use. Winkler's own Eric Fehr was brought back home in a trade with Washington and a new logo was unveiled. Those are just a some of the many things the Winnipeg Jets organization has had to deal with before the team has even played a game.
The excitement for hockey and sports in general in this province has been contagious all summer. The Jets "Drive to 13,000" season ticket drive was a huge success and the fears of many as to whether Winnipeg could be a viable market for NHL hockey was put to rest rather quickly.
The fire within Winnipeg Jets hockey fans has been completely re-stoked and the wait is still nearly six weeks before they will get to see their team on the ice for the first time. The Jets will host the Columbus Blue Jackets in their 2011/12 pre-season opener on September 20th. They will host the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, October 9th to officially kick off their inaugural season as the "new" Winnipeg Jets.
Matt Friesen spoke with TNSE's Scott Brown about what it's been like within the organization since the May 31st announcement.