Jets look to reclaim Stanley Cup for Winnipeg

Yes, folks, that headline is not a misprint. The City of Winnipeg has, indeed, iced a hockey team that won the Stanley Cup.
In fact, Winnipeg has won three Stanley Cups.
Granted, it’s been a while.
The first national hockey championship came on February 14, 1896, when the Winnipeg Victorias challenged the Montreal Victorias and won the single-game series 2-0.
Five years later, on January 29 and January 31, 1901, the Winnipeg Victorias challenged the Montreal Shamrocks for Lord Stanley’s mug. The Winnipeg club won the first game 4-3 and the second game 2-1.
The Victorias successfully defended the Stanley Cup the following year, beating the Toronto Wellingtons 5-3 on January 21, 1902, and again by an identical score on January 23, 1902.
So, if my math is correct, that makes it 122 years since Winnipeg’s first Stanley Cup celebration, and 116 years since the last one.
Yeah, you could say it’s been a bit of a dry spell.
The Allan Cup replaced the Stanley Cup as the Canadian senior amateur hockey championship trophy in 1908. The Winnipeg Victorias went on to win the Allan Cup in 1911 and the Winnipeg Falcons won the Allan Cup in 1920.
But I digress.
Could Winnipeg’s Stanley Cup drought end this year?
Maybe. The Jets, playing in the smallest NHL market in North America and with a total payroll smaller than what some NHL superstar players are raking in, are definitely for real. The roster is deep with snipers, tough guys, skill guys, speed guys and grinders; and as long as Connor Hellebuyck stays consistent, they have a legitimate shot at making it to the final.
If this edition of the Jets does get past the Vegas Golden Knights in the current round, it will mark the deepest an NHL team from that city has gone in the post-season.
The old Jets, which were part of the World Hockey Association (WHA) from 1972 to 1979, and one of four WHA teams to be allowed into the NHL (along with the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers and Quebec Nordiques) had won three Avco Cup championships in four years.
Those original Jets also had the distinction of having Bobby Hull, an honest-to-goodness hockey superstar, on their roster. When Hull signed a $2.75 million, 10-year contract with the Jets back in 1972, it was the biggest deal in hockey history at the time.
Even though they were a good team, the Jets always seemed to find a way to lose to the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs. But keep in mind, this was the 1980s and the Oilers had Gretzky and Messier in the lineup. Everybody lost to the Oilers in those days.
Besides Bobby Hull, the original Winnipeg Jets had other superstars over the years like Phil Housley, Dale Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Randy Carlyle, Tie Domi, Ulf Nilsson, Ed Olczyk, Kris King, Teemu Selanne and Keith Tkachuk.
But Winnipeg’s NHL dream came crashing down on April 14, 1996, when the team played their final regular season game, losing 5-2 to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. A few months later, on July 1, 1996, the franchise was moved to Arizona and the Jets officially became the Phoenix Coyotes.
It wasn’t until June, 2011, that Winnipeg’s aspirations of reclaiming the Stanley Cup were revived. The struggling Atlanta Thrashers franchise was sold to True North Sports & Entertainment, and the team was relocated to the Manitoba capital. The owners briefly considered a variety of names for the team: the Falcons, the Warriors – all harkening back to glory days of the past. But in the end, there really was only one choice acceptable to the public. The Jets got a new logo, but retained the old name.
The Jets are one of the most solid franchises in the league now, with a fan base second to none. This could be the year for Winnipeg’s fourth Stanley Cup; and its first one this century.