During the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft, it was repeatedly mentioned that the last time the Winnipeg Jets drafted a player it was also seventh overall and that player was Shane Doan. Technically that’s true: The last time someone walked up to the podium and selected a player in the first round on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets, that player was Shane Doan.

Of course, Shane Doan still plays in the NHL for the Phoenix Coyotes: the team that drafted him.

In reality, the last time the franchise that is now the Winnipeg Jets drafted a player in the first round it was 2010 and Aleksandr Burmistrov was chosen eighth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Winnipeg Jets website mentions the team’s previous identity as the Atlanta Thrashers in their “draft history” page. According to their official site, the top five picks in franchise history are Ondrej Pavelec, Tobias Enstrom, Kari Lehtonen, Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk. There is no mention of Shane Doan, Nikolai Khabibulin, Teemu Selanne or any other players that were drafted by the original Winnipeg Jets team.

And their shouldn’t be.

Those players were drafted by the team that is now the Phoenix Coyotes. They’re certainly a big part of hockey history in Winnipeg, but they’re not a part of the history of the current Winnipeg Jets.

Dale Hawerchuk isn’t the leading scorer in the history of these Winnipeg Jets, Ilya Kovalchuk is.

On Friday, Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy said that the new Winnipeg Jets are ignoring the history of the Atlanta Thrashers.

The way the ownership group has behaved since that presser a few weeks back has been positively abhorrent. That’s their prerogative, one supposes, but the handling of the transfer of the team from Atlanta to Winnipeg has been completed with a stunning lack of tact and what seems to be an broad contempt.

They jerked around the team’s employees in Atlanta; it was reported somewhere or another that many weren’t officially told the team was moving to Winnipeg until the day before the Board of Governors approved the sale.

Then after gutting an admittedly moribund front office, the team told Craig Ramsay, their very good head coach who briefly performed alchemy to make a subaverage team relevant in the division, that he would be welcome to interview for his own job.

This, of course, meant that he would not be able to keep it, but hey, it was the decent thing to do. If “decent” means “really awful.” He ended up getting the boot, despite having done nothing wrong or even poorly, just because the franchise wanted to do everything in its power to rid itself of all that American South stink the team had around it.

Further evidence? Go to the team’s official website and look at the franchise’s all-time roster. Why, no one is on there. It’s as if the Thrashers never existed. How remarkably arrogant and profoundly nationalistic.

Sure, the Thrashers were far the most successful team in NHL history, but they still existed. The Calgary Flames use the Atlanta Flames logo on the jerseys of their alternate captains as a way to embrace their history.

But what history will these Winnipeg Jets embrace?

Recognizing the history of NHL hockey in Winnipeg certainly includes remembering Doan and Selanne and Hawerchuk and many others. The fact remains that this current team technically has nothing to do with the original Winnipeg Jets. This team is the Atlanta Thrashers and that is the history these Jets should recognize.

However, we could foresee some problems with having a completely separate history from the original Winnipeg Jets.

Evander Kane wears number nine for the Winnipeg Jets. Right?

Technically there’s no problem with assigning Kane number nine on whatever jersey the Jets decide to wear. However, the original Winnipeg Jets retired that number for Bobby Hull. But that banner is in Phoenix. It was temporarily unretired when Bobby’s son Brett played in Phoenix, so the Coyotes franchise certainly respect the retirement.

Do the new Jets?

They could retire the number, but they’d technically be retiring the number of a player who never played for their franchise. However, it would seem weird to have a number nine Jets jersey with a name on the back that isn’t Hull.

Perhaps this is why True North took so long to announce the name. It’s difficult to honor the history of the original Winnipeg Jets while also maintaining that the current team is a separate entity.

If you think this is difficult, imagine if the Phoenix Coyotes moved to Quebec City and became the Quebec Nordiques. They’d also be the Phoenix Coyotes and the original Winnipeg Jets and, of course, the original Nordiques are now the Colorado Avalanche.

Moving a team is always messy, even if it’s replacing a team that once moved.

Comments (8)

  1. Yeah, this is yet another reason why they shouldn’t have caved and made them the Jets.

    That said, the only two original jets numbers that should be retired are Hawerchuck and Hull, so they could do a Leafs-style “honoured but not exactly retired” treatment of the numbers and just move on.

  2. The Flames’ official website doesn’t have any statistics from Atlanta and the Team History page only mentions Atlanta in the context of the team being bought and moved from there. The Devils’ site only has team captains since they moved in 1982.

    BUT, the Coyotes’ team history page includes the history of the old Jets.

    The Draft and stat records on all the NHL pages are organized by team name, with the Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Barons et al listed as separate entities. That same draft page now has two entries for the Winnipeg Jets, so that seems to be the direction the league is taking: two teams for bookkeeping and let the individuals deal with history themselves.

  3. Simple solution alert!!!

    They need to follow the lead of the NFL when dealing with the relocation of the “old” Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and the subsequent awarding of an expansion franchise to Cleveland a few years later (the “new” Browns). They transferred all of the old stats/history, etc. to the “new” Browns team, so that in Cleveland Browns history there is simply a gap of a couple years where there was no team and the Ravens history only begins with their move to Baltimore.

  4. They should NOT have the old Winnipeg Jets history. While it is the same city, it is NOT the same team. The real Jets are in Winnipeg. Quit living in the past/being nostalgic and grow the fuck up.

  5. Great article. It echoes how Thrasher fans feel right now. Since my team abandoned me, I am not going to follow them in Winnipeg, too painful, but many of us plan on watching them on PPV. I defected to Nashville. Good luck Winnipeg Whatevers. I lost all respect for you when you couldn’t wait a year to get YOUR team back.

  6. While I won’t claim to have any insight at all into the motives or intentions of True North – I will say that it’s possible that the “all-time roster” information just hasn’t been transferred yet.

    The season recaps are all there, starting from the 99/00 season, so it would seem foolish to include that, but not rosters if the intention was to eliminate all traces of Atlanta history.

    @Stephen – I’m all for “un-retiring” the old numbers, for the simple reason that it isn’t the same franchise. These are new Jets, not our original Jets. As far as honouring numbers, it would be foolish to suggest that Steen shouldn’t be included in that group. Not only did he devote his entire career to Winnipeg, but he stayed on and is contributing to our community as a city councillor.

  7. If you look at the media guide or record book that the Colorado Avalanche put out, they have the entire NHL history of the Nordiques in there as well.

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