Under majority owner and president Michael Gobuty, their home base, the Winnipeg Arena, was expanded to 15 250 seats upon their 1979 entry into the NHL's Smythe Division, but merger conditions also stripped them of 10 players. They won only 29 games in their first 2 NHL campaigns but rallied under coach Tom Watt for a second-place division finish in 1981-82. The drafting of Dale Hawerchuk in 1981 gave the Jets their first offensive superstar, but he was not enough to bring the Jets success. Their best season was 1984-85, when they finished 4th overall in the league with 96 points. They never advanced beyond their division in the playoffs, partly because of the toughness of the Smythe Division, which contained both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.
As the playoff drought continued, losses grew and fears of the sale of the team to American interests mounted. In 1991 the team found new local ownership, including a sizable investment by the province that promised to keep the team in Winnipeg. The spate of NHL expansion in the early 1990s led the Jets to be shifted to the Central Division of the Western Conference for 1993-94. The lack of a modern arena and rising player salaries conspired to bankrupt the ownership group, and amidst a half-negotiated deal to sell and move the Jets to Minneapolis in 1995, a frantic public campaign to save the team was mounted. Although three levels of government agreed to build a new arena, a new ownership group formed in May 1995 was unable to raise the team's share of the money. The club was sold to American interests and on 1 July 1996, officially changed its name to the Phoenix Coyotes.
In 2011, the Jets returned to Winnipeg, to the delight of fans who bought out season tickets in 17 minutes when they went on sale on 4 June. On 31 May, True North Sports and Entertainment announced its signing of an agreement in principle to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers and to relocate the franchise to Winnipeg. The NHL Board of Governors approved the move on 21 June 2011. True North did not purchase the team name and decided to resurrect the Jets name. The decision to bring back the Jets name was announced just before their first pick in the 2011 NHL draft.
The new Winnipeg Jets paid homage to Winnipeg's air force history with their new logo, which features the silhouette of a fighter jet superimposed on the air force roundel - a blue circle with a white centre within which is a red maple leaf. The roundel originated with the RCAF, which had a red sphere where the current logo has the maple leaf.
Author DEREK DRAGER
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Official Winnipeg Jets jerseys unveiled
Watch a video clip of a press conference that introduced the official 2011 - 2012 Winnipeg Jets jerseys. From YouTube.
How much of the enduring appeal of that goal is owing to the subsequent tragedy is hard to say. Certainly no one foresaw that it would be Barilko’s last game...