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The Winnipeg Jets were a professional hockey team based in Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker. They played in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972 to 1996. Due to mounting financial troubles, in 1996 the franchise moved to Phoenixmarker, Arizonamarker and became the Phoenix Coyotes.

Franchise history

The WHA Years (1972–1979)

The original Winnipeg Jets logo in the WHA
NHL had recently expanded to 16 teams, adding franchises in many hockey-hungry cities (only one in Canada), but also in Atlanta, Oakland and Los Angeles. The WHA brought major professional hockey to Ottawa, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and later Calgary. On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the WHA, to Ben Hatskin, a local figure who made his wealth in cardboard shipping containers. The team took their name from the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canada Hockey League .

The Jets' first signing was Norm Beaudin ("the Original Jet") and the teams first major signing was Bobby Hull. Hull's acquisition, partially financed by the rest of the WHA's teams, was widely seen as giving legitimacy to the WHA as a serious rival major league to the NHL.

The Jets were further noteworthy in hockey history for being the first North American club seriously to explore Europe as a source of hockey talent. Winnipeg's fortunes were bolstered by acquisitions such as Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA's most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed "the Hot Line"), and defenceman Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who would serve as the team's captain and win accolades as the WHA's best defenceman. Behind these players and other European stars such as Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Veli-Pekka Ketola, leavened by players such as Peter Sullivan, Norm Beaudin and goaltender Joe Daley, the Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA. The team won the Avco World Trophy three times, including in the league's final season against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets made the finals five of the WHA's seven seasons and were widely considered one of the best teams in hockey, NHL or WHA, of the era.

Another notable accomplishment was the Jets' 5–3 victory over the Soviet National team on January 5, 1978, making the Jets the first club team ever to defeat the Sovietmarker elite squad.

In the last season in the WHA, Kent Nilsson had 107 points, while Morris Lukowich had 65 goals, and Peter Sullivan had 46 goals and 86 points. The Jets made it to the Avco Cup and Gary Smith gave up the last goal in WHA history to Dave Semenko in a 7–3 Jets win.

Logo used on the Jets' jerseys from 1972-73

Career leaders (WHA)

The 1976, 1978 and 1979 Avco Cup winning Winnipeg Jets were inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in the team category.

The NHL years (1979–1996)

Winnipeg's second logo, introduced in 1973 and used when it entered the NHL in 1979 until 1990

By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA's teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL. In doing so, they had to give up three of their top six scorers – the core of the last WHA champion – in a reclamation draft. They were also forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. In the draft, they selected low-scoring defenseman Scott Campbell when such future standouts as Kent Nilsson, Terry Ruskowski and Rich Preston were still available. Campbell was out of the league within two years.

With a decimated roster, the Jets finished dead last in the league in the next two seasons, including a horrendous nine-win season in 1980–81 that still ranks as the worst in franchise history. This stands in marked contrast to the other 1979 Avco Cup finalist, the Oilers, who became one of the most powerful teams the game has ever seen during the 1980s.

The Jets' first two wretched NHL seasons did net them high draft picks, and in 1981, they drafted future Hall of Famemarker member Dale Hawerchuk. The team developed a solid core of players by the mid-1980s, with Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Dave Babych, Randy Carlyle, Laurie Boschman, Doug Smail, and David Ellett providing a strong nucleus.

The Jets were very competitive for most of the 1980s and early 1990s, and had a very loyal following. However, regular-season success did not transfer over into the playoffs. This was because Winnipeg played in the same division as the Oilers and Calgary Flames – by some accounts, the two best teams in the league during the second half of the 1980s. Because of the way the playoffs were structured at the time, the Jets were all but assured of having to beat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to get to the Campbell Conference Finals. For example, in 1984–85, they finished with the fourth-best record in the entire league, with 96 points – both their best finishes as an NHL team. While they managed to dispatch the Flames in four games in the best-of-five division semi-final, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in the division final. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990. The Oilers not only won every series, but held the Jets to only four total victories. Five of those times (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990), the Oilers went on to win the Stanley Cup. 1987 was the last time that the Jets won a playoff series (defeating Calgary in the division semi-final before losing to Edmonton in the division final).

As the NHL expanded in the United Statesmarker, operating costs and salaries grew rapidly; this development hit the league's Canadian teams particularly hard. As Winnipeg was the league's fourth-smallest market (eventually becoming the third-smallest market after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denvermarker in 1995), the Jets were unable to retain their best players. Various schemes were devised to save the team through a tremendous grassroots effort and government funds, but in the end the efforts were not enough. The Winnipeg Jets played their last-ever game on April 28, 1996, a home playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4–1. Norm Maciver scored the last goal in Jets history.

During their history, the Jets retired two numbers: Bobby Hull's #9 and Thomas Steen's #25. Both numbers hang in Arenamarker with the new Phoenix Coyotes franchise, in the Jets' old blue-red-white colour scheme adding Dale Hawerchuk's #10 in 2006. Another tradition that was retained when the franchise moved to Phoenix was the "white-out," in which fans wore all white to home playoff games.

Bobby Hull's #9 jersey was temporarily "un-retired" with the acquisition of his son Brett by the Coyotes. Brett wore his father's famous jersey until his own retirement on October 15, 2005, subsequent to which the number was re-retired.

A number of former Jets remain active in the NHL; as of the 2009–10 season, these include Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers, Teemu Selänne of the Anaheim Ducks, Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, and Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings. Shane Doan, the current captain of the Coyotes, is the last Jet to remain with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise.

Dean Kennedy for the Winnipeg Jets

Season-by-season record

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals scored for, GA = Goals scored against, PIM = Penalty minutes

WHA era

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoff record
1972–73 78 43 31 4 90 285 249 757 first, Western Won Quarterfinals (Minnesota)
Won Semifinals (Houston)
Lost Finals (New England)

1973–74 78 34 39 5 73 264 296 673 fourth, Western Lost Quarterfinals (Houston)
1974–75 78 38 35 5 81 322 293 869 third, Canadian Did not qualify
1975–76 81 52 27 2 106 345 254 940 first, Canadian Won Quarterfinals (Edmonton)
Won Semifinals (Calgary)
Won Finals (Houston)

1976–77 80 46 32 2 94 366 291 991 second, Western Won Quarterfinals (San Diego)
Won Semifinals (Houston)
Lost Finals (Quebec)

1977–78 80 50 28 2 102 381 270 988 first, WHA Won Quarterfinals (Birmingham)
Earned Semifinals bye
Won Finals (New England)

1978–79 80 39 35 6 84 307 306 1342 third, WHA Won Semifinals (Quebec)
Won Finals (Edmonton)
WHA totals 555 302 227 26 630 2270 1958 6560

NHL era

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoff record
1979–80 80 20 49 11 51 214 314 1251 fifth, Smythe Did not qualify
1980–81 80 9 57 14 32 246 400 1191 fifth, Smythe Did not qualify
1981–82 80 33 33 14 80 319 332 1314 second, Norris Lost Norris Semifinal (St. Louis)
1982–83 80 33 39 8 74 311 333 1089 fourth, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Edmonton)
1983–84 80 31 38 11 73 340 374 1579 fourth, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Edmonton)
1984–85 80 43 27 10 96 358 332 1540 second, Smythe Won Smythe Semifinal (Calgary)
Lost Smythe Final (Edmonton)
1985–86 80 26 47 7 59 295 372 1774 third, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Calgary)
1986–87 80 40 32 8 88 279 271 1537 third, Smythe Won Smythe Semifinal (Calgary)
Lost Smythe Final (Edmonton)
1987–88 80 33 36 11 77 292 310 2278 third, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Edmonton)
1988–89 80 26 42 12 64 300 355 1843 fifth, Smythe Did not qualify
1989–90 80 37 32 11 85 298 290 1639 third, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Edmonton)
1990–91 80 26 43 11 63 260 288 1675 fifth, Smythe Did not qualify
1991–92 80 33 32 15 81 251 244 1907 fourth, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Vancouver)
1992–93 84 40 37 7 87 322 320 1851 fourth, Smythe Lost Smythe Semifinal (Vancouver)
1993–94 84 24 51 9 57 245 344 2143 sixth, Central Did not qualify
1994–951 48 16 25 7 39 157 177 1141 sixth, Central Did not qualify
1995–96 82 36 40 6 78 275 291 1622 fifth, Central Lost Conference Quarterfinal (Detroit)
NHL totals 1338 506 660 172 1184 4762 5347 27374
Grand total 1893 808 887 198 1814 7032 7305 33934
1 Season was shortened by the 1994–95 NHL lockout.

Notable players

Team captains

Note: This list includes Jets captains from both the NHL and WHA.

First round draft picks

Note: This list includes draft picks from both the NHL and WHA.

Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

Franchise scoring leaders

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise (Winnipeg & Phoenix) history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Coyotes player

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Dale Hawerchuk C 713 379 550 929 1.30
Thomas Steen RW 950 264 553 817 .86
Keith Tkachuk LW 640 323 300 623 .97
Shane Doan* RW 883 227 323 550 .63
Teppo Numminen D 1098 108 426 534 .49
Paul MacLean RW 527 248 270 518 .98
Doug Smail LW 691 189 208 397 .58
Laurie Boschman LW 526 152 227 379 .72
Jeremy Roenick C 384 141 210 351 .91
Morris Lukowich LW 431 168 177 345 .80

Winnipeg Jets individual records

  • Most goals in a season: Teemu Selanne, 76 (1992–93) (NHL rookie record)
  • Most assists in a season: Phil Housley, 79 (1992–93)
  • Most points in a season: Teemu Selanne 132 (1992–93) (NHL rookie record)
  • Most penalty minutes in a season: Tie Domi, 347 (1993–94)
  • Most points in a season, defenceman: Phil Housley, 97 (1992–93)
  • Most points in a season, rookie: Teemu Selanne, 132 (1992–93) (NHL record)
  • Most wins in a season: Brian Hayward & Bob Essensa, 33 (1984–85 & 1992–93)

See also


  1. Scott Adam Surgent, The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association, Xaler Press, 1995. Pg.58
  2. Scott Adam Surgent, Pg.114

External links

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