Jon Paul Fiorentino has written a wonderful essay for The Barnstormer about the city of Winnipeg and his lifelong love of the Winnipeg Jets:
When I was a kid, I would save up my allowance so I could go to Winnipeg Jets games. 7-11 had Jets tickets for seven dollars. I would go to games with my neighbour, Rob, or my cousin, Arlen. And, after games, we would hang around in the bowels of the Winnipeg Arena, waiting by the dressing room for the players to come out. By the time I was 15, I had every Jets player’s hockey card autographed. From Dale Hawerchuk to Bengt Lundholm. I had a brief Bengt Lundholm phase. I remember endless games of street hockey on -20 degree nights. All of the neighbourhood kids yelling names of their heroes: “I’m Pokey Reddick!” “I’m Thomas Steen!” “I’m Dave Ellett!” I would sometimes yell, “I’m Bengt Lundholm!” I’m not sure why.
Once, when I was around 7 or 8, I was walking with my dad in the basement of the old barn. It was the second intermission of a game versus the Minnesota North Stars.
He momentarily lost sight of me and I slipped into the Jets dressing room. I remember convincing myself that it was a good idea because I would hear what the coaches were telling the players and then I could report the game plan back to Dad. A split second later, I was chased out by a half-dressed, full-on frothing Jimmy Mann. Jimmy Mann was the Jets’ notoriously talentless first round draft pick goon. The first of many iffy decisions by long-time GM John Ferguson.
Sports aren’t very important. Except when they are.