Ice Hockey Wiki
Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Jets
Founded 1972
History Winnipeg Jets
1972–1979 (WHA)
1979–1996 (NHL)
Phoenix Coyotes
1996–present (NHL)
Home Arena Winnipeg Arena
City Winnipeg, Manitoba
Colours Blue, red and white

The Winnipeg Jets were a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They played in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972 to 1996. In 1996, the franchise moved to Phoenix, Arizona due to financial troubles and became the Phoenix Coyotes.

Franchise History

The WHA Years (1972-1979)

The original Winnipeg Jets logo in the WHA

The 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. In 1972, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the WHA.

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 to seriously 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 three Avco Cups, 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 to ever defeat the Soviet elite squad.[1]

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. [2] 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. [2]

Logo used on the Jets' jerseys from 1972-73.

Career Leaders (WHA)

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 – and were forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. With a decimated roster, the Jets finished 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 Fame member Dale Hawerchuk. The team developed into 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 giving the Jets a solid nucleus and a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup championship.

Unfortunately, regular-season success did not transfer into the playoffs. This was because the Jets played in the same division as the powerful Oilers and Flames (who were originally based in Atlanta, but by this time were in Calgary). Due to 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 league, with 96 points – both their best finishes as an NHL team. While they managed to dispatch the Flames 3 games to 1 in the Division Semifinals, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in four games in the Division Finals. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990, with Edmonton winning every series, holding the Jets to just 4 total victories. 1987 was the last time that the Jets won a playoff series (defeating Calgary in the opening round), a drought that has continued to plague the franchise in Phoenix.

As the NHL expanded in the United States, operating costs and salaries grew rapidly; this development hit the league's Canadian teams particularly hard. As Winnipeg was the league's second-smallest market (eventually becoming the smallest market after the Québec Nordiques moved to Denver 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 Arena with the new Phoenix Coyotes franchise. Bobby Hull's #9 jersey was temporarily "un-retired" with the acquisition of his son Brett by the Phoenix franchise. 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 2006-07 season, these included Dallas Drake, Nikolai Khabibulin, Teppo Numminen, Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Kris Draper, Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. Shane Doan is the last Jet to remain with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise.

The New Winnipeg Jets

Although a new arena has since been built in downtown Winnipeg to replace the aged Winnipeg Arena, the arena's managers have stated that the 15,000 seat MTS Centre was not erected in hopes of attracting an NHL team back to the city. However, the arena could be easily upgraded to NHL standards.[3] A frenzy erupted in the local and national media when many Winnipeg businessmen expressed that they were pro-actively approaching the idea and were in the process of forming an ownership group, although as of the end of the 2006-2007 season there had been no official statement.

During the 2007 Manitoba provincial election campaign, Conservatives promised to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg if elected. The elected New Democratic Party of Manitoba has also mentioned their support for the return of the Jets, with Premier Gary Doer saying he has been in talks to bring a team to the province.[4]

During a press conference Gary Bettman stated that the idea of Winnipeg having an NHL team sounds intriguing. He also stated that another team in Winnipeg could happen one day.[5] However on May 31, 2011, True North Sports and Entertainment, owners of the AHL Moose, announced it had signed an agreement in principle to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers from Atlanta Spirit, LLC, and to relocate the franchise to Winnipeg. The move was approved by the NHL Board of Governors on June 21, 2011,[6][7][8]. Public pressure led the new owners to reclaim the "Winnipeg Jets" name, announcing the decision just prior to their first pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The original Jets history, records, retired numbers, and stats will continue to reside with the Phoenix Coyotes franchise.[9]

True North had previously made bids to buy the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes, with the intent of returning the franchise to Winnipeg.[10][11][12] Although they were unsuccessful, their approach was praised by Bettman, and so True North received favor from the league when the question of the Thrashers' relocation came up.[13]

The Coyotes and new Jets met twice during the 2011–12 NHL season, first on October 15, 2011 at the Arena in Glendale, Arizona, then on December 1, 2011 when the Coyotes make their first trip back to Winnipeg since a pre season game in 2008 as the visiting team against the Jets at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.[14]

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


Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoff Record
1972-73 78 43 31 4 90 285 249 757 1st in Western Lost in finals
1973-74 78 34 39 5 73 264 296 673 4th in Western Lost in Round 1
1974-75 78 38 35 5 81 322 293 869 3rd in Canadian Out of Playoffs
1975-76 81 52 27 2 106 345 254 940 1st in Canadian Won Avco World Trophy
1976-77 80 46 32 2 94 366 291 991 2nd in Western Lost in finals
1977-78 80 50 28 2 102 381 270 988 1st Won Avco World Trophy
1978-79 80 39 35 6 84 307 306 1342 3rd Won Avco World Trophy
WHA Totals 555 302 227 26 630 2270 1958 6560


Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoff Record
1979-80 80 20 49 11 51 214 314 1251 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1980-81 80 9 57 14 32 246 400 1191 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1981-82 80 33 33 14 80 319 332 1314 2nd in Norris Lost in Round 1
1982-83 80 33 39 8 74 311 333 1089 4th in Smythe Lost in Round 1
1983-84 80 31 38 11 73 340 374 1579 4th in Smythe Lost in Round 1
1984-85 80 43 27 10 96 358 332 1540 2nd in Smythe Lost Division Final (EDM)
1985-86 80 26 47 7 59 295 372 1774 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semi-finals (CGY)
1986-87 80 40 32 8 88 279 271 1537 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Final (EDM)
1987-88 80 33 36 11 77 292 310 2278 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semi-finals (EDM)
1988-89 80 26 42 12 64 300 355 1843 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1989-90 80 37 32 11 85 298 290 1639 3rd in Smythe Lost Division Semi-finals (EDM)
1990-91 80 26 43 11 63 260 288 1675 5th in Smythe Out of Playoffs
1991-92 80 33 32 15 81 251 244 1907 4th in Smythe Lost Division Semifinal (VAN)
1992-93 84 40 37 7 87 322 320 1851 4th in Smythe Lost Division Semi-finals (VAN)
1993-94 84 24 51 9 57 245 344 2143 6th in Central Out of Playoffs
1994-951 48 16 25 7 39 157 177 1141 6th in Central Out of Playoffs
1995-96 82 36 40 6 78 275 291 1622 5th in Central Lost Conference Quarterfinal (DET)
NHL Totals 1338 506 660 172 1184 4762 5347 27374
Grand Total 1893 808 887 198 1814 7032 7305 33934
1 Season was shortened due to 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

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)
  • 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 (1984-85 & 1992-93)
  • Most Playoff Points in a season: Norm Beaudin 28 (1972-1973)

See Also

External Links


Relocated and Defunct NHL Teams
Relocated Atlanta Flames · Atlanta Thrashers · Colorado Rockies · Hartford Whalers · Kansas City Scouts · Minnesota North Stars · Quebec Nordiques · Winnipeg Jets
Defunct Oakland / California (Golden) Seals · Cleveland Barons · Hamilton Tigers · Montreal Maroons · Montreal Wanderers · New York/Brooklyn Americans · Ottawa Senators (original) · Philadelphia Quakers · Pittsburgh Pirates · Quebec Bulldogs · St. Louis Eagles