There are few things in life I love more than the Winnipeg Jets (the original go around) and Iron Maiden. When I was a teenager, the list of things I loved apart from those two was dramatically shorter. So when a story dropped earlier this week my personal summer of love was complete! Chris Mason wearing a mask inspired by Eddie from the Aces High single? Seriously?!?
The link is here.
Like any good Quentin Tarantino movie, lets go back to the beginning shall we? In April, the Phoenix Coyotes were on the verge of moving back to Winnipeg. No buyers were present; all that was left was the City Council to decide if it was time to pull the pin. For reasons that only they know, the decision was made to front even more money and the day was “saved”. In my mind we would have to wait another year.
Almost immediately, Atlanta came into the picture. Fractured ownership group, a bad economy, and a fan base that while passionate was too small. (That usually is the case when you give them one playoff series a no playoff wins in franchise history.) Momentum starting rolling downhill and on May 19th, Steven Brunt proclaimed to the world that it was a “done deal” and the NHL would be returning to Winnipeg! It took a couple of weeks mainly due to the amount of lawyers on each side, but a deal was struck and finally announced at a press conference on May 31, the day after my birthday. Admittedly I had a very hard time controlling my emotions. (That’s the professional way of saying I was crying)
On June 4th I happened to be in Toronto. A couple of minutes after the 10.00am CST start time on Ticketmaster, I decided for fun to try and buy a set of season’s seats. I knew it was fruitless but I was more interested to see what was left. My answer, NOTHING. All of the tickets were gone in minutes, all of them! What the fans of Winnipeg had just done was unheard of. I still shake my head in disbelief… Not only did they buy every ticket available, they locked the seats up for 3-5 years. Let it be known, Winnipeg has just changed the landscape for all of pro sports in North America. Take note, if and when a NFL team returns to LA, they will attempt the same business model.
Next up, June 24th and the NHL entry draft. Winnipegger’s swarmed Minnesota as well as attending a draft party at the MTS that would rival any turnout from any NHL team. The next gift, the Jets name was back. I’m sure it was not the original plan but most polls online routinely had the “Jets” name at an 80% approval rating and I believe Mark Chipman had a change of heart. I’m sure they wanted to forge a new identity and go in a different direction, but the outpouring of support for the Jets name was like holding back the wind. It was the first night you really got a sense that this thing was real, that you could unite with other fans and cheer “GO JETS GO” again.
So then comes the personal cherry on top for me, Eddie! No band in history can say that a fictional character is almost as popular as the band itself. Ask a casual fan, someone who has heard Iron Maiden on the radio or maybe rocked out to them on Guitar Hero, Ask them to name the band members and it is a chore. Ask them the name of the scary dude on the album cover and most people know who Eddy is. I for one have met several people who say they started listening to the band because of the artwork. I’ve been a fan of Iron Maiden for almost 30 years; I have seen them live I believe 10 times, and currently own 4 shirts! No my friends I will never grow up and have no plans to. In fact, I may have to rock my Eddy Team Canada shirt at one of the games this season just for fun.
Chris Mason is a free agent after this season. Based on this mask alone he deserves an extension. (That and he was one of the first players to come to the city) Make it happen Mr. Cheveldayoff! In the meantime I will enjoy the last couple weeks of this incredible summer, all the while humming Aces High in my head. (BTW, that would be a great song to come onto the ice to but I’m sure they will lean to “Jump”) Thank you very much Mr. Chipman, you have provided me with several gifts. I will never be able to repay you but I certainly will thank you and shake your hand if I get the chance. Oh what a summer…