I’ve been an avid member of JetsNation since 1979, when both the NHL Jets and I were born. It was a good year all around. I grew up a die-hard Jets fan. For Halloween, I went out in my Hockey gear as whatever Jet I was currently obsessed with. All I wanted for Christmas was more Jets stuff. I was a fanatical fanatic.
Then a bad thing happened. My family upped and moved to Calgary in 1994. Even worse, 2 years later, the Jets left. I cried. A lot. My Heroes were gone. As a result, I set off on a mission. I would right a wrong of the Universe – I would become a billionaire and bring the Jets home. It was a tall task, but I was up for it.
But a funny thing happened. Men with similar visions, and much more success than I at becoming franchise-owner rich, righted the aforementioned wrong and brought back the Jets. I cried for joy. And loss of purpose.
So they’re back, and here I am, now living in Vancouver, as avid a Jets fan as ever. Over the last 2 Christmases, I got Jets jerseys, pillows, T-shirts, slippers, license plate holders and both beer and shot glasses. For Halloween, I dressed up as Dustin Byfuglien. I’m 10 all over again.
But there’s something different this time. I haven’t been to a game yet. Growing up, I went to several games a year. When they came to Calgary, I’d go. I even managed to get back for the last ever Jets 1.0 game – I have proof! But when the Jets came to Vancouver last year, I was I was on a boat headed for Victoria. When I was in Winnipeg last fall, they were locked out. Stymied!
I came to realize I’m not the only one. I’ve done some thinking, and I estimate Jets Nation to comprise of roughly 1.3 million people. It breaks down like this: Winnipeg has 684,100 people. I figure there’s gotta be 184,100 people who are idiots and don’t like them for one reason or another. Theres probably another 400,000 across Manitoba who also dressed up as Byfuglien for Halloween. And then add all the ex-Winnipeggers like me who are forever Jet obsessed, of which there has to be at least 300,312. So 1.2‘ish million fans seems right.
Now, MTS Centre, the smallest building in the League, has capacity for 15,004. They’ve had 45 home dates so far, meaning 675,180 souls have walked through the doors. Now we can assume that, with 13,000 season ticket holders, that’s not actually 675,180 different people. So, with a little more Grade 4 math, and a lot of guessing, I’ve concluded that 200,000 actual human beings have seen the Jets play live in Winnipeg, leaving well over 1,000,000 Jets fans without a first-hand Jets 2.0 encounter. This disturbs me.
I still know people from Winnipeg. The Internet is great for that. What it’s also great at is allowing you a front row seat into other people’s lives. And one person in particular always caught my eye. Bob. We grew up in the same neighborhood. Went to the same school. Forever bound by our Winnipeg-ness. What caught my eye about Bob? Well, he goes to Jets games ALL OF THE TIME. I see his photos from every damn game. His comments. His smile – he’s always smiling!
Naturally, I was at first jealous and angry. But in time, I’ve come to appreciate his fandomness. And it got me thinking. There’s at least a Million of us that haven’t had the chance to experience what Bob is experiencing. That lucky bastard! We’ve all heard how great the MTS Centre is, and I thought who better than Bob to give us a first-hand glimpse of the action.
So, I caught up with Bob, and in honor of Teemu Selanne and Kyle Wellwood, asked him these 13 questions to help us unlucky members of Jets Nation who aren’t in Winnipeg, and have yet to grace the hallowed halls of the MTS Centre, to understand just how awesome it is there:
Brett: So, it appears you’re a Jets season ticket holder. How does it feel to be the luckiest man in the world, and are you aware how jealous I am of you?
Bob: This is actually a question that needs a lengthy answer. First, most people are usually jealous of me because I’m pretty damn awesome and live a fairy-tale life. Second, I’m not actually a season ticket holder in the traditional sense. I’m on the Waiting List and so are 22 of my friends. On the waiting list, you get first access to available tickets after the random draw. I made individual deals with each of my 22 other friends on the wait list that whomever between us gets tickets gives the other first dibs on a seat. Between all 22 of them, one of them is guaranteed to be able to get tickets, so I don’t even bother trying to get them myself and always have a ticket available to me if I want it. It’s like having season tickets without having to commit to them and not having to do any work.
Brett: That sounds pretty sketchy. I’m going to hide your last name so the Season Ticket Police don’t get you. But no season tickets, and still going to all those games – you do live a fairy tale life. Ok, We all hear how the MTS center has the best fans in the game. I remember going to a playoff game at the old Arena in 92 between the Jets and Canucks. My ears rang for 2 days afterwards. So what’s louder – MTS center or the old Winnipeg Arena?
Bob: That’s a tough call. Back then we were 13 and underage. Everything was loud to our sensitive ears. Now I’m 33, wasted out of my mind before the puck drops, and probably the loudest most obnoxious guy in the section. I really only hear myself. Then again, I am pretty damn loud, so I’d say MTS Center.
Brett: That’s amazing that you can get that drunk and still be welcomed back to the Arena. I remember fans like that growing up and always wanted to become one. You’re a lucky man. This is why I love Winnipeg. Ok – Name 3 Jets that impress the hell out of you, and why.
Bob: 1. Tanner Glass because he invited me into his living room to have a beer while he had water because of his diet. Plus have you seen his wife Emily? 2. Andrew Ladd because…. have you seen his wife? 3. Ondrej Pavalec. I’d explain why, but you don’t live in Winnipeg and haven’t heard his radio car commercials. I tried to find a copy online but couldn’t. You gotta hear this.
Brett: Winnipeg is great for that. Growing up, I once helped Ed Olcyzk move out of his house. I went to get an autograph, and he said sure, as long as I help him move some things. Smart guy – I took way more than my share of boxes to the truck. I haven’t seen Glass’s or Ladd’s wives, but it sounds like you narrowly avoided a threesome at Glass’s house. So I’ll blame you for the destruction of the GST line. And of all the people to do car ads, why the Goalie convicted of DUI? Ah, Winnipeg….
Ok, next question – I keep seeing pictures on Facebook of you wearing other teams Jerseys. Not that I’m stalking you or anything. When Pittsburgh was in town the other week, you had a Pens jersey on. What the hell is wrong with you?
Bob: Remember every time the old Jets lost an important game? Remember every time when a Canadian Team lost an important game? I was cheering for them when they lost those games. I’m bad luck. When we got the Jets back, I bought every other teams Jersey and now I always cheer for the Jets opponents and the Jets win. Except when they play Montreal, then I cheer for the Jets. Go Habs Go!
Brett: Well, the old Jets lost every important game, but that’s actually pretty brilliant logic. Pardon me as I spit at your Habs comment, though. Ok, next question – Name your 3 highlights of last year. A 4th would be allowed.
Bob: 1 – Remember what I said about Tanner Glass’ wife and Andrew Ladd’s wife? Meeting them
2 – Asking Evander Kane "who the hell are you?" when he went to shake my hand
3 – Paying for 1 beer in the upper deck and having them hand me 2
4 – Calling Cheveldayoff "Tim Cheveldae" when I was talking to him in the Portage Place Foodcourt
Brett: Is Dancing Gabe still dancing?
Bob: Dude, he was dancing 20 years ago. Now he’s shufflin’!!
Brett: Can you send us a picture of your view. Keep in mind hundreds of thousands of us have never been to a game and even a small taste of the MTS center will suffice.
Bob: My view is always different since I don’t have traditional "season tickets". But here’s a picture of me signing up to be a Budweiser Designated Driver while I was already hammered. I had to put my beer down to fill it out.
Brett: Two thing. 1) The picture you sent didn’t work, so I found the best picture of you looking drunk that I could. And 2) JetsNation cannot endorese you as a Designated Driver. All in all, not the sentiment I was looking for, but it’ll do. Moving on, what do you miss most about the Old Arena? The giant Queen picture, the ridiculous and dangerously steep upper deck, or Teppo Numminen?
Bob: None of the above! My dad never had to pay for parking at the old Arena. I’m paying $15 a game now! So it’s either gotta be the free parking, or the free tickets to every game that my dad used to get for the old arena.
Brett: My cousin got game 1 seats and was offered $2000 apiece for his tickets. What’s the craziest thing someone has done to try to get a ticket from you?
Bob: Made a deal with me to give each other first dibs on tickets! haha 22 suckers. Not very crazy eh?
Brett: I was hoping for some kind of offer of a first born or something ‘Indecent Proposal’ like, so yeah not very crazy. In your opinion, how long until the Jets make the playoffs and win the Cup. (HINT – 2013 is the correct answer).
Bob: I’d say the 2012-2013 season… but really, it’s the 2013 Season
Brett: Yeah, that drives me up the wall that they’re calling it the 2012-2013 season. Who are they fooling? (hint – Florida fans.) What’s the best food served at the Arena?
Bob: I’ve only ever tried the beer there. It’s mighty tasty. Although I don’t think the woman sitting in-front of me at the Ottawa game would agree. Beer also gives me gas.
Brett: Beer does qualify as food, especially since I found this picture of a dog drinking some, so answer accepted. Remind me to not get you beer-drunk next time I see you, though. Moving on, which team have Winnipeg’ers decided they hate the most. Or, to put it into better context, if you’re Calgary, who’s your dirty, rotten Oilers?
Bob: It seems to be me. I’m always being booed for wearing the jersey that I’m wearing to games. The common factor in that is me. Except Habs games, I wear a Jets jersey to those ones.
Brett: That’s great how you’ve been able to galvanize the fan base to hate you like that. I’d recommend everyone there hate the Oilers, Leafs and Wild. Last question; Would you get into a boat with Dustin Byfuglien?
Bob: Are you kidding me? Dude knows how to party! I’ll even provide the boat!
Thanks to Bob Phangureh for the insights. Follow him on Twitter at @pimpbob for more crazy Jets learings. And, if you’re at a Jets game and see a drunk guy in an Islanders Jersey offering rides home to people, say hello to him and DECLINE THAT OFFER!
If you have any Jets picture or stories, leave a comment!