The old adage states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, neither was the ‘Peg. The Winnipeg Jets have been building their empire in the WHA since 1972 and later joined the NHL in 1979. The foundation of the team has always been grounded in their belief in tough hockey, never being afraid to take a risk and, most importantly, there being no better night out than a ‘Whiteout’ night out. We all know that before anything of real value can truly flourish, time must be taken to cultivate it to grow. While the Jets’ exodus from town was certainly a blemish on the empire’s reputation, it should not diminish the moves the team has made to better the franchise and the city as a whole. The Jets didn’t waste any time to start wheelin’ and dealin’ and neither should we. So without further adieu, here are the trades that altered the Jets’ DNA.
OUT: Teemu Selanne + Marc Chouinard + 1994 4th round pick – Kim Staal → Anaheim Ducks
IN: Chad Kilger + Oleg Tverdovsky + 1996 3rd Round pick – Per-Anton Lundström → Winnipeg Jets
Teeeeeemuuuuuuu… Teeeeeeemuuuuuuu… Hearing that chant still gives die-hard Jets fans goosebumps. The Finnish Flash typified Winnipeg Jets hockey when he wore the blue and white. Unfortunately, while all good things must come to an end, that’s not what Selanne wanted. Selanne had been told he would not be traded prior to the Jets’ impending move to Phoenix, but some shrewd dealings by Anaheim Ducks’ GM, Jack Ferreira convinced Jets’ GM, John Paddock to break his word. Rumblings that Selanne was available because the Jets felt they were spending too much money on forwards when their defence was weak were validated in only a few days. Ferreira swindled Paddock into trading Teemu, the all-time rookie scoring champion, for three players that would go on to score a total of 2 goals for the Jets. Trading a player that scored 76 goals in his rookie season for 3 players that scored 2 naturally altered the DNA of the Jets’ franchise.
The Teemu trade was the final curtain call for the ‘original’ Jets. They had seen legends traded away for minimal return but seeing their Finnish Flash basically given away etched a special kind of pain into their franchise’s DNA. Teemu would go on to have a great career in Anaheim, forming a lethal 1-2 punch with Paul Kariya, leaving Jets fans to wonder, what if. It took 15 years to see Teemu on the ice in Winnipeg again and the smile on his face when he heard the ‘Teeeeemuuuuu…Teeeeeemuuuu’ chant was priceless. The DNA of the Jets changed when Selanne left, but so did his. Selanne has said nothing but kind words about his time in Winnipeg, even famously telling a story of two customers asking for his discarded chicken wing bones because they held him in such high regard. Hawerchuk, Babych, Domi, Tkachuk – there have been a lot of legends who changed the Jets’ DNA – but Selanne gave fans something they had never seen before: Finnish flair. Selanne added flair to the ‘original’ Jets’ DNA and fans are hoping Patrick Laine can add the same – if not a little more – to the ‘new’ Jets’ DNA.