The Winnipeg Jets finally hit the ice for a regular season hockey game on Sunday, for what many were calling the most anticipated sporting event in Winnipeg's history. The hysteria leading up to this game was unlike anything I have ever seen. I saw lots of tickets going on kijiji for upwards of $700 for an upper deck seat. I also saw a pair of tickets in the upper deck going for $1600 and I have no doubt that many of the people asking these outrageous prices got what they asked for.
I have to admit I seriously considered paying a ridiculous price to go to the game but stopped myself before doing something really stupid. I wanted to be there more than anything but a three hour experience is not worth going broke for.
On T.V the atmosphere looked electric and I was proud of the show that Winnipeg was putting on for the rest of the nation. The only problem was that in many ways the Jets didn't show up. Their play was sloppy, and they looked out played by the Montreal Canadiens at all ends of the rink. The Jets definitely did not give the fans what they wanted, but by all accounts it was still an event to be remembered and a once in a lifetime experience for anyone they was lucky enough to be there.
The most emotional part of the evening was a beautiful tribute to Rick Rypien, the newly signed Winnipeg Jet and ex Manitoba Moose and Vancouver Canuck who passed away this summer from an apparent suicide.
Rypien's mother was in attendance to watch the tribute on the scoreboard and do the ceremonial face off and it was as touching of a moment as I'd ever seen at a hockey game. It is getting a bit redundant with the amount of times it gets said, but the fact is that True North Sports and Entertainment is a classy organization. Professional hockey is a business and they are obviously out to make money, but Mark Chipman always presents himself and his organization in a positive and classy way and seems to have the respect of this city.
Inviting Rypiens' mother and doing the tribute before the game was a great move by the Winnipeg Jets organization. This day was a day to celebrate the return of the Jets but they had to acknowledge that one of theirs had passed away, and they did it in such a beautiful way that I teared up watching both the tribute and shots of his mother watching the tribute.
As a parent myself I can not even begin to understand what it would be like to lose a child at such a young age and I applaud his mother for keeping her composure through the video which was emotional even for those who had never met Rypien. I was also very impressed with the way that Jet owners Mark Chipman and David Thompson and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stood with his mom while she did the ceremonial face off.
There is lots of time to analyze why NHL enforcers are having personal problems or to agree or disagree with Don Cherry's comments about the issue last Saturday, but one must remember first that a mother has lost her son.
Good for the Winnipeg Jets for doing the right thing last Sunday and honouring Rypien's life. Once again True North has shown it's class.
If you didn't see the tribute please watch.
R.I.P Rick Rypien