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. On December 27, 1971, Winnipeg was granted one of the founding franchises in the WHA, to Ben Hatskin, a local figure who made his wealth in cardboard shipping containers. The team took their name from the Winnipeg Jets of the Western Canada Hockey League.
The Jets’ first signing was Norm Beaudin (“the Original Jet”) and the first major signing was Bobby Hull. Hull’s acquisition, partially financed by the rest of the WHA’s teams, gave the league instant credibility and paved the way for other NHL stars to bolt to the upstart league.
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 along with the Nordiques, Oilers and Hartford Whalers. They had to pay a high price for a berth in the more established league, however. They had to give up three of their top six scorers – the core of the last WHA champion – in a reclamation draft. They were also forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. In the draft, they opted to protect defense man Scott Campbell, who had shown a good deal of promise in the last WHA season.
Various schemes were devised to save the team. Attempts to find a local buyer were unsuccessful, with league commissioner Gary Bettman saying, “there doesn’t seem to be anybody, in a serious fashion, who wants to own the franchise.” After a final last effort by a team of local businessmen, dubbed the Spirit of Manitoba, fell through, team owner Barry Shenkarow sold the team to American businessmen Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke. Burke and Gluckstern originally planned to move the team to Minnesota which had lost the North Stars to Dallas in 1993, but eventually reached an agreement with Phoenix businessman Jerry Colangelo that would see the team move to Arizona and become the Phoenix Coyotes. 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.
The Winnipeg Jets were a Canadian professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They began play in the World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1972, moving to the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1979 following the WHA’s collapse. Due to mounting financial troubles, in 1996 the franchise moved to Phoenix, Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes (now the Arizona Coyotes).
Winnipeg – Phoenix
1979 – Present / National Hockey League
1972 – 1979 / World Hockey Association
2014 – Present / Arizona Coyotes
1996 – 2013 / Phoenix Coyotes
1972 – 1996 / Winnipeg Jets
Jets – The Winnipeg Jets, formed in late 1971, got their moniker from a team of the same name that played in Canada’s Western Hockey League. Owner Ben Hatskin, reportedly was a fan of the NFL’s New York Jets.
Stanley Cups 0
Avco Cup 3
1979, 1978, 1976
2014 – Present / Gila River Arena
2006 – 2014 / Jobing.com Arena
2003 – 2005 / Glendale Arena
1996 – 2003 / America West Arena
1972 – 1996 / Winnipeg Arena
2013 – Present / IceArizona
2009 – 2013 / National Hockey League
2006 – 2009 / Wayne Gretzky and Jerry Moyes
2001 – 2006 / Steve Ellman, Wayne Gretzky, and Jerry Moyes
1998 – 2001 / Richard Burke
1996 – 1998 / Steven Gluckstern and Richard Burke
1979 – 1996 / Barry Shenkarow
1972 – 1979 / Ben Hatskin
7 Keith Tkachuk
9 Bobby Hull
10 Dale Hawerchuk
25 Thomas Steen
27 Teppo Numminen
97 Jeremy Roenick
99 Wayne Gretzky
*Blue is this team’s history