It is with heavy hearts we announce the untimely passing of the Winnipeg Jets’ 2018 playoff season (April 11, 2018-May 20, 2018).
The Jets played 99 games in their 2017-18 season, winning 52 matches and losing 30 more in the regular season. The team picked up nine more wins in the post-season and lost eight times.
On a scorching-hot Sunday, the grave injustice occurred – an encoffinating blow from the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5. The Jets fell 2-1. The Knights won the Western Conference series 4-1.
Fans openly mourned the unwanted outcome at the Whiteout street party surrounding Bell MTS Place.
Derek Morley bleached his hair white to cheer on the Jets. He wiped away tears as his friends embraced him in a group hug after the loss.
“I can’t look at this. I can’t,” Morley said as the screen behind him showed the Knights being presented with the Clarence Campbell trophy for Western Conference champs.
“I think that (general manager Kevin) Cheveldayoff, (coach) Paul Maurice and every single guy on that team, they left it all out there,” his friend Bryan Roseborough said
“I think this run and what we just accomplished shows what this team’s capable of and what this team is going to achieve in the future.”
The Jets thanked fans for their lofty support this year.
“Thank you #NHLJets fans for supporting and leading us to a record breaking season and historic playoff run! This season was one we’ll never forget and your support throughout means everything to us! WE ARE WINNIPEG,” the team tweeted.
About 13,000 supporters turned out for the Jets’ final street party, according to True North Sports and Entertainment, though there were 40,000 tickets distributed for the event.
“For a mid-afternoon game on a Sunday, middle of the long weekend, we’re pleased with that number fans who joined us today,” spokesperson Rob Wozny said.
Judith Gaminek, who cheered for the Jets since the World Hockey Association days more than 40 years ago, lingered around the Metropolitan Theatre after the game. Her eyes were getting shiny.
“I’m just so sad. Like I actually feel like crying,” she said. “I haven’t, because I’m in public. But when I get home I might.”
Thomas Grabon said he felt “hurt” by the defeat. He used to watch the Jets 1.0 play with his father who has since died. He desperately wanted to see them pull off a Stanley Cup win, something his dad never got to witness.
Cam Scott was still smiling post-defeat, his reddish lipstick adding flair. Scott dressed as Queen Elizabeth II in an homage to her giant portrait, which used to hang in the Winnipeg Arena. He posed for countless photos with Jets fans.
“It’s been a lot of fun, it really has… Winnipeg has done a beautiful job (hosting),” Scott said. “We didn’t get it, but I think it really puts us in a good position for next year.”
A few brave Vegas Golden Knights fans milled around the Whiteout, too. They were elated by their team’s victory, standing out in an otherwise morose crowd.
Father and son Rick and Zack Brown, 13, flew in from Toronto to watch their current favourite team. As they spoke to a reporter, a Jets fan came up to shake the teen’s hand and wish him well for the rest of the playoffs.
“Good series. Good luck in the cup,” the Jets fan said.
Moments earlier, another Jets devotee had offered to buy the younger Brown a commemorative Jets-Knights puck.
“Everybody in Winnipeg has been absolutely amazing to us. We were just in a store and he wanted a game puck and a gentleman behind us insisted on buying it for him,” Rick Brown said.
Winnipeggers downtown were largely gracious in defeat. Police have reported no major incidents related to the street parties.
Advancing to the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs was the closest the Jets have gotten to hoisting the elusive trophy in the team’s history.
Left to fend for the cup are the Knights and Eastern Conference rivals, the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, who play Game 6 in their series Monday.
The Jets’ playoff dreams are pre-deceased by those of every other team in the league, including the Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators, whom they helped boot in the first and second playoff rounds, respectively.