About a week before the Jets clinched a 2019 NHL playoff spot I decided it was maybe time I took a little more interest in my hometown team. Although I’ve been to an occasional Jets game and I confess I did get a little caught up in all the playoff hoopla in Winnipeg last year, NHL hockey just isn’t really a passionate interest of mine.
But……….. my husband shares Jets season tickets with friends and is a dedicated fan. My younger son is a walking encyclopedia of Jets information. My brother and his family all LOVE the team. My sister and her husband are ringside regulars at the MTS Centre. Even my ninety year old father, who never really had much interest in sports when I was growing up, faithfully watches the team on television. And I had noticed lately many of my female friends were extremely knowledgeable about the Jets and liked to talk about them. So with a good chance that my city was soon to go white and wild again, I figured I should maybe get in on the action in a more informed way.
I decided I would read one newspaper article a day about the Jets and I would pick one player to follow and take a special interest in. I was amazed how my one article a day habit made it possible for me to chime in on conversations about the Jets. I could now be part of the speculation about when Byfuglien and Morrissey would return from their injuries, whether coach Paul Maurice had what it took to take the Jets all the way, and if there was some friction in the Jets dressing room that was being kept under raps.
It wasn’t as easy to pick a player to follow but I looked at some stats, watched some interviews, read some articles and settled on Kyle Connor. I liked the way his family supported him. I loved how his Dad had built these hockey rinks in the backyard for Kyle and his brothers and how his father shared his love of hockey with his kids. Kyle says he learned to have fun and be creative with the puck fooling around on those backyard rinks. Kyle wasn’t a one sport wonder either. He was a gifted and coordinated athlete who played golf, baseball, football and basketball before honing in on hockey. I liked a quote I read where his Dad said the thing he loved most was seeing the smile on Kyle’s face when he played hockey and the great camaraderie he enjoyed with his teammates.
I think what clinched my selection of Kyle was watching an interview with his Mom, brother Jacob and sister Krystal. Jacob talked about how his brother is rarely in the penalty box but rather out scoring goals. Krystal said how proud she is of her big brother and Mom Kathy recalled how terribly hard it had been for her when Kyle left their home in Michigan at age 15 to play junior hockey in another state. Kyle sounded like an all round nice kid from a really nice family.
By March 20th my plan to follow the Jets was in full swing. I was reading articles and following Kyle every game. That interest was rewarded mightily on March 23 when the Jets clinched a playoff spot in a game against the Nashville Predators and my Kyle had an assist and a HAT TRICK!!
The NHL playoffs start this Wednesday here in Winnipeg and although I may not be as gung ho a fan as some of my family and friends I will at least be an informed and interested observer.