They were here in the beginning. And now they believe that a new beginning will bring great things for Winnipeg's NHL team.
Joe Daley and Perry Miller, two Winnipeg-born hockey players who both spent time with the WHA's Winnipeg Jets, are confident that giving the city a second chance at an NHL team is a great decision.
"I don't have a worry at all. I think the fans will support it and I think we'll be very strong," said Miller. "Winnipeg people are very proud."
Miller, a defenceman, played with the Jets from 1975-77 before moving on and spending parts of four years with the Detroit Red Wings.†
And even though Miller was a hometown boy, he had no idea how much passion the city had for their hockey when he started playing here.
"I didn't know this city had that much love for the Winnipeg Jets," said Miller. †"They're very knowledgeable fans. Even to this day, I can't go two days downtown from my office without somebody talking about hockey."
Daley, a goaltender, is considered one of the greatest to ever put on a Jets uniform and was a key part of the team's three AVCO Cup wins in the late 1970s. †He also spent time in the NHL, playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, and Buffalo Sabres, before joining the Jets for the 1972-73 season.
"Certainly being a Winnipegger, able to play at home and put that jersey on and represent Winnipeg and Manitoba all over the world, it was very special to me," said Daley.
Daley's career saw him travel all over Canada and the United States and play with hundreds of players, and they also agreed that Winnipeg was a special place to play.
†"I did not speak to one player who was totally disgruntled having to play in Winnipeg," said Daley. ††"They found the fans tremendous and friendly."
And the cold weather was never a factor, says Daley, despite what Ilya Bryzgalov thinks.
"Most players are not looking for suntans in January, they're thinking about the stretch drive to get into the playoffs," said Daley.
Daley will attend his fair share of games at the MTS Centre once the team drops the puck on the new season.
"If I went to 6-8 games a year, that would probably be the extent of it," said Daley. "There would be certain players or teams that I'd like to see at least once before they retire. I'm no different than most Winnipeggers in that we all try to participate in the way our budget allows us to and I think there are enough fans like that who will make it work."
Miller isn't the least bit worried fans can't afford the cost of season tickets and will be an avid supporter of the new team.
"I have 4 tickets for the Moose, and I go to as many games as I can," said Miller. "I will continue on with at least my four tickets for the NHL and hopefully end up with some good seats and enjoy many years."