Jets fever is catching on

Winnipeg Jets fans cheer as their team plays the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of...

Winnipeg Jets fans cheer as their team plays the Montreal Canadiens during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, October 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Greenslade)

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:16 PM ET

There’s a convincing argument to be made that Winnipeg has the loudest, most passionate hockey fans in the NHL right now.

A lot of that is because it’s so new here, but it’s easy to see how much fans at MTS Centre appreciate their Winnipeg Jets and the uber-boisterous excitement is not likely to wane any time soon.

I’m not here to debate whether Winnipeg fans are louder than those in Montreal or Toronto or Vancouver or Chicago or Philly. The fact is, I don’t know that, not having been in any of those buildings yet this season.

What can be said, however, is that Jets fans are making a big impact on what’s happening on the ice and are gaining a reputation across the NHL for their impressive fervour.

The Jets have become a very difficult team to beat on home ice and a lot of it has to do with the atmosphere generated by the fans.

If you don’t believe me, just ask TSN commentator and former NHL player Mike Johnson.

“(The crowd) has a lot to do with it,” Johnson said after the TSN Jets broadcast of Winnipeg’s 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. “You can tell, the players feed off the crowd, and crowd feeds off the play on the ice.

“In the second period as the Jets started playing their game, creating turnovers and creating chances, you felt the crowd bring the energy up in the building and you felt the energy on the bench rise up, and they fed off each other.

“Then you hear that kind of ovation near the end of the game, it can't help but will you as a player to take that extra stride, throw yourself in front of a shot. You're willing to make that kind of sacrifice, you get swept up in the energy and the passion of the building and it's a big part of why they've had so much success here.”

The Jets are now 10-4 on home ice and 4-8-4 on the road. They’ve outskated and outscored some of the top teams in the league at home, including Boston, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

They’re a fast, physical team that plays an exciting brand of hockey, which only serves to stir up the masses even more.

If there’s one thing Winnipeg hockey fans love it’s an up-tempo game. A plodding, trapping team would not go over in these parts. Regular dud performances like the one the Jets put in last Saturday in Detroit might temper the mood as well.

But for now, as the well-spoken Johnson pointed out, the Jets and their fans have a symbiotic relationship, feeding off one another, making MTS Centre one of the best places to win a hockey game on the planet.

At least one visitor from the Jets newest rival city, was suitably impressed Tuesday night.

“In a game that made you wish realignment could start tomorrow instead of a year from now, the Wild and Jets introduced themselves Tuesday night and it wasn’t for the faint of heart,” wrote Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“It was fast. It was physical. It was intense. It was exhilarating.

“And … it was downright deafening as the 15,004 fans that packed the MTS Centre sounded like they were 50,004 strong during an eardrum-busting outcry of incessant, passionate noise.”

Jets forward Tanner Glass has said MTS Centre is louder than anything he heard during last year’s Stanley Cup final. Other players have indicated they’ve never heard so much noise in a hockey rink.

Visiting players seem to genuinely look forward to playing in that type of atmosphere, at least for now.

Like we said, it’s new.

One thing we can say is those pundits who thought the Jets would get a boost in their home-ice record because of the passion of the fans were bang-on.


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