The Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets played each other twice in this season, once in Phoenix, once in Winnipeg. There was a fair amount of outside attention on these games, the Old Jets versus the New Jets as it was billed. The first game was our home opener at Jobing.com Arena, while the second game was at the MTS Centre last Thursday. The Phoenix Coyotes won the first game 4-1 while the Winnipeg Jets won the second game 0-1, so currently this rivalry is tied 1-1 with both teams winning at home.
It’s easy to see why there would be a rivalry between these two teams with the history between them, but when he fans and players talk about the rivalry it is primarily Winnipeg fans and players. After this last Thursday’s game player Bryan Little even said that they “hopefully create a bit of a rivalry with them,” something that Jets fans would obviously agree with considering every second of Coyotes puck possession seemed to be accompanied by boos from the arena. Honestly the last time I heard a team be booed so much when was I watched Slap Shot last month and saw the Charleston Chiefs being booed every arena they went to after the Hanson Brothers switched the team to Goon style hockey.
Watching the Jets/Coyotes game I was surprised by the Winnipeg fan’s reaction to the Coyotes, especially since I know first-hand the reaction the Jets had when they were at Jobing.com. At that game Coyotes fans chanted “Let’s Go Thrashers” a couple times, and towards the end the crowd was involved in a “U.S.A.” chant. To be honest at the time I thought the USA chant was a little tasteless at the time, especially considering how many Coyotes players are Canadian.
Before the game I would have thought the Jets fans would respond at that same level, and I was unpleasantly surprised to see them boo the Coyotes for what seemed like all of the game. At the end of the first I had reasoned that the Jets were determined to make us their bitter rivals, and that we were no more appreciated in their arena than the Devils are in Madison Square Garden. Is this going to be a level on the same level as Rangers and Devils? I certainly hope not, I see a lot of Jets fans at Coyotes game and I always enjoy talking to them, I don’t want the animosity that would come from an intense rivalry. Honestly though if the Coyotes are received the same way in Winnipeg next year I think the Coyotes fans will probably respond in kind. If I had known how the Coyotes were going to be received this year I would have booed them during the season opener, and I’m sure that I would not be the only one. Honestly though, I hope that next time we are received better next time, I really don’t want a bitter rivalry with the Jets, I see their fans too many times throughout the year.
This is of course only my opinion man, I'm interested to hear what other people think. Most of the people I talked to were surprised by how serious the Jets fans seemed to take this "rivalry" but if you expected this let me know.