Perry Pearn was behind the Winnipeg Jets’ bench for their last NHL game, in 1996, at the old Winnipeg Arena, and he will be behind the opposing bench for the first game of the reborn Jets at the MTS Centre. Pearn was an assistant coach in the 1995-96 season with the Jets, and is now an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens.
“Everybody knew it was the final season but still, at the end, the people were absolutely devastated by the fact the Jets were leaving,” Pearn said after Montreal’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
When the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg became official last June, Pearn called his old friend Craig Heisinger, who was the equipment manager for the Jets in 1996 and is the assistant general manager of today’s team.
“I talked to him this summer and said, ‘I imagine they’ll be doing something special for you and I since we were there to kill the franchise,’ ” Pearn said with a laugh.
Habs forward Ryan White, of Brandon, is on the injured-reserve list with a groin injury and will watch Sunday’s historic game from the press box.
“It’s something I had to get over,” White said. “It’s tough when you’re not going to be playing in that game and you had that one circled on the calendar from Day 1. That’s the way it goes. I’m excited to get there sooner or later and play in front of that crowd.”
Then again, White wasn’t excited enough to try to buy Jets season tickets for his parents.
“No, I didn’t, they’re Habs fans through and through,” White said. “They won’t be watching too many Jets games unless I’m playing. People back home, though, they’re really excited about having the team back.”