Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Sept. 11, 1988. Harold Ballard. Photo by Erik Christensen / The Globe and Mail Pub. Sept. 12, 1988

Erik Christensen/The Globe and Mail

Sure Winnipeg Jets fans have made life difficult for opposing teams at the MTS Centre this season. But wait until Saturday when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town. That will unleash a whole new level of hostility.

"It's going to be a crazy atmosphere," said Chuck Duboff, who grew up a Leaf fan but will be at Saturday's game cheering loudly for the Jets. "I've been excited about this since I saw the schedule come out."

Animosity? Resentment? Grudge? Jets fans have all that and more when it comes to Toronto. Yes, Jets fans booed the Phoenix Coyotes mightily when they showed up in early December, but that was only 15 years of pent-up anger over the team's abrupt departure in 1996.

Story continues below advertisement

The hatred of Toronto goes back almost 40 years – all the way to the late 1970s, when Leaf owner Harold Ballard campaigned against allowing the Jets and three other World Hockey Association teams into the NHL. That so enraged the city there were calls to boycott companies connected to the NHL as well as the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were owned by Ballard at the time. The fury went as far as Ottawa with Winnipeg politicians leaning on the federal government to push the NHL to override Ballard's objections.

When the Jets finally got into the NHL in 1979, along with the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques and Hartford Whalers, the Winnipeg Arena was covered in "We Hate Leafs" signs for the first game against Toronto.

The hatred didn't end there. When the Jets fled to Phoenix the resentment kept building as Winnipeggers endured years of being force-fed Leaf games on Hockey Night In Canada. Even now with the Jets back in the NHL, many Winnipeggers still feel the Leafs dominate media coverage. Adding to the injury for some fans were comments last June by Leafs general manager Brian Burke who dared question the long-term viability of the Jets, saying that while it was great to have the team back in the league, "It's not a slam dunk" the Jets will be a success.

If all that wasn't enough consider this: the Jets and the Leafs have the same record heading into the game, 18-14-5 with 41 points. And, as of Friday, the teams hold down the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Thus, the atmosphere for the New Year's Eve will be special.

"Winnipeg Jets' fans always feel like we're the red-headed stepchild," said Derek Brookes, an ardent Jets fan who can't wait for Saturday's game. "Even though Winnipeg has gotten more than its normal share of coverage because of the return of the Jets, the fans have still got a chip on their shoulder."

There will probably be a few Leaf fans at the MTS Centre and some brave souls may even wear their Leaf jerseys. In fact there was a time when Leaf fans filled the Winnipeg arena, back when the Jets games weren't such a hot ticket.

Story continues below advertisement

"Ironically, the Leafs used to be one of the more popular teams at the old Arena," recalled Jets fan Michael Bailey. "You would see more Leaf jerseys than Jets jerseys when Toronto came to town, despite the Ballardian opposition to the merger. ... All that said, this time around things are very different. I'm certain that there will be a few Leafs jerseys at the MTS Centre on Saturday but it'll be all Jets, Jets, Jets. It's cool to be a Jets fan these days. It wasn't so cool 25 year ago for some reason."

Jets fans will have to confront one dilemma Saturday. What to do with Leaf goalie James Reimer? The MTS Centre crowd has taken to jeering opposing goaltenders constantly this season but Reimer hails from Morweena, Man., about 140 kilometres north of Winnipeg, and he is expected to have loads of family and friends in attendance.



All that hype and hatred has made the game a pricey event. Tickets for all Jets games sold out long ago but some are available on reselling sites such as Stubhub. As of late Friday there were six tickets listed for Saturday's game. The asking price? From $479 to $1,000.



Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies