Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien couldn’t help the reincarnated
Winnipeg Jets win their highly anticipated debut.
The two players will again try to help their team get its first
victory Thursday night, when they play at the United Center for the
first time since helping the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley
Despite losing 5-1 to Montreal on Sunday, the Jets received a
standing ovation from a sellout crowd at their new home, the MTS
Centre – a moment 15 years in the making. The original Jets moved
to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season before Winnipeg got a second
chance when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated there for this
“To get a standing ovation when we lose, it just shows that
we’re going to have fans behind us regardless,” said center Mark
Scheifele, the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft.
All but four players who dressed Sunday were member of the
Thrashers in 2010-11, including Ladd and Byfuglien. The two were
acquired in separate trades with the Blackhawks before last season
and were the top scorers for a team that finished 12th in the
“Right away, I was kind of disappointed. The more I look ahead,
it was obviously a good thing,” Byfuglien said of leaving Chicago.
“It’s always fun being part of a team that’s building.”
Byfuglien and Ladd were key members of the Blackhawks team that
won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Chicago’s defense of its title ended
with a seven-game defeat to Vancouver in the opening round.
The Blackhawks faced the Thrashers once last season, a 5-4
shootout win in Atlanta on Nov. 6.
“It’s going to be pretty cool to go back in there and see the
banner,” Ladd said of returning to the United Center. “It’ll be
good to see everyone, but it would be nice to get a win in there
Chicago (1-1-0) will be looking to build on a strong home debut.
After falling 2-1 at Dallas on Friday, the Blackhawks got two goals
from Dave Bolland the next night to finish the home-and-home series
with a 5-2 victory.
Chicago started 8-9-2 in 2010-11 before finishing with 97
points, two ahead of ninth-place Dallas in the West and 15 fewer
than it had during its first championship season in 49 years.
“It’s key, winning those games at the start,” Bolland said.
“When you don’t, last year we battled for a playoff spot. … We
want that early on in the season. We don’t want to battle for it at
To avoid a similarly slow start, the Blackhawks may need their
power play to be better. They’re 1 for 11 with the man advantage
after going 1 for 7 on Saturday.
“The numbers aren’t where we would like them to be, but it’s
early,” center Patrick Sharp said. “We’re getting some good looks
and good chances, but we know going forward that it’s going to be
big for us.”
The Blackhawks are seeking a series-best fourth straight victory
over the Jets franchise and have won the past two games in
Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews had two goals and two assists in
last season’s win over the Thrashers, while Patrick Kane had two
goals and an assist. Kane has three goals and four assists in his
four all-time matchups.
The Jets were 0 for 7 on the power play Sunday.