Meet the man behind the Winnipeg Jets’ whiteout

WINNIPEG — It was a night Jets fans will never forget.

The electrifying atmosphere inside MTS Centre Monday night, captivated the country and players were in awe, even after a tough loss.

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“That’s one you’ll always remember, too bad it wasn’t more fond memories,” said Blake Wheeler.

“I got chills skating out for the first time, seeing the big white out,” said Tyler Myers, “The fans exceeded any expectations we had.”

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This may have been the first white out for the new Jets but it started 28 years ago.

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It was an idea die hard Jets fan and marketing expert Rod Palson came up with during a lunch meeting with team brass at Rae and Jerry’s restaurant.

“I got summoned to a lunch meeting to talk about something,” said Palson.

In 1987, as the Jets prepared to play the Calgary Flames in game six of the first round, the Jets organization wanted to do something to counter the crowd at the Saddledome and the sea of red.

“They wanted to counter attack it with encouraging people to wear red, white and blue,” said Palson who made a simpler, more cost effective suggestion, “I threw out the idea of everyone has a white shirt, t-shirt, sweat shirt, let’s encourage our fans to wear white with the theme, good guys wear white…three days later the community was white, it was just an enormous response.”

The Winnipeg Jets whiteout was born April 16, 1987.

“Goose bumps, incredible and we won that series,” boasted Palson.

Monday night at MTS Centre those goose bumps returned.

“Seeing people take it to the next level,” said Palson.  A simple idea that became a movement that defined a city.

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