WINNIPEG – Through all the highs and the lows, Winnipeg Jets fans have been there for their team, even if this season some fans’ loyalty was tested time and again.
The Jets will finish the season with their worst record since landing back in Winnipeg. The team managed to win just 18 of 41 home games at MTS Centre — a rink known as one of the loudest in the league.
All the disappointing defeats have turned what was once the hottest ticket in town cold.
“It would be naive to say the on-ice performance this year hasn’t had an impact on the game day decisions of folks coming to the games,” said Jets spokesperson Scott Brown.
Last week, more than 400 seats were available a few hours prior to puck drop to an all-Canadian clash between the Jets and Ottawa Senators. Almost all of them were being sold by frustrated fans.
“Winnipeg, as a city, we’ve seen this with every professional sports team,” said economy expert Rob Warren said. “When the winning stops or slows down, the fan base tends to start to shrink.”
It’s a far cry from 2011 — the year the Jets returned. Fans stopped whatever they were doing just to buy tickets. Getting to a game then was almost impossible. But, a lack of results this year has lessened the city’s love for its team.
“I think the honeymoon is over,” Warren said. “Five years is a long time to have a honeymoon. The way to get that love feeling back – playoffs.”
Winnipeg got a taste of the post-season last year but it wasn’t enough. The Jets were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in four games. Last summer saw several veterans take off, leaving a rookie filled roster.
“I think we have to go through this youth movement,” said former Jets goalie Joe Daley. “Let the kids grow up together and find out how to win. Once we do that, I think we’ll be stable.”
“Better Luck Next Year” is a week-long series airing on Global National looking at the impact of Canada’s Stanley Cup playoff drought on the teams, the fans and the seven cities home to NHL teams. Watch Global National at 6:30 p.m. ET/AT and 5:30 p.m. MT/PT.
WATCH: More stories from Global National’s “Better Luck Next Year” series