Bruins Discover Quickly That Winnipeg Was Worthy of NHL Return With Passionate Show of Support From Fans

Bruins Discover Quickly That Winnipeg Was Worthy of NHL Return With Passionate Show of Support From FansThe Bruins weren't happy about seeing their 15-game point streak come to an end, but they couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement of the atmosphere in the NHL's latest move back to the future.

For the first time in nearly 16 years, the Bruins played in Winnipeg on Tuesday. They dropped a 2-1 decision to the Jets, much to the delight of the 15,004 rabid Manitobans on hand at the sold-out MTS Centre.

That's the smallest building in the league, but it may also be the loudest. Waiting 15 years to see NHL hockey again after the original Jets packed up for Phoenix in 1996 will tend to elicit a little bit of passion.

"Very passionate fans," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "A smaller arena so it's much louder. I'm sure they're very excited to have an NHL team and it's pretty obvious they're going to support it."

Winnipeg is certain to support it better than Atlanta, where the Jets 2.0 relocated from last summer after the NHL's second failed attempt in that market.

The difference outside the rink was dramatic, with the balmy Georgia climate replaced by the frigid cold of Manitoba. But inside the barn, the difference was even greater, and the reception from the fans was enough to warm a visitor from the worst a Winnipeg winter can offer.

"It's nice to see the stands full and when we used to go to Atlanta that wasn't the case," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Obviously the fans here certainly love their team and support it well, so I'm glad to see Winnipeg back in the league."

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had played in Winnipeg before while the same building housed the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, but he noticed a big difference with the NHL back in town.

"It was loud," Rask said. "I've been here once before, actually twice. It gets loud out there. It looks like they've definitely been waiting for the opportunity to have the NHL team in their hometown and cheer for them."

Hockey fans everywhere should be cheering for the return of another team to a true hockey market. And it may not be the last. Here's hoping that the fans in Quebec City that lost the Nordiques one year before the original Jets left Winnipeg will be celebrating an NHL return of their own in the near future.