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The Winnipeg Jets were a professional ice hockey team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They played in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972 to 1996. In 1996, the franchise moved to Phoenix, Arizona due to financial troubles and became the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Jets' first signing was Norm Beaudin ("the Original Jet") and the teams first major signing was Bobby Hull. Hull's acquisition, partially financed by the rest of the WHA's teams, was widely seen as giving legitimacy to the WHA as a serious rival major league to the NHL.
The Jets were further noteworthy in hockey history for being the first North American club to seriously explore Europe as a source of hockey talent. Winnipeg's fortunes were bolstered by acquisitions such as Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA's most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed "the Hot Line"), and defenceman Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who would serve as the team's captain and win accolades as the WHA's best defenceman. Behind these players and other European stars such as Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson, Veli-Pekka Ketola, leavened by players such as Peter Sullivan, Norm Beaudin and goaltender Joe Daley, the Jets were the most successful team in the short-lived WHA. The team won three Avco Cups, including in the league's final season against Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets made the finals five of the WHA's seven seasons and were widely considered one of the best teams in hockey, NHL or WHA, of the era.
In the last season in the WHA, Kent Nilsson had 107 points, while Morris Lukowich had 65 goals, and Peter Sullivan had 46 goals and 86 points.  The Jets made it to the Avco Cup and Gary Smith gave up the last goal in WHA history to Dave Semenko in a 7-3 Jets win. 
By 1979, the vast majority of the WHA's teams had folded, but the Jets were still going strong and they were absorbed into the NHL. In doing so, they had to give up three of their top six scorers – the core of the last WHA champion – and were forced to draft 18th out of 21 teams. With a decimated roster, the Jets finished last in the league in the next two seasons, including a horrendous nine-win season in 1980-81 that still ranks as the worst in franchise history. This stands in marked contrast to the other 1979 Avco Cup finalist, the Oilers, who became one of the most powerful teams the game has ever seen during the 1980s.
The Jets' first two wretched NHL seasons did net them high draft picks, and in 1981, they drafted future Hall of Fame member Dale Hawerchuk. The team developed into a solid core of players by the mid-1980s, with Hawerchuk, Thomas Steen, Paul MacLean, Dave Babych, Randy Carlyle, Laurie Boschman, Doug Smail, and David Ellett giving the Jets a solid nucleus and a chance to compete for a Stanley Cup championship.
Unfortunately, regular-season success did not transfer into the playoffs. This was because the Jets played in the same division as the powerful Oilers and Flames (who were originally based in Atlanta, but by this time were in Calgary). Due to the way the playoffs were structured at the time, the Jets were all but assured of having to beat either the Oilers or the Flames (or both) to get to the Campbell Conference Finals. For example, in 1984-85, they finished with the fourth-best record in the league, with 96 points – both their best finishes as an NHL team. While they managed to dispatch the Flames 3 games to 1 in the Division Semifinals, they were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Oilers in four games in the Division Finals. In fact, Winnipeg and Edmonton played each other in the playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990, with Edmonton winning every series, holding the Jets to just 4 total victories. 1987 was the last time that the Jets won a playoff series (defeating Calgary in the opening round), a drought that has continued to plague the franchise in Phoenix.
As the NHL expanded in the United States, operating costs and salaries grew rapidly; this development hit the league's Canadian teams particularly hard. As Winnipeg was the league's second-smallest market (eventually becoming the smallest market after the Québec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995), the Jets were unable to retain their best players. Various schemes were devised to save the team through a tremendous grassroots effort and government funds, but in the end the efforts were not enough. The Winnipeg Jets played their last-ever game on April 28, 1996, a home playoff loss to the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-1. Norm Maciver scored the last goal in Jets history.
During their history, the Jets retired two numbers: Bobby Hull's #9 and Thomas Steen's #25. Both numbers hang in Jobing.com Arena with the new Phoenix Coyotes franchise. Bobby Hull's #9 jersey was temporarily "un-retired" with the acquisition of his son Brett by the Phoenix franchise. Brett wore his father's famous jersey until his own retirement on October 15, 2005, subsequent to which the number was re-retired.
A number of former Jets remain active in the NHL; as of the 2006-07 season, these included Dallas Drake, Nikolai Khabibulin, Teppo Numminen, Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Kris Draper, Chad Kilger and Oleg Tverdovsky. Shane Doan is the last Jet to remain with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise.
Although a new arena has since been built in downtown Winnipeg to replace the aged Winnipeg Arena, the arena's managers have stated that the 15,000 seat MTS Centre was not erected in hopes of attracting an NHL team back to the city. However, the arena could be easily upgraded to NHL standards. A frenzy erupted in the local and national media when many Winnipeg businessmen expressed that they were pro-actively approaching the idea and were in the process of forming an ownership group, although as of the end of the 2006-2007 season there had been no official statement.
During the 2007 Manitoba provincial election campaign, Conservatives promised to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg if elected. The elected New Democratic Party of Manitoba has also mentioned their support for the return of the Jets, with Premier Gary Doer saying he has been in talks to bring a team to the province.
During a press conference Gary Bettman stated that the idea of Winnipeg having an NHL team sounds intriguing. He also stated that another team in Winnipeg could happen one day.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals scored for, GA = Goals scored against, PIM = Penalty minutes
|1972-73||78||43||31||4||90||285||249||757||1st in Western||Lost in finals|
|1973-74||78||34||39||5||73||264||296||673||4th in Western||Lost in Round 1|
|1974-75||78||38||35||5||81||322||293||869||3rd in Canadian||Out of Playoffs|
|1975-76||81||52||27||2||106||345||254||940||1st in Canadian||Won Avco World Trophy|
|1976-77||80||46||32||2||94||366||291||991||2nd in Western||Lost in finals|
|1977-78||80||50||28||2||102||381||270||988||1st||Won Avco World Trophy|
|1978-79||80||39||35||6||84||307||306||1342||3rd||Won Avco World Trophy|
|1979-80||80||20||49||11||51||214||314||1251||5th in Smythe||Out of Playoffs|
|1980-81||80||9||57||14||32||246||400||1191||5th in Smythe||Out of Playoffs|
|1981-82||80||33||33||14||80||319||332||1314||2nd in Norris||Lost in Round 1|
|1982-83||80||33||39||8||74||311||333||1089||4th in Smythe||Lost in Round 1|
|1983-84||80||31||38||11||73||340||374||1579||4th in Smythe||Lost in Round 1|
|1984-85||80||43||27||10||96||358||332||1540||2nd in Smythe||Lost Division Final (EDM)|
|1985-86||80||26||47||7||59||295||372||1774||3rd in Smythe||Lost Division Semifinal (CGY)|
|1986-87||80||40||32||8||88||279||271||1537||3rd in Smythe||Lost Division Final (EDM)|
|1987-88||80||33||36||11||77||292||310||2278||3rd in Smythe||Lost Division Semifinal (EDM)|
|1988-89||80||26||42||12||64||300||355||1843||5th in Smythe||Out of Playoffs|
|1989-90||80||37||32||11||85||298||290||1639||3rd in Smythe||Lost Division Semifinal (EDM)|
|1990-91||80||26||43||11||63||260||288||1675||5th in Smythe||Out of Playoffs|
|1991-92||80||33||32||15||81||251||244||1907||4th in Smythe||Lost Division Semifinal (VAN)|
|1992-93||84||40||37||7||87||322||320||1851||4th in Smythe||Lost Division Semifinal (VAN)|
|1993-94||84||24||51||9||57||245||344||2143||6th in Central||Out of Playoffs|
|1994-951||48||16||25||7||39||157||177||1141||6th in Central||Out of Playoffs|
|1995-96||82||36||40||6||78||275||291||1622||5th in Central||Lost Conference Quarterfinal (DET)|
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