Over the past few months, a winter storm has been brewing. Across the flat prairie landscape, fans could see it coming, and it arrived in Winnipeg on April 11.
The whiteout hit the Manitoba capital with the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the first-round matchup between the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild. Bell MTS Place is the epicentre of the storm, with 15,321 fans at every home game draped in white — a tradition that began in 1987 in the old Winnipeg Arena when the original Jets went to their first post-season. The 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs have Jets faithful again donning the white. Though, unlike in 2015, this team entered as a Western Conference favourite.
In other words, this whiteout is different.
For the thousands of Jets fans not inside Bell MTS Place for home games, the party isn’t far away. The Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party shuts down the area around the arena and fills it with big-screen TVs, a stage, entertainment and food trucks.
Usually, a blizzard in April would be cursed; this one, however, is blessed by thousands. And we’ve got the photo evidence.
In the hours before Jets playoff home games, the population of downtown Winnipeg swells by thousands.
“I remember the 2015 playoff run, we were at Game 4,” Stephanie Garand (exiting bus) said before Game 1 of the Wild series.
“Can’t wait for the boys to bring home the Cup,” said Jamie Reid (right).
Above, fans watch an outdoor broadcast of Game 1 of the Jets-Wild series.
Below, fans on the upper concourse inside Bell MTS Place check out those same outdoor crowds during the first intermission.
Team Jones poses for a photo. “It’s amazing what sport can do for this community,” Winnipeg native Jones (right) said.
With the whiteout in full effect, fans’ faith and fervour was rewarded with victories in Games 1 and 2.
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Getting to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is one thing. Getting there year after year and contending is another. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets are on track to do that. Just ask them.