© Chuck Duboff
We as Winnipegers tend to have a very negative image of our city; it would seem that those who visit our city seem to have a greater appreciation for our hometown. Recently Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrik Laine was quoted as saying that he loves our city, that “this is my city now”. You could feel the sense of pride around the city knowing that this world class athlete has embraced us.
Yet, he is not the only honorary Winnipeger to embrace our fair city. Last year the citizens of San Diego lost their NFL team, as the San Diego Chargers moved to Los Angeles, leaving their fans without a football team to cheer for. One of those fans was Scott Mortland…a huge Chargers and Padres fan. So, what did Scott do? He went looking for a new team to embrace, and low and behold, he found the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL Along with his son Gregory, they flew up to Winnipeg to watch the Bombers and they became instant fans of the Blue!! Later in the fall, Scott came back for a Bombers and Jets weekend; and that was the game in which the Jets hammered Pittsburgh!! Not only had Scott found two new teams to cheer for, he had found many new friends…with Greg Mackling his personal tour guide and Winnipeg connection.
I was fortunate to meet Scott at that Pittsburgh game and we have maintained an e-mail friendship.
Once again Scott will be traveling up to Winnipeg this weekend to watch our Jets take on New York and Washington. I asked Scott if he would write a few words for his Winnipeg friends and the city of Winnipeg:
© Scott Mortland
I happened to find these pennants in my garage earlier this month, and given my upcoming trip to Winnipeg on Saturday, I just can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic…
You wouldn’t expect most kids from San Diego in the early 1970’s to be huge hockey fans. Shoot, we had the beach next door, the deserts and mountains just an hour away and we had two major league teams in the Padres and Chargers. Young teams, yes, but still the top level in sports.
But, we also had the Gulls…
My love for hockey goes back decades. Like many other San Diegans at the time, my parents, my brother Mark and I, first supported the Gulls of the Western Hockey League. When my family moved to San Diego in 1969 from Tucson, Arizona, the league had seven franchises, including the Vancouver Canucks who jumped to the NHL the next season. The four of us went to most games and I so fondly remember watching the great Willie O’Ree, the first black player to don a uniform in the NHL (Boston Bruins). I treasure the game-worn jersey I still have of his. Autographed, too!
The Gulls were replaced by the Mariners of the WHA in 1974 and, of course, played the original Winnipeg Jets. This change was bittersweet for most of us. Yes, we were moving up in the hockey world, but…deep down, the dedicated hockey fans of our fine city truly prayed to get an NHL franchise some day…
Scott has made so many new friends in Winnipeg.
Well, here we are, some 40+ years later. My life has found me embracing Winnipeg for many terrific reasons and this, of course, includes the Jets. Frankly, I can talk sports all day long, but the friendships I have made in ‘The Peg’ are what I value most. The icing on the cake, as the cliché goes, would be to celebrate with all of you when the Jets win their very first Stanley Cup! Trust me, I’ll be there partying with all of you!
Indeed, life does take some interesting turns. I am so happy the left hand turn I chose to take last year pointed me right in the direction of Winnipeg.
GO JETS GO!!!