Statement made on 08 June 2011 by Senator Rod Zimmer (retired)
Hon. Rod A.A. Zimmer:
Honourable senators, I rise today to honour a team, like the prodigal son who returned home and also rose like the flight of the phoenix.
Let trumpets blast, the choirs sing, the little children play, and let there be a parting of the Red River, with a huge debt of gratitude to the Chipman family and David Thomson: The Jets are back!
Honourable senators, on behalf of all my Manitoba colleagues in both places, we know that no one wanted the Jets to leave in the first place. It was an incredibly hard time for the players on the team as well as the fans. During their final games, they were unable even to look up from the bleachers without tears gathering in their eyes.
From 1995 to 1996 the NHL had a four-month lockout just before the Winnipeg Jets left. The fans of the team threw a fundraising event that was attended by over 35,000 people and raised more than half a million dollars, but it was still not enough to keep them for even one more year.
Honourable senators, fans of the Winnipeg Jets are absolutely thrilled that they have their team back. It was confirmed that it was a good move when all the season tickets sold out within 17 minutes of going on sale. With an extra 8,000 people on the waiting list, we now have a commitment of three to five years of season tickets.
Honourable senators, I had the distinct privilege to fly back to Ottawa via Toronto on the historic day of May 31, 2011, and as I sat across the aisle from Mr. Thomson, I said to him, "Some may know you as Mr. Thomson or King David, but in the hearts of Manitoba fans, you will always be known as Saint David."
Honourable senators, no matter what they call the team, the hearts of Manitoba fans will always sing, "Go, Jets, go!"