Coyotes vs. Winnipeg Jets: Hockey Is Officially Back In The Valley

Photo by Jose Romero/SB Nation Arizona

The Phoenix Coyotes make their home debut this afternoon at Jobing.com Arena against a reincarnation of their former selves, the new version of the Winnipeg Jets.

GLENDALE -- All of the uncertainty surrounding where the Phoenix Coyotes would end up in the immediate aftermath of Game 4 of the Western Conference first round series last spring between Phoenix and Detroit can now truly be put to rest. There is a Coyotes team, a schedule and this afternoon, a first home game of the season.

Temperatures outside Jobing.com Arena are in the high 90s, but walk indoors and it might as well be like you stepped into a refrigerator unit at a restaurant. Fans are filing in, picking up free long-sleeve T-shirts celebrating the club's 15 years in the Valley of the Sun. And there are more than a few fans in Winnipeg Jets blue among the partisans. See for yourself. 

It's crazy to think that the Coyotes, who were talked about last year as possibly moving BACK to Winnipeg, were once the Jets. The Peg was without an NHL team for 15 years, now it has one again at the expense of Atlanta. And it's the Coyotes who seek ownership stability in a twist of fate. 

Phoenix is 1-1-1 after its first three road games of the season on the road. Winnipeg, which had to replace Atlanta in the NHL Southeast Division and therefore is in there with teams from the U.S. Southeast, is winless in its first two games.

Puck drop is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. The Coyotes, led by Shane Doan's three goals already this season, are 10-3-1 in home openers since moving to Arizona. Doan is the one link to the past, as he played for the Jets before the move south and is one goal away from 300 in his career.

For more Coyotes talk, visit Five for Howling blog.

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