DETROIT — The Wings get their first and only look at their new conference foe, the Winnipeg Jets tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
Darren Helm was born in Winnipeg.
“Most of the team out there I’ve talked to are pretty happy about it,” Helm said. “My friends and family pay a lot more attention to the Wings so I don’t think they care as much. But there’s a lot of people I grew up with that are real excited, pretty pumped about getting a chance to cheer for a hometown team.”
Helm is looking forward to next season and the road trips to Winnipeg, mainly home-cooked meals.
“When they come here it’s no big deal but going there is going to be nice,” Helm said. “I can play in front of my family instead of having them come all the way here to watch a game.”
Helm went to a few Jets games while growing up with his youth teams, working 50-50 raffles on the concourse before games. He got to skate on the ice when he was seven or eight.
“I followed the Jets growing up, I was at a few games, I wasn’t a huge fan, I was still pretty young,” Helm said. “I didn’t know any Jets players.”
He does however remember the portrait of the Queen at the end of the rink.
“A bunch of (my friends) jumped on the (Jets) bandwagon pretty quick,” Helm laughed. “All my friends on Facebook have Jets jerseys, Jets T-shirts. I’m pretty disappointed with them.
“Winnipeg loves their hockey,” Helm continued. “They’ve wanted a team since the day they left. They’re excited.”
The original Jets franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996. This year’s squad relocated from Atlanta.