Raising a glass to Winnipeg Jets fans and the art of losing in this week's Love Hate

Marianne Helm

In this weeks Love Hate we lament that it's better to have love lost than to never have loved at all.

It was supposed to be the best weekend ever. Well, maybe second best weekend since getting married in March will be the de-facto best weekend ever. Going for brownie points here. Anyway, I digress.

Last weekend had been circled on my calendar for months. My dad and I were headed on the ultimate bro trip, making a twelve hour car ride down to Madison, WI for a weekend of debauchery, bratwursts and college football.

Thursday night I hurried home from the office, changed into something a little more comfortable than a suit, packed myself a travel bag and ran out the door, eager to hit the road with Dad. Before departing the house, I made sure to kiss my wife and said a quick goodbye to our cats, Dora and Preston. I met up with Dad and we were ready to kick off our extra-long weekend.

We drove as far as Rogers, MN on Thursday night, stoping only for gas and at the border to buy some super cheap rum. With Christmas around the corner, you can never have enough rum. That's a little tip for all you hosts and hostesses out there.

Stock. Up. On. Rum.

We rose early on Friday morning for a nice complimentary breakfast because Dad wouldn't have it any other way. We then departed for the Albertville Mall for a power-shop. And when I say power-shop, I truly mean power-shop. Within an hour, both the strip and our wallets were demolished. Understanding that we had to conserve some cash for the rest of the weekend, we continued the remaining four and a half hours to Madison, WI; birthplace of many a microbrew and the Wisconsin Badgers.

We had just settled into our hotel around 4:30 when I got the call from my wife.

Preston was sick. His body was collapsing under itself when he walked and he was emitting what were described to me as death meows. He was going to the vet for tests.

My heart sunk.

My wife and I adopted Preston through an ad on Kijiji in September of 2011, two months after moving in together. Suffice to say, he has been with us through everything. Good times and bad, Preston was always around to come snuggle up or beg for some treats. He was -- as we called him -- our fur baby.

After getting off the phone with my wife, I started diagnosing the situation. Surely it's nothing too serious, I thought. He hasn't been displaying signs of sickness or discomfort at all. He had become more reserved as of late, but I chalked it up to our recent adoption of Dora and the fact she lived to torment him. The poor boy couldn't find a second to himself without his little sister finding a new and creative way to sneak up and pounce on him.

The test results will come back fine. It's probably a virus and he'll be given some antibiotics and a clean bill of health.

It wasn't long after that I received word that the test results were back. Preston was diagnosed with feline leukaemia. The veterinarian told my wife it was the worst she'd ever seen. Preston would have to be put down.

My heart sank even further.

I was angry at both the situation and myself.

Preston is the perfect pet. How could this happen? How long has he been sick and how didn't we notice? Our poor fur baby.

The timing couldn't have been any poorer, my wife inconsolable and me provinces and states away. Everything sucked.

Dad and I went out for dinner as millions of thoughts raced through my mind. We were able to enjoy a good meal as Dad, ever the optimist, encouraged me through my grief. We both understood the magnitude of what was happening, but what could we do? My poor cat was suffering and it was time for him to find peace.

We arrived back at our room around 9:30PM. It was shortly after ten when I next heard from my wife.

"Baby's gone to heaven".

I sat at the edge of the bed for what felt like an entirety as I internalized the information being received. Then I drew a hot shower in the hotel bathroom and cried. And cried. And cried. And cried.

I couldn't care less about the Wisconsin Badgers, this trip or quite frankly anything. A dark cloud of unhappiness had now taken a stranglehold over my soul. I wanted to go home, to be alone, to hate everything by myself. I tossed and turned in bed all night, subjecting myself to an awful sleep.

Dad woke me up the next morning asking if I was okay and ready to go. I tossed and turned, mumbling under my breath that I'd be up in a bit.

He kept prodding me.

I finally rolled toward his direction intent on letting him know everything that was on my mind when a ray of sunshine burst through the window and enveloped the entire room in a warm, angelic glow. I can't explain how perfectly timed it was or the true beauty of the moment, but it was enough so that my mood instantly shifted.

Today is going to be a good day.

And it was a good day; a stupendous day in fact. Better than anything I could have conceived. Our hosts took us pub crawling, to the student unions and to their tailgate party. The college experience is something that I strongly recommend every sports fan enjoy once in their life. It was honesty that incredible.

Come sundown on Saturday night, I was spent. Dad and I drove the whole way home Sunday where I would finally reunite with my wife. We shared some tears and even a week later our wound is still tender. But we both know that it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

It was earlier this week that I realized I had essentially gone through the Five Stages of Grief in an entire evening. Well, except bargaining. With all the drinking I went straight from anger to depression. But in having experienced that, I couldn't help but draw parallels in my grief and that of Winnipeg Jets' fans. I don't think any fan truly grieves like a Jets' fan.

With that in mind for this week's article, I decided to do you all the service of breaking down the Five Stages of Grief -- Jets' Style in this week's Love Hate.

So let's raise a glass to Preston, to the Winnipeg Jets and to the art of losing.

Enjoy!

Denial: Wednesday October 30, 2013 after opening month record of 5-7-2

Don't worry, everything is fine. Sure, the team is right where we left them last year, but they're about to turn it on. There are so many fresh faces that it's going to take some time to get everyone on the same page and playing as a cohesive unit. Chemistry will fix everything. Don't worry, you'll see.

Anger: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 after 4-1 loss to Chicago Blackhawks

Why does Claude Noel have a job?! That Drunk 'Hawks Fan showed more desire in swindling Adam Pardy's helmet than did any the Jets player all night! I can't support these losers anymore, I just can't. I'll never love again. Fuck it all!

Bargaining: Saturday, November 16, 2013 after a four game win streak

So things aren't really that bad. We have the rest of the division right where we want them. We had to sacrifice some bad beats early, but they only helped us learn from our mistakes and lit the fire for this winning streak. Surely, the corner is being turned as we speak. Next stop, playoffs, baby!

Depression: Monday, January 27, 2014 after yet another loss to the Chicago Blackhawks

Urgh. Sooooooooo frustrating. Looks like the Jets' are still sixth in the division and clinging to a .500 record. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Monday's suck enough as it is, but they become exponentially worse after your favourite team is walloped the day before. Your peanut butter and jelly sandwich tastes bland. You don't want to talk to your co-workers. You're miserable. Not to mention the city is buried under five feet of snow and your snow blower just kicked the bucket. Lousy Jets, can't get anything right. Why even watch hockey anymore? It's not fun…. I quit.

Acceptance: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 after losing back-to-back games to the Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes, officially ending any outside chance at the playoffs

Well, it was a good run of mediocrity. Lucky I realized how much better I feel when calling for coaches to be fired and personnel to be traded. And boy, do I have a laundry list of suggestions for management. I'm still a little saddened that I bought into the hype machine of the Jets becoming a playoff team out of the blue, but hey, at least they're not the Edmonton Oilers.

Now, with that taken care of, on to the Love Hate!

Ed. Note: Thank you to AIH contributor Truck for his assistance with our love hate list this week.

Three things I love this week:

No Sunday Games!: Sunday is not a day for hockey. Not during football season, not ever. On a day that features at least one million things I want to do and an infinite number of things I have to do, where can I find time to sit down and take in a hockey game? Exactly. I can't. Good riddance, Sunday games. Until we meet again in a month's time.

Extinguishing Flames: Losers of six straight, the Calgary Flames have been porous after starting the season 3-0-2. They have gone 3-10-1 since their early successes. Adding to their woefulness, they've been an uninspiring 3-7-1 on the road thus far. Owners of the NHL's second most goals against total at 75 (good thing they have the Oilers to lean on), the Flamers also boast the NHL's second worst face-off percentage at 44.9% (Winnipeg now ranks last in FO%, oy vey!). This needs to be a slam dunk two points for the Jets who are teetering on the brink of relevancy.

The return of Zach Redmond: Okay, so maybe losing Zach Bogosian to injury isn't the greatest thing but it's nice to see Zach Redmond returning to the Jets' line-up. After injuries to a plethora of their regular blue-liners, it's almost a surprise it took Redmond this long to make his way back into the top six. Regardless, the other Zack put his name on the radar last season with some rather impressive play before a freak injury almost cost him his life. Given the present state of their rearguards, it's expected that Redmond will be given a regular shift to prove that he's still got it.

Three things I hate this week:

Scheduling: Seriously, can the Jets play a team other than the Blackhawks, Flyers or Wild this month? It's understandable that due to the 2014 Sochi Olympics the schedule has been as tight as my thighs in a pair of compression shorts. And with every team trying to cut travel costs, it's sensible that divisional foes will play each other more frequently in a short time frame. But it takes away from what should be budding rivalries when these central teams stack their games one on top of the other.

Pavelec Problems: He has been hot lately, nay, en fuego. Ondrej Pavelec now boasts a season SV% of .915, a full point higher than his career best of .914. Sure, it's only good enough for 35th best percentage in the NHL, but he has been supremely better in Winnipeg's four game winning streak than at any other point in his tenure as Winnipeg incumbent goaltender. However, he has been historically bad against the Flames and Blackhawks posting a .857SV% to go along with a 0-4-2 record in those contests. Though the sample size is small, it's enough to put him on the hate list this week.

Advance Stat Powerhouses: I'll be the first to admit that I know very little about advanced stats, nor do I particularly care to learn. But you guys love them, so here's some stats for your asses. The Blackhawks (57.9%) and Wild (56.3%) rank first and second in the NHL as it pertains to Fenwick For percentage, a stat coming from our pals at www.extraskater.com which calculates shots and missed shots for each NHL team. You have to go all the way to number twenty-one to find Winnipeg (47.6%) who share the same percentage as the Calgary Flames. It's no wonder that both Chicago and Minnesota are among the league leaders in points thus far and it will be no easy feat for Winnipeg to make up ground on them this week. After watching the Wild have their way with Winnipeg on Sunday and Josh Harding reaching beast mode, I have very low expectations for this game.

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