Jets, Oilers alumni delight fans ahead of Heritage Classic
Open practices have crowds reminiscing the teams' heydays of the 1980s
Hockey fans at the MTS Center in Winnipeg were in for a treat Friday as the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers alumni teams held open practice before Saturday's Heritage Classic game at Investors Group Field.
The Jets hit the ice first with Teemu Selanne, Dale Hawerchuk, Ed Olczyk, Laurie Boschman leading the way as 5,000 fans in the rink's lower bowl watched and video taped their every move.
After a short break and a Zamboni scrape, the crowd waited in anticipation for the Oilers alumni from the Stanley Cup-winning teams of the 1980s to hit the ice.
The loudest cheers were saved for Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
Gretzky skated the full practice without a helmet and grinning from ear to ear.
While some of the jerseys looked a bit tighter and the line rushes weren't quite as fast, the players still showed some flashes of what made them part of one of the NHL's most potent dynasties.
In fact many of the former players looked like they were just picking up where they left off.
Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Esa Tikkanen, Ryan Smyth, and Kelly Buchberger were just some of the names on the ice.
On the bench, former coach Ron Low could be heard barking out orders as the team held a short scrimmage much to the delight of the crowd.
Former Oilers goalies Bill Ranford, Curtis Joseph, and Dwayne Roloson took turns between the pipes.
The teams will go at it for real in less than 24 hours, outdoors at Investors Group Stadium, the home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, now transformed into a massive outdoor rink and festival area.