'Told ya': Big Jets fan who bet on team's return predicts Game 7 win
Team brings Winnipeg together like nothing else, says Greg Burnett
Don't bet against the Winnipeg Jets fan whose jersey reads "told ya."
Bearing his declaration on the name bar, Greg Burnett's jersey hangs among dozens of uniforms from every era of the club in his basement shrine. The number on the jersey is 15, representing the years he waited for his beloved NHL team to return home.
Reached the morning of a critical Game 7 in which his club must beat the Nashville Predators to advance to its first-ever conference final, Burnett was just as confident as his signed jersey.
The Jets will win 3-0, he told CBC News Network on Thursday.
"And I'll up it a bit; we will beat Vegas in five," he added, referring already to the possible series against the Vegas Golden Knights, the team-in-waiting in the Western Conference final.
Burnett, an Oakville school teacher living in Winnipeg, is one of the club's biggest fans, a statement backed up by his 600-square-foot basement, which looks like a knockoff Jets dressing room. He outfitted player stalls in his basement and was sure to have the "Hot Line" — Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson — sitting beside each other.
He even keeps an "A" salvaged from the old Winnipeg Arena sign. His wife inquired about the memento when the old barn was being torn down.
"She's an enabler as far as my Jets-ness" goes, he said.
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For the game at hand, Burnett predicts star performances from Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Nikolaj Ehlers, held off the scoresheet in 12 games, is bound to score, Burnett thinks. "He's due."
The father of four will watch the do-or-die game from home. He has attended two viewing parties for previous playoff games, but the Jets lost each one.
"I've got to change it up a bit," he said.
That doesn't mean he'll stay confined to his couch after the buzzer rings.
If the Jets win, Burnett plans to reach out to his pal who isn't much of a hockey fan but cheers for the Toronto Maple Leafs to tick him off.
"I might give him a call to drive me downtown after to see what's going on at Portage and Main," he said.
Jets bring Winnipeg together
Scanning his basement teeming with framed photos, branded chairs and other keepsakes, you'd think Burnett's love of the Jets borders on an obsession.
He's obviously a big devotee, but his fandom is grounded in what this NHL team does to the city's psyche.
"To see the way everyone gets together during the Jets run is awesome," he said. "I'm a teacher, and when you see things like inclusion — it doesn't matter how rich you are, how poor you are, what colour you are, what you look like. If you're wearing a Jets jersey, you're good and you belong; nothing brings that together more than a Winnipeg Jets whiteout."
Game 7 will air tonight at 7 p.m. CT on CBC TV.