Over the weekend, the Washington Nationals held “Expos Day” as they wore the road uniforms of the 1969 Montreal Expos and had other various nice touches at the Nationals Park including making player announcements in both English and French, having their scoreboard look like a classic 70’s style light board and having Montreal themed food at the concession stands. Heck, they even went all out with the free programs as well as bullpen cart.
Great throwback by the @Nationals today.
Players even wore era appropriate socks, which is often overlooked. The scoreboard and bullpen cart even got into the act. They even had some specialty Montreal themed food items.
Only mistake was a woeful shortage of merchandise. pic.twitter.com/JDWryXUy7e
— Front Office Curmudgeon (@CurmudgeonFront) July 7, 2019
Of course it’s 2019 and things like this can’t happen without people complaining about it. Expos fans felt it was a slap in the face to Montreal fans who had to see their team depart to Washington 15 years ago. Nationals fans thought it was a slap in the face that the team even bothered to care about the Expos and not say the Washington Senators who are actually now the Texas Rangers.
But all those people honestly don’t matter. How can they when you see this as part of your Saturday afternoon baseball watching?
Sure it was a bit odd that the Nationals after 15 years of being in D.C. with nary a mention of their Montreal history suddenly broke out the powder blue unis, just like it was odd seeing the Carolina Hurricanes do the same with the old Hartford Whalers gear this past NHL season which also elicited much of the same reaction from gate-keeping fans on both sides.
Lookin' good in green pic.twitter.com/N6T2mGSXnK
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) December 23, 2018
All of this is to say that I really do feel at some point the Winnipeg Jets should have a Thrashers night. Maybe not right away – as I said, the Nationals took 15 years to have one Expos day and the Hurricanes waited a full 22 years to throw on the old green and white from Hartford – but maybe for the tenth year anniversary season in 2020-21?
Sure you’ll have fans in Winnipeg that will hate the idea of honoring a defunct team in a city that seemingly didn’t care that much about hockey. Sure you’ll have fans in Atlanta angry because somehow trying to remember a team’s past in another city is an insult to that very city. Sure everyone will call it a shameless cash grab to sell merch.
Those are all valid points and as the Hurricanes and Nationals have proved, none of them matter. A cash grab? What the heck do you all think pro-sports is anyway? Consider your cash grabbed the next time you buy a hat or shirt or jersey or shell out over 500 bucks for a pair of seats along the glass for the night.
As former Expo and current Nats broadcaster F.P. Santangelo pointed out during the Expos game on Saturday (and I am paraphrasing here), it’s one day out of 15 years that they’re doing this. If you hate this, no one can really help you because you must hate a lot of things.
Plus I bet a Thrashers night would mean a lot to the players who came up with the team in the move. Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Dustin Byfuglien…
And think for a second how much fun a Thrashers Night would be.
The Thrashers had beautiful blue alternates that eventually because their primary jerseys. The Jets could wear those.
Need music in the stadium? Atlanta has a rich history in music and a wealth of talent – off the top of my head you could play acts like Outkast, Sevendust, Usher, Indigo Girls, Ludacris, Collective Soul, 21 Savage – to make up a great hockey playlist.
Invite noted Thrashers fan Lil Jon to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Granted he’s a Vegas fan now and the Golden Knights would probably find a way to block him from going to Winnipeg, but it’s still worth it to invite him.
Food concession choices? You can’t go wrong with BBQ ribs or fried chicken and waffles and be able to wash it down with a Coke.
For the longest time I’ve wanted the Jets to claim BOTH the history of the previous Winnipeg NHL club and the history of the Thrashers. I admit it’s somewhat of a greedy stance to take, but since no one can seem to agree what the sports teams should and shouldn’t do to honor their former selves in other cities, why not just claim it all? A good first step to such a plan is to have a Thrashers night.