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Winnipeg Jets play-by-play man debating best way to describe first goal

WINNIPEG - Dennis Beyak won't be the only NHL play-by-play man forced to choose his words carefully during a Winnipeg Jets game this season.

He'll just be one of the first to do it.

Beyak is calling Sunday's regular-season opener between the Jets and Montreal Canadiens on Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg and has been debating how best to refer to the first goal scored by the new NHL squad. There's no clear answer since the team carries the same name as one that came before it and shares a history with the Atlanta Thrashers.

"It is different because it's not the first," said Beyak, who hadn't settled on his call as of Saturday afternoon.

It obviously won't be the first goal ever scored by a member of the Jets. It will just be the first for these Jets.

Officially, the first goal for the current Winnipeg franchise was scored by Kelly Buchburger during Atlanta's 4-1 loss to New Jersey on Oct. 2, 1999. The history and records for the first NHL team to call Winnipeg home moved south to Phoenix along with the franchise in 1996.

After purchasing the Thrashers on May 31, co-owner Mark Chipman was reluctant to dust off the Jets nickname because of the complicated and confusing situation it would create.

"One of his concerns about the Jets' name and identity is that he really doesn't own his history," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in June. "The Phoenix Coyotes, if you look in their year book ... their franchise records are all players who played for the Jets. And they'll continue to have that.

"They maintained those rights when they relocated from market to market."

Ultimately, under heavy public pressure, Chipman brought back the Winnipeg Jets.

Most of the players in their official record book will never have actually seen their name on the back of a Jets sweater: Ilya Kovalchuk has the most goals (328), assists (287) and points (615); Dany Heatley has the most points by a rookie with 67 in 2001-02; and Marian Hossa has the most points in a season with 100 in 2006-07.

Broadcasters will have to be careful how they call games throughout the season. For example, if a player gets a hat trick, it won't be the first in Jets history or franchise history, either.

Of course, that's of little concern to hockey fans in Winnipeg, including Chipman. They don't care how the first goal is described—they just hope it comes early in Sunday's opener.

"Obviously, I'm a little nervous about the game itself," said Chipman. "Home openers are difficult to play in in my experience. I just hope that our team plays well and they get a good start and they enjoy themselves."



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