The Winnipeg Jets have been reincarnated in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the 2011-12 season after Atlanta could not sustain a second franchise. The first Georgia-based NHL team was the Atlanta Flames, and they moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Then, the Thrashers lasted from the 1999-2000 season through the 2010-11 campaign. The team relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and adopted the nickname from the city's original World Hockey Association (WHA)-NHL franchise.
Those original Jets transferred countries in 1996 due to financial difficulties and turned into the Phoenix Coyotes. Those Jets had a long tenure in professional ice hockey with a 1972-73 debut in the WHA. Their biggest impact signing was high-scoring forward Bobby Hull. The Jets qualified for the post-season six times in the seven WHA seasons, and they reached the finals five times. During those title appearances, the Jets captured the Avco World Trophy on three occasions. Avco stands for Aviation Company, a defense contractor and sponsor for the WHA's championship trophy also known as the Avco Cup.
They beat Houston in 1976, stopped New England in 1978 and in the final WHA season outlasted Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. That success, as well as the Jets' location, made them attractive to the NHL and they debuted in the 1979-80 season. Only limited success followed. From 1980-96, until the move to Phoenix, the Jets qualified for the post-season 11 times. But they only won two playoff series and finished higher than third in their division just twice. Ironically, the Jets beat Calgary for both playoff series victories in 1985 and 1987.
The Atlanta Thrashers weren't any more competitive on the ice or successful off it, either. During their NHL tenure from the 1999-2000 season through 2010-11, the Thrashers made just one post-season appearance. But it was immensely unsuccessful, as the New York Rangers rolled to a sweep in the 2007 Eastern conference quarterfinal matchup. The Thrashers actually won the Southeast Division, where they resided since their inception, with 97 points that season. But three fourth-place finishes and financial woes during their final four seasons afterward precipitated their eventual demise.
The new version of the Jets struggled early in the debut season, just like the Thrashers, as play continued in the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division. That could change if the NHL realigns next season.