The Winnipeg Jets were decimated when the WHA merged with the NHL in the spring of 1979, losing most of the players who led them to the team’s third AVCO Cup victory that spring — Kent Nilsson, Terry Ruskowski, Rich Preston, Kim Clackson and Barry Long. They were only able to protect two skaters — Morris Lukowich and Scott Campbell — and a single goalie, Markus Mattsson. General manager John Ferguson used a patchwork of players for the first couple of years but after drafting Dave Babych No. 2 overall in 1980 and Dale Hawerchuk first overall the year after, he had the core around which he would build his team for the rest of the decade.
Praise for The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness
“A book about (The Hot Line) was long overdue and Winnipeg journalist Geoff Kirbyson has risen to the challenge.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“Winnipeg produces great lines. In literature Miriam Toews-David Bergen-Gabrielle Roy. In journalism: Carol Off-Jim Coleman-Marshall McLuhan. In music: Bif Naked-John K. Samson-Daniel Greaves. But the line of lines in Winnipeg belongs to hockey. Thank you Geoff Kirbyson for The Hot Line.” — Ron MacLean, Hockey Night in Canada