Source: PostMedia / Reuters
It seems that the NHL will be returning to Winnipeg with details announced Tuesday. The euphoria and smugness of the local media can be cut with a knife so it must really be true this time !
It's not an issue that I was ever that hot and bothered about. I figured (like most hockey fans) that the NHL would eventually be back to small market Canadian cities once the southern U.S. experiment imploded. I have to admit some surprise at how long that "new NHL" has been able to drag itself along despite being on life support in some markets.
1976 Winnipeg Jets (Source: U of M Library, Tribune Collection)
A new team is good news for the city but for Bettman's NHL "move team to Winnipeg" is likely near the bottom of his "favourable resolutions for a failing southern U.S. team" list, just above number 43: Have staff and players of failing franchise assassinated.
Getting a team through 'default' in a league that doesn't really support or recognize the importance of small market Canadian cities is a double-edged sword. Perhaps a Winnipeg move could be the thin edge of the wedge for bringing the NHL back to its senses.
But, hey, that's getting awful close to naysayer talk. I will put my faith with the boosters who know 'Peggers will line up to buy almost 14,000 tickets a game for the foreseeable future. Remember, "We're one of the strongest hockey markets in the world !" Heck, we're even in for a "dramatic increase' in housing sales." How can every single Winnipegger not be stoked with rah-rah like that !
1920 Manitoba Falcons (Source: Archives of Manitoba)
One issue that should be an aside but, no doubt, will end up reaching shit-storm proportions is the name of this new NHL franchise.
The Jets is the frontrunner but ... really ? The Jets franchise left and is still (barely) alive and (un) well in Arizona. This isn't the 'return of the Jets' any more than it is a return of the Winnipeg Vics, Winnipeg Falcons, Winnipeg Maroons etc.
Each of these teams was a great and storied part of Winnipeg's history but surely we can stretch our minds beyond having to recycle the name of one of them for a new pro hockey team ?
Let the shit-storm commence.
1894 Winnipeg Victorias (Source: Library and Archives Canada)Early Manitoba Hockey Archives of Manitoba
Winnipeg Jets Relics Bryan Scott