New rumors have surfaced, thanks to Hockey Night in Canada personality Don Cherry and others, that the Atlanta Thrashers may be on their way to Winnipeg next season.
I have already mentioned how much of a distraction this has been for the players, even those who deny it.
I also show my age by saying that I remember the Winnipeg Jets when they played in the WHA prior to landing in the NHL when the leagues (NHL and WHA) consolidated.
The Jets were a great team and were an excellent away draw, filling stadiums with players like NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, Ulf Nilsson, Anders Hedberg, Lars-Erik Sjoberg and Willie Lindstrom, to name a few. The Jets even had cool uniforms that were Red, White and Blue with a jet in the team logo.
The Jets ushered in a European style of play that emphasized skating, speed and puck control that has since been copied by many NHL teams, including the Edmonton Oilers during the Gretzky era.
It is somewhat ironic that Don Cherry made the prediction about the Atlanta team moving. During that time, Don Cherry was one of the biggest detractors of the European style of play and labeled most Swedish players too chicken to last in the NHL.
Don aside, that does not mean it was all championships and champagne for the Jets organization.
Other teams in the league hated travelling there.
Winnipeg was known for its cold weather and subpar arena facilities. That, of course, does not even begin to address the teams financial woes, which is why they moved to Phoenix.
Of course if an NHL team returns to Manitoba, they will build a new stadium, but will the financial woes go away? Salaries, despite the salary cap, are now astronomical comparatively.
There is no doubt that the Thrashers must make the playoffs this year to have any chance of landing new investors and staying in Atlanta.
The team must put up or shut up about wanting fans to come to Phillips Arena and support the home team. If the Thrashers start winning, a diminished fanbase will return slowly.
Sadly, it is a uphill battle when everyone is announcing your demise, and you need to rely on the enthusiasm and cheers of your fans to keep you alive.
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