NHL: Could the Jets Be Flying in Winnipeg Once Again? Why This Benefits Manitoba
As rumours fly and reports are published and denied across the sports world, let's forget why this would be a good thing for the NHL and consider why a Winnipeg NHL franchise would benefit the beautiful plains of Winnipeg and Manitoba.
For starters, I feel obligated to remind you all that the game of hockey, by nature, is a game many Canadians pride as their National sport (sorry Lacrosse).
When you look at the markets in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, it becomes difficult to think of reasons why this is a bad idea. Granted, these are all large Canadian cities and Winnipeg could hardly be compared with the metropolises they represent.
However, all signs point to Winnipeg being an ideal host for another NHL franchise.
Hockey runs in the blood of Manitobans, and even in the absence of an NHL franchise, they bleed the colours of the hockey teams that call the province home. Whether its the Manitoba Moose or the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Manitoba faithful are instrumental in the successes of their amateur and professional hockey players.
Not only did hockey legends like Dale Hawerchuk and Bobby Hull wear the province's capital on their sweaters, but several of the 2011 Western Conference Final competing Vancouver Canucks spent their early days playing as Manitoba Moose.
The province's AHL franchise was home to one of the best players to lace up skates in the NHL today in Ryan Kesler when he played with the Moose and the young Cory Schneider, protege to All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo, who impressed hockey fans nation wide with his talents this past season, honed many of his skills guarding the cotton cage with the Moose as well.
Manitoba has hosted many professionals who's jerseys hang in our closets to this day, and who's successes Manitobans pride themselves as being key contributors to by showing up to support them night in and night out.
Is it a coincidence? Or is their a correlation between the development of talented hockey players and the fan bases who support and follow them? (the answer is the latter)
The province of Manitoba moulds raw players into NHL talent in more ways than with the Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate. They also pride themselves in the development of the young Brandon Wheat Kings stars.
The team who won the East Division of the Western Hockey League in the 2009-10 campaign has raised a talented crop of young players; some who are predicted to have, and some who have already established successful careers in the NHL. Names like Brayden Schenn, Jordin Tootoo, Dustin Byfuglien and the legendary Ron Hextall highlight this list.
If this isn't enough evidence of the hockey culture in Manitoba, in 2008 Brandon was chosen to play hosts to the 2010 Memorial Cup (for those who aren't familiar with Junior hockey, this is equivalent to the Stanley Cup).
Between the media publications, rumours, and denials that we've seen tonight, and will likely see in the days to come, it's uncertain whether we will see Manitoba's and, more specifically, Winnipeg's dreams of once again having a NHL franchise come true.
But after seeing what the Province has done for the game of hockey, it seems almost irresponsible not to fulfil these dreams doesn't it?
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