For those of you who have been following the emotion return of the Winnipeg Jets to the NHL for over the past year and a half as I have, this video should give you all the explanation as to why we fight, as to why we care, and as to why some of us who are not Canadian, want the NHL restored in its historic, rightful places.
The video is not mine, however my favorite part of it is the press conference where True North Chairman Mark Chipman officially announces to the crowd that he is happy to announce the NHL will be returning to Winnipeg as the Atlanta Thrashers have agreed to relocate to Manitoba.
I challenge anyone who cares about hockey even the slightest bit, to watch that montage and not get emotional.
For more inspiration check out the scene in the streets of Winnipeg as average fans celebrate or when University of Manitoba President David Barnard made the official announcement to the commencement class that the NHL would indeed be back.
New Generation of Winnipeg fans
One cannot watch those videos and think for a minute that the team, still unnamed, could ever be called anything but the Jets. While I will tolerate any name they ultimately give it, whether it be the all-too-stereotypical “Manitoba Moose” or “Winnipeg Falcons” as some rumors have suggested, its rightful name is and should always be the Jets.
Consider the students in the preceding videos were roughly seven years old when their team was stolen from them. Now consider the fans who showed up at the MTS Centre rally, some of whom were 18 now and talked of grouping together to buy a season ticket package. They would have been 3 years old at the time of departure and thus, obviously didn’t grow up Jets fans but could become an easy convert.
This return is also special for the 90-plus-year-old Winnipeggers who had long given up hope of seeing the NHL ever return in their life times. Now, at least they can go in peace knowing a wrong has been righted, no matter how reluctant the NHL might really be on the matter.
Finally, the return is important to any future Manitobans or Winnipeggers not yet born who will hopefully never have to live in a world that doesn’t include NHL hockey in their home town or province. This is for them.
Phoenix—your time is coming
Now all the “Jokes” fans who think their team down in Glendale, Arizona is safe, think again. Why do you think the NHL is waiting to realign the divisions and perhaps conferences if they honestly thought a local buyer was going to be found in the desert?
If they actually thought that, they’d simply put Winnipeg in the Northwest division now, flip Minnesota to the Central, and move Columbus or Nashville to the Southeast as the simplest solution never mind the fact that influential Detroit has long wanted to move east.
That very omission suggests they have something bigger planned, perhaps Detroit moving to the East and Phoenix to Quebec who would then be put in the Northeast and perhaps Toronto back in the West, although the latter likely would come only if they needed to shift multiple teams East say a Detroit and Phoenix (Quebec as a two-for-one one-time deal rather than constantly realign).
Just remember Phoenix, it could have been you
Phoenix players think they have it made playing in front of 6,000 actual paying fans each and every night at Jobing.com Arena when in reality, they could have been the rock stars that the Thrashers-turned Winnipeg players are about to experience this fall as every game will be a guaranteed sellout.
The NHL needed new blood and True North provides that and so much more. Crybaby Shane Doan, I hope you think about that when half your paid attendance is road fans next year, knowing it could have been you and now never will be, at least until you move to Quebec perhaps next year and learn French.
Ilya Bryzgalov, I hope you rot in the desert.
Never fear, Quebec is here
For an update on Quebec’s status, check out this article from the Canadian Press via Google news. Basically the Quebec City Mayor Regis Lebeaume congratulates Winnipeg on its return to the NHL but you know he has got to be feeling pressure to deliver on a franchise of his own soon, especially when he knows the wild, party-like atmosphere that is coming in Manitoba each night could be in his city.
The fact that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman allowed Atlanta to move in the first place, and then secondly to Canada of all places, is very telling to me. It tells me that he’s all talk and when it comes down to it, if you have the money as True North did, and the venue, while small in MTS Centre, in the end he’s going to listen to you.
He just has to go though his due diligence of trying to save each franchise and his failed sun belt experiment because he knows how embarrassing it makes him look. It is precisely this motivation and realization, which will be the reason the NHL will be back in Quebec City next when Phoenix is finally allowed to move.
As an acquaintance put it to me last week when we were discussing Atlanta’s relocation impact on the NHL: “As soon as the first shovel goes into the ground, the NHL will be back in Quebec City. Phoenix is going to Quebec City.”
Whether that is a few lame duck years in Pepsi Colisee or waiting until the 2015 opening of the brand-new, $400 million Videotron Arena which the Mayor and Quebec Premier Jean Charest insist is going to happen, is anyone’s guess but there is simply no way they are going to sit back and let little Winnipeg get a team and not get one of their own.
Hopefully this renewed sense of optimism inspires leaders in Hamilton, Ontario and Hartford, Connecticut (Harold Baldwin) to do the same.
Winnipeg showed you the blueprint of how its done, now they just have to step up and prove they too are for real.
Gary Bettman is a moron, but he’s not brain dead. Once he sees the impact Winnipeg has on the NHL he is going to want more of the same in places like Quebec City and Hartford where he knows the NHL can work since it already has before. If Quebec builds it, they will come, we all know that.
How fitting would it be if new Florida Panthers Head Coach Kevin Dineen, a long time Hartford Whaler, including its last goal scorer and team captain got to relocate with the team to Hartford in five or six years when and if Howard Baldwin finally gets his stuff together and presents and arena plan?
Atlanta is the first domino to fall, but it won’t be the last. I think we all know that.
Information from the Canadian Press and Google News, and videos and references from Youtube directly contributed to the content of this article.