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Winnipeg Wants the Phoenix Coyotes to Be the Jets Again

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 9, 2009

14 Apr 1996:  The Winnipeg Jets celebrate during a game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.  The Ducks won the game, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Cratty  /Allsport

While the Phoenix Coyotes make headlines over a controversial bankruptcy and a possible move to Hamilton, Ontario, Winnipeg hockey fans wish the franchise was returning to Manitoba as the Jets.

The Phoenix Coyotes may be moving back to Winnipeg, Forbes magazine reported earlier this year.

"Winnipeg hockey fans, whose hearts were ripped out when their beloved Jets became the Phoenix Coyotes over a decade ago, are crossing their fingers in hopes the financially strapped NHL franchise could be returning to Canada," according to the Canadian Press and The Hockey News.

Jets' diehard believes Winnipeg's NHL time will come, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

Faltering Phoenix gives Winnipeg fans hope, the headline in the Globe and Mail read. "For Winnipeggers, the day the city lost the Winnipeg Jets ranks up there with political assassinations, moon walks and record floods as a moment perfectly preserved in memory's scrapbook," Patrick White reported.
 
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL returning to Winnipeg was a possibility, according to Forbes.

During a press conference, Bettman stated that the idea of Winnipeg having an NHL team sounded intriguing. He also stated that another team in Winnipeg could happen one day.

Forbes magazine put out a list of the 10 sports franchises that are most likely to move. The Phoenix Coyotes made the top 10 list.

"What do the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills, Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Islanders, and basketball's New Orleans Hornets all have in common?" Tom Van Riper asked in Forbes.

He quoted Bernie Mullin, who runs the Atlanta-based Aspire Group, an industry consultant, saying, "The single biggest factor is ticket revenue, and a new venue is going to drive high-end ticket sales."

In a piece in Forbes called "The Business of Hockey" Michael K. Ozanian and Kurt Badenhausen said "there are at least two teams that need new ownership and perhaps even to relocate.

"The biggest mess is the Phoenix Coyotes, who lost $9.7 million last season. Hardly anyone shows up for their games."
 
"It is time for the Coyotes to get out of town," they concluded. They said the same thing about the New York Islanders.

"Despite the presence of the legendary Wayne Gretzky as a partner and head coach, hockey just doesn't score in the Valley of the Sun,"  Ozanian and Badenhausen reported.

Attendance has been consistently poor, and the club's original home, Winnipeg, might be a wise destination--a fresh start in a real hockey market."

This team was originally the Winnipeg Jets. They left Winnipeg not because of lack of fan support, but because the team played in a totally inadequate arena. The city of Winnipeg now has a new arena right downtown. It's the home of the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.
 
After 12 seasons in the desert, the Coyotes have lost more than $150 million and Forbes Magazine made it clear that hockey had no future in Arizona.
 
Many Manitobans love the Moose but long for the return of the Jets, or the Coyotes. They remember when the Jets played in both the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1972 to 1996.

The team's first major signing was Bobby Hull. Swedish forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, who starred with Hull on the WHA's most famous and successful forward line (nicknamed "the Hot Line").

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