Winnipeg’s mayor says it’s just “a matter of time” before a deal to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg is announced. Sam Katz says the deal to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg “is going to happen.” He says there is an understanding the deal will move forward but nothing is signed, sealed and delivered yet. No one is more anxious to officially learn the fate of the Atlanta Thrashers than members of the team. The players have been given no indication one way or the other where they’ll be playing home games next season, according to goaltender Chris Mason.
“They’re not going to include us in any of the stuff and we shouldn’t be either,” Mason said Friday from his off-season home in Red Deer, Alberta. “We’ll know probably the same time or after everybody else knows, that’s the way it goes. “We’re sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what’s going to happen, too.” Mason has played in six different cities during his professional career and is facing the possibility of moving once again. “That’s one of the very few things that is tough about the job,” said Mason. “I’m fortunate enough to be playing hockey and that’s one of the things that you just have to deal with. It’s happened throughout a hockey player’s career and that’s just the way it goes. We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.” Mason has mixed feeling about relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg. On one hand he feels bad about the fans and team employees that would be left behind in Atlanta but it would also give him a chance to live out a dream. “There’s definitely things that would be really cool about it,” said Mason. “Playing in Canada, for me, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It would be really cool. Just playing in front of a packed house every night would be awesome.”
All of this was started by an article yesterday by The Globe and Mail in Toronto stating the Thrashers’ agreement with True North was done and will be announced in Winnipeg on Tuesday. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and True North Sports and Entertainment quickly denied the report Thursday that a deal has been reached to sell the team to True North, which would relocate the team to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There are still obstacles to overcome, but it looks inevitable this time; hockey is back in Winnipeg and Canadians are celebrating across the country. The Winnipeg Jets, as they should be called, should be soaring again this year after 16 plus years in the waiting.
Until the next puck drops,
So is this it? There is speculation this will be the last game played in Phoenix if Detroit wins tonight. It’s kind of sad if you think about it. Consider all of the people who will be out of a job; all the businesses folding once the Coyotes leave town. It’s not a pretty scenario, but it seems very likely. The same happened 15 years ago when Winnipeg lost the Jets to Phoenix. The fitting saying is “what goes around, comes around”. I’m not saying that it’s right to strip a city of its’ team and leave their workers unemployed, but the city of Phoenix had no business ever having an N.H.L. team. Bettman has exhausted all possibilities to try to keep Phoenix from losing it’s team, but it doesn’t look like there will be a knight in shining armour this time. No-one is going to rescue the Coyotes; it’s time they packed up and left for a hockey starved market waiting to cheer them on. Sure some of the hockey players might prefer to stay in the warm weather of Phoenix, but let’s be real here, why keep a team where they have no support? Why not go to a city which adores you; a city which will have a building near capacity every night. I’m sure the players will enjoy the support they receive in Winnipeg much more than in Phoenix.
There’s a reason no-one has stepped up to make a significant attempt to buy the team and keep them in Phoenix; there’s a reason why the Goldwater Institute denied Hulsizer’s request to allow him to use the city of Glendale to contribute $100 million worth or proceeds from a municipal bond sale to help him buy the team for $170 million. They too see hockey as a failing entity in Phoenix and refuse to risk any city funding to aid in keeping a team there. Considering the rough state of Arizona during this recession, I don’t blame them. If Hulsizer really wanted, or was fully able to buy the team, he wouldn’t ask for any city funding whatsoever. Has he done this? No.
So I’m going out on a limb here and saying the N.H.L. will make it official after the Coyotes are swept away in Phoenix tonight. Where a few fans will be mourning the loss of their Coyotes, many fans in Winnipeg will be rejoicing the rebirth of hockey in Winnipeg. There is no doubt the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, or whatever they call the “new” team there, will receive a heroes welcome the minute they step on the ice and the first N.H.L. game is played there again.
It’s time to give the city of Winnipeg back its’ team which was taken from them so long ago. It’s time for Shane Doan to don a jersey for Winnipeg as he did when he started his career; the last of the Winnipeg Jets he is, so how fitting would it be for him to be the first to bring hockey back to Winnipeg.
Until the next puck drops,