Wednesday, 25 May 2011

NHL Back in Winnipeg?

Excited Winnipeggers: People inspired by the talk of
an NHL return gathered in crowds on May 19.

Image Source: Vancouver Sun
Okay, it’s been a long, bitter 15 years without an NHL team in Winnipeg. It’s been even more infuriating knowing that a madman who worked for the NBA was trying to “Americanize”* the game by relocating various Canadian teams to Southern US deserts where nobody watched or cared for hockey.
This madman was a monomaniac - he wouldn’t let the idea go. No matter how stupid it was, how poor ticket sales were in urban centres of millions compared to smaller cities North of the 49th parallel, and no matter how much these Southern teams were draining money from profitable (Canadian) NHL franchises, the lunatic just wouldn’t let the idea go. Adding insult to injury, even as those Southern cities were decimated by a recession while cities North of the 49th weathered the financial storms quite nicely, this guy just wouldn’t let the idea go.

Gary Bettman: At last, the NBA
NHL Commissioner has relented his obsession with
Southernizing the game.

Image Source: Heritage Classic Tickets blog

Well, finally, it looks like the madman known as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has gained some sense. All signs indicate that the Atlanta Thrashers will be bought by the owner of True North and relocated to Winnipeg, a rising city**. While I won’t be celebrating until the deal is finalized (Gary Bettman has been known to use the threat of relocating a team to Winnipeg as a tool in extorting concessions from municipalities, at least in Phoenix), this is certainly cheerful news.***
I can’t think of a city that deserves an NHL team more than the working class, Prairie city of Winnipeg.     
*More aptly, "Southernize", as traditional Northeastern US teams have been neglected as well.

**Yes, the Province still relies on transfers payments. But we’re doing better than in the past, have invested the transfer payments pretty wisely, and many key sectors are thriving in Manitoba (report from 2008, but much of it still holds). With the increasing value of water and hydro, I predict a brighter future for the province.
***It’ll be really demoralizing news, though, if the move doesn’t happen due to some cruel twist of fate.

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