Frozen tundra of Winnipeg looks fine to NHL now


Ed Willes

Last week, when the rumour-mongering in Winnipeg was at its most frenzied, the question wasn’t if the NHL would return, and it wasn’t even when the NHL would return to the Manitoba capital.

It was which one of the NHL’s sad-sack franchises — Phoenix or Atlanta — would play out of the MTS Centre next season.

Things have since calmed down but, in this climate, it wouldn’t take much to fire up another electrical storm. At times it seems delusional. At times it seems completely irrational. And yet …

“Yes, under the right cir*****stances and should there be a need or an opportunity, we would love to return to Winnipeg,” wrote NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in an email.

“Love,” he said.

Well, in the immortal words of Junior Soprano, I’d love to, er, be intimate with Angie Dickinson, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

“We would have to take a closer look and do some due diligence to make a determination on the Winnipeg market before making a conclusion one way or the other,” Daly continued. “That’s not something we have the need or reason to do at this point.”

Maybe not. But the day seems to be drawing closer.

While it’s hard to separate the myth from the reality when it comes to this subject, the least you can say is the cir*****stances surrounding Winnipeg have changed dramatically over the last couple of years, just as the cir*****stances in the NHL have changed. Winnipeg is always going to be a stretch but there are a lot more factors working in its favour than are working against it, and that makes this drama worth watching.

Let’s start with the situation in the marketplace. In their 17-year NHL history, the Jets seemed to live in an evil, parallel universe which consistently delivered the exact opposite of what they needed to survive.


http://www.theprovince.com/sports/hockey/canucks-hockey/Frozen+tundra+Winnipeg+looks+fine/2669818/story.html