Jets’ fans dreaming of NHL
In Winnipeg these days, there hasn’t been as much excitement since the last mosquito was swatted last fall.
While some of Winnipeg’s mosquitoes are as large as small airplanes, it’s another flying machine — Jets — who are the talk of sunny Manitoba’s Gateway to the West .
Just to let a Manitoba hockey fan’s mind wander and simply imagine a return of the National Hockey League’s Jets to Winnipeg makes some people want to stand atop a tall building at Portage and Main and shout with glee.
Thought five years ago . . . two years ago . . . six months ago to be nothing more than a fool’s dream, the return to Winnipeg of the Jets (currently living life as the Phoenix Coyotes) is today, some say, almost a 50-50 proposition.
Losers of millions of dollars, but winners on the ice with one of the best coaches in the NHL (Dave Tippett) at the helm, the Coyotes have had more legal problems than Bernie Madoff.
The team has been bought and sold a number of times, but the franchise is currently owned by the NHL, whose partners can’t possibly enjoy looking at the team’s balance sheet at the end of each month.
A complicated plan for the latest would-be buyer to purchase the team with proceeds from a City of Glendale, Ariz., bond issue has apparently hit a snag, as the Goldwater Institute, a taxpayers’ watchdog organization which exists as the voice of the common guy to protect taxpayers from government waste, is suing to stop the bond sale.
Word from the desert is that if the bond sale is halted, that will be the final straw for the NHL, which would then presumably throw its hands in the air and give up its dreams of a successful franchise in Arizona.
Waiting anxiously, like a groom at the altar, is Winnipeg.
Since the Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996, the 15,000-seat MTS Centre has been built, a little small by NHL standards, but almost guaranteed to be the site of 41 sellouts a year if the move went through.
With the Canadian dollar doing well, revenue-sharing among owners in effect and a salary cap in place, the situation has dramatically improved in the past 15 years.
A small-market team in a hockey-mad city could succeed.
Get the Jets back in Winnipeg, move Atlanta Thrashers to Quebec and give Jim Balsillie a chance to move the Florida Panthers to Hamilton and what a great Canadian division the NHL could offer.
It might not be Commissioner Gary Bettman’s idea of ‘major league’, but in the minds of many, hockey would be back where it belongs.
- Quote, unquote
• Jim Caple of ESPN.com: “The starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt worked Tuesday on their fundamental drills of throwing their gloves in the air and having teammates pile on them after no-hitters and clinching-game victories.”
• CBS’s David Letterman, on owners locking out NFL players: “In a related story, Rex Ryan was locked out of an Olive Garden.”
• Blogger Chad Picasner, after Yankees icon Yogi Berra tripped over a rug in the team’s spring-training clubhouse: “Hank Steinbrenner immediately fired the carpet.”
• Brad Dickson in the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, on snowboarder Shaun White undergoing minor foot surgery: “Just to be safe, he brought 20 pounds of medicinal marijuana for recovery.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The NFL players have de-unionized which increases the chance there will be no professional football next year. So for 49ers and Raiders fans, sounds like business as usual.”
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “A Washington Capitals fan in Virginia pocketed $100,000 from a lottery using the jersey numbers of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Mike Knuble and Alex Semin. Make that about $50,000 after the IRS taxes him for Capital gains.”
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