Flower Power. Courtesy sportsecylopedia.com

Go On And Believe The Hype

I don’t trust the this league for one second.

I’ve often cited how Québec lost their team in what seemed like an hour and a half way back in 1995.  The Nordiques were in the playoffs, they got dispatched by the NY Rangers in a span of six games, and in one giant swirling motion they were gone in what seemed like a couple of weeks.

LAST FLIGHT – WEAR WHITE

Jump forward one year to 1996.  The Jets knew they were on borrowed time before the season began.  I can’t help but remember the ‘Save The Jets’ campaign, the concerts, the fundraisers, the blood, the sweat and the tears that went along in the attempt to save that franchise.  I especially remember CBC coverage of one fundraiser where a woman in a home white Jets jersey reached out to a clear Lucite box to drop in a hundred dollar bill with Prime Minister Borden’s face clearly on the surface of the bill.

The Jets made the playoffs, only to be relieved by what seemed like an unstoppable Red Wings squad in the first round.

FAST FORWARD TO 2011

From nearly all accredited news outlets, there seems to be a vibe that showing Atlanta being relocated to Winnipeg.  I still can’t believe it as I’m typing it, although it’s looking pretty damn good for Manitoba at this time.

So at about ten o’clock last night, I was inundated with emails, tweets, and texts saying that Winnipeg was likely to get an NHL team come Tuesday.

And I’m really, really happy for you guys if it’s true.  Rumour is that it’s the team from Atlanta.  Double minor if you’re a Thrasher fan; in that this will be the second NHL franchise that’s been let to go by the wayside.

I’m not going to sit here and point fingers at a fan base that’s received a ton of shellacking already about ticket sales, or anything else.   I’ve been guilty of that enough over the years, and frankly, I’ve grown weary of it.  Rather I’m more concerned that Winnipeg was trying to uproot Phoenix like a giant weed for so long, that after it seemed like another year was going to go by in Winnipeg without an NHL franchise, up came Atlanta, et voila.  It happened.  I’m reminded of the time the Nordiques had their bags briskly packed.  It appears it’s happening right now, and it’s happening so fast.

All Hail Dale. Photo courtsey winnipegjetsonline.com

Atlanta had received a bit of bad press as far as fan presence goes, but I think we can safely agree that it wasn’t one-tenth the coverage of the Phoenix Coyotes.  Up until about 48 hours ago, you couldn’t turn on TSN or the NHL Network without hearing something about Phoenix’s financial woes, Hulsizier, True North…you get the idea.  There was a scattering of talk about Atlanta, but it got thrown under the carpet with all of the Coyotes talk.  It just seemed that it got hot and heavy in Atlanta over the past day or so, and now True North Sports and Entertainment owns the rights to the team currently in Atlanta.  Or so I think.

SO NOW, QUESTIONS

Do the Phoenix Coyotes all of a sudden take a deep breath and relax?  I don’t see Phoenix’s financial issues going away anytime soon, but you’d think they’ve got to be sighing a little bit now that Winnipeg seems to all of a sudden distracted with all of their good fortune.  Does Québec City become the unofficial de facto relocation city should the Coyotes continue to make headlines with their financial woes?

I’m really, really, really, really happy for Winnipeg if they are awarded an NHL franchise.  A whole lot of people were at the intersection of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg making a ton of noise last night in the belief that the Jets were back.  And when Tuesday rolls around and everyone’s still this excited, then I’ll be inclined to believe that the Jets are back.

But I won’t believe it a moment before I hear it from Gary Bettman’s mouth.  I want to hear him announce it. I want to see it made into a ringtone.  I want to hear words like ‘regretfully’, ‘but’, phrases like ‘it is with great sorrow that we must pursue other avenues’, and ‘at this time, it becomes necessary’.

I’m truly sorry that this comes at the expense of the Thrashers fan base.  I really am.

But as sorry as I am to see this happen, I’m more than twice as happy to see Winnipeg get another shot if all I’m hearing is true.

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