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J-E-T-S!
May 31, 2011 6:53 AM   Subscribe

In 1995, the NHL's Winnipeg Jets were officially sold to an investment group in Pheonix, Arizona, despite community outrage and a last minute fan rally.

Today, Winnipeg has grown it's economy, has built a top notch arena, and thanks to the devoted work of Mark Chipman and the True North Sports and Entertainment Group, it appears as though the NHL will return to Winnipeg.

An announcement is scheduled for noon, EST, today.
posted by WinnipegDragon (135 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is good.
posted by jeffmik at 7:05 AM on May 31, 2011


This is good. Up yours Bettman!
posted by chugg at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Reports are coming from here in Atlanta that the Thrashers will announce they plan to suck somewhere else next year."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:06 AM on May 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


.
posted by goHermGO at 7:08 AM on May 31, 2011


Like when the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, there are probably plenty of Winnipeg fans who cheer for the Coyotes out of allegiance to the franchise. And, like when Cleveland got a new team and called it the Browns when that franchise still existed elsewhere, I'm sure there will be plenty of fans who are confused if they call this new team the Jets.

That said, yay for more hockey in Canada!
posted by moviehawk at 7:10 AM on May 31, 2011


.

The wife is a big Thrashers fan, and I've enjoyed going to games when we could manage it. We'll be quite sad to see major league hockey leave Atlanta.
posted by ralan at 7:11 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Enjoy your crappy hockey team Winnipeg. Atlanta fans have my condolences, that's got to suck but at least it wasn't as drawn out as the Coyotes saga has been.
posted by ghharr at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2011


Yay! This will be great for the city! I usually only stay in Winnipeg for as long as it takes me to get from the airport to the highway, but now I might actually consider making a weekend of it.
posted by meesha at 7:14 AM on May 31, 2011


Bring on the Manitoba Moose
posted by Flood at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2011


The wife is a big Thrashers fan, and I've enjoyed going to games when we could manage it. We'll be quite sad to see major league hockey leave Atlanta.

Again, you mean.

The irony of course being the Atlanta has already lost a team to a small market Canadian city when the Flames left Atlanta for Calgary.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:23 AM on May 31, 2011


Pathetic. It's no wonder why the NHL just can't get any traction, when they just take fan loyalty and throw it out the window for a few bucks. Fuck Winnipeg, and fuuuuuuuuuuck the NHL. I'll just go back to driving down to Columbus for hockey games - minor league hockey is way more fun to watch anyway.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:24 AM on May 31, 2011


Really? I was there through the '95 drubbing, with the high hopes and the disappointment. It was almost as fun as the flood in '97! I'm not there anymore, but I'm not sure if I want to revisit the drama.

If there ever was a city that deserves more hockey, it's the Peg. Is Hawerchuk still available?
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2011


OK, Winnipeg is taken care of.
Now, where are we gonna put the Coyotes, Panthers, Islanders, and Predators?
posted by rocket88 at 7:29 AM on May 31, 2011


Dustin Byfuglien's new favorite song.

The Predators aren't moving, they're in pretty good shape.
posted by ghharr at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2011


Next Stop: The Saskatoon Sasquatches!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2011


Regina! What rhymes with Regina?
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:32 AM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


/pours a Steeler for his Hamilton homies.
posted by bonehead at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]




Regina! What rhymes with Regina?
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:32 AM on May 31 [+] [!]


When I lived there, the colloquial answer was "fun."
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


sad for atlanta. Thrashers games were tons of fun.
posted by milestogo at 7:37 AM on May 31, 2011


I was on the bus to work this morning and the driver got a message from HQ warning him that Portage and Main will be shut down at 11 for the announcement.

Looks like I can go from not buying $20 hockey tickets, to not buying $100 hockey tickets... yay?

Seriously folks around here seem to be fairly split between "Hells yah, hockey is awesome! NHL is awesome! We rock!", "Who cares?", and the whole "trading a winning minor team for a failing major team... why?".
posted by utsutsu at 7:45 AM on May 31, 2011


Regina! What rhymes with Regina?

Paulina, Melvina and Lunt.
posted by eriko at 7:46 AM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Winnipeg Cat weighs in.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a lovely sequence about the sale of the Jets / the demolition of the stadium in Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


/pours a Steeler for his Hamilton homies.

Appreciated.

That said, personally, I'm not convinced an NHL team would be good for the Hammer. We've got a lot of problems, and is an NHL team the solution to them? Would it be bringing new money in, or just redirecting money already here to somewhere other than fixing those problems? Given the PANAM stadium debacle, I'm even less convinced that we could handle an NHL team properly.

And all that said, if people could stop using us as leverage for whatever power plays they have going on elsewhere, that'd be great, thanks.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least now this perpetual will-they-return-won't-they-return thing will finally stop. For the last five years, every scrap of rumor and hearsay has been breathlessly reported on by the local media. Whether or not Winnipeg deserves an NHL team, we sure as hell want one bad enough.

Back in 2009, the always-excellent Slurpees and Murder posted this lovely photo series of the area surrounding the arena. After 6PM, much of downtown Winnipeg is a dismal array of surface parking lots and closed stores. Since that article was posted, little has changed: The nightclub was replaced with a sports bar and one of the vacant buildings now hosts a temporary Titanic exhibition.

It'd be nice if an NHL team would improve the situation, but I'm not betting on it. People here seem more interested in talking about how much downtown is improving rather than actually doing anything to improve it.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 7:51 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess this will give us more reason to drive to Gwinnett to see Gladiators games. I agree with deadmessenger that minor league hockey is indeed a lot of fun. We happened to catch a Las Vegas Wranglers game the last time we were out there, and had an absolute blast.
posted by ralan at 7:51 AM on May 31, 2011


It's quite a coincidence that all three Thrashers fans read metafilter.

I hope it works out well for Winnipeg, really, and that they lose less, and at least that they lose less than Toronto.


What is a shame is that Bettman has such antipathy for Toronto (which, granted, I share) that it won't let a second team move near there, and instead one will (eventually) end up in that travesty of an arena in Quebec City.
posted by jeather at 7:52 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suspect the issue with Hamilton has almost nothing to do with Bettman's personal feelings and everything to do with it being right in Buffalo's back yard, on Toronto's turf, and awful close to Detroit as well.
posted by ghharr at 7:58 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do hope that Atlanta somehow gets another shot at a hockey team, though.

So Quebec City or Hamilton can get it in 2025.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:59 AM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm a Bruins fan through and through, but it would be great to see more NHL teams back in Canada. One of my best old-school hockey memories is watching the B's play the Quebec Nordiques at the real Garden. Guy LaFleur was playing with them, one of the last guys in the league to play without a helmet. If they had to go, at least the Nordiques went to Colorado, where it gets cold and wintry. Hockey in the desert just ain't right!
posted by usonian at 8:00 AM on May 31, 2011


As a Hamilton resident count me super ultra mega glad that it's the Winnipeg and not us.
posted by the dief at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2011


It'd be nice if an NHL team would improve the situation, but I'm not betting on it. People here seem more interested in talking about how much downtown is improving rather than actually doing anything to improve it.

In Saskatchewan, they call this "positive thinking" and the "Saskatchewan Advantage".. if anyone points out any problems, blame it on the "socialists" and their "old ideas" even though they aren't in charge.

I'm trying to be cheery about the idea of having a new football stadium on my property taxes, and it isn't working. I even like sports, or at least I did.
posted by Intrepid at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Living in Atlanta ten years and I think perhaps one or two friends of mine went to a Thrashers game. (Mostly to drink beer and see what all the fuss was about.) When my Canadian then-fiance would come down to visit, he was baffled as to why Atlanta would even have a hockey team.

Most Atlantans I know would rather spend that time at a Braves game (myself among them; I don't really give a toss about baseball, but if it's a nice day out, it's fun) or a Tech game. I think the majority of people who attended Thrashers games were expats from chillier climes, who understood what the fuss was about and why it mattered. Sadly, there weren't enough of them.
posted by Kitteh at 8:08 AM on May 31, 2011



I'm trying to be cheery about the idea of having a new football stadium on my property taxes, and it isn't working. I even like sports, or at least I did.
posted by Intrepid at 8:01 AM on May 31 [+] [!]


Meanwhile, amidst controversy Edmonton is publicly funding a new privately owned arena. Maybe they'll sell the old one to Winnipeg for cheap. (Shipping not included.)
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:09 AM on May 31, 2011


Will the Thrashers keep trying to get the Devils to not ignore them even when they're in Winnipeg?
posted by entropone at 8:17 AM on May 31, 2011


I do hope that Atlanta somehow gets another shot at a hockey team, though.

I know next to nothing about NHL hockey or most sports in general, but like others have also chimed in, Thrashers games were insane amounts of fun to go to. I did, however, know enough to know that the Thrashers were goddamn terrible, and Atlantans don't want to see a terrible team, let alone pay the insane prices they were asking for the better seats in Phillips Arena. The Thrashers aren't the Mets; there was no "it's part of who we are" cultural mentality, win or lose. They just sucked so no one went to see them except folks like me and my friends who enjoyed watching hockey every now and then and made a fun time of it.

The problem was the guys who owned the Thrashers needed about five times as many people to go to do that. And since they were owned by a management company that was butthurt from day one that along with the Hawks and Phillips Arena itself the Thrashers weren't suddenly crapping out money for them, it's been a matter of when, not if for the last few seasons.

And now the bigger problem is that for the second time in a generation Atlanta's failed to financially succeed with an NHL team. From that alone, Atlanta probably has a better chance of getting the Olympics again than they ever will an NHL team in my lifetime.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:20 AM on May 31, 2011


I'd love to see a team in Hamilton, but it'll never happen as long as the Leafs have veto power over the NHL board of governors. According to NHL insiders, most of the league, and even Gary Bettman, wanted Jim Balsillie to move the Coyotes to Hamilton but the Maple Leafs shut them down.
And yet most Hamilton hockey fans are Leafs fans. They have no one to blame but themselves.
posted by rocket88 at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2011


Pathetic. It's no wonder why the NHL just can't get any traction, when they just take fan loyalty and throw it out the window for a few bucks.

Fan loyalty? Atlanta has been never been in the top half of attendance figures, and virtually always near the bottom. Last three seasons: #28, #28, #29. The arena was configured for 17,600 for hockey and was averaging 13,600 for the last two seasons.

Let's not kid ourselves. Atlanta is the city that isn't capable of filling the stadium for their beloved Braves for the PLAYOFFS. How on earth did anyone expect Atlanta to hold on to a hockey team? It doesn't matter that it's the 9th biggest metro area in the US when people won't show up to games.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2011


This is good news because, seriously, Atlanta? I say this as someone originally from Tampa (though that wasn't a fact I was advertising when the Lightning were still in the playoffs). Hockey in the Sunbelt is a joke. And unnatural. People here ("here" being Winnipeg, and, okay, really just the white people, but there's a lot of them) actually care and care deeply about the dumb game. Also, said honkies will finally be able to shut the hell up about the Jets for the first time in fifteen years, and you simply can't put a price on that.

It's super shitty news because because now, in addition to that goddamn, for-show police helicopter that they pay god-knows how much to keep circling my neighborhood all night, our bag-of-dicks municipal government is going to see this as an excuse to divert still more funds away from things that Winnipeg actually needs in an urgent way, like gang prevention, drug rehabilitation, public housing, etc. etc. etc.

Also, my studio is like two blocks from the MTS Centre, and the next week of festivities is going to be tremendo-irritating. Also also, Winnipeggers celebrate things by stabbing one another (see: when winter finally ended three days ago or whatever).
posted by wreckingball at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2011


I hope the new logo keeps the flavour of the classic Jets logo from the '70s. There are a lot of scary fan-generated new concept logos out there!
posted by Kabanos at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2011


And why would the Leafs ever agree? They have a monopoly on (probably) the richest hockey market in the world, they keep selling out the stands, keep selling out the season tickets, and for all the pressure to deliver, they seem never to have to. It's a licence to print money if there ever was one, and why would they ever let anyone else in on that racket?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:32 AM on May 31, 2011


How on earth did anyone expect Atlanta to hold on to a hockey team?

I remember reading a lot of this kind of commentary in the early '00s when Jeffrey Loria and Bud Selig were busy killling off nos amours, the Montreal Expos. Now as then, it's easy and facile to only blame the fans for not showing up. While I admit we wouldn't be having this conversation if Atlantians (sp?) had packed the place for the last couple of years, the fact remains that the current Atlanta ownership group never wanted this team and only possessed it as a side-effect of buying the local NBA franchise. They've been trying to offload the club for almost a decade and are "one of the more inept ownership groups in the league" which, given the NHL's history of frauds, charlatans and psycopaths (see you in hell, Harold), is quite a terrifying accomplishment.

So while I will celebrate NHL hockey returning to somewhere it oughta be -- next up: Quebec City, the 905, maybe even Ottawa -- I will spare a thought for Thrashers fans. It's never fun losing a team.
posted by docgonzo at 8:42 AM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Regina! What rhymes with Regina?

Paulina, Melvina and Lunt


In complete seriousness, my grammy (Melvina) lived in Regina most of her life..
posted by smcniven at 8:48 AM on May 31, 2011


My question is - where will the existing Moose go? They are Vancouver's farm club (go Canucks! Kick Bruin butt!), and have a pretty decent team thanks to the trickle-down effect of a good parent organization.

That all being said, I will never complain about moving a sad, dying franchises back to it's native land. Hockey in Atlanta (and Florida, and Phoenix, etc) is just wrong. Ice and palm trees just shouldn't mix (although I've gotten used to Southern Cali as a hockey market, so what do I know?) But the added bonus of making Byfuglien live in Winnipeg (sorry, Winnpegers) is sweet, sweet justice.

But it's gonna be a really weird season with Winnipeg playing in the East and Detroit and Chicago in the West.
posted by cgg at 8:53 AM on May 31, 2011


Isn't this really just like cheering for McDonalds vs. Burger King? Aren't these really just companies who'll go wherever there are taxpayer-provided facilities and tax breaks? Seems like the people of Winnipeg are on the hook for an arena where a shitty team will play, and they'll still have to pay to watch them suck.

Am I just a bad Canadian?
posted by klanawa at 8:58 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


My question is - where will the existing Moose go?

Here's the fun part - word is that they'd be moved to St. John's to serve as the neo-Jets' farm team, and run by a group headed by former NL premier Danny Williams. Never mind the logistics of being so far from your parent team and the competition (the nearest AHL team is in Portland, Maine). Unfortunately the road to the Rock is still a bit bumpy.
posted by hangashore at 9:03 AM on May 31, 2011


Yeah, don't care. When the NHL locked out a season and told their fans to take a flying fuck while they bickered about money, a great many of those fans - myself included - returned the favor and locked out the NHL from our hearts and wallets, never to return.

You feelin' me, NFL? Hint, hint.
posted by davelog at 9:07 AM on May 31, 2011


So while I will celebrate NHL hockey returning to somewhere it oughta be -- next up: Quebec City, the 905, maybe even Ottawa --

Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm here, but Ottawa has a team.
posted by aclevername at 9:08 AM on May 31, 2011


And why would the Leafs ever agree?

They shouldn't. My problem is with Leafs fans in Hamilton who are actively supporting the very organization that's screwing them over.

Am I just a bad Canadian?

The team will be Winnipeg's, not Canada's. There's really no reason for anyone else in Canada to be excited about this.
posted by rocket88 at 9:19 AM on May 31, 2011


The announcement is being streamed here now.
posted by jeffmik at 9:21 AM on May 31, 2011


Adding my name to the list of disgruntled Hamiltonians. Even Winnipeg is beating us now :(
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:40 AM on May 31, 2011


klawana: the arena has been very successful as a concert venue. I don't think we're worried about the facility.
posted by utsutsu at 9:49 AM on May 31, 2011


I hope the new logo keeps the flavour of the classic Jets logo from the '70s. There are a lot of scary fan-generated new concept logos out there!

There should be only one rule for a new logo design: You are not allowed to use Illustrator.
posted by NoMich at 9:52 AM on May 31, 2011


Ghah, CBC is going to be even more unlistenable than usual today.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:54 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moving the Thrashers to Canada says a lot about how badly that year-long lockout damaged the NHL. Yeah, the owners won the labor battle, but in the end they're losing the war.

I've heard a bunch of Canadians saying they'd love to see every team outside of New England and the Rust Belt shifted into Canada, which would be financial suicide for a league already fighting to stay the #4 sport league in the US as the MLS starts encroaching on their status.

We may well see teams in Saskatoon and Halifax soon, but if we do, there's no way the NHL will be able to compete with KHL salaries. Will Canadians be OK with Hockey Night In Canada showing Pittburgh-St. John's but without Sidney Crosby, who bolts for far more money from Dinamo Moscow?
posted by dw at 9:59 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


My friend from Winnipeg is hyper excited about this, I'm glad for him.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2011


Just got back from Portage and Main and there are about 4,000 people there, the intersection is shut down and there is a pickup game of shinny being played in the heart of Winnipeg.

Yeah it's just a game, yeah it's not a big deal in the scope of the world, but it still feels awesome.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 10:01 AM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Isn't this really just like cheering for McDonalds vs. Burger King? Aren't these really just companies who'll go wherever there are taxpayer-provided facilities and tax breaks?

I'm sure this is a bit facetious, but it's an interesting thing to talk about anyway. In that, yes, as corporations, most sports franchises treat their most loyal customers pretty much like feedlot operators treat cattle. But sports - even if you wish it weren't so, even if you indulge in the Chomsky fantasy that if pro sports vanished, people would occupy that space with deep and nuanced political engagement and not bear-baiting or whatever - certain sports undeniably matter to their cities and cultures.

This is not a North American hyper-consumer thing. It looks and feels roughly the same, socially, whether it's Manchester or Seville on the local FC's game day or Mumbai during an India-Pakistan test match or Athens, GA, on any given Saturday in Bulldogs football season or Calgary during the '04 Cup run (to cite a handful I've experienced personally). The fact that the owner's a moron or the star's overpaid or the seats overpriced doesn't seem to matter, really, to the sense of the public's sense of actual ownership.

In NHL terms, there are (often terrible) nominal owners of team and a widely loathed huckster named Bettman looming Monty-Burns-like over the whole thing, but Canadians own hockey. That's not some mass delusion. We own it like we own tuques and cottages on the lake and griping about the weather. Whether you like hockey or not, try to imagine Canada without it. What is Canada without shinny and Gretzky and the Rocket Richard riots and Henderson in '72 and Crosby in 2010?

If McDonald's was giving away Big Macs on every street corner, it'd be a hiccup in the city's life, but I guarantee you that Vancouver will feel tomorrow night like a city on state-sanctioned holiday. That's the difference. That's why a great many Winnipegers want their Jets back. Can't blame 'em - that Flames Cup run was the best protracted feria-style street party in my eight years in this city.
posted by gompa at 10:02 AM on May 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


dw, I don't see how that would be the case, as the (current) 6 (out of 30) Canadian NHL teams bring in over a third of the league's revenue. Moving Atlanta to Winnipeg isn't exactly going to cause overall revenue to decline

(source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53180115/Why-Canada-Can-Support-12-NHL-Teams)
posted by sauril at 10:04 AM on May 31, 2011


And as for the possibility of the return of the Seattle Metropolitans: Don't bet on it. KeyArena was renovated for basketball in the mid-90s, meaning that it seats 10,000 for hockey. One end has no seating behind it, only a curtain.

Moving an NHL team to Seattle will require a new arena, and there's zero political will to do that right now. And the Supersonics' return are the higher priority (if you want to call it that).

Portland has a better shot at getting an NHL team, but even then, I think it'll be difficult given the financial troubles the Blazers and the Rose Garden have had, and especially given the amount of sports capital the Timbers are already sucking out of Portlanders' pockets that won't go to NHL Winterhawks season tickets.
posted by dw at 10:07 AM on May 31, 2011


Enjoy your crappy hockey team Winnipeg.

I can think of a few teams that wouldn't mind having Staal, Skinner, McBain, and Cam Ward to build around. Be patient.
posted by Hoopo at 10:09 AM on May 31, 2011


And incidentally, I think it'd be colossally stupid to call them anything but the Jets - again, the ownership of that team resides with the city, not the franchise - but given the state of NHL management, I bet they'll be the Winnipeg Bakugan or My Manitoba Little Ponies or some other thing that would look like a merchandising slamdunk within the groupthinking confines of a boardroom.
posted by gompa at 10:10 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


While visiting my family in Canada I bought white and red maple leaf (like the flag) hockey tape to bring back to England with me.

I don't even own a hockey stick anymore but I don't care. I wanted hockey tape because it is awesome.
posted by srboisvert at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is hockey the only sport where the fans think you have to be north of some arbitrary parallel to enjoy it?

For every whiny Canadian's bete noire of the ill-thought-out sunbelt expansion (Atlanta, Phoenix and Florida are the usual laments), there's two counterparts: a sunbelt team that draws well, like Nashville, Tampa Bay or Dallas, and a northern-climate team that can't draw at all (Islanders, Blue Jackets, the Penguins pre-Crosby, and increasingly the Devils).

What can we surmise from this? Good teams draw well, terrible teams don't draw at all (unless there's literally nothing else going on *cough* Toronto Edmonton Calgary *cough*). It has almost nothing to do with latitude, or climate. If the product on the ice is good, people will come, no matter how much you think they're rednecks.
posted by downing street memo at 10:13 AM on May 31, 2011


And on post-view, I would trade every underperforming Swede and Finn and Leafs reject Darryl Sittler acquired in his final 18 months as fumbling Flames GM just for Staal and Cam Ward.
posted by gompa at 10:14 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chomsky fantasy? I was thinking more along the line that people would continue to watch hockey, just that it wouldn't be corporate hockey.

When there's no McDonald's, people don't become vegetarian, they cook their own burgers. And they're better.
posted by klanawa at 10:15 AM on May 31, 2011


Nothing else is going in Toronto than Leafs games? Toronto is a pretty fun place in the summer, actually, and lord knows there's never hockey in Toronto in the summer. I haven't spent much time in Calgary or Edmonton outside of airports, but I'm sure there's people here willing correct you there as well.
posted by Hoopo at 10:23 AM on May 31, 2011


I can think of a few teams that wouldn't mind having Staal, Skinner, McBain, and Cam Ward to build around. Be patient.

Wrong Sunbelt team.
posted by downing street memo at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops! I always do that.
posted by Hoopo at 10:26 AM on May 31, 2011


Chomsky fantasy? I was thinking more along the line that people would continue to watch hockey, just that it wouldn't be corporate hockey.

Okay so it's a different flavour of fantasy, but the idea that some locavore regional league of community-owned free-range teams would somehow spring up and be viable as spectator sports seems nearly as far-fetched to me as Chomsky's notion that people with a mind for baseball stats could be hyper-informed voters if not for all those on-base percentages clogging up their neural pathways.

When there's no McDonald's, people don't become vegetarian, they cook their own burgers. And they're better.

Well but have you watched NHL playoff hockey? I'm obviously a bit biased, but I'd argue that as a showpiece and in comparison to the sometimes humdrum regular season, playoff hockey is among the best athletic entertainments anywhere. The energy and intensity, the pace of play, goalies standing on their heads, guys scoring on no-look passes from their knees in sudden-death overtime (well, actually Jonathan Toews scored a game-tier in the final minute that way, but same idea).

This ain't crappy McHockey. The businesses may be callous and moneygrubbing, but the game is fucking fantastic. It's a true "world series" of hockey, the absolute best from all over the world at the peak of their game, raising the intensity and atheleticism bar with each series. Compare this, for example, to the historically yawnfesty Super Bowls and World Cup footie finals out there. The golden arches may turn you off, but this is one tasty burger. Very, very hard to beat with the earthiest of pond hockey games.
posted by gompa at 10:26 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I hope they give Atlanta another team so Quebec City can finally get an NHL franchise again.
posted by mazola at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


/looks at Thrashers roster

Oh dear. Well, you've got some decent defensemen and goalies, and a couple of young and developing goal scorers. I hope they invest in a really, really good GM.
posted by Hoopo at 10:30 AM on May 31, 2011


BTW the announcement has now been made, and the deal is pending approval of the Board of Governors on June 21.
posted by Hoopo at 10:40 AM on May 31, 2011


Congratulations, Winnipeg! You certainly deserve an NHL team. Hopefully they won't be the last Canadian city to get a franchise. We can support more teams than we have right now.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:45 AM on May 31, 2011


Still a shame to see Atlanta get the short end of it again, though. The Flames were actually pretty decent (made the playoffs six of their eight seasons) but their arena was for shit (it actually rusted out). And one playoff appearance in the Thrashers' whole lifetime couldn't be expected to grow the fanbase.
posted by hangashore at 10:49 AM on May 31, 2011


As a Canucks fan, I will now say that I hate the ThrasherJets with the same venom previously reserved for the Flames, Oil and Leafs. (I'm kinda ambivalent towards Ottawa, and I just can't force myself to hate the Habs)
posted by cgg at 10:49 AM on May 31, 2011


As a Flames fan, I will now say GO BRUINS!
posted by gompa at 10:51 AM on May 31, 2011


For every whiny Canadian's bete noire of the ill-thought-out sunbelt expansion (Atlanta, Phoenix and Florida are the usual laments), there's two counterparts: a sunbelt team that draws well, like Nashville, Tampa Bay or Dallas, and a northern-climate team that can't draw at all (Islanders, Blue Jackets, the Penguins pre-Crosby, and increasingly the Devils).

What can we surmise from this? Good teams draw well, terrible teams don't draw at all (unless there's literally nothing else going on *cough* Toronto Edmonton Calgary *cough*). It has almost nothing to do with latitude, or climate. If the product on the ice is good, people will come, no matter how much you think they're rednecks.


I remember reading that Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all had 100% sold out seasons last year. (And by American standards, Edmonton and Calgary are tiny and isolated). Your thinking is correct right up until the Canadian border. I'm not saying every team will be popular all the time here, but it's a different country with a different connection to the sport.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:54 AM on May 31, 2011


NHL Attendance by team
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The AJC sports blogger Jeff Schultz has his say: Thrashers, Atlanta were never given a chance.
posted by ralan at 10:58 AM on May 31, 2011


Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm here, but Ottawa has a team.

Ottawa doesn't have an NHL-caliber team, even if they do coincidentally have a team that plays in the NHL.
posted by mhoye at 11:02 AM on May 31, 2011


it stings, mhoye, because it's true. Watching the highlights it seems like half of the end-of-season roster for the Senators is currently playing in the Calder Cup.
posted by Hoopo at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2011


I remember reading that Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all had 100% sold out seasons last year. (And by American standards, Edmonton and Calgary are tiny and isolated). Your thinking is correct right up until the Canadian border. I'm not saying every team will be popular all the time here, but it's a different country with a different connection to the sport.

And 15 years ago, when the loonie was weaker, every team in Canada except Toronto and Montreal was in jeopardy, and there was no talk about "connection to the sport" or other sentimental stuff like that.

I mean, look, I understand that Canadian kids grow up playing hockey to a degree not generally found in the US, particularly in the sunbelt states. But time and time again Americans that don't have a unique cultural connection to hockey show up to support GOOD teams in their cities. Then they send their kids to play youth hockey, some of whom end up as big-time NHL prospects.

In fact, Canada's "connection to the sport" is an argument for fewer - not more - NHL teams in Canada. I've been to OHL games and know that people will turn up for any level of hockey, but if you want to grow the sport, good luck doing it with junior or minor teams in the south.
posted by downing street memo at 11:15 AM on May 31, 2011


I guess this means we can get some division shakeups now?
posted by zephyr_words at 11:17 AM on May 31, 2011


The New Economics of the NHL: Why Canada Can Support 12 Teams

Eventually...
posted by Kevin Street at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2011


I guess this means we can get some division shakeups now?

Season after next. For now, southeast teams will have to venture to Winnipeg three times a year (as a Capitals fan, this'll mean a whole lot more late nights)
posted by downing street memo at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2011


And 15 years ago, when the loonie was weaker, every team in Canada except Toronto and Montreal was in jeopardy, and there was no talk about "connection to the sport" or other sentimental stuff like that.

There certainly was in Winnipeg, though how much of that was Love Her Madly syndrome I can't say. Similarly, there will clearly be a resurgence of interest in the city when Wpg regains a team, but how long that will translate into pricey ticket sales, I'm not sure. This is the city that refused to pay $11 for movie tickets, forcing SilverCity to drop prices for years (I think they've only relatively recently hit full price, relative to other cities).

As for the name, didn't Katz say not long ago that it wouldn't the Winnipeg anything but the "Manitoba ____"?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:24 AM on May 31, 2011


I'm not sure a self-described Capitals fan should be looking down their nose at Toronto's nightlife -- good God, have you ever been left adrift in DC after five pm?
posted by docgonzo at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2011


Winnipeg is at least apparently in the Central time zone so only an hour off from the east coast. Poor Detroit and Columbus fans have to watch their team's West Coast games start at like, 10:30 PM local a bunch of times a year.
posted by ghharr at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2011


and there was no talk about "connection to the sport" or other sentimental stuff like that.

Where exactly was there no such talk? Certainly not in Winnipeg in 1996, where locals did everything but barricade the airport to keep the team from leaving. Or in Quebec in '95, when the team appealed to the provincial government for a bailout.

That both efforts failed, because Gary Bettman was obsessed with a US network TV contract and convinced that Sun Belt expansion would win one and because Canada was still deep in recession-era government austerity in '95, doesn't diminish the fact that Canadian hockey fans in general and Winnipegers and Quebeckers in particular talked long and hard in profane fuck-that-guy tones about what was happening to their game.
posted by gompa at 11:27 AM on May 31, 2011


Season after next.

Boooo. I was hoping for the Caps to get into a new division with Philly and the Pens. You know Detroits mouth is watering to finally get out of the west.

good God, have you ever been left adrift in DC after five pm
What are you talking about? If we're just talking about hockey, 41 times a year I'm in DC after 5pm. There is plenty to do within close walking distance and the bars\restaurants are absolutely bumping after every game until close. Plenty of clubs and you're easy metro access to non game related nightlife too.
posted by zephyr_words at 11:29 AM on May 31, 2011


An additional team for Montreal? I propose a west-island team, the DDO Canadians
Yes, I'm joking
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:42 AM on May 31, 2011


Sorry about that, sauril. Didn't see your link before.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:45 AM on May 31, 2011


An additional team for Montreal? I propose a west-island team, the DDO Canadians
Yes, I'm joking


An Anglo team? It's been done.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:49 AM on May 31, 2011


Nothing else is going in Toronto than Leafs games? Toronto is a pretty fun place in the summer, actually, and lord knows there's never hockey in Toronto in the summer. I haven't spent much time in Calgary or Edmonton outside of airports, but I'm sure there's people here willing correct you there as well.

Western Canada Troll shoots and scores!
posted by srboisvert at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2011


To give a sense of the relative numbers here: metro Atlanta has 5 million people and the average attendance per the link above was ~13,000. Winnipeg has around 750,000 people and needs ~13,000 season ticket holders to have the deal approved on June 21 (I heard.)
posted by acheekymonkey at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2011


"I'll just go back to driving down to Columbus for hockey games - minor league hockey is way more fun to watch anyway."

So… a Blue Jackets fan, then.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 AM on May 31, 2011


Took a few pictures downtown during the announcement:

Thought I would share some...
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:00 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Winnipeg has around 750,000 people and needs ~13,000 season ticket holders to have the deal approved on June 21 (I heard.)

Nice. Once we buy the gifts on the registry, then they'll tell us if they're getting married or not.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:00 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Atlanta was really a good place to not only showcase professional hockey but black hockey players, like Byfuglien, Kane, Stewart, and Oduya. I'm not saying they won't get exposure in Winnipeg, but I think they would have had more impact in getting more black kids involved in hockey playing in Atlanta.
posted by reformedjerk at 12:01 PM on May 31, 2011


Nice! Living near Toronto, it's always nice to have another Canadian team to cheer for. Even if it *is* just a re-branded Thrashers. Since we don't appear to have a team worth cheering for here - and really, why WOULD they bother trying to build a solid team? The Leafs manage to sell out consistently, including the expensive seats to corporations that barely ever use them (or if they do, they sit in them for one god damn period) with the crappy team they have now.
posted by antifuse at 12:08 PM on May 31, 2011


Western Canada Troll shoots and scores!

Born and raised in Ottawa, only been in Western Canada 5 years! Shoots form the point with a "not everyone in Eastern Canada is a Leafs fan" rocket, and misses the net!
posted by Hoopo at 12:12 PM on May 31, 2011


It's quite a coincidence that all three Thrashers fans read metafilter.

Well played, sir.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:25 PM on May 31, 2011


I'm happy for my Canadian friends, but really this is just a stepping stone in the all important path to the Wings escaping the cursed West. I curse you, midnight hockey games!
posted by fancypants at 12:41 PM on May 31, 2011


Forget "Jets" or "Moose" -- I want them to be called the "Moose Jets" 'cuz it rocks!

Alternately, they should go with "Nordiques" just to be jerks.
posted by mazola at 1:23 PM on May 31, 2011


The question for me is where this franchise will be at in three years. The initial enthusiasm will be fantastic, but will it sustain over time, especially if the team doesn't achieve a great deal of success in those years? Will people renew their season ticket packages (the current minimum commitment is a 3 year package).

I'm really excited for Winnipeg, and have my fingers crossed. Although I'm sure I will come to loathe the team in time, being a fan of a different western Canadian team.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:35 PM on May 31, 2011


NHL Attendance by team

Interesting to compare that to ticket prices as well. 1, 2.
posted by Kabanos at 1:37 PM on May 31, 2011


I stopped paying even cursory attention to hockey when they started selling Canadian teams to the Americans.

That was decades ago. Fuck that noise.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:46 PM on May 31, 2011


Wait, what? A team's coming back to Winnipeg?

Well, unfuck that silence then!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:47 PM on May 31, 2011


Word is that they won't be called the Winnipeg Jets.

I'm partial to the Red River Retards, Forks Fiasco, Assiniboine Assholes or Bishop Grandin Boulevard Boondoggles.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:54 PM on May 31, 2011


I remember reading that Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver all had 100% sold out seasons last year. (And by American standards, Edmonton and Calgary are tiny and isolated). Your thinking is correct right up until the Canadian border. I'm not saying every team will be popular all the time here, but it's a different country with a different connection to the sport.

This, of course, explains why you lost the Jets to Phoenix, AZ, USA and the Nordiques to Denver, CO, USA.
posted by notyou at 1:55 PM on May 31, 2011


Neither of those had much to do with the teams not being popular with fans.
posted by Hoopo at 2:08 PM on May 31, 2011


Anyone know if they plan to expand the seating capacity of the arena at some point? I remember reading that they decided against building it in a way that would make expansion easy if they got an NHL team back, so I'm not sure if that's even possible.
posted by mzanatta at 2:23 PM on May 31, 2011


Anyone know if they plan to expand the seating capacity of the arena at some point?

Not sure about this, but the nhl arena in Winnipeg is only the smallest in the NHL by about 1500 seats and it has more luxury boxes than most other Canadian NHL rinks.

So seating might be an issue, but the luxury boxes might make up the revenue.
posted by Intrepid at 2:37 PM on May 31, 2011


The Red Dears!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:49 PM on May 31, 2011


(source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53180115/Why-Canada-Can-Support-12-NHL-Teams)

The gist of this report is that the NHL could be fine if you gave three of the American South/Southwest teams to Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal as second teams.

And that's laughable. How much of a fit would the Leafs throw if they put a second hockey team in the Air Canada Center? And how do you deal with the Raptors' 41 home dates?

And I do find it silly to hear about the Nords being moved to the American South -- which Denver most certainly is not part of. And until their recent swoon, the Avs have drawn very well.
posted by dw at 3:12 PM on May 31, 2011


The arena will seat 15,105 (or 15,015 I can't recall) and the seat pricing structure is pretty decent. Our lowest price ticket will be a bit higher than average, but the best seats are cheaper. Interest free financing is available for seasons tickets and half-season packages are also available.

The big goal now is to sell 13,000 seasons tickets by June 21st. The campaign has already started.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2011


Or more to the point, what would the Leafs, Canucks, and Canadiens demand in return for allowing their market to be effectively halved? It'd probably cost more than the price of buying the Coyotes.

The idea of putting multiple teams in large cities has been around for a while -- there's been a proposal for years to restore a third team to the NYC area, primarily to eliminate the financial edge the Yankees and Mets hold over smaller market teams. But it never happens because there's no one who could afford moving the Marlins (who aren't moving, I know) to Brooklyn or Newark, not with the hundreds of millions the two teams would demand in territorial rights.

And metro Vancouver (the Lower Mainland) is only 2/3 the size of metro Seattle. Yes, there's no competition other than the Whitecaps vs. the theoretical Metropolitans having the Sounders, Mariners, and Seahawks to contend with. But could you really drop a second team in Vancouver and have them succeed financially?
posted by dw at 3:25 PM on May 31, 2011


You forgot the Lions. I'm not a big CFL fan, but it's hard to miss the 20000-25000 drunk guys in orange on the weekends. Honestly, is the beer really cheap at BC Place or something? Lions fans get blitzed more than their quarteback.
posted by Hoopo at 3:31 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Word is that they won't be called the Winnipeg Jets.

They almost can't be named that. That name is still owned by the company that is today the Phoenix Coyotes, and they'll want money for that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:34 PM on May 31, 2011


That name is still owned by the company that is today the Phoenix Coyotes

Actually it's the league that now owns the Coyotes, and holds the rights to the name and logos of the defunct team. Wonder if they'd try to extort even more money from the Winnipeg group for the Jets name?
posted by hangashore at 3:45 PM on May 31, 2011


As a Bruins fan, I will now say "Go Bruins."
posted by nathancaswell at 4:43 PM on May 31, 2011


All the Boston Pizza restaurants in town gave away free (personal size) pizzas in the lounge during the announcement. The giveaway was announced on the #1 morning radio show. And, aside from the usual VLT addicts, I counted less than a dozen people in the St. Vital spot when I went there at lunch.

Just to recap:
1) Free Pizza.
2) Advertised on the radio.
3) In Winnipeg.
    Home to the cheapest citizens in Confederation.

And you could count on two hands the number of people who came down.

Sure it was a rainy day, sure it was a suburban location, but that level of interest doesn't bode well for ticket sales.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:48 PM on May 31, 2011


The Jets were always my favorite team (I guess I'm a sucker for underdogs) Was sad to see them move to Phoenix, but I didn't mind cheering for a new town.

I hope they'll be called the Jets again, and that the huge portrait of Queen Elizabeth once again hangs from the rafters, in lieu of any pennants.

(and that they somehow see fit to retire #8 for my man Selanne)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:43 PM on May 31, 2011


Now we just need to bring the Toros back to Toronto.
posted by stevil at 7:59 PM on May 31, 2011


Winnipeg has around 750,000 people and needs ~13,000 season ticket holders to have the deal approved on June 21 (I heard.)

Nice. Once we buy the gifts on the registry, then they'll tell us if they're getting married or not.


...and whether they'll be taking the groom's name or the bride's.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:11 PM on May 31, 2011


A Thrashers' fan's musical tribute.
posted by hangashore at 8:26 PM on May 31, 2011


On the name thing, here are a few fun ideas blatantly stolen from a Reddit thread on what to call the Jets:

Best suggestions: (not all are original)

Winnipeg Threshers Which would have an awesome zamboni mod associated, and homage to both the Thrashers and Manitoba's grain industry (as the Brandon Wheat Kings already do).

Manitoba Nanuq Good, distinctive, but I think a college team somewhere already uses this?

Manitoba Rebellion. Not my favourite, but its a great historical callback, sort of like the 76ers or the 49ers.

Manitoba Flood. Pretty obvious really. People who don't like the Minnesota Wild as a name won't like this one either, and logo design would be.... uninspiring.

Black Ice was my personal favourite, mostly because its unique, relevant to hockey, and sounds badass.

Winnipeg Wendigos is another great one. Its a tribute to Native culture, and its a bloodthirsty winter cannibal shapeshifter. I don't know what could be more badass than that.

posted by Jaybo at 10:30 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the Manitoba Rebellion, especially if they design a Louis Riel shoulder patch to be the prairie counterpart to Johnny Canuck.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 11:24 PM on May 31, 2011


Hardcore Poser: That might just be because Boston Pizza is really bad pizza.
posted by utsutsu at 8:55 AM on June 1, 2011


How many season tickets did they have to sell in Phoenix before the league approved moving a franchise there?
Zero? That can't be right, can it?
posted by rocket88 at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first days ticket sales have been reported. Over 1,800 seasons tickets have been sold in about 8 hours.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:19 PM on June 1, 2011


Forget the Manitoba Moose... It should be the Manitoba Space Moose
posted by antifuse at 9:07 AM on June 3, 2011


Sure it was a rainy day, sure it was a suburban location, but that level of interest doesn't bode well for ticket sales.

... the last tickets were claimed within 17 minutes of Saturday’s noon opening to the general public. By shortly after 2 p.m., a ticket waiting list had been capped at 8,000 people.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:58 PM on June 4, 2011


Good to see there wasn't any rioting considering the fiasco in Vancouver.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 PM on June 16, 2011


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