You can’t hold Winnipeg Jets fans down this summer

Posted by Ezra Ginsburg in Columns,Jets Columns,Winnipeg Jets on August 8, 2011 — 17 Comments

This really has been an amazing three months or so for the city of Winnipeg.

If you’ll indulge me….

In late May, True North Sports & Entertainment Chairman Mark Chipman announced that the Atlanta Thrashers had been purchased and that the NHL was coming back to Winnipeg 15 years after the city lost its first team.

In early June, TNSE launched the Drive to 13,000 campaign and Winnipeggers bought 13,000 season tickets in four days.

In late June at the NHL Entry Draft in St.Paul, Minneapolis, after weeks of speculation, TNSE announced that the team would in fact be called the Jets much to the city’s delight.

In late July, after a leak, TNSE revealed the new Jets logo on a Friday and over $200,000 in merchandise (mostly hats and t-shirts) was snapped up by Sunday.

That was just hockey-related news.

As of early August, the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers were tied for 1st overall in the league with a 5-1 record while the American Association’s Winnipeg Goldeyes were also competing for 1st place in their division.

To top it all off, all this was happening as Winnipeg was experiencing one of its hottest summers on record, as daily temperatures of +30 C were the norm.

But there is always someone waiting to pop the figurative balloon isn’t there?

More on the buzz kills after the jump.

First it was the Royal Canadian Air Force-inspired logo that TNSE unveiled, which was too militaristic.

I didn’t really mind that, as people are entitled to their opinion, I told myself.

But then Bob McCown went on his radio show on The Fan 590 and said that “no fewer than three members of the Atlanta Thrashers… no fewer than three who are now Winnipeg Jets who are actively pursuing alternatives. Actively pursuing alternatives.”

McCown went on to explain that players were having difficulty finding suitable houses to rent in Winnipeg.

Really Bob? Is it that slow of a news day?

Winnipeggers have been down this road before. CBC’s Mike Milbury and Glenn Healy both stated that players didn’t want to come to Winnipeg if the NHL was going to come back and that agents were even looking at ways to change players contracts to reflect this desire.

So why are McCown’s comments bothersome. Simple. Where are the names?

Is it 21-year-old defenseman Zach Bogosian, who remains a restricted free agent?

Is it veteran forward Nikolai Antropov who was recently spotted in Winnipeg looking for a house?

It surely isn’t Andrew Ladd or Blake Wheeler who just signed contracts to play in Winnipeg for five years and two years respectively.

It’s also not Chris Mason, who has been on The Illegal Curve Hockey Show three times and has always said positive things about the city.

The reality is that there are probably no fewer than three players on EVERY NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE TEAM that are actively pursuing alternatives to play in other cities. This is not just happening in Winnipeg.

Forgetting the vague nature of Bob McCown’s comments for a second, it seems awfully opportunistic to mention that certain players are unhappy with their real estate choices in the smallest hockey market in the NHL.

A little too “convenient” if you ask me.

Here is one thing that I can tell you with certainty.

I have been to Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, Minneapolis, Ottawa and Chicago and the support for Winnipeg getting an NHL team back has been overwhelmingly positive.

Sure, there have been some naysayers. But it’s been few and far between to find anyone who seems to harbour negativity.

So, I’ve got news for you, Bob. There might be a few players who aren’t thrilled to be moving to Winnipeg but if they are already under contract they’re unfortunately stuck here until they get traded or their contract expires.

If they really want out they can talk to Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff or Assistant GM Craig Heisinger. They should probably get on that soon though as the regular season is about two months away.

Until then, we’re kind of busy having a summer-long party to celebrate the Jets coming back.

You can’t hold Winnipeg Jets fans down this summer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505867775 Drew Mindell

    Bang on Ezzy. The comments from McCown are nothing but trash journalism. If you are going to make an accusation like that, provide some context (how many unhappy players are on EACH & EVERY NHL team) or name the names of the unhappy players. Until he does that, his comment is meaningless. 

  • Kyle Kosior

    I think that McCown et al. are using stories like that (without any actual references) to stir up controversy. Slow news day to be sure, and some people refuse to admit that not every NHL free-agent is chomping at the bit to play in Toronto, etc…

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    It really is a shame that some in the media feel the need to act as bigger buzz kills than buzz killington.  

    Love the enthusiasm in your piece Ez.  Could be best summer ever; Jets are back, Bombers are rolling, weather is beautiful and its been bug free.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve mentioned the fact that there are likely at least three players on any given team in the NHL looking to move. McClown is one of those reporters who ended up looking really bad once the NHL returned to Winnipeg (since he referred to those who predicted the return as “dreamers”), so he’s been looking for negativity to help save face. 

  • Anonymous

    His comments are meaningless! there are haters everywhere. what i care about is guys who want to play hockey in a hockey crazed city!

  • Anonymous

    What I hate is when reporters focus on negative players opinions. When there was talk about the Yotes coming to the Peg. They take quotes from pending UFA’s Bryzgalov and Eric Belanger. Philly can have Ilya at his inflated long term contract and Belanger signs in Edmonton.

  • http://twitter.com/yourbestpal Jamie Care

    McCown’s best ignored. Seriously. He’s a typical member of the Toronto media who can’t see past the tip of his nose.

  • Bob Brown

    What i hate is that all you people talk about is bashing Atlanta fans when you don’t take the time to actually learn about how poorly we were treated by the owners who killed our team. How little the ASG cared about the team or its fans.

  • Anonymous

    McCown’s a joke. Listening to him is like believing Eklund trade rumors. Both claim to have sources but none ever want to be quoted. Yep, that adds to their credibility.
    It took a while for Stamkos to re-sign but since he has that leaves Bogosian as the most sought after RFA so his name pops up in idle speculation. Expect more of the same until he is re-signed. There are already rumors Doughty won’t re-up with LA & he’s a year away from RFA.
    It’s the slowest part of off-season & a lot of rumors will concern the Jets because they don’t see what TN is doing in building an organization while stocking 2 teams.

  • Anonymous

    There are more then a few of us that understand how badly you fans were treated. ASG didn’t seem to care or even try to keep the team. Some of you were loyal enough to put down money on season tickets even amid the turmoil. I hope that they’ve finally refunded that money.
    Maybe with the sale of the Hawks you’re rid of them.
    I just hope you continue to support hockey after that bad experience.

  • Bob Brown

    I cant live without hockey. I was born and raised here in Georgia. I spent thousands of dollars to see my team even though they werent very good. Why? Because it’s the best sport on earth. You don’t have to be a gretzky or a Jagr, or Howe, or Crosby to be a starter. There are different pieces to make a stanley cup team and not every piece is the best fit but it still fits as long as effort is put into it. Only thing that bothers me now that i have accepted it, Jets fans. Well, some of them. As Jets fans almost all of you know the feeling i have right now and i have a great deal of respect for you. The problem is the ones who run their mouths and rub it in and only tear off the scab trying to heal in my heart. All of you should know what thats like and remember the feeling before you go and bash my fans, city and my team. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505867775 Drew Mindell

    I’m not even sure how your comment is relevant to this threat but we know that the Thrashers fans were treated like dirt by one of, if not the worst ownership group in sports. We don’t blame the fans, we blame the (former) ownership for the Thrashers demise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505867775 Drew Mindell

    I’m not even sure how your comment is relevant to this threat but we know that the Thrashers fans were treated like dirt by one of, if not the worst ownership group in sports. We don’t blame the fans, we blame the (former) ownership for the Thrashers demise.

  • Anonymous

    I remember from dropping by your board before the change over  reading the comments. Some were going to quit watching hockey while others blamed Wpg. for stealing the team. It was ASG that sold you down the river.
    I hope you realize it was the loudmouths bashing & I (for 1) would welcome any of you if/when the Jets set up a message board. Don’t forget that a lot of the posters that claimed to be from here didn’t know our city (I commented on that too on your board) & were just using an opportunity to be the children their posts indicated they were.
    I hear Nashville is making a push to entice you fans to come to their games. I don’t blame them but I’d rather you join us in cheering the team we inherited. Either way I know you love the sport & hope that you remain fans.

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for commenting.  If you go back through the history of our documenting the possible move of the Thrashers to Winnipeg, we have always spoken with respect about the hard core fans that supported the Thrashers, despite having the worst owners in the NHL.

    While I understand your frustration, and get that it won’t be easy to support the Jets, you (and any Atlanta fans) are always welcome to comment on here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mpodolas Matt Podolas

    Great article!

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