We’ve all heard the comments about how hard it is for the Jets to attract free agents to the city. Yup we’ve heard it all before about how cold the winters are and how this city doesn’t have as much to offer as bigger cities like New York, Toronto or Los Angeles. Nobody is confusing downtown Winnipeg for downtown Chicago.
Of course for folks who like the outdoors there is plenty to do within an hour or two ride of the city. Guys like Connor Hellebuyck and Dustin Byfuglien have spent many hours ice fishing or sledding around Manitoba during the winter months. The truth is there are lots of great restaurants and plenty of things to see and do in Winnipeg if you want to take the time to get to know the city.
The 2023 IIHF World Championships are taking place right now in Finland and Latvia and I thought the comments from current Jets forward Nino Niederreiter in an article by NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers were insightful.
The Swiss-born forward came to Winnipeg as a visiting player numerous times but has now spent a few months as a member of the Jets organization after he was acquired at the trade deadline from the Nashville Predators back in March. Niederreiter has one year left on his current deal.
“You have a great fan base, but I also do know it’s a tough market over there,” Niederreiter said. “A lot of free agents don’t really want to go there because they don’t really know what it’s all about. When you go there, you see the hotel and you see the arena. That’s all you see. Sometimes as the visiting team it’s unfair to judge the city. The fan base is fantastic. They take care of the players very well. It’s a lot better than a lot of people think.”
You can read the full article here.
Maybe it’s time to change the city slogan to “Give it a chance. Winnipeg will surprise you”.