Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Kevin Engstrom of the Winnipeg Sun,
The unlikely return of big league hockey to Winnipeg has caused an even unlikelier thing to occur.
The thing I’m referring to, of course, is a handful of Winnipeggers saying NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — the guy who ushered our beloved Jets out of town 15 years ago — perhaps isn’t such a bad guy after all.
Heck, some obviously inebriated or otherwise medicated Winnipeggers even had the gall to call Bettman a — gasp! — hero.
No, really. A few people said it.
Of course, this is utter nonsense. In his dream world, Bettman’s plan to export Canada’s national pastime to the U.S. Sunbelt would have been a giant success with full arenas and giant ratings, allowing him to forever turn his back on small Canadian markets like Winnipeg and Quebec City.
Unfortunately for Bettman, that scheme had about the same chance of long-term success as Kim Kardashian’s upcoming marriage: Little to none.
VANCOUVER (June 4, 2011) – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued the following statement regarding True North Sports & Entertainment’s announcement that it has successfully completed its ‘Drive to 13,000’
“While I had no doubt the ‘Drive to 13,000’ would reach its destination, the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans’ hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North’s initiatives.”
via a media release from True North,
True North Sports & Entertainment is pleased to announce the successful completion of their National Hockey League “Drive to 13,000” Season Ticket campaign.
“We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our fans in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Canada for their support over the past week, in particular, the overwhelming response of our fans which has resulted in a successful ‘Drive to 13,000’ campaign,” said Jim Ludlow, President & CEO, True North Sports & Entertainment. “The success of the campaign is a key ingredient to ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of NHL hockey in this province. We look forward to seeing everyone this Fall at MTS Centre for opening night of regular season NHL hockey in Winnipeg.”
As a result of the tremendous demand for tickets demonstrated during the “Drive to 13,000” Season Ticket campaign, True North Sports & Entertainment is also pleased to announce they will be starting an official “membership only” based waiting list for tickets. This waiting list will feature several key benefits including:
from Mary Agnes Welch of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Jets fan J.J. Moorehead is using the overkill approach to score NHL season tickets today.
At noon, Moorehead will create his own NASA ground control, surrounding himself with three computers—his fiancée’s desktop and two laptops. They’ll all be preloaded with his personal information so he can speed through the screens, press enter and hopefully score two season tickets to see Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise.
Even better, he’s going to steal an Internet connection from two neighbours in his apartment building who haven’t password-protected their wireless accounts….
Nearly every fan who gathered Friday night at the 4Play Sports Bar and Grill expressed a sense of genuine panic at the looming ticket frenzy. There are only about 5,800 season tickets left and exponentially more people vying for them. Everyone said they weren’t fussy about which “P”—for price point—their seats were in. They’d take anything. And they expected everything to be sold out by 12:30 p.m., if not earlier.
From Tim Campbell at Winnipeg Free Press:
A front-runner has emerged to be the general manager of Winnipeg’s new NHL team.
Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM and senior director of hockey operations Kevin Cheveldayoff is hot on the radar of Canada’s seventh NHL franchise.
After a Thursday meeting with True North chairman Mark Chipman and hockey senior vice-president Craig Heisinger at the NHL’s scouting combine, current Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley does not appear to be a slam-dunk to move with the club to Winnipeg. Nobody at True North will talk about it and there are strong rumblings here that Dudley will either be re-assigned or dismissed, that True North wants to go in another direction with its own people.
From Lyle Richards at The Hockey News:
If True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman is willing to spend up to the cap ceiling, his team would have around $26 million to work with, but as Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette recently noted, Winnipeg fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for any big free-spending moves.
Chipman has stated his club’s philosophy will be to build through the draft and he’s also suggested his team’s payroll will stick close to the mid-way point, which will be roughly $52-$54 million.
Forget about the possibility of Brad Richards or other big-name unrestricted free agents signing with Winnipeg this summer.
That doesn’t mean Winnipeg won’t sign any UFAs, but it will likely look for affordable talent. The main focus will be re-signing its own key free agents.
read on plus odds and ends on the Leafs and Wings
from the CP at The Hockey News,
The owners of Winnipeg’s new NHL team say they have sold more than 4,000 season tickets in just over a day.
The as-yet unnamed team wants to sell 13,000 season tickets before the June 21 NHL board of governors meeting where the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg will be approved.
The count, which is updated each afternoon on the team’s website, shows 4,170 have been sold.
Currently, only season ticket holders for the AHL Manitoba Moose are getting a chance to secure between four and eight seats each.
The Winnipeg Chufugaboos came from a third grader named Joey in Winnipeg the other day (via the Winnipeg Free Press) who explained his choice for the NHL team’s name as follows:
“I would [call it] this because everyone would like it. Also it’s funny. I think the colour should be red and blue. The logo should be a monkey.”
That’s just awesome.
Meanwhile, Bodog sets up their bets for the future of the much-more-boring “Winnipeg based NHL team” below:
Will the Winnipeg based NHL team win the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup?
Will the Winnipeg based NHL team win the 2011-2012 Eastern Conference?
from the CP a The Hockey News,
Fans of Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise are being asked to pay a higher price for tickets on average than all but one existing Canadian team.
True North Sports and Entertainment will open a pre-sale on season packages at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday. Ticket-holders and corporate partners of the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose will be given the first chance to buy seats before they’re opened to the general public on Saturday.
Seats at the MTS Centre will be priced over seven different tiers at an average of $82—the same price Montreal Canadiens fans paid last year at the Bell Centre and behind only the Toronto Maple Leafs ($114 average) in Canada, according to the most recent franchise valuations by Forbes.
The new Winnipeg owners are hoping to get commitments for 13,000 season seats before the NHL board of governors meet June 21 to vote on the sale of the team.
Despite advice to wait and see what happens, the sale and move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg sure had a sense of the inevitable about it, didn’t it?
There will be more euphoria about the return of hockey to Winnipeg than angst over its loss in Atlanta. Still, the loss of the Thrashers will hurt the team’s core fans for a long time to come. Sure, we can talk about the Thrashers being swept in their only playoff series, their inability to keep star players, and the Thrashers ranking near the NHL basement in attendance. Still, there was a core of fans who “Believed in Blueland” and now are left without a team. Think about them for a minute today and put yourself in their shoes for a minute. It’s a pretty crummy feeling to lose “your” team. Success or not, fans love their team, even if they love to complain about it. In the long run, it’s better to be a “long suffering” fan, than have no team at all.
And feel worse for the team’s staffers that lost their jobs. Most won’t make the move to Winnipeg and now enter an employment market that can best be described as “challenging” to say the least. They are the ones you really need some action, not words like these from the team’s statement.
“It’s extremely disappointing to all of us that (this sale) became necessary after all other options were exhausted. We want to express my gratitude to you, the fans, for the years of dedication you have offered to the Atlanta Thrashers.”
from Chris Johnston of the CP at The Score,
Moving to a hockey hotbed from one where the sport was rarely in the spotlight, the Thrashers are expecting a little bit of culture shock now that they’ve landed in Winnipeg.
“It’s probably going to be bigger than most guys think,” captain Andrew Ladd told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “I think not having (NHL) hockey there for 15 years, it’s kind of built up and built up to the point where I’m sure (fans) are ready to blow the doors off the hinges and get this thing going.”
Added goaltender Chris Mason: “Next year it’s going to be hockey, hockey, hockey. I just love that. I think it’s going to be awesome.”
added 5:26pm, from Ian Mendes of Sportsnet,
If some Atlanta Thrashers players are reluctant to move to Winnipeg, Evander Kane certainly isn’t one of them.
The 19-year-old was happy to see a definitive resolution to the Thrashers saga, which officially came on Tuesday when the NHL announced the club was re-locating to Winnipeg.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity. Anywhere in Canada, I’d love to go play. Going to Winnipeg with the Jets, they have a good tradition and history there,” “Kane told Rogers Sportsnet on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to renewing that and being a big part of it. I’m looking forward to that and getting this thing going.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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