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The Pieces are Falling Into Place

It seems the affairs of the Winnipeg Jets are quickly being settled. Today the team announced the hiring of Assistant Coach Pascal Vincent. Vincent has spent the past 12 seasons in the QMJHL as coach of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the Montreal Juniors. In that time, Vincent amassed an impressive 429-313-87, also serving as GM of both teams throughout his career in the Q. Vincent sounds like a good pick-up for the Jets, especially with a core of younger players that may need some guidance.

So while head coach Claude Noel will be getting some experienced help behind the bench, I wonder whether Winnipeg boy/ex-Manitoba Moose captain/three-time Stanley Cup winner Mike Keane might get some consideration for a role in the Winnipeg Jets organization. He was extremely popular with fans when he played with the Moose, and proved to be stalwart leader in the dressing room. He has played with guys on the Jets roster (Jason Jaffray, Rick Rypien) as well as a pile of guys who went on to play with the Vancouver Canucks. Keane and Jets goaltending coach Wade Flaherty also played on the Moose together.

There was certainly an uncomfortable feeling amongst Moose fans when Keane’s contract wasn’t renewed last summer by management – rather than look elsewhere for work on the ice, Keane retired. In February of this year, his number was raised to the rafters by the Moose organization in a touching ceremony. It would be nice to see Keane back in the fold in some capacity, and it would be a hugely popular move here in Winnipeg (whatever that’s worth).

Speaking of retired jerseys, much has been made of Evander Kane’s desire to wear number 9 for the Jets. The up-and-coming forward said he’d ask Bobby Hull, for whom the number was retired by the Winnipeg Jets v1.0, for his blessing to wear the number. While that’s a gracious gesture, it doesn’t sound like it’s necessary – Scott Brown, Director of Corporate Communications for True North Sports and Entertainment, tweeted the following yesterday afternoon:

“For the record, no issue. If so desires, Kane can wear #9, Little #10, Jones #12, etc Winnipeg Jets will HONOUR jersey #‘s, not retire them.”

Also for the record – those numbers reference Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, and Mike Keane (Manitoba Moose). Also retired by the Jets v1.0 was Thomas Steen’s number 25, although it doesn’t appear any of the current Jets roster will be sporting those digits.

I like this move - there’s been a lot of confusion/uncertainty about the Jets’ history since it was announced the former Atlanta Thrashers would take the name of the Phoenix Coyotes’ previous incarnation. Yes, it’s a different franchise, but there’d be a riot if there wasn’t some sort of recognition of Hawerchuk, Hull, and the other players who played great hockey in this city.

How and where those of us without season tickets will be able to watch and listen to Jets games seems to be getting clearer – the Winnipeg Free Press reported yesterday that an agreement has been reached between the Jets and TSN for both TV and radio (via AM station Sports Radio 1290). This radio component is big news – CJOB 680 had broadcast Manitoba Moose games on the radio for the last 15 years, and according to the piece in the Free Press put together a pretty lucrative offer to retain the radio rights. Sports Radio 1290 (a Bell Media station) started in Winnipeg last fall.

Details on the exact arrangements aren’t yet available and, of course, nobody is commenting until an official announcement has been made. It’ll be interesting to see whether TSN sets up some sort of regional TV arrangement similar to what they had for the Montreal Canadiens last year.

Of course, this begs the question: who will be the voice of the Jets? In the spirit of the NHL’s return to Winnipeg, the sentimental favourite would be Curt Keilback, who sat behind the mic for nearly every game of the original Jets’ NHL tenure. He was the voice of the Phoenix Coyotes after their move until he was dumped by the team in 2007. He’s now back in Winnipeg and does play-by-play for Manitoba Junior Hockey League games on NCI-FM.

I can still hear Keilback’s voice shrieking “ESS-en-SAAAA the saaaave” in my head. Here’s an example of his work. Man, I could watch that all day.

Twitter: @bensigurdson

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I only heard Keilback with the Yotes, and in his last years with them it sounded like his play by play slowed down a tad. I always enjoyed listening to him though. I don’t think he got the attention he deserved with Yotes fans, because they were so f***ing awful for Keilback to convey his unique delivery.

Posted by Jesters Dead on 07/22/11 at 04:45 PM ET

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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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