Kukla's Korner Hockey
by BMS on 08/31/11 at 04:30 PM ET
As summer draws to a close, Winnipeggers are hungrier than ever for hockey. The chance to host the best in the game has Jets fans salivating – especially those lucky enough to get season tickets.
I managed to get away from the madness for a couple weeks - the family and I went on a vacation out east and I stayed on to judge at the Canadian Wine Awards in Halifax (I know – poor me). So rather than hash out every little rumour that emerged while I was gone, I figured I’d hit the ground running on today’s Jets news out of the ‘Peg - and there’s good news for those uf us that didn’t get season tickets…
- The big news out of Winnipeg today was the official announcement of TV/radio/etc. rights. True North Sports & Entertainment and Bell Media are entering an ten-year agreement that awards the regional TV rights to TSN and radio rights to Sports Radio 1290. Yes, there’ll be a few games on CBC, but most of the rest (60ish in total) of the games will be broadcast regionally on a channel called TSN Jets or nationally via, uh, regular TSN.
Ex-Leafs broadcaster Dennis Beyak will do play-by-play on the games broadcast on TSN Jets as well as a handful or games on the radio, while Brian Munz (former Manitoba Moose play-by-play man) will work the majority of the team’s radio broadcasts. Beyak will be joined on TV by Brian Engblom and Mike Johnson, while Munz will be accompanied by Neepawa, MB native Shane Hnidy, who’s calling it a career after winning the Stanley Cup last year with the Boston Bruins.
But that’s not all. TSN’s Sara Orlesky is returning to Winnipeg, and will be opening a regional TSN office here in town to deal with all things Jets, Bombers and beyond (you know, like curling - don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). Now excuse me while I go polish up my resumé…
Anyway, while the True North/TSN deal had been unofficially talked about here in Winnipeg for some time, I think it’s safe to say the magnitude of the deal will take many by surprise – myself included. The Drive to 13,000 season ticket event essentially locked up most tickets to home games, opening the door for broadcast of every game in the regional (Manitoba/Saskatchewan/Northwestern Ontario/etc.) market.
With the return of the NHL, the success of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian Football League) and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (American Association League baseball), sports in this city has rarely looked brighter than it does right now. The TSN/Sports Radio 1290 deal goes a long way in solidifying this city in the nation’s sports landscape.
- RCMP seized a shipment of 40 counterfeit Winnipeg Jets jerseys at the Canada-US border. The fakes were headed to the ‘Peg, and look much like the photos of the purported jersey posted online in the past few days (see the link for a picture of the seized home and away jerseys). The value of the jerseys was pegged at $300 each, and while True North have described this design of the fakes as “not even close” to the real thing, it just goes to show how eager sports fans in this city are for the puck to drop at the MTS Centre in September. Truth be told, it’s really not that bad of a design.
It sounds like the real deal will be unveiled at the 2011 Young Stars Tournament in Penticton, BC. Blake Wheeler tweeted that he had received his pants and gloves and posted a picture of the former. The guy knows how to work up a fan base.
- Finally, congratulations to former Jets captain (and my childhood hockey hero) Dale Hawerchuk on the news he’ll be inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. It’ll be interesting to see what the new Jets do (if anything) to honour the old team’s greatest players. Anyway, the best part is that Hawerchuk (along with announcer Rick Jeanneret) will be honoured on November 8 before the start of the Sabres’ home game against - you guessed it - the Winnipeg Jets.
Follow me on Twitter for more as the season draws near/gets underway: @bensigurdson
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