NHL returning to winnipeg!!!
Coyotes return -- for a night
Will face Oilers in exhibition tilt; may stage some training in city
Sat May 27 2006
By Randy Turner
THE Phoenix Coyotes are coming back to Winnipeg -- for one night, at least.
Heck, maybe even the Stanley Cup champions, too.
The Free Press has learned that the Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers will play an exhibition game at the MTS Centre slated for Sept. 17. The Coyotes are also hoping to stage a day or two of their training camp in Winnipeg, although those plans are tentative.
This could mean that Wayne Gretzky, the Coyotes' managing partner (and perhaps head coach) will also be in town to face the Oilers, who are currently one victory away from the Stanley Cup finals, leading the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 in the Western Conference final.
The exhibition is technically a home game for the Coyotes, who first approached Manitoba Moose GM Craig Heisinger with the proposal last month while planning their pre-season schedule.
"We could have gone anywhere in North America," Phoenix assistant GM Laurence Gilman, a Winnipeg native, said yesterday from Phoenix. "It obviously had to be done in a city where we knew it would be a success. It had to be a great hockey market with a solid hockey environment.
"Literally, it took us three seconds to settle on Winnipeg," Gilman added. "It was our best option by far."
Gilman noted that the Coyotes plan to "bring up our entire organization." That may include Gretzky, who is currently in negotiations to determine if he'll continue as the Coyotes' head coach next season.
But as a managing partner in the team, it's a good bet that Gretzky will make the trip regardless.
This will mark the third time an NHL exhibition game has been held in Winnipeg since the loss of the Jets, but the first at the MTS Centre. Ticket prices have yet to be determined and the final itinerary surrounding the game will be announced at a press conference in early June.
Since the Jets are the forefathers of the Coyotes, no doubt their return will spark some mixed feelings for Winnipeggers still mourning the loss of the NHL. But there's no question the game, even though it might be an exhibition, will draw interest from the league.
"Let's put it this way," Gilman noted, "if an NHL event is held in Winnipeg, and the building is sold out, I think it's a pretty strong statement that Winnipeg would support NHL hockey."
Whether Winnipeg can afford NHL hockey, however, is another matter entirely. But certainly if these two teams don't draw -- one for its emotional ties to Winnipeg, the other for its current sky-high popularity -- it wouldn't help the city's cause in the eyes of the league.
The first NHL exhibition game at the old Winnipeg Arena between Edmonton and Vancouver on Sept. 19, 2002 drew a near-sellout of 13,223 fans, while the second game between Minnesota and Vancouver the next year attracted 10,214 on Sept. 18, 2003. No doubt, the attendance figure this time around will not go unnoticed, either way.
"It's only one game, but it will send a message," Heisinger said. "One way or the other. It will be interesting to see. Maybe with the success the Oilers are having, it will draw well."
Regardless, Gilman indicated that exhibition or not, it's the Coyotes' intention "to put out a lineup that showcases our talent." Which would include star forward and Team Canada member Shane Doan, the last former Jet remaining on the Phoenix roster. "Assuming he's healthy," Gilman said, "he'll play in that game."
Jets back in '08
support the campaign
you got your NHL team back, now it's our turn. minnesota is a great hockey market, so is winnipeg. we avg 8000 people to AHL games, yes the nhl's farm league. we've got a brand new arena in place too.
before you say winnipeg is too small you've got to take into consideration that minneapolis/st.paul has to support the vikings, twins, wild, timberwolfs, NCAA football, and for argumental purposes the st. paul saints.
winnipeg would only have to support the NHL, CFL(about half the attendance NFL gets and tickets are half the price) and the goldeyes(comparitive to the st.paul saints, they were even in the same league last year)
check out www.jetsowner.com to see some number crunching and other reasons winnipeg is a premeir candidate for the NHL
Re: NHL returning to winnipeg!!!
a permanent nhl team back in winnipeg wont happen because the DUMBASSES that designed the mts center made it about 2000 seats too small..theres no way an nhl team competes these days with the league wide rise in attendance in a 15000 seat (thats including all private boxes) arena..no chance..our cfl team was just recently in trouble with losing money about 2 years ago, and the ahl team doesnt average anywhere near 8000, more like 5000-6000..for the playoffs, the manitoba moose only averaged 6100 tickets sold to playoff home games
Re: NHL returning to winnipeg!!!
umm... ok, 15,000 doesn't make that much of a diffrence, it's not that big of a problem. i agree it was a dumb move to make it that small, but it won't affect us too much.
the moose avg. 7400 for the playoffs(stats form AHL site) and avg 8079 for the regular season. get some learning itno you. plus the majority o the bombers debt was from the major CFL slump in the late 90's when many teams considered folding. once the new stadium gets built there will be no more seasons in the red because alot of their money is lost due to stadium repair and keeping up the 50 year old stadium.