The NHL Returns To Manitoba?
Wonderful development, isn’t it, for a region struggling with a grim annual rite of Spring? Manitoba could use a little good news. The seemingly imminent purchase and move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg won’t push back the rising floodwaters of the Assiniboine, but it has got to be tonic for weary Manitobans who, once again, have endured the endless, back-breaking toil of sandbag processions, and will endure the endless, heartbreaking toil of cleaning up after the disaster.
I recall, from afar, the great agony carved on the faces of their dedicated sports fans as, in the summer of 1995, it became apparent that there would be no last-ditch effort to miraculously keep the team from its exodus to the desert, and that they’d be playing one final, bittersweet season. I can vividly recall the rivers of tears on the faces of the faithful as the Jets made their farewell circles on the ice at the old Winnipeg Arena, in April, 1996. Soon after that, the region was hit with the worst Spring flooding it had seen since 1979. Coincidentally, that was the year the Jets joined the NHL.
So, now, it appears big league hockey will return to the land of the Golden Boy and the Golden Jet. Good on them.
I’m not from Winnipeg. In fact, I’ve only ever spent a few days total in that city, once when I visited to see a Brier, the other time a Blue Bomber game. I liked it a lot, and enjoyed the hospitality of some of the most wonderful people in the country. Good folks, they are. Hard-working, proud and yes, friendly, as the licence plates advertise.
It feels like a tremendously horrible sporting wrong is about to be righted, as the Jets get set to fly again.
So, chin up, Manitoba. The waters will soon recede, they always do. And you’ll emerge stronger for it. You always do, too. And this time, a great flood can herald the re-emergence of your hockey dreams, as opposed to swallowing them whole and carrying them South.