SBD/Issue 82/Franchises

Southern U.S.-Based NHL Team Looking To Jet To Winnipeg?

Davidson Guessing Hurricanes Or Predators

A U.S.-based NHL franchise contacted Winnipeg Deputy Mayor Dan Vandal "to inquire about possibly relocating" to the city, according to Ross Romaniuk of the WINNIPEG SUN, who noted the call "did not come from" the Penguins, which Vandal "had courted during the past few weeks." Vandal said of the call, "They're asking, `How serious is Winnipeg? Because we're in trouble.'" Former Winnipeg Jets GM John Ferguson said of an NHL team returning to the city, "It would be an ideal situation to come back to Winnipeg. There's a new arena being built and the fan base is there" (WINNIPEG SUN, 1/17). Vandal indicated that the club is "southern-based." ESPN/ABC hockey analyst John Davidson: "If I had to guess I'd say Carolina or Nashville. I just can't see it being the Panthers right now." Hurricanes and Predators officials "denied suggestions [Friday] night either team was getting set to move" (WINNIPEG SUN, 1/17).

JET SET? In Winnipeg, Ted Wyman noted during the Jets' entire NHL existence that included 669 regular-season home games, the team "attracted more than 15,000 fans just 106 times. That's a little less than 16% of the time." Wyman: "We can assure you, the vast majority of those near-sellouts were against Montreal, Toronto or the Gretzky-led Oilers and Kings. Without a visiting-team attraction, the attendance was incredibly underwhelming" (WINNIPEG SUN, 1/17). In Toronto, Al Strachan wrote, "It's simply the latest salvo in the ongoing public-relations battle that is the precursor to negotiations for the new [CBA]. ... The NHL has been propping up Canadian franchises through the Canadian Assistance Plan. Can anyone seriously think that the NHL governors are now going to add another team to that welfare list?" (TORONTO SUN, 1/18).

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