Survey says 'Peg needs WHL team

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

The AHL's Manitoba Moose are nice and all, but the general feeling among fans attending last night's Brandon Wheat Kings game at the MTS Centre is that a WHL team in Winnipeg would be cool, too.

Those same hockey lovers, however, would also have some concerns about a second WHL squad in Manitoba.

The WHL's talent level can't compare with the AHL, but its tickets prices, its lack of egos and its obvious abundance of locals make it attractive, according to an informal survey done last night on the MTS Centre concourse.

"I like the brand because there's no professionalism to it," said Steinbach's Dewayne Penner. "They haven't been paid to play. There's more love of the game kind of thing."

Penner believes the familiarity of the WHL -- Winnipeg had a major junior team from 1968 to 1984, and the league stocks itself with most of Manitoba's top bantams -- also makes it more enticing than the relatively new AHL.

"Every kid growing up, that's your dream, to go play in the (WHL)," Penner said.

Winnipeg's Dan Moir believes there are many good reasons for the WHL to expand to Winnipeg, but he also sees a potential downside.

"It could be a good alternative to the Moose," Moir said. "Both could co-exist in this city, but my one concern would be what it would do to any support of Manitoba junior hockey leagues.

GOOD RIVALRY

"I do follow the Western league and it'd be nice to see a team in the city. Plus it would be a good rivalry for Brandon."

Also, as Moir pointed out, the low cost of attending games wouldn't hurt a WHL franchise's chances, either.

"I think it would work," said Moir, who "occasionally" attends Moose games. "There's enough support in this city that it would be a good alternative. I imagine it would be less expensive than the Moose.

"The Moose ... since they've moved here, prices have gone up. The Western league would be a cheaper alternative for families.

"I would definitely support a Western league franchise."


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