SUN Hockey Pool

'Peg must stay on NHL radar

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:02 PM ET

One problem with the new NHL's early success is it is once again becoming attractive to American owners with gobs of money and not a speck of hockey purity.

No sooner have the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Eric Staal rejuvenated the NHL than there is suddenly a lineup of cities with big arenas and wealthy owners waiting to join up.

Rumours persist that the Pittsburgh Penguins will move if they don't get a new arena to replace the dilapidated Igloo, and at this point there are no plans in place for any major construction.

If a team like the Penguins does decide to back up the moving trucks, it will have several attractive choices, including Houston, where a wealthy owner is waving his arms like one of those guys on the runway at the airport, Kansas City, where an 18,500-seat arena is going up without a major tenant and Winnipeg, where a hockey-mad city is dying to get a second chance.

Now if -- and it's still a big if -- an NHL team becomes available, it's going to be awfully difficult to sell Winnipeg, when the other cities have larger arenas in larger markets and potential owners waving wads of cash while jumping up and down like cheerleaders.

Those city fathers and money men in Winnipeg who truly believe big-league hockey will come back here may rue the day they built only a 15,000-seat arena, which has 1,000 less seats than the smallest barn in the NHL.

And yet, there are many people, including Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman, who believe the arena and the market are adequate.

If that's the case, it's time for somebody -- and by that, we mean somebody with money and means -- to start shooting flares in the air, just to make sure everybody knows we're here and that we mean business.

As any good salesman knows, it's never too early to get your foot in the door.

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