SUN Hockey Pool

'Peg's NHL dream gets a big boost

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

While the news that the Pittsburgh Penguins are for sale was really a non-starter as far as Winnipeg is concerned, two very encouraging things happened recently with regard to this city's pursuit of an NHL team.

First of all, Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman stood up and was counted among the people who might be interested in buying the Penguins if circumstances change and the team can be moved.

Chipman threw his hat in the ring quickly, and while he recognized that the sale conditions surrounding the Penguins are likely too restrictive, he at least ensured that Winnipeg's name is out there.

Now, maybe when the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes or Atlanta Thrashers start looking for a new home some day, people will think of Winnipeg, and they won't just brush it off because they know there is legitimate interest.

Another thing we found very encouraging was the fact that two of Winnipeg's most influential money men made it clear that they are ready to get involved, if and when a team becomes available.

Nobody was crazy enough to think Chipman could do something like this on his own, but with David Asper and Wellington West's Charlie Spiring on board, there just might be hope.

The odds are likely still against an NHL team ever calling the MTS Centre home, but it should be comforting to Winnipeg hockey fans to know that at least some people are going to try to make it happen.

SO LONG SUPER MARIO: Mario Lemieux was as brilliant and talented as any hockey player who ever laced up the skates. His ability to play hockey with the grace of a ballet dancer despite being 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds will always be etched in the memory banks of fans everywhere.

He scored highlight reel goals, made passes no one else could imagine and piled up points (199 in 76 games in 1988-'89) like no player other than Wayne Gretzky.

At the same time, Mario will always be remembered for other things -- injuries and health problems.

He battled cancer, chronic back problems and, recently, heart troubles.

Even early in his career, you never knew when Mario was going to play. Winnipeg Jets fans can attest that he rarely made appearances here.

He made it until age 40 before retiring (for the second time) as a player and had a marvelous career, and yet you can't help wonder what might have been.

A healthy Mario could truly have challenged Gretzky as the greatest to ever play the game.

Alas, we will never know.

KING KOBE: In a remarkable NBA feat not accomplished in many years, Kobe Bryant actually passed the ball once this week. However, some observers believe it was a shot that fell short ... Kobe scored 81, which is his biggest output since the last time he visited Eagle, Colo. ... ESPN is in talks to bring a reality show about San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds to the small screen. How interesting can an hour of a guy getting his knee scoped, bashing the media and ignoring his teammates be? ... Anna Benson, the ex-stripper who is married to Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kris Benson, says she wants to be the sexiest woman in pro sports. Huh? First of all, posing in skin mags and hanging on your husband's coat tails don't make you "in sports." Secondly, you're not even close to the sexiest as long as Anna Kournikova can still pretend to play tennis.


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