SUN Hockey Pool

Great week of hockey news

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Well, at least the silence has finally been broken.

Sort of.

Manitoba Moose governor Mark Chipman made his first public comments on the prospects of the NHLs potential return to Winnipeg yesterday, albeit in the form of a statement in a press release.

Chipman was cautiously optimistic regarding comments by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that Winnipeg could be a viable market under the new economic framework.

Chipman also re-iterated True North has kept in contact with the NHL to keep the door open should an opportunity to pursue a franchise arise.

What we'd really like to know is if Chipman and/or media mogul David Asper were speaking with Florida Panthers owner Alan Cohen or Nashville Predators owner Craig Leopold about relocation during this recent visit to the NHL All-Star game in Dallas.

Answers to those questions aren't expected to be offered anytime soon, either in the form of a press release or live interview.

But the fact Bettman has changed his tune regarding Winnipeg is nothing short of shocking.

It's also refreshing.

The possibility of expansion has surfaced during the past several days and while it still offers a light at the end of the tunnel, relocation seems to be the preferred method of bringing a team back to Winnipeg.

Starting from scratch would require immense patience from a fan base that has been crushed by the departure of its team.

Look no further than the Minnesota Wild, whose loyal fan base has filled the Xcel Energy Center despite limited success in the wins and losses column.

While there's no guarantee a team that relocates would be a Stanley Cup contender, at least the structure would be in place.

Nonetheless, it's been an eventful week when it comes to hockey in Winnipeg.

First, we find out Hockey Canada is considering moving the 2008 IIHF World Men's Hockey Championship from Quebec City to our fair city.

We are encouraged by this possibility, though we'd be remiss to also say that Hockey Canada dropped the ball by not giving it to Winnipeg in the first place.

With all due respect to Halifax, which is a great sports town, Winnipeg was the natural choice, since the city has done nothing but fly the Canadian flag since hosting the World Junior Hockey Championship in 1999.

Visions of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin gracing the ice in May of 2008 in the 100th anniversary of the men's world championship should make the heart rate of most hockey fans soar.

But regardless of whether that becomes a reality, there will be NHL hockey at the MTS Centre this September.

Thanks to the smashing success of the sold out tilt between the Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers last September, the former Winnipeg Jets franchise is coming home again.

This time the opponent will be the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose legion of Stanley Cup starved fans includes many in the Keystone Province.

We've got nothing against having another NHL pre-season game here, but it does seem curious that one of the combatants isn't the Vancouver Canucks, who happen to serve as the parent club of the Manitoba Moose.


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