SUN Hockey Pool

Toews: NHL team would bring city together

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Jonathan Toews doesn’t claim to be an expert on the business of hockey or on what it would take to make an NHL team successful in his hometown.

But, like many people, the Winnipegger looks around at the empty seats in some southern U.S. cities and wonders.

“As players you want to play on the road, or anytime, in buildings that are full and in a great atmosphere in a hockey town where people know what the heck’s going on,” the Chicago Blackhawks captain told the Sun. “I guess that’s more than you can say for some cities.”

Asked if the league might be better off in Winnipeg than places like Phoenix or Atlanta: “I don’t see why not,” Toews said.

Toews and the Stanley Cup champion Hawks face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in an NHL pre-season game, here, tonight.

And while some 2,500 tickets remained as of Tuesday afternoon, the crowd will be much larger than many regular-season crowds in some of the league’s warm-weather markets.

Truth is, one of the reasons teams like the Coyotes and, this year, Tampa Bay, stage “home” pre-season games here is because gate receipts are much more lucrative than they would be in their own buildings.

The Coyotes used to earn enough revenue from this one game to pay for the team’s entire training camp.

Toews envisions the day when the reborn Jets, or whatever they’d be called, make downtown Winnipeg the place to be in the winter.

“Our city really rallies around something like that and is able to support it,” he said.

“As Winnipeggers, there are a lot of things that we kind of make fun of ourselves for, but it would be something we could be proud of, to have an NHL team and start our own traditions again ... bring us together as a city.”


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