WINNIPEG --Web-savvy puck fans are placing their bets on what Winnipeg's new NHL franchise should be called.
As the name-that-team debate has raged these past few weeks, web domain names have quietly been purchased featuring various potential team monikers by online poachers, who obviously hope they'll eventually be able to sell to True North Sports and Entertainment.
"I've been reading the news that the new team may be called the Falcons, so I decided to scoop it up before someone else did," said Stonewall resident Russ MacDougall, who bought FalconsHockey.net on May 20. "I guess it's like a lottery ticket."
MacDougall is hardly alone. A number of sites relating to the Falcons, Jets, Thrashers, and even Bears have been registered within the past few weeks as word has spread about the NHL's return.
Jeff Malcovish, a former CBC Radio traffic reporter, said he purchased ManitobaThrashers.com and ManitobaThrashers.ca on a lark at 4 a.m. a few weeks ago for $30 a piece -- even though he believes the team won't and shouldn't be called the Thrashers.
"I play on a beer league hockey team and we might change its name to the Thrashers, so it probably won't be a waste of money either way," said Malcovish. "But you never know. I might get lucky."
Such behaviour is not unusual.
Elizabeth Driscoll, a vice-president with domain name registrar GoDaddy.com, said there is often a rush to purchase URLs related to big news events, noting thousands of
sites were registered shortly after Charlie Sheen's public meltdown and Osama bin Laden's death.
"In the case of buzz over a new NHL hockey team, our data shows a definite uptick in related domain names around mid-April and mid-May," said Driscoll.
Unfortunately for Malcovish, MacDougall, and others like them, they're not likely to cash in.
Every individual NHL team website comes with the nhl.com suffix, allowing it to be controlled centrally by the league and, in the process, torpedo any need to negotiate or launch legal action to acquire web domain names.
Malcovish and MacDougall are fine with that. They both said they're just happy to have the chance to watch big-league hockey this fall at MTS Centre.
"I'm a big hockey fan," said MacDougall. "My dad used to take me to a lot of games when the Jets were here and I'm looking forward to going again."