Mouth-watering prospect of NHL excites ’Peggers

ROSS ROMANIUK and MORGAN MODJESKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:06 AM ET

A return of the NHL is far from certain, though several Winnipeg hockey fans were as excited Tuesday as if the Jets are about to hit the ice at MTS Centre.

Hours before a critical council vote in Glendale, Ariz., on a request the Phoenix suburb’s municipal coffers cover the Coyotes’ losses for the coming season, some Winnipeg NHL fans had gone as far as organizing groups for season ticket purchases — if and when they go on sale.

“We’ve already got three guys, and we’re going to go four ways on a set of tickets,” said David Allison. “We’ve already got guys waiting to buy them.”

He said Winnipeg is ripe and ready for a return of the Coyotes — 14 years after the franchise was last known as the Jets — or a move here of any other NHL team needing a new home.

“We got the arena, we got the fan base, we got everything we need,” Allison said. “So bring them on.”

Regardless of what was to transpire with Tuesday night’s vote, some Winnipeggers believe the NHL remains a no-go in Manitoba’s capital.

“It’s the closest they’ve been in a while,” said hockey fan Wade Duncan. “But I think they’re still a long ways away from a deal. It’s kind of an, ‘I’ll believe it when it really happens,’ type of situation.”

Mark Chipman, chairman of Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., is saying very little publicly about his talks with NHL brass concerning his potential purchase and move of the Coyotes. And the provincial government has been tight-lipped about a media report it’s involved with True North on a purchase offer for the team.

A spokesman for Greg Selinger said the premier “has kept in regular contact with Mark Chipman since last fall when the NHL closed on its purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes, and he continues to be briefed regularly on the subject.”

The spokesman added until more becomes clear with where the Coyotes stand, “there is no specific proposal or opportunity to talk about.”

Mayor Sam Katz, who said last week the NHL could return to Winnipeg within three years, doesn’t want to discuss “speculation” surrounding possible players who could determine the franchise’s future.

“I don’t think there’s anything more than speculation going on right now. I can assure you that anything that takes place will be private sector-driven,” Katz said.

“If and when there is any (request) of the city or the province, they we’ll deal with it when that happens.”

— With files from Paul Turenne

wpgsun.citydesk@sunmedia.ca


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