Great to be back in 'a hockey city'
Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun
|Hockey Canada's President and CEO Bob Nicholson is please that hockey is back in Winnipeg. (Tony Caldwell/QMI AGENCY)
The head of Hockey Canada says it's about time we made it seven.
Bob Nicholson says Winnipeg is the perfect choice for a seventh Canadian NHL team.
"Winnipeg's been one of our best cities to run any event in," Nicholson said, referring to major tournaments like the world junior and world women's hockey championships. "It's a hockey city. And this is going to be great for people in Winnipeg and Manitoba. But for hockey in the country, to have another NHL team is very special.
"It just shows how healthy the game is. It's another positive check mark for what hockey means to Canadians."
Nicholson has worked closely with Mark Chipman of True North Sports and Entertainment in staging events at the MTS Centre, and predicts the new franchise will be successful, despite having the NHL's smallest building in its smallest market.
"It starts with ownership, and there's great ownership," Nicholson said. "They'll make sure they find a way to make it viable."
Hockey Canada's president/CEO says solid ownership has been the key to the success of the other Canadian teams over the last decade, as most sell out every game.
"You've got to give credit to the owners, to the managers of the teams, how they've found ways to connect with the communities," he said. "It's well-run NHL businesses that have helped that. And hockey in general, it's exposed so much on television. Everyone's back in love with the game."
Even in places where they don't win.
Edmonton, for instance, virtually sold out the season, despite having missed the playoffs the last five years.
Of course, it would help if the new Winnipeg team wins its share of games.
"Toronto's the only place that can fill the building, and not win a Stanley Cup since 1967," Nicholson said.