The unlikely return of big league hockey to Winnipeg has caused an even unlikelier thing to occur.
The thing I’m referring to, of course, is a handful of Winnipeggers saying NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — the guy who ushered our beloved Jets out of town 15 years ago — perhaps isn’t such a bad guy after all.
Heck, some obviously inebriated or otherwise medicated Winnipeggers even had the gall to call Bettman a — gasp! — hero.
No, really. A few people said it.
Of course, this is utter nonsense. In his dream world, Bettman’s plan to export Canada’s national pastime to the U.S. Sunbelt would have been a giant success with full arenas and giant ratings, allowing him to forever turn his back on small Canadian markets like Winnipeg and Quebec City.
Unfortunately for Bettman, that scheme had about the same chance of long-term success as Kim Kardashian’s upcoming marriage: Little to none.
As a result of the NHL’s multiple failures in southern U.S. markets, Winnipeg eventually returned to Bettman’s radar, initially as a pawn for the NHL to use to threaten the fiscally irresponsible people running the City of Glendale. And now to rescue the former Thrashers from Atlanta, which faced contraction if it wasn’t moved. Bettman isn’t allowing the move to happen because he particularly believes in Winnipeg.
And he sure isn’t allowing it because he wanted to right the wrong made when the Jets left town, as he’d like everyone to believe.
No, he is allowing the former Thrashers to move to Winnipeg because there is no other choice and no other town. End of story.
Despite having no other options, Bettman still couldn’t help but show some contempt for Winnipeg, all but threatening to kill the deal if 13,000 season tickets weren’t immediately scooped up.
That was never going to be a problem in this town, but it’s interesting to note no other city has ever been held to such a high standard by the NHL.
Thankfully, most local hockey fans see Bettman for the jerk he is. They showed their gratitude for the commissioner on Tuesday by booing him lustily when his image was displayed on the big screen at Portage and Main.
The commish didn’t hear those jeers. But if he returns in October as promised for the home opener, you can bet your season tickets he’ll be booed out of the MTS Centre.
It will ultimately be the reception he deserves.
What We’ve Learned
Winnipeg is getting an NHL team. And any year now, it’s expected Toronto will get one, too. Hey-oh!
Fans were excited about the news. They were even more excited to have an excuse for skipping out of work and drinking before noon.
During the press conference, Greg Selinger committed a faux pas when he twice called former pro hockey player Mike Keane “Mark.” It’s OK, though. After all, for nearly two years now, Manitobans have made the mistake of calling Selinger “premier.”
Mayor Sam Katz led a conga line at The Forks following the announcement. This should be a surprise to no one, given Katz proved he was quite skilled on his feet a few years ago when he successfully sidestepped all those questions about the Riverside Park Management fiasco.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The NHL is nice, but we won’t be a major league city until we have a Lingerie Football League franchise.
Mark Chipman is the most popular guy in the city since Gary Doer. But if he names his new team something stupid like the Polar Bears or Mosquitoes, he’ll end up being about as popular as Justin Swandel. Just sayin’.
My favourite player on the new team is fellow Swede Tobias Enstrom. In fact, I’m going to get his jersey, just so people think I misspelt my last name on the back.
Five things overheard during Tuesday’s NHL celebration downtown:
5. “Finally, an excuse to get loaded on a Tuesday morning.”
4. “Boy, I never would have thought it, but that Jenny Gerbasi sure knows how to chug a beer.”
3. “This won’t seem real until our team is eliminated from the playoffs by mid-February.”
2. No No. 2 — writer still busy attempting to incite riot.
1. “What’s going on? Did somebody re-kill Osama?”
Want to know what the best day is for meeting a new romantic interest at the bar? That’s the basis of a study conducted by the New York Times and a matchmaking website, who combined a person’s adventurous spirit with such things as willingness to have sex on a first date. And the findings? As it turns out, Wednesday is the best day, leading Fark.com to wisecrack, “Oh, so that’s why they call it hump day.”
The number of nude photos of Blake Lively posted this past week on the Internet by a hacker. A spokesperson for the supposed squeeze of Leo Dicaprio told People the photos were faked, saying Lively has never posed for nude photos. This statement prompted the hacker to release even more alleged pics of the Green Lantern actress.
“If watching TiVo and eating Pinkberry in sweatpants is sexy, then I’m your gal.”
— Actress Mila Kunis, in an interview with Los Angeles Confidential. Three words in response to this news: Sign. Me. Up.