Although the state of the league has improved tremendously since 2004, the NHL still lacks solid markets for their franchises. It was thought in 1996 that Winnipeg was one of those bad markets. We didn't fit the NHL's new idea of a where the sport was heading. In short, south.
seemed ridiculous to think that when the Jets headed
for Phoenix the NHL would set up shop in cities like
Nashville, Columbus and Raleigh, already adding to their
recent additions of Miami, Tampa Bay and Anaheim. Yet
it happened very quickly. Overnight, teams like Winnipeg,
Hartford and Quebec City vanished in favour of these
cities through either relocation or expansion. What
where they thinking? It took ten years to realize this
wasn't the way to go. It took only five years to learn
that their US TV dream was dying a rapid death. There
are hockey cities and then there are cities with hockey.
Big diference. Then again, maybe that's not
entirely true. When is the last time you saw a full
building in traditional Chicago or Boston? They are
two of the largest cities in the United States and are
two of the "original six" teams in the league!
They also have two of the largest arenas. I guess they
may have over-estimated some things.
The Jets left town in 1996 because of rapidly deteriorating NHL economics and the lack of a modern facility to call home. As a decade of time passed, the NHL slowly realized that the league they dreamed of creating was not to be. Salaries spiralled out of control and a majority of teams were unable to sustain the costs. Not just cities like Winnipeg, but much larger ones. A large contract with NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX or ESPN never surfaced and fans in the south didn't get attached to the sport.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg was constructing that modern facility and it was becoming clear that league economics were about to change. That's when JetsOwner.com was created. The vision of the right set of circumstances pushed me to try and prepare Winnipeg for what might be, what I believe WILL BE.
The likelihood that several American teams will want out of their poor hockey market is high, especially with half-a-dozen sports that will always overshadow them anyway. Those teams are averaging less fans per game in a much larger population base than the Winnipeg Jets of the past ever did. And for those of you who are about to scream "liar!" I am talking about their real attendances. I am not counting the posted ones that everyone from journalists, to refs to players know are false. I am not counting people that aren't in the seats and therefore can't buy game programs, hot dogs or beer. I am not counting tickets that are "accounted for" but remain on the office lunchroom table, unclaimed and uninterested in. I shouldn't even count the tickets that were given away with a carwash (true story), but I will. These teams are failing. A majority of their fans don’t love hockey, they think it’s neat when the team is doing well. They will not survive even in the new and improved economics of the NHL. No matter how much more affordable hockey becomes in the south or how able teams are to compete with the richer teams, if people don't care it won't make any difference.
We care. We want NHL hockey to have throughout the cold winter. We love it. We give it front page, top priority and we will sell out MTS Centre each and every game.
The new NHL fits Winnipeg perfectly. Quite ironic, yet it's the way it should be. Now lets make it happen!
Let's bring 'em back!