Currie’s Corner 619, May 3, 2018
My old hometown of Winnipeg is receiving tons of attention right now as the team known as the Jets continue to be very strong in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Did I mention that it has to be the hardest championship to win in all of sports ?
The players slog their way through an 82 game season, then they hope their bodies will hold together long enough to put together 16 wins in four rounds of playoffs. Winnipeg has never come close to winning it in the modern era. The last time the city’s name appeared on the mug was in 1901, not long after the death of Queen Victoria.
The Jets are the kind of Cinderella story that everyone loves. They joined the NHL in 1979 after winning titles in the old World Hockey Association. They only made it to second round once, and in 1996 the NHL left Winnipeg, presumably never to return.
But 15 years later, a couple of wealthy guys named Chipman and Thomson paid a truckload of money to move the Atlanta Trashers to Winnipeg. ‘Draft and Develop’ became the approach, and it’s working. In 2015 the Hockey News raised a few eyebrows and giggles when they predicted that the Jets could be the Stanley Cup champs in 2019. The fact that it might happen even earlier is hard for the locals to process.
Yes, we had a football dynasty in Winnipeg when a silver-haired genius named Bud Grant was behind the bench, but that ended more than half a century ago. Now with the Jets, we have more people standing outside on the street than there are in the building, and the noise in both places is deafening. Those pictures of the ‘sea of white’ are being seen around the world. Will it make Winnipeg a destination for investment dollars and vacationers? It certainly won’t drive either away.
In the meantime, let’s just savour the moment, however long it might last.
I’m Roger Currie