Bittersweet Goodbye

Wheelerj28
April 09 2014 11:20AM

My tenth season as the in-game announcer for the Winnipeg Jets (and Manitoba Moose) under the True North banner; tonights game will be my last.  Tonight marks the end of a journey that I began shortly after I moved the city of Winnipeg.  I was doing the ring announcing for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, Lalonde vs. Hill at (then) Canwest Park.  I was approached by Kyle Balharry to audition for the vacant PA announcers job for the upcoming Manitoba Moose hockey season.  After losing out to Jay Richardson, the current PA announcer, I had asked if they were holding auditions for their in-game announcer.  I was informed that there was no in-game announcer due to budget restraints, and that they use their current ‘Moosekateers’ to do the contesting.  I offered my services for free, as I had done so for the Lloydminster Blazers of the AJHL and the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL in years past.

WheelerMoose

We were off and running by the time MTS Centre opened downtown, and with the NHL lockout that year, it was a perfect marriage to fill the 8,800 capacity for AHL games for almost every game that season.  Between doing play by play for the TimBit games, something that was never attempted until I suggested that we only have 1 game on the ice at a time, thus allowing for the play by play to be done, instead of 2 half ice games going on with 4 teams.  I think the parents and the kids enjoyed the experience more with that added, as I still have people approach me telling me that they still have the video at home, or have already it on their YouTube page.


That will be one of things I love the most about doing these games, the play by play, it’s the whole reason I started in broadcasting, and even though it’s not HNIC, to see the excitement on the kids faces before they hit the ice, somehow I imagine is almost better.  Except for the one kid who got so nervous that he puked all over the ice through his cage once his feet hit the surface… I will never forget that kid, or the ice crew that handed me the ice scraper cause her tummy was turning from the sight of it.

Telling a kid to jump into a dryer that he and his father won, and the subsequent complaint letters that followed, that’s a highlight, as is almost killing a 7 year old while sending him flying down the ice from a slingshot during MTS bowling.  Ahhh, the memories.

I won’t miss losing at the 50/50 draws, 10 years of buying tickets and haven’t come close to winning… ever.  You’re welcome for the donations.

WheelerConnelly

(Jennifer Connelly and her family)

After talking with my wife about my future with the organization, with our second child due in 3 weeks, we felt that being out of the house for an extra 50 nights a season (on top of my radio schedule), and not being able to put my kids to bed, is something that I would regret later in life.  My son will be at the age next season where I can start introducing him to live hockey, and for the first time in 10 years, I’ll actually be able to sit in a seat, enjoy a beer and get to watch the game.  Believe it or not, but when you’re running from section to section to get set up for the next promo, there isn’t a lot of time to watch hockey.

WheelerArnett

I look forward to experiencing game day as a fan; pre-game meals downtown, couple of pints, the hustle and bustle of Portage and Hargrave before a game.  I’ve only been on the game production side, or the playing side of the game, I’ve never had the experience of being a season seat holder, or a 100% biased fan of a team without having some sort of working relationship with the organization, so this is an exciting time for me, and the fact that I can start taking my son to hockey games, and watch the evolution of his passion for the game grow through the Winnipeg Jets.

I would like to thank everyone in the True North family for their professionalism over my 10 years there, I’ve made some friends that I will call friends for life.  If you’ve ever heard the saying, “Hockey makes friends for life” it’s true from top to bottom, regardless of what position you’re in.

That all being said, I am going to soak in my experience tonight like I never have before over the last 10 years, I wish I could shake every single persons had that has ever come through the doors of MTS Centre for a hockey game, and I will do my best to do so tonight.

 

Go Jets Go!

Dc3aabdcfc52432d749af7e4a465e5e3
Father, husband, enemy to some, friend to most. Morning guy at 92 CITI FM, that guy from 'Goon', and retired 'Man in the Stands' for the Winnipeg Jets.
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#1 Scott
April 09 2014, 12:08PM
Trash it!
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Nice Work!

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#2 What Am I, A Doctor?
April 09 2014, 03:57PM
Trash it!
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Kudos. Enjoy the fandom.

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#3 Josh
April 11 2014, 09:51AM
Trash it!
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Has no one told Wheeler that he's not liked? lol guess not

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