Winnipeg and a Destination of Choice


Recently Bob McCowan of Prime Time Sports stated he knows of at least three players who want out of Winnipeg. Whether the statement is true or not, it raises the spectre of a concern that could prove to be very real one for Jets fans and management: that NHL players won’t want to play there.

Firstly, the McCowan rumor is concerning for several reasons, not the least of which is the still unresolved Zach Bogosian signing. Little has been said about the club’s most important remaining free agent even though the off-season is creeping towards it’s dusk. The former third overall pick had a rough ride as a Thrasher under the previous regime last year, so it’s possible that unpleasant experience plus the inevitability of moving to the frigid confines of the Canadian prairies has caused him to play hard ball with the club. Outside of players who are looking to score big pay-days, like Steven Stamkos and Shea Weber, RFA negotiations are usually fairly routine. It’s therefore rather unsual for them to drag on for this length of time unless there’s some reason for the delay on one side or the other. If Bogosian is angling for a trade out of town, he and his agent can obfuscate the matter until the team has little choice but to move him. Something similar recently happened to the Calgary Flames, who were forced to trade former first round pick Tim Erixon to the NY Rangers, because the player was unwilling to sign his ELC with Calgary.

Beyond the Bogosian issue, the broader concern is one of the club trying to acquire and retain talent going forward. If players are already itching to leave without having played a single game in town, the Jets are obviously going to have some problems when it comes to building their roster down the road.

Of course, there really is only one way to make Winnipeg a destination of choice for NHLers: create a winning organization. The Detroit Red Wings, for example, have no problems gathering talent or signing their existing superstars because the franchise is well known for it’s class and ability to field a quality club. This despite the fact that Detroit is hardly a pristine paradise.

For Winnipeg, that will mean bucking the habits of mediocrity and ineptitude that were previously established in Atlanta. Make no mistake, the new Jets franchise has a number of challenges it must overcome if the move back to Winnipeg is going to be a permanent one. The best and quickest way to overcome those issues would be to start winning…sooner rather than later.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone – especially with comments from the Coyotes when their move was imminent. Edmonton’s been dealing with these problems for quite awhile now, too.

    That being said, it would REALLY suck to lose Bogosian for something as stupid as location. I put up with Winnipeg’s weather and I only make $50k/yr. My heart doesn’t exactly weep for someone who makes millions.

    As an upside, stand-up guys like Dustin Byfuglien could be fixtures here for years to come.

  • Robert Cleave

    Zach Bogosian’s from Massena, New York, which is right across the river from Cornwall, Ontario. I’ve been to Massena several times since 2001, and if he’s snooty about Winnipeg, it certainly isn’t because he’s from a better place, because that town is a dead-end relic of post-industrial America if I’ve ever seen one.

    McCown’s primary M.O. is being an entertainer, so I do tend to regard many of his pronouncements as cynical fodder for his Toronto-based audience. I went to the 2007 Grey Cup in Toronto, and on the day after the game, he was lauding the great Argo organization (Cynamon and Sokolowski), arguing that only a real big league place like Toronto could have had such a successful event.

    Now, far be it from me to disagree with such a media heavyweight, but anyone with functioning eyes that wasn’t up to them in big-shot BS would have realized that only the presence of the Green Horde from the Gap made that week’s festivities what they were, and I’m speaking as a Blue Bomber fan not particularly predisposed to approving of those people. The big hitters of Toronto had bugger-all to do with making that Grey Cup week a raging success, and only an idiot or someone with an agenda would have argued otherwise.

    Helluva long way to say “consider the source”, I guess, but there you go.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    It doesn’t really matter, in a lot of cases, where the players are from. Ilya Brzgalov was one of the players who spoke out about not wanting to come to Winnipeg, and he’s from BFN Russia. These guys forget really quickly.

    What we need is more guys who find out they’re moving to Winnipeg, and go out and buy a boat and a parka.