Bittersweet Goodbye

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!