After fifteen long years, the city of Winnipeg finally has an NHL team again as the Atlanta Thrashers, who failed to find any local buyers for the team, moved north and, with that, the city of Atlanta is now tagged with the dubious distinction of losing not one but two NHL franchises.
Nonetheless, Atlanta’s loss is Winnipeg’s gain and the Manitoba capital is buzzing as well Canada as a whole as they now have their long-awaited seventh team back. It will an exciting few days, weeks and even months for Winnipeg as they hope to begin their second chance off on the right foot.
Despite what many believe, True North, who bought the Thrashers and moved them to Winnipeg, might go against the grain and decided to name to team a different name other than the Jets, which was the name of the original Winnipeg franchise. No one knows the story on the name just yet but a decision should be made in the coming days.
So, what does this mean for the Los Angeles Kings? For the coming season, it really doesn’t mean much. The National Hockey League has decided not to realign any of their divisions for 2011-12, which means that Winnipeg will play in the geographically-incorrect Southeast Division so, really, that decision would only affect Winnipeg themselves and their divisional opponents: Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida.
The Kings would only have to pay one visit to Winnipeg and that’s assuming they even have a game scheduled in Winnipeg. It may turn out that the Kings will host the newly-relocated team and if that’s the case, then they most likely will not have to worry about making that dreadful winter trek to central Canada.
With the return of the NHL in Winnipeg certainly brings back a lot of memories. While the Kings and Jets were never considered fierce rivals, I certainly remember the times when Wayne Gretzky and company would visit the old Winnipeg Arena to take on the Jets, who never really enjoyed a lot of success during their 17 years of existence. The two franchises have created a rivalry after the Jets’ departure in 1996 when the team moved to Phoenix, but both franchises can thank the issue of geography for that.
I really don’t know how Kings broadcasters Bob Miller and Jim Fox feel about Winnipeg being back in the fold again but, again, because they’ll remain in the Eastern Conference for the 2011-12 season, nothing significant is going to change. As for 2012-13, well, let’s worry about one thing at a time.
Congratulations to the city of Winnipeg for having another team but my condolences go out to the fans of the Atlanta Thrashers for losing their team. The Thrashers certainly weren’t the big ticket that the Falcons, Braves and even Hawks are but their hockey team certainly had their loyal fan base, albeit not a large one, and for those fans, I am terribly sorry.
So now the Los Angeles can add Winnipeg to their list of destinations whether it will this coming season or the season after. I certainly am anxious to see how the new Winnipeg team fares in the NHL and, most importantly, I’m eager to see how the Los Angeles Kings will fare when they travel to Winnipeg, whenever that may be.