Saturday, May 31, 2008
Looking Forward While Looking Back
On the even of Game 4 of the Cup Final. the Winnipeg Free Press took a look at the remaining visages of the Jets in the NHL and how several are reflected in the Red Wings. It's a great read.
It makes mention of the final moments of the franchise and tells of its unfortunate demise - a move to Phoenix is as good as death. There are some Manitoba folks who have been trying to keep the flame alive and return a NHL team to their fair providence - the Return The Jets campaign and Jets Online are two really good sites to check out.
Who knows what would happen if the NHL had been willing to bend over backward to keep the Jets in Winnipeg? The league bent rules to keep the failing Penguins in Pittsburgh until they could fix the draft and bring a saviour back to the town. Don't even begin to pretend that Cindy's draft wasn't a hoax - the one team in the NHL that was in the biggest danger of moving at the time was the Pens and in a draft lottery that supposedly gave every team a chance at "the Next Gretzky," the team that needed him the most to keep Bettman's promise of no franchises relocating after the lockout got him. Disagree? Too bad. The league held the official drawing behind closed doors so they could have done whatever they damn well pleased and they did.
If only he had made that promise not to let any teams fail out of markets back during the last labour problems, we may still be able to enjoy the Jets. And, if the numbers mentioned in this article are true, the league would be in a far better spot financially had they kept the former WHA team around.
So what's the big conclusion? What's the point? I just hope that the bandwagon fans who have returned to fill the Igloo this season realize just how lucky they are, because their fair-weather habits nearly cost them their team. If not for Bettman's work to cover his own rear end, Pittsburgh would have become another in a line of teams that we can only look back on and reminisce. They would have gone the way of the Whale, the North Stars, the Nordiques and the Jets and the sport would be all the worse for having lost them after already having lost so much.