Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Intriguing" possibility?

The Canadian sports media is all atwitter today with the latest speculation an NHL team may land back in Winnipeg.

Of course the most obvious thing to say is, "wouldn't that be ironic?"

Ironic, as Hugh's Jets promise during the election campaign was roundly pilloried as a Hail Mary pass he couldn't possibly deliver on. And a community that was already burned -- burned badly -- by the economics of the NHL didn't take too well to the notion.

Jack Reimer expressed publicly what other Tories were facing on the doorstep -- Conservative stalwarts pissed right off about Hugh playing fast and loose with the public purse strings even before he had a chance to sit in the big chair.

Now, Hugh likely would have lost anyway, without the Jets gaffe. He had tried to gain momentum with his Crime and Punishment tour the previous week, to no apparent avail.

Crime is a salient issue. But as we saw, there was no evidence that it was pushing voters either away from the NDP or towards the Conservatives. On top of all that, crime tends to be a bigger issue in bedrock NDP core area and north end ridings, not the south and west suburbs which were the key battlegrounds.

Let's not forget as well that it seems unlikely Gary Doer would have pulled the plug and gone to the people if NDP internal polling showed anything remotely like Probe's picture of a 40-40 tie in the pre-election period.

We could go on at length about a variety of other reasons the Tories didn't gain ground in the writ period, but actually lost ground (not least of which was their disastrous TV ad campaign). But we will spare our readers a rehash of much of what has already been in the mainstream media.

Huey has already opined that it would be ironic in his view if the NHL actually did come back to the Peg, as it would have proved him right all along.

Of course that is nonsense.

If the Jets -- or a team of another name -- ever comes back, the private backers and Gary Doer will have to do a hell of a job convincing Manitobans they are not busting the treasury wide open and that the team has long term prospects that seem realistic in a market that may balk at tickets ranging anywhere from $40 - $120 per seat.

But if all the stars align, and the Jets do come back, it will not be because Hugh McFadyen was cheated. For all his promising of a return of the Jets within four years, the public knew better. If the NHL returns, it will be because a lot of advance work has been done by Mark Chipman, et al, as well as the leadership of the private sector and the Doer government in forging ahead with the MTS Centre.

After that, it will be a lot of hard work by private proponents and a whole lot of factors we do not control coming together to shine on Winnipeg.