Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcome Back, Winnipeg

What's been speculated forfreakingever will be made official Tuesday.

Like it or not, the National Hockey League is returning to Winnipeg.

The announcement that True North Sports and Entertainment has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and will relocate them to Winnipeg is expected in the late morning hours.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is rumored to be on his way to Winnipeg to attend.

I wrote recently that this is not a 100 percent happy day, because there were indeed some dedicated fans in Georgia who are heartbroken that there weren't enough fans and wasn't enough competency with ownership to make the Thrashers work.

Those fans bought jerseys, hoodies, keychains, pennants, hats, signs, and other memorabilia, just like you and I do for our favorite teams. Those fans aren't going to all just jump on another team's bandwagon. Some will try to follow the team to their new city. Some will abandon the sport. Others will find another team to root for, but not all of them will.

That said, this is a generally good day for the NHL. Hockey is Canada's national sport, and they've shown they can support more than the six franchises they currently sport in the league.

Welcome back to the NHL, Winnipeg. May your whiteouts be plentiful and enthusiastic, and may your support for this second-chance team never wane.

The announcement will be aired on NHL Network in both Canada and the United States, and it will also be streamed live on NHL.com.

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