Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011-The year of the Jets

I don't think I'm too off base saying that, in Winnipeg, 2011 was the year of the Jets. Starting with the announcement back in May that the NHL was returning to the city, the frenzy and buzz in this city has been unlike anything I have ever seen.

Everything from the announcement, to the jersey unveiling, to the home opener and beyond has been an event. This morale of this city seems to be at an all time high and the return of the NHL is a big part of that. I stood in the mob at Portage and Main on the day of the announcement and there was such a feeling of camaraderie among total strangers as we all celebrated what we had been waiting 15 years for.

Every game at the MTS Centre also feels like an event.  Teemu Selanne's return was the most emotional sporting event I have ever attended and was something I will never forget.

Tonight I will ring in the new year at the MTS Centre with the Jets as they take on the Leafs. Being that this is a new years game and the first time the Leafs have visited Winnipeg in 15 years, The atmosphere tonight will once again be electric.

So happy New Years Winnipeg. It's been one hell of a year.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Premier Selinger addresses Winnipeg's business leaders.

I had the privilege of sitting at the press table yesterday for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce annual State of the Province Address. It is an annual event where the Premier of Manitoba speaks to leaders of Winnipeg's business community.

It was a great experience to see so many well known Winnipegers all in one room. At the head table alone was Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Blue Bomber president Jim Bell and Bomber head coach Paul Lapolice. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Paul Lapolice. As most of the media scrummed with Greg Selinger, I noticed Lapolice standing alone and I asked him his thoughts on the new stadium. 

"The stadium allows us to be in a situation where athletes want to live here all year long and free agents are going to want to stay," said Lapolice, "It will also help on the revenue front because were going to have the best facilities in the CFL."

Greg Selinger's speech seemed to be split into two parts- the good news and the bad news. He began by referring to Winnipeg's many ongoing and completed construction projects such as the new airport, The Museum for Human Rights, and the new stadium "We've accomplished alot together." said Selinger.

His speech also gave the cold reality that last years flooding will effect this year bottom line and raise the deficit. He called 2011 "The year of the flood" and said "The bill is coming in" He also said the deficit this year will be "significantly larger."

Selinger ended the speech on the positive saying that "I believe that there are many great things we can do together as we build the assets of this province."


Thank you to Duncan Mcmonagle and The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce for allowing me to take part in this great event.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Evander Kane becoming the next NHL superstar

At the start of the hockey season I asked on my radio show, Behind the Bench on 92.9 KICK-FM Thursdays at 5.(Shameless plug) if Evander Kane was ever going to bust out of his "prospect" category and become the superstar that was expected of him.

It seems like this finally  is starting to happen. Evander Kane has been a powerhouse out on the ice, specifically for the last month. Kane now has 21 points in 26 games and 14 of those are goals. Looking away from the stats, it is just starting to look like something is going to happen whenever he is on the ice. He is the type of player who can make things happen quickly and he creates scoring chances with his speed and skill.

At the start of the year fans were saying that this team lacked a superstar. Well me may  have one after all and at only 20 years old, this kid can only get better.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Jets fans loudest in the League

Some Winnipeg Jets said that the MTS Centre last Monday was the loudest building they have ever played in. This includes guys like Tanner Glass who has played in a Stanley Cup final.

Here's a video of the highlights from the Jets/ Bruins game. The place looks crazy whenever the Jets score. Enjoy.

Go Jets and go Jets fans

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's Jets vs Jets tomorrow night

Tomorrow at 7:30 the new Winnipeg Jets will face off against the old Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.  Actually it's the new Jets vs the Phoenix Coyotes, but they are the franchise that once called Winnipeg home.

This is one of the most anticipated games of the season and in many ways one of the most anticipated sporting events in the history of Winnipeg.  But why is that?
Shane Doan is the only player left on the Coyotes that played for the original Jets and after that there is are no players or management involved with the Coyotes that moved over with the team in 1996.


To understand why this is such a huge game for fans, one must understand what this city went through when the Jets left. In 1996, the NHL was fully entrenched in it's Southern Experiment. Teams had been granted to cities like Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Miami (Florida Panthers)

Back in Winnipeg the Jets were losing bucket loads of money and playing in the Winnipeg Arena which was completely inadequate for the NHL. (Although personally I loved the place)

When it became clear that the Jets were indeed going to be sold, it was originally thought that they would be moving to Minneapolis. They had lost the North Stars only a few years previous and
it seemed like a good fit. At least if we were going to lose the team they would be going to a northern city that appreciated hockey and had just lost it's team. Then the news came that the team would go to Phoenix. This is when Winnipeg fans became enraged. They were going to take our team and put them in the desert. To add insult to injuy they renamed them the Coyotes and gave them, in my opinion, the worst jerseys in NHL history.

In many Winnipeger's minds, The Jets moving to Arizona was the greatest example of Gary Bettman and the NHL ripping teams from small market Canadian cities in an attempt to expand hockey to non-traditional markets. What's even more sad is that Gary Bettman and then Jets owner Barry Shankarow had death threats towards themselves and their families.

After the team left it became an accepted fact for many years that the NHL would never return to Winnipeg, but 15 years later we have a team and they are rightfully called the Winnipeg Jets. The Phoenix Coyotes may not be the same team that left here in 96, but what the Phoenix franchise means to this city is huge. They are the Jets that left supposedly for greener and richer pastures and now they are back playing the new Winnipeg Jets. It will be an electric and emotional atmosphere at MTS Centre tomorrow night.

Friday, 25 November 2011

And you thought you were having a bad day

I'll keep the blog nice and light this week. The Jets are playing Carolina and Boston this weekend and I'm hoping for at least one win out of these two, although I would of course prefer two.

And of course the Bombers are in the Grey Cup  trying to win their first Grey Cup since Vanilla Ice was topping the charts.

I do this blog because I love to but also because I am studying media at College. One of my dreams is to be an on-air personality on either radio or T.V, but one of my nightmares would be to go on air and completely lose it. That's what happens in this next clip so I'll leave it at that this week and show you the clip. You will laugh hysterically and feel so absolutely terrible for the guy all at the same time.

Enjoy and Go Bombers!!!!!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Fun weekend ahead for Winnipeg sports fans.

The weekend is upon us and it will be a very exciting one for sports fans in Winnipeg.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are set to host the East Final on Sunday and it will be the very last game at Canad Inns Stadium after 58 years. The stadium has been the home of the Bombers since 1953 and has also hosted concerts by such huge acts as U2 and Paul McCartney. I've had many a fun time in the old stadium and will definitely miss the old place.

It's also a big weekend for Jets fans. The team has pulled off two solid victories this week and they seem to be playing their best hockey. Evander Kane looks better with every game and is so fun to watch out on the ice.

This Saturday the Jets play the Philadelphia Flyers at 2pm and many Jets fans are excited for the chance to boo Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made terrible comments about Winnipeg last season. He has since apologized but I assume the boo birds will still be out in full force.

If you had told me last year the Jets would be back and the Bombers would be hosting the East Final I would have laughed at you but here we are. So enjoy the weekend sports fans. It's bound to be a good one.

Go Jets and Go Bombers!!!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lest We Forget

Last night I watched the Jets Panthers game and was very disappointed by what I saw. A bag piper played Pipers Lament and afterwards there was a  moment of silence. A few in the crowd decided to yell Go Jets Go during it.

A hockey game should be a fun and entertaining experience but we all should have enough sense to respect a moment of silence for those who have been lost in War. I realize that this was a small minority in the crowd but I just can't get my head around how anyone would think it would be cool to yell during a moment of silence.

With that being said I attended a Remembrance Day Ceremony this morning at HMCS Chippawa and was moved by both the ceremony and the number of people who attended. All seats were full and there were people standing all over who couldn't get a seat. I have never attended a Remembrance Day Ceremony before and it was great to see high attendance. People constantly say that less people care about Remembrance Day these days but there was people of all ages at this ceremony and it was good to see.

My Grandfather fought in the Navy in World War II and the stories of what he saw and went through are both amazing and terrifying. He died a few years ago at the age of 92, and I always think about him on Remembrance Day. This picture shows him both as a young man and a few years before he passed.

I grew up hearing some of the stories about what he went through in WWII and also knowing how seriously he took Remembrance Day. So enjoy your day off but don't forget what this day is about.

R.I.P. Grandad 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Jets are showing improvements.

The Winnipeg Jets came into the 2011 season having to deal with one of the biggest circus atmospheres ever associated with an NHL hockey team. There may have never been a more anticipated NHL game than the Jets home opener. Looking back, it should come to no ones surprise that they looked so bad in that game. It is impossible to think that any hockey team could live up to those expectations.

After losses in Chicago and Phoenix, things were looking really bad for the Jets, with some people even tweeting stuff like "the honeymoon is over"or "Jets are crash landing"

Well here we are almost a month later and the 2011 Winnipeg Jets are showing major improvements, not only in the standings, but in their nightly play on the ice. I have watched every jets game so far either live or on the PVR and every night things are looking better. Players are playing their positions far better than they were a month ago and this is likely due to the guys learning coach Claude Noel's systems and buying into them.

True North bought the franchise and proceeded to clean house. Both the coach and GM were fired and new guys were brought in. It takes time for players to buy into what these guys are preaching and it's even harder when the hopes of an entire city are hanging off of the team.

Andrew Ladd is starting to show the leadership that he is known for. He scored a key goal against the Flyers with about a minute to go to win a crazy 9-8 game and also showed he's not afraid to drop the gloves to stand up for his teammates.

Evander Kane's offensive abilities are starting to show with some good numbers in the last few games and overall the offensive abilities of this team is starting to look promising.

Pavelec is looking solid in net after a very shaky start to the season and he put up an impressive shutout last night against the New York Islanders.

The Jets spent the first few weeks of the season dead last in the Eastern Conference and there was definite cause for concern. Now they sit only two points back of eighth place in the conference. It is still early and nobody should be planning the Stanley Cup parade in Winnipeg, but I like what I'm seeing from this team.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Are We the Media?

A few blogs back I wrote about how Twitter and Facebook were so instrumental in how people got their information about whether or not the Jets were coming back. Someone left a comment on that blog post that simply said "we are the media" and nothing more. I had to really sit back and think about what he was saying and for a second even thought that he was sarcastically making fun of me. Eventually I realized that in four short words he had basically said what took me over 400 words.

I believe there will always be a distinction between those who are "in the media" and those who are not. Every day, people take courses at College or University to  get specific credentials to get media jobs and when many of us watch the news we often see media people as sort of pseudo celebrities who are somehow slightly above us regular folks.

What blogging has taught me is that the distinction between a blogger and a media person from a mainstream media source still exists. Brian Stelter is a prime example of this. For years Stelter ran a very successful blog but I still had a hint more respect for him when I heard he was working for the New York Times. Many reports about him being hired by the NYT, said that he had “moved up to the New York Times.” In a way this is assuming that going from an independent blog to a mainstream news publication is taking a step up.

This is merely my personal opinion but I still believe there is a different attitude towards what a media professional is and what a blogger is. There are excellent blogs out there with lots of followers and there are people who get famous from their blogs. However, starting a blog is as easy as singing up on a blog site and getting started which means that the number of blogs out there is astronomical. For every blog that catches some attention, there are countless ones that don’t.


It also seems like the competition for bloggers to get attention is so great, that bloggers sometimes sink to new lows to get attention. A great example of this is This blog allows users to say awful and hateful things about people they know and also publish unflattering pictures. Some of the stuff written on this site is so hateful towards people, and I’m sure a few lives have been shattered by this site. With that being said, the site has made its owner Nik Richie a millionaire and he gets paid thousands to do appearances at clubs,  Whether it's ethical or not, it is one of the most popular websites in the world. I am not saying that this is a prime example of what a blogger is, but it does give the idea of blogging a bit of a bad name.   

So when we compare bloggers and mainstream media publication, the question is “are we the media? or “are they the media? There is no direct answer. We are definitely alot more of the media than we were ten years ago, but it seems like mainstream media has weathered the storm of 2009 when It seemed like the whole medium was doomed. It has survived and seems to be adapting and my personal opinion is that mainstream media is still what many of us consider to be "the media."

Friday, 21 October 2011

NHL can only help downtown revitalization.

After 15 long years, I am finally going to a Jets game this weekend and it feels so good to finally say that again. I was at the last ever Jets game and truly believed that the NHL would never ever come back. This video shows, what most believed was the last time that hockey fans would ever see the Jets.

To be fair, the 2011 Winnipeg Jets have not looked great on the ice and I doubt that they will be a playoff contender this year. It really doesn't matter to me right now though, as I am still in the giddy that we have an NHL team stage, mainly because I thought it would never happen.  When the Jets left it seemed like this city was in a downward spiral with no sings of stopping.

There was a lot not going for Winnipeg in 1996. The Jets leaving that year was just one thing that was making the city seem depressing. Portage Avenue was covered in boarded up buildings, the quirky but decrepit Winnipeg Arena was about the take in the Manitoba Moose as their new tenant, and the downtown area was just on overall eye sore. 1996 was the year I graduated from high school and it seemed like most of my peers career plan was simple. "Get the hell out of here."

Well here it is 2011 and alot has changed in this city. Downtown is still far from perfect but slowly with every new building that sprouts up, the area improves. Main on either side of Higgins was just downright depressing for years and it has come along way in the last 15 years.

Now that the Jets are back in town, the revitalization will hopefully come quicker. Professional sports is big business compared to how it was even in 1996 and Arenas have to be complete entertainment destinations, not only with whats inside them but with what surrounds them. One of the most exciting aspects of the return of the NHL will be the continued revitalization of the area around the MTS center.

A brand new state of the art hotel will be built directly across from the MTS Center and CanadInns announced that they will be re-opening the historic Metropolitan Theater as a multi-purpose Entertainment complex that will among other things show all Winnipeg Jets away games in a theatre style setting. Also the massive 4play sports bar opened not long ago and it will be packed before and after games all season along with the Tavern United. The area around Portage Avenue is slated to become a massive Sports and Entertainment Center and this will do wonders for Portage Avenue and downtown.

It wasn’t long ago after the Eaton’s building closed that this same area had been left for dead. Every second building was boarded up and falling apart. People were simply not going downtown and especially were not going to Portage Avenue, and to be fair there still not going downtown in droves but it's getting better.  I started to think that the city’s downtown was never going to recover. Well thankfully I was wrong.

The return of the Jets may also lead to other Winnipeg entrepreneurs racing to open bars and restaurants in the downtown area. NHL players from the Jets and from other teams will be looking for bars and restaurants to frequent after the games and their fat wallets and their appeal will lead to bar owners fighting for their business. Winnipeg has always lacked a major downtown club district like there is in most other major cities and hopefully this will make people want to open more entertainment options downtown. The sad thing is the Exchange has so much potential to be  a cool club district ,but it just seems to never work out. Hell, I'll go anywhere new if it means I don't have to go to The Pal.

Of course a huge benefit of the return of the Jets is the national and international attention that this city is receiving. When I think of any major North American city often the first thing that comes to mind is that cities major sports team. Sports franchises travel North America and take their cities names with them wherever they go. In the eighties the Edmonton Oilers put the city of Edmonton on the map by winning Stanley Cups and drawing huge crowds wherever they played. Suddenly everyone around the world knew about a small Canadian city because of the Edmonton Oilers. Whenever I travel in the states and tell people where I am from the one thing that they know about this city is the Winnipeg Jets. Sports teams are representatives of a city. Jets games are broadcast on CBC and TSN which gives the city much needed exposure. We will be seen as a major league town again and that kind of exposure and attention is priceless.