Friday, May 20, 2011

Where there's smoke...

What a fascinating evening last night...the Globe and Mail article broke, and apparently a street party broke out in Winnipeg (right).  Looks like either NHL hockey is returning to the 'peg, or someone put a really, really good one over on those poor folks.

An impromptu street party in the 'peg last night - Photo taken by Gord Barnsley
Speaking of, the post-article "media scrutiny" was a wonder to behold.  Hockey journalists were all a-Twitter in posting "I can't confirm" and "[True North/Atlanta Spirit/NHL] won't confirm that a deal is done" ad nauseum.  (And then the media navel-gazing ensued.  But I'll spare you that.)

What I find most interesting, though, is that the writer of that Globe and Mail piece, Stephen Brunt, clearly has a seat in the front of the class in the hockey media world.  His work apparently is highly respected by his peers.  This, of course, makes it near-impossible for the media types to swarm in with the "This is garbage" stuff that it sure looked like they wanted to write.

And then, there's Brunt himself.  With a listless Boston-Tampa playoff game on mute, I caught interviews with Brunt on sports talk radio in both Winnipeg and Toronto...AFTER the flood of second-guessing "denials" came out.  Brunt had plenty of opportunities to walk the article back. But he didn't.  In fact, he dug in, saying that the deal is done, that it's just a matter of time before the announcement is made.  (He did say that the projected Tuesday appearance of Commissioner Bettman in Winnipeg might not happen now that the story is out in the open.)

Then, this morning, Brunt went on XM Home Ice's "Hockey This Morning" and stuck to his guns.  He THEN appeared on XM's lunch-hour "Breakaway" show (here's a link to the interview) and not only stuck to the story but added some nuance.  (And he also wisely has been putting parameters on his knowledge of the Atlanta-to-Winnipeg situation in the interviews, with lots of "I don't know" and "I have no idea" caveats...which, in my opinion makes the stuff he IS reporting and the stuff that he IS speaking on all the more credible.)

Party on, eh? - Photo taken by Illegal Curve
I'm willing to give this guy, who has had perhaps too many opportunities to recant, the benefit of the doubt.  His considerable professional reputation is out there, twisting in the wind, and he's standing by his story.  Sure, it'll take some time to dot the I's and cross the T's - apparently the June NHL Board of Governors meeting (not sure precisely what dates in June, but it'll be in June - perhaps around the draft as everyone will be together anyway?) will likely be the point at which the transfer of ownership and local is finalized, but Brunt says that the deal is done...and to expect a season ticket drive in the 'peg sooner than later.

So where does that leave the Columbus Blue Jackets?  Well, the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reported that a three-way shuffle was going to happen, with Winnipeg to the Northwest, Minnesota to the Central and Columbus to the Southeast.  The Dispatch's reporter on NHL realignment has been walking back his Sunday story that suggested a Southeast division move for the Blue Jackets was possible (likely?) this season.  And no one, Brunt included, is speaking with any authority on the matter.  The radio hosts who have been interviewing Brunt also have no clue on realignment.

So we're left where we were, crossing our fingers.  But I honestly believe that, at this particular moment in time, the Atlanta-to-Winnipeg move is going to happen.

Now, can the Blue Jackets make the move to the Eastern Conference happen - whenever realignment takes place?

[UPDATE: The Hockey News' Ken Campbell does nothing to dispell this story in his online column.]


  1. One thing at I've been wondering... The deal is done and the Thrashers are moving to the 'Peg. But the NHL doesn't want to say anything yet because they want to figure out what they're doing with the whole conference situation. Once they find out what they're going to do, and hopefully that means CBJ to the Southeast, they'll announce everything at once.

  2. Too many people saying the deal is not done to believe that it is. I think it will happen, just not sure when.

    What happens to the CBJ? The dispatch originally said they would be going to the East, which meant that it was NOT going to happen, based on declarations from that paper. Now they are falling back from that position, most likely so they can say they got it right no matter what happens.

    While I would like a move to the east, if anyone joins the southeast, I see it being Nashville, as they are closer geographically then we are.

    We just need to be careful what we wish for. With our dwindling attendance, can you imagine Buffalo and Pittsburgh taking over our building twice a year. Yuk!

  3. Nashville is closer to the Florida team's, we're closer to the Canes and Caps, plus we're in the same time zone. It may sound like the Preds are a better fit (Blue Jackets in the South?), but it's not that clearcut.

  4. For my money I like keeping CBJ and Detroit in the West. There are interesting potential rivalries between CBJ and Detroit and CBJ and Chicago. Needs more time to develop. Moving to the southeast would be rather short sighted. Bottom line, I wish they would also scrap the divisions though and just play two conferences, top 8 in each conference make the playoffs. It solves a lot of problems (the 3rd seed is often weak) and makes expansion (not that I endorse any more of that) or relocation simpler. God I hope the CBJ can put a good team on the ice next season...


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