I spoke to Jeff Finley, a retired NHL player who makes his home in Kelowna, about the NHL coming back to Winnipeg.
Finley is a former assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets and is now a scout with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings. Finley is a former Winnipeg Jets defenceman, suiting up for just one season during the 1995-96 campaign.
Finley had these thoughts about the NHL returning to the Manitoba capital.
"I was there for just one season but I enjoyed my time there. The people there are fantastic. They are die hard hockey fans. It is great for Canada to have another NHL team. It's called friendly Manitoba for a reason and their are truly great people there."
Finley remembers the sad faces in the Winnipeg Arena as the team said goodbye in their final home game.
"It was a story that carried on all year. The fans knew the team was going to move. It was inevitable at the end of the season. You definitely felt their pain. You knew how upset they were that they were losing their team. You really felt it in the playoffs. They had the famous white out there and we had a great six game series with the Detroit Red Wings and the fans were outstanding. I have, never to this day, been in a building that was that loud in Winnipeg."
Why will the NHL work in Winnipeg this time?
"I compare it to the situation in Minnesota. When I played in the league years ago, Minnesota had a team and their were often night's where we went in there and they couldn't have had more than four or five thousand people in the building. The team ended up moving to Dallas but years later they got an expansion franchise back in Minnesota, with a brand new building, and now you can't get a ticket."
Will players been enthused in playing in Winnipeg?
"It doesn't sound great. It was tough. I enjoyed it there but the winter's there are miserable. It's freezing cold like everybody knows. Players won't be overly excited about the weather but the opportunity to play back in Canada where its hockey everyday will get them excited. They are making lots of money..they will be fine going back to Winnipeg."
As for a new name for the team, Finley doesn't have a problem with them keeping it as is by calling them the 'Winnipeg Jets'.
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