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Could be I was wrong
But then, I might be mistaken
By JOHN SHORT, SPECIAL TO THE EDMONTON SUN


For the first time in my life, I've probably made another mistake.

Months ago, in this space, I suggested strongly - and probably wrongly - that hockey fanatics should abandon their long-held dream that the NHL franchise would some day return to Winnipeg, either with an expansion franchise or because some American operator was tired of losing millions of dollars every year.

Now, the picture is different.

I'm convinced the NHL will come calling on Manitoba money-people within the next couple of years.

The most obvious clue came when the Nashville Predators were sold. All those predictions that some southern teams would have to move are starting to come true.

But commissioner Gary Bettman dropped a hint, and also caught the attention of some important people, a few weeks earlier when he admitted under questioning that he was intrigued by Winnipeg's potential.

Granted, the new arena is too small.

Granted, the salary-cap protection that was supposed to keep small-market teams competitive is soon to disappear.

Granted, there's a legitimate question about Winnipeg's size. Starting with an annual salary cap that increases by the minute, then adding staff salaries and travel costs and farm-team subsidies and a truckload of other things, it probably requires a minimum of $100 million - or close to it - simply to operate.

Can Winnipeg handle that sort of financial pressure? I suspect we'll soon find out.

VIKING DREAMS

Good news from the folks in Camrose.

They're committed to keeping the Viking Cup alive although the deep thinkers who run the Alberta Junior Hockey League turned their back on the outstanding prospects tournament a couple of years ago. Instead, they become part of a North American Junior A tournament.

The first problem? Almost no Alberta kids played in it.

Another problem? So far, fans and scouts haven't paid attention.

When the AJHL and other western leagues pulled out, European hockey nations automatically did the same thing.

Those defections were piled on top of Hockey Canada's continued disdain for an event that attracted scouts from every NHL team and a large number of North American colleges and universities.

FULL STORY
 
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