Friday, May 20, 2011

Winnipeg fans cheer possible return of NHL

Winnipeg fans cheer possible return of NHL

Hockey fans celebrate at Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg following a report that an NHL team maybe returning to the city. 

More than 100 Winnipeg Jets fans gathered to celebrate at the intersection of Portage and Main as word spread that the city may be getting an NHL team again.

The Globe and Mail reported Thursday evening that an agreement is now in place to sell the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg group True North Sports and Entertainment, whose desire is to move the team to the city for the start of the 2011-12 season.

The report also says that the deal will be made official on Tuesday, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will arrive in Winnipeg to make the announcement.

CBC Sports contacted sources close to the deal, including a representative of True North, who said the sale isn't final — yet. Tuesday may be a target date if everything comes together, and it could be finalized as early as Friday, but none of that is set in stone and the process could take longer than that.

Winnipeg lost the Jets in 1996, when financial issues forced the club to move to Phoenix.

At Portage and Main, hockey fans were ecstatic at the prospect of getting a team again. Supporters decked out in Jets jerseys chanted "Go, Jets, go."

Gary Kearn said he believes the city will get a new team.

"I'm super pumped to have an NHL team back in Winnipeg, and I want them to be called the Jets," he said. "So I figured I'd come down and join the rally and bring support to the name."

John Ali said he's crossing his fingers a deal will go through.

"Hopefully, this is it, because [I'm] getting pretty sick of the back and forth," he said. "Hopefully this is it. It kind of has the vibe that it was going to happen."