Winnipeg a blueprint for hockey expansion hopefuls in Canada
Calgary, Canada (AHN Sports) – This season has been a success for the Winnipeg Jets and at least one former player feels the organization and city can provide a blueprint for other Canadian cities looking to land an NHL franchise.
The Jets have been able to create a strong fan base while also tapping into additional revenue. Former NHL player Mike Keane thinks the success in Winnipeg can be a boost to places like Saskatoon, which hopes to land a team.
Toronto businessman John Graham is part of a group that has expressed interest in relocating an existing NHL team to Saskatoon as early as next season.
“I think it’s going to open some eyes and maybe get people thinking a little more about it,” Keane told the Calgary Herald. “It took a little bit of time obviously for Winnipeg to get a team and they obviously did things the right way.
“For Saskatoon – or whoever wants to get a team Quebec, Seattle, Kansas City – my advice is be patient. I’m not saying it’s likely to happen, but if you go out there shooting your mouth off and start throwing your weight around, it doesn’t work.”
Keane played his last five professional hockey seasons for the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose. He retired after the 2010 season and currently lives in Winnipeg.
Keane has been to around 25 Jets games as a season-ticket holder this season and likes the team’s effect on the city.
“If you go to a Jet game, everyone has a jersey,” he said. “It just really gave the city a boost in the arm. So far it’s been a huge positive.”