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True North Gauging Support for WHL Team

There have been so many great Western Hockey League players from Manitoba that the list staggering. From Russell’s Theoren Fleury to Winnipeg’s Brendan Shinnimin to Brandon’s Michael Ferland, there have been and style are, players who were terrific in the WHL.

That being said, there has not been a Western Hockey League team in the province’s largest city since the Winnipeg Warriors moved to Moose Jaw in 1984.

Brendan Shinnimin, former CHL player of the year now playing in the AHL.

Winnipeg’s Brendan Shinnimin, former CHL player of the year now playing in the AHL.

With that in mind, the folks at True North Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Winnipeg Jets, will be asking members of the public in an online market research survey between now and Tuesday, April 9 whether or not they’d be interested in seeing and supporting a WHL team in Winnipeg.

“The purpose of the survey will be to gauge the potential interest in a Western Hockey League (WHL) franchise in Winnipeg,” wrote the True North marketing experts in an official statement from the company. “That is, should an opportunity develop for this market.”

The survey is being sent to a group of current and former MTS Centre and Winnipeg Jets customers. Only those that are sent an email will be asked to participate in the survey.

Brandon's Michael Ferland before the trade to Saskatoon.

Brandon’s Michael Ferland before the trade to Saskatoon.

The last WHL club to represent Winnipeg was the Warriors with Bruce Southern, now a Winnipeg Jets scout, as head coach and Tom Thompson, now a New York Rangers scout, as general manager. However, the team played in front of sparse crowds and were eventually sold to an ownership group in Moose Jaw.

Russell's Theo Fleury with Junior Team Canada

Russell’s Theo Fleury with Junior Team Canada

However, that was at a time when Winnipeggers didn’t support sports much at all. The Bombers seldom sold out and the Jets struggled every season to reach an average attendance of 12,000.

Times have changed.

It’s no secret that True North has been chasing a WHL franchise for some time. It was reported in February that True North was on the verge of acquiring a club when the deal, unexpectedly, fell through. Now, as True North waits for another franchise to come available — and there is no question some of the current teams are under financial duress — the company has decided to approach those who have been ticket buyers to gauge interest.

It’s a great idea, but one suspects that if a team comes available, True North is going to give it a shot regardless of the survey’s outcome. After all, the organization markets its product so well that it should be able to market a team in the best junior hockey league in the world.

The Survey

The Survey

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