Glory, Hallelujah! Finally, the wait is over. After a fifteen-year period of no hockey, a new ownership deal will send a hockey team to Winnipeg at last. Hockey fans—not just Winnipeggers—should be celebrating.

The Atlanta Thrashers are for sale, and all signs point to True North Sports and Entertainment buying the team. If they do, the Thrashers will be packing their bags for Canada. NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, should be jumping for joy. The move could be just what the National Hockey League was looking for.

The fact that there was a hockey team in Atlanta, and not a team in Winnipeg in the first place was ridiculous. Canada is the land of hockey. In my opinion, there should be more teams in Canada then there are in the US. Of the six Canadian teams in the NHL, four of them are in the top ten in average attendance. The Ottawa Senators also ranked 11th, only 19 people fewer than the 10th place Washington Capitols. Currently, the Atlanta Thrashers have the 3rd worst attendance in the league, only before the Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Islanders.

Fans celebrating the rumors of the Thrashers coming to Winnipeg.

Part of what made the Atlanta Thrashers a bad franchise was the lack of interest. Even when the Thrashers won the Southwest Division in 2006-2007, fans were still not coming to games, and the Thrashers ranked 21st in attendance that year. The people of Winnipeg were devastated when they lost their beloved Jets. When the news broke of a possible relocation, Winnipeggers started celebrating in the streets. Winnipeg fans already show an interest in a professional hockey team with the Manitoba Moose, a minor league team. The Moose ranked 3rd in AHL attendance.

To improve, the Winnipeg Thrashers will need to get better players. No hockey player in their right minds would want to go to Atlanta. Players will much rather play in Winnipeg. Players on the old Winnipeg Jets have said that playing in Winnipeg was their favorite memory of their careers. Former Winnipeg Jet goalie, Bob Essana said, “Certainly my best years hockeywise were in Winnipeg, and certainly my most enjoyable years from a community standpoint and team standpoint were there in Winnipeg.” Bob Essana is the Boston Bruin goalie coach, and maybe some of his players, like soon-to-be free agent Zdeno Chara, will like to sign with the Thrashers now that they’re in Winnipeg.

Will the Thrashers soon be playing in Winnipeg?

True North Sports and Entertainment owns the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg, where the Thrashers will play. The stadium was built in 2003, and is currently home to the Manitoba Moose. Fans say the stadium is nice, but with seating for only 15,000 people, some people think it is too small for an NHL team. Stadiums can get bigger though. Just in 2010, the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was expanded

from 12,500 seats to 16,000 seats. If the MTS Centre is expanded the same number of seats, there would be a maximum occupancy of 18,500 people. That would make the MTS Centre the 14th largest stadium in the NHL.

Winnipeggers will never let another NHL franchise go. My prediction is that in the Thrashers first year in Winnipeg, the team will be in the top five in average attendance, have some of the most loyal fans, and will sign some talented free agents. Go Winnipeg Thrashers!

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