While the house wasn't full, though it was close (and after all it was Phoenix and it was but barely an exhibition scrimmage..) the spirit and the pain of the return of the team formerly known as the Jets has once again opened up that still raw wound of a love affair snatched off for southern climes.
The score of last nights Jets, ooops Coyotes/Flames game was an incidental byline for Winnipeg's sports fans today (3-1 for the Flames for those keeping track), instead the talk was mostly about what they have to do to get the attention of the NHL's power brokers and provide for a rightful return to the NHL fold.
The case has been outlined why Winnipeg wouldn't support an NHL team, boiling down it seems to corporate support, the fact that over 15,000 hockey fans on most nights would head for the MTS centre somehow isn't enough for a league that regularly has problems finding over 12,000 in many of their southern outposts.
It's no wonder Manitobans get frustrated when even the usually sure footed Wayne Gretzky starts to echo the Bettman agenda, Gretzky's Coyotes haven't exactly been setting attendance records over the years and as far as importance in the Phoenix Sports hierarchy, one suspects that the Desert Dogs are far behind their NFL, MLB and NBA cousins.
Gretzky who must have been feeling a bit of heat during his return to the Peg, wondered aloud just what it was that he said that was so different from past pronouncements about market size and corporate support.
For Winnipeg hockey fans though it's a dream that won't be extinguished any time soon, websites pop up dedicated to bringing the Jets back or rebutting the NHL version of the urban myth when it comes to Winnipeg's capabilities as an NHL franchise.
Considering the fragile state of the US economy these days, one might be wondering why the NHL would not at least be more receptive to interest from the Winnipeg's, Hamilton's and Quebec City's.
When the family income takes the kind of hits that American families have already taken and soon could feel even more, the disposable income is the first thing that gets re-allocated, the NHL could be feeling more of that pain than most sports franchises and then, finding a home like Winnipeg where hockey would be king and the reception warm as opposed to ice cold might make for a handy parachute...
For now they'll just keep talking it out in Winnipeg, a growth industry in a town that won't forget and waits for its next opportunity to get back into the game.