Sports Hockey

Winnipeg mayor denies NHL rumours 0

ROSS ROMANIUK, QMI Agency

If the NHL is on its way back to Winnipeg, Mayor Sam Katz says he doesn't know about it.

Amid continuing rumours an announcement of an existing NHL franchise's imminent move to Winnipeg was coming yesterday, Katz said Thursday morning there's no truth to it.

"We know there are many Winnipeggers and hockey fans who would love to see the NHL come back to our great city, and maybe in time that will happen. But I can tell you that from the sources I have, these rumours have absolutely no foundation and no truth to them," said Katz.

Katz added he doesn't "have a clue" where the rumours have come from in recent weeks.

Among the most recent rumours - fuelled in part by Facebook pages and local FM radio hosts - is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was at MTS Centre Tuesday night while the AHL's Manitoba Moose were playing the Worcester Sharks.

"All I know is that they're not true," Katz said.

"The NHL could come back to Winnipeg in the future, but it's not happening right now. And whoever is creating these rumours should stop it. I've heard them all - and I'm telling you there's no truth to it."

Prior to the Olympics, it was rumoured an announcement of a move by the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg would follow that event.

Officials with True North Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which owns MTS Centre, have publicly denied that. So has NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who told the Winnipeg Sun Thursday he's "really curious as to who is responsible for perpetuating this non-story."

In an e-mail, Daly said Bettman hasn't been to Winnipeg "either this past week, or at any other time in many years," and the big league is "not actively considering" relocating the Thrashers or any other franchise.

"So while we would, of course, consider Winnipeg (as well as other cities both inside and outside of Canada) as a potential location for an NHL franchise at some point in the future," Daly added, "there is no truth to the suggestion that we have been secretly orchestrating and/or are about to announce the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg.

"Completely and unequivocally untrue."

Jessica Cameron, a University of Manitoba professor of social and personality psychology, suggested hockey fans' fixation on "bringing back the Jets" might be compared with a bad breakup of a romantic relationship, or even a loss of a spouse.

"It creates a kind of empty place that you feel once it's gone," Cameron said, adding it's common in widowhood to "idealize the past partner" and to "kind of maintain a relationship with that person, even though they're gone."

Trying to hold on, could be "destructive", she said - unless a reunion is really possible.

- With files from Ken Wiebe


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