Hockey fans, downtown businesses ready for impending return of NHL
Published Monday, January 7, 2013 5:00PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 15, 2013 5:36PM CST
With a deal expected to soon be ratified to end the NHL lockout and return teams to the ice, hockey fans and downtown Winnipeg businesses are bracing for the puck to drop.
Without the NHL, Edgar Rascon was worried he'd have to cutback hours or staff at his downtown restaurant, La Bamba, to stay afloat this January, but not anymore.
"Getting the crowds that we do when there's concerts throughout the summer - it fills up here, so I can only imagine what the NHL season's going to do for us here,” said Rascon.
“Getting 15,000 people to come downtown on a game night is really irreplaceable so we're really happy it's game back on,” said Stefano Grande from the Downtown Biz.
"What the NHL was and the Winnipeg Jets are - they're really that icing on the cake for business in downtown. Things were OK before, but when the Jets came things were a lot better,” said Chuck Davidson from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
Fans spoke out on the weekend and on Monday about the impending return of the NHL.
“I’m excited. I can’t wait for them to start playing,” said Jets fan Ashley Munro.
While some expressed excitement, others voiced frustration with the long lockout.
Myles Courchene is among those saying they’re unhappy with games lost due to the lockout, coming on the heels of others in recent years.
“To go through this again, is disappointing to hear,” said Courchene.
A number of Facebook groups are calling for a total boycott of NHL games.
At this stage, the league is looking at a 48-game season, which would likely begin around Jan. 19. The deal to end the lockout still needs to be ratified at a vote later this week, with a schedule of games expected to be released shortly after that.
The Jets posted a statement on the team’s website Jan. 7.
"We would like to acknowledge and thank all of our fans, partners, broadcasters, employees and our community for being patient with our organization, the League and the Players during the negotiation process that led up to this exciting news," said the team in its statement.
The Jets said they will be contacting season ticket holders once information is confirmed and details would also be available on the team's website.
A handful of Jets practice in Winnipeg on Jan. 7, 2013 at the MTS Iceplex.
Technicians work on the ice at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Jan. 8, 2013.