Monday, 7 May 2007

Living In Dreamland: Gimme A Break

Somehow, this blog has been transferred into the world of politics. I wrote about the ridiculous Shane Doan controversy in a recent post and how it was an insult to Canadians everywhere. Well, the Conservatives are at it again, but have gone more local in their fight for NHL hockey. The provincial election in Manitoba is apparently all about insulting the competition and making wild promises. It appears that Conservative leader in Manitoba, Hugh McFadyen, is attempting to resurrect an NHL franchise in Winnipeg. I've gone over this before, and I'll say it again: Winnipeg is not an NHL city. And it won't be until at least 300,000 more people emigrate to the city.

The Canadian Press' following report was released:

"Manitoba's provincial election campaign has turned its attention to hockey with the Conservatives promising to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg.

Standing alongside former Winnipeg Jet Thomas Steen, Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen said he'll work with the private sector to bring back the team, who left Manitoba a decade ago.

McFadyen won't say how much taxpayer money he'd be willing to put up, but says the government could follow Manitoba Hydro's example and raise money by issuing bonds.

He also says he would consider a special lottery to raise money as well as a players tax similar to one implemented in Alberta at one time.

The Tory leader says an NHL team would make Manitoba more attractive to young people and help stem the tide of university graduates who leave for Alberta."

Does anyone see major problems with this besides me? I don't want to point out the stupidity with this plan, but this is stupid beyond belief.

The problem with the Jets leaving Winnipeg the first time is that the corporate support wasn't there. Corporations were not interested in bailing out a fledgling franchise that continually posted losing seasons while trading away their best stars or allowing to leave via free agency. I have pointed out that when the Jets left Winnipeg, their total salary was $27 million. The salary cap has been increased to near $50 million. There is no one in Winnipeg who wants to own a franchise outright. There are no multi-billionaires sitting around in Winnipeg with money burning a hole in their pockets. Stop the insanity!

If McFadyen is unable to show how much taxpayer money will be used, this should never even be on the table as an issue. The one thing that taxpayers complain about is how their money is being spent. Winnipeg's deteriorating roads and brutal civic services could use an infusion of provincial monies to help their causes. I'm sure cities like Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Thompson, and Churchill could use a large chunk of change to make improvements as well.

As for issuing bonds, the Jets did that before they left. It didn't work then, so why would it work now? Manitoba Hydro bonds' money have a significantly different purpose than what the Jets' bonds had or will have. Who is managing the Tories' campaign? They should probably lose their job sooner rather than later.

The lottery in Alberta is fine. The lottery in Manitoba could go a long way in supporting and developing a much better grassroots hockey system. Manitoba has produced some very good hockey players like Ed Belfour, Jonathan Toews, Terry Sawchuk, and Jennifer Botterill. Why can't that money go into the development stages of this province where we need it most? Hockey parents spend a pile of money on their kids every year. You would think that it would be far easier to win votes if you promised money back to the people that fund these programs and staff the community clubs in volunteer hours just to allow the kids to play. Give your head a shake, McFadyen. I just told you how to win thousands of votes without doing anything radical.

The argument that Hugh McFadyen presents about Manitobans leaving the province for Alberta is a fallacy. The reason Manitobans are leaving is because they can do the same job in Alberta for twice the money. The Oilers and Flames are great luxuries for those cities, and I admit that I am a little envious come playoff time when the Sea of Red fills the seats and the Oil Brigade takes to the streets. But I am not envious of the Oilers' management who seem to be having a hard time attracting top-level talent to the City of Champions. The fact that Edmonton and Calgary have an abundance of jobs and much higher salaries than what are found in Manitoba probably has a lot more to do with Manitobans leaving. But if you believe Hugh's argument, I also have some great swampland in New Jersey and Florida to sell you.

Look, I'm tired of explaining this. The AHL is good for Winnipeg. The NHL is not good for Winnipeg. Anyone that thinks that Winnipeg will get a team is living in dreamland. Again, I apologize to the citizens of Winnipeg, but vote with your heads and not your hearts. This promise is nothing but crazy insanity.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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