ANALYSIS: WHL always part of Winnipeg’s hockey fabric

There is no measurement to gauge how deeply rooted the Western Hockey League is to our community.

Even though the city didn’t have a team for decades until the arrival of the Winnipeg Ice four years ago, the WHL has always been part of our hockey fabric.

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Whether that’s been local players pursuing their major junior dreams via the W’s path, or the league providing opportunities for Winnipeggers to be coaches, trainers and media members, the reciprocity between the city and league remains vast.

So when True North Sports + Entertainment provided Canada Life Centre for the Ice to play their two home games in the league’s championship final a week and a half ago, it was not shocking that nearly 11,000 people attended — yours truly included.

From there, a majority of us followed the team on television as they played games three through five from Seattle, where Winnipeg’s tremendous season ended in a disappointing finish and a 4-1 series loss to the Memorial Cup-bound Thunderbirds.

But the point is after using WHL sub-standard facilities at the U of M for the past few seasons in what was supposed to be a bridge to a new and significant home for the team, it was great to see the WHL on a grand stage again in our city, and the hockey that was played under that spotlight was nothing short of exceptional.

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In fact, for a fleeting weekend since their arrival, there was a buzz around town about the team, which boasts Winnipeggers James Patrick as its head coach, Carson Lambos as its captain, plus countless other quality hockey people both on and off the ice who call Winnipeg home.

The unfortunate part is the future of the organization in Winnipeg is unclear, and using downtown as its home venue permanently to alleviate that uncertainty probably isn’t an option.

What happens with the Ice this off-season is open to speculation from many sides, but what should be noted from their brief move downtown was their product is entertaining, highly skilled, and sellable.

But here in Winnipeg, we’ve known that about the Western Hockey League for a very long time.

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Ice ready host WHL championship at the Canada Life Centre'

Winnipeg Ice ready host WHL championship at the Canada Life Centre

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