We are down to the gears of the machine now, to lawyers and leverage and inevitability, which is all Winnipeg ever really asked for. After the return of a National Hockey League franchise to Manitoba was reported to be done by a journalist whose word I trust, the denials began to multiply; from the league’s commissioner, from the front man of the Winnipeg bid, from the Atlanta Thrashers. Nothing was done, they all said. And in a way, they’re surely right.
They are just not right in the only way that matters, and that is why there were men and women dancing in the streets at Portage and Main Thursday night, swapping stories about where they were when the Jets left town the first time and chanting “GO JETS GO” with all of their lungs.
The certainty of the NHL’s return to Winnipeg has never been more solid, and the exact date and terms of the resurrection is really all that’s left to be negotiated. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger mused that, “I think Tuesday could be an interesting day,” but Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever. It’s been 16 years, and a day or two shouldn’t change the essence of this story. This is going to happen.