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Premature Ex-clamation

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pre*ma*ture ex*cla*ma*tion: /prēməˈCHo͝or ek-skluh-mey-shuhn/ Noun

  1. An announcement that is made before its time;
  2. An attempt by a politician to take credit that is not due;
  3. A condition suffered by politicians who have an absence of delayed gratification.

Those directly involved in the negotiations to bring the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg are keeping a pretty low profile these days. All we know for sure is that representatives of True North Sports and Entertainment are putting the finishing touches on a deal that (many hope) will bring the team north to play in Winnipeg. It is a complex deal, and involves hundreds of millions of dollars. Not surprisingly, TNSE is saying very little. But others are talking. Boy are they talking.

Top of the local chatty Kathy list is Mayor Sam Katz who, it seems, can’t stop talking about the impending return of NHL hockey. In late April, he was among the first to hint that the object of TNSE’s desire wasn’t Phoenix, but in fact the Atlanta Thrashers. On May 20, he told everyone it was "only a matter of time" before a deal was done. On May 24, Katz indicated a deal would be done in 48 hours. And then when that deadline passed, Katz continued to assure anyone with a tape recorder or notepad that a deal could be done this week.

At this point, Katz is running the risk of being mentioned in the same breath as Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end May 21 and when it didn’t, told everyone to brace for the world to end in October.

It deserves to be said that no politician, including Katz, is directly involved in any way in the negotiations. It is well known that Katz has, from time to time, received intelligence from TNSE. It’s good politics to keep the mayor and premier in the loop when it comes to major developments. And you can bet that when an announcement is made, both he and Premier Greg Selinger will be front and centre. So, we can deduce that some of the stuff they’ve been saying is an echo of information they are getting from TNSE. But some of it is just plain wrong, and it seems unlikely that TNSE authorized the release of erroneous information. Not much margin in that.

Selinger has had his own bout of premature exclamation. Last week, he joined Katz in hinting a deal was likely to be announced on May 24, and now regrets having done it. Given that a deal wasn’t done that day, sources confirmed that Selinger has elected to go radio silent until everyone knows for sure an announcement is coming.

Why the rush to be the first to announce the return of NHL hockey? Although not everyone thinks it’s a great thing, a goodly number of people do and both Katz and Selinger know that being able to lay claim to bringing back a team on their watch is pure political gold.

It seems very likely that a deal will get done, although that analysis is based mostly on the fact that at this stage, it is simply unthinkable that a deal wouldn’t get done. So, in the spirit of the moment and to ensure my own place in history when it comes to the triumphant return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg, I’d like to be the first to announce that it appears quite likely that a possible deal could be consummated and announced sometime before training camp opens in October 2011.

Remember, you read it here first.

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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