Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

He's hometown proud

Ambassador Doer represents all Canadians but cheers Jets, Bombers

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WASHINGTON -- He understands his job is to represent all Canadians but ambassador to the United States Gary Doer is full of Winnipeg pride this week.

Doer, the former premier of Manitoba, was among the spectators Wednesday night at the Verizon Center for the Winnipeg Jets' first visit of the season to Washington.

Clad in his new Jets jersey, Doer was also showing off the gold Winnipeg Blue Bombers tie he's ready to wear this week in a show of support for his hometown team's appearance in Sunday's Grey Cup.

"I think with Winnipeg's defence and B.C.'s offence, it's going to be an interesting matchup," Doer said Wednesday at an informal reception he hosted for Winnipeg media in town for the NHL game. "I hope the old adage that good defence beats offence every day of the week, I hope that carries through."

The ambassador wasn't shy about predicting a Bombers victory.

"I had the pleasure of presenting the Grey Cup to B.C. the last time they were playing the Alouettes in Winnipeg," he said. "So it's only fitting that the Bombers win this time, they have such a great defence they're going to rattle the B.C. Lions. Of course, I have to represent every CFL team here. But I'll be wearing blue and shamelessly wearing the (Bombers) tie."

Doer was as enthusiastic about the Jets' recent results.

"There was a lot of coverage about the Capitals visiting Winnipeg last week in the media here in Washington and it was pretty good for the home team last week with the three home wins," Doer said. "And it was a lot of fun watching it."

Doer was a spectator for the May 31 announcement the NHL was returning to Winnipeg. He was likely the key player to the entire arena and NHL saga that was missing on that day.

"I was watching it with pride," Doer said. "It was a lot of fun. I think the whole community proved that they were a part of the team coming back because it was like a scene out of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you know, 'You tell me to stay, I'm going to leave.' Everybody was told for so many years they couldn't support a team and boy, did those tickets go fast."

Doer's support of the deal to get the MTS Centre opened in 2004 was a building block to the 2011 NHL story.

"Having a replacement for a boarded-up building in downtown Winnipeg, as sentimental as that building was, and goodness knows people expressed their sentiment about it and I got in trouble for calling it the asbestos museum -- now that I'm a diplomat I can't use that kind of language anymore -- it's been great for the city ever since it opened," Doer said, smiling.

"And it's been great for hockey with the Moose, it's been great for concerts. Everybody's been to that centre, even those people that had yellow ribbons around their arms and the NHL is the icing and it's great icing."

Doer's schedule doesn't always permit him to watch his favourite NHL team.

"I would say I've watched a third of (the games) but I'm like everybody else in Winnipeg, I have a share of a season ticket in Winnipeg and my daughters are going to quite enjoy them until I get back but when I get back, they're not going to enjoy them so much," he laughed.

The Jets' return, he said, continues to make his day.

"Live every Winnipegger and every Manitoban, I'm very proud, and even in every city I go to in Canada people are very proud about the NHL returning to our country (with) another team," he said.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2011 C5

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