Unwrapping of big secrets may feel like Christmas

Lots of decisions in quick span


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/06/2011 (4301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Get purchase and relocation of team approved.


Pick a damn name.


Hire a coach.


Select a first-round pick.


That’s the list True North executives are working on this week with all four potentially looked after before the clock strikes midnight on Friday.

Five years ago, the notion of Winnipeggers anxiously waiting to hear news on the official admission of its NHL team, a name, a head coach and a first-round draft pick, would have drawn snickers.

Hell, five months ago a good number of folks in this town didn’t believe the NHL would ever return.

But here it is, one of the biggest weeks in Winnipeg professional hockey history is upon us.

There’s another juicy piece of news likely to be unveiled this week when the NHL releases its schedule for the 2011-12 season.

Expect Winnipeg to open at home on the Saturday of the first week of the schedule against a major Canadian franchise — likely the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens in a game that will be carried coast to coast on Hockey Night in Canada.

Winnipeg holds the seventh-overall draft pick and they’ll make that selection early Friday evening unless GM Kevin Cheveldayoff decides to move it but as of Monday afternoon he hadn’t been tempted.

The name? Could be tomorrow or Friday or even next week. True North continues to say they have yet to make a decision on the name. Rolling into the draft without a name and a team identity isn’t ideal but that should indicate how difficult this decision has been for True North.

There’s a real mix of opinions being voiced — from the public’s clamour for Jets to certain corners who want to see the Moose brand elevated to the NHL to others who like the provincial and Olympic history attached to Falcons.

Several names and logos have been prepared and the process isn’t just about the name. The entire identity, from colours to logo to name to brand potential must all be weighed.

It should also come as no surprise at this late date that Jets isn’t what senior decision-makers at True North want to call the team. Is this dragging of feet merely an exercise in avoiding the inevitable? We’ll know soon.

Picking a coach, however, which will likely be far more important in the short term, should prove to be much less of a headache.

The coach will steer the on-ice product and lead them to wins or losses regardless of what the jerseys say or look like.

True North assembled and interviewed a well-rounded list of candidates and now must pull the trigger.

Moose coach Claude Noel is still the front-runner in my opinion and the race is down to him and Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland.

True North informed both Craig Ramsay and Craig MacTavish on Monday they would not be the head coach of the new franchise.

There’s been no secret made of the organization’s affinity for Noel although Haviland and Cheveldayoff have a prior relationship from their days together with the Hawks.

Haviland has worked with captain Andrew Ladd and big-ticket blue-liner Dustin Byfugilen when they all won a Stanley Cup in Chicago.

Names, coaches and draft picks. It gets underway following Tuesday’s almost-guaranteed NHL approval of the sale to True North and relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg.

This is going to be your team and these are going to be your colours and players and coaches.

Somebody clean the glass — we don’t have to push our noses up against it anymore.


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