December 10, 2019

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Winnipeg least-favourite city among visiting NHL players, U.S. survey reveals

Jets captain Blake Wheeler skates with teammate Mark Scheifele trailing during practice at Bell MTS Place. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Jets captain Blake Wheeler skates with teammate Mark Scheifele trailing during practice at Bell MTS Place. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

NHL players on visiting teams hate playing in Winnipeg, and it has little to do with wins and losses.

An ESPN poll released Tuesday asked 50 players a series of irreverent questions, including which of the league's 31 cities they dreaded visiting most.

And... ouch. Winnipeg finished first — last, really — with 42 per cent saying they hated coming here more than anywhere else.

"It's always cold," one player said. "Tough rink to play in. It's just dirty — you walk around the city and feel like you need to wash your face after you go outside. So nothing about it is very exciting."

Another NHLer said, "Winnipeg is just depressing. You don't even want to leave the hotel to get a cup of coffee."

In the story, ESPN writer Emily Kaplan wrote, "The Winnipeg office of tourism will not be tweeting this story out." As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, it hadn't.

Karen Goosen, of Tourism Winnipeg, said the organization wasn't too concerned with results from such an informal survey, but she did say that they will inquire about getting information to the NHL players about the things they can do in the city.

"We're going to see if we can get some tourism information in front of the players as part of a welcome kit when they come," Goosen said.

It's not the first time the city has drawn somewhat less-than-rave reviews from visiting NHL players. In a 2018 video feature produced by a California NBC affiliate, a few San Jose Sharks said it was their least favourite road city. Forward Tomas Hertl, who's only ever player for the Sharks in sunny California, said then that the city was a little too chilly and dark for his liking.

It wasn't all bad Tuesday. Kaplan quoted one player saying that he always liked playing in Winnipeg.

"It's always cold. Tough rink to play in. It's just dirty — you walk around the city and feel like you need to wash your face after you go outside. So nothing about it is very exciting." — NHL player responding to poll

"There's stuff to do there," he said. "We're close to the casino, if you want to go for a half-hour or whatever. Wherever you go, they always have TSN on." He can't watch the Canadian sports network while he plays in the U.S., he added.

Buffalo, at 34 per cent, was ranked the second-worst city to play, and three other Canadian cities — Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa — rounded out the top five.

No word whether respondents had been listening to local band the Weakerthans’ most famous track, One Great City!, which features the repeated lyric ‘I hate Winnipeg.’

— Staff

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History

Updated on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 6:47 PM CST: Adds comment from Tourism Winnipeg.

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