I spent last night at my home away from home, a place as familiar as my own living room or kitchen.
I’m talking about Canada Life Centre.
And while it didn’t go so well for your Winnipeg Jets — that’s probably being overly kind — I had a terrific time. I always do.
Confession: getting to cover a professional hockey team and have an up-close view of the best players in the world is a pretty cool way to earn a living. It almost doesn’t feel like work some days. Don’t tell the boss!
While there are bigger, fancier and certainly much more lavish and expensive buildings around North America, none of them offers the personal comforts of Canada Life Centre. (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)
And connecting with fans and followers — through the newspaper, this newsletter, social media and even in person — is always enjoyable. The knowledge and passion in this market is second to none, and it’s a pleasure and an honour to be able to offer my two cents on a regular basis.
Next Friday, I’ll complete my personal NHL arena bingo card when I travel to Florida and watch the Jets take on the Panthers at FLA Live Arena as part of the hockey team’s final road trip of the year.
That will be my 32nd and final stop around the league since I joined the sports department in 2016, a bucket list achievement I’ve been eagerly anticipating.
Programming note: I’ve got a special feature planned for the Free Press which is slated to run on Saturday, April 16.
I recently wrote about the subject in this weekly diary, ranking every barn I’ve been in. Except, as many of you noted, for one.
I received plenty of emails wondering why I either overlooked or snubbed the downtown Winnipeg facility. There was nothing malicious, folks. I stated at the outset of the three-part series I was going to offer up my take on all the out-of-town venues I’ve visited, breaking all 30 into a Top 10, Middle 10 and Bottom 10.
But several did inquire where I would have ranked Winnipeg if I was so inclined.
The truth is, it would be No. 1, without question.
Home, as they say, is where the heart is. And while there are bigger, fancier and certainly much more lavish and expensive buildings around North America, none of them offers the personal comforts of Canada Life Centre.
Are there things True North could do better? Absolutely, and the organization would be wise to listen to its fans when it comes to making game-day improvements.
But if I’m forced to choose the one city, the one venue, where I’d want to cover a hockey game above all others, there’s no question it’s right here in my own backyard.
Now if we could just do something about this lousy weather…
Speaking of home, I wanted to give you a bit of an update about life in the McIntyre abode.
We’re still heartbroken over the loss of our amazing Cassie last month. As I wrote a few weeks ago, our 13-year-old rescue brought so much joy to our lives.
Including our seven-year-old rescue, Bodie, who has really been struggling without his big sister. Much more than we ever expected, to be honest, which certainly sped up our plans in a significant way.
Our family is now thrilled to welcome a new four-legged member, one we believe is going to be a perfect fit, at the perfect time, for all of us.
Meet the newest addition to our family, Piper. (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)
We’d been keeping tabs on this one-year-old girl for a while. We had discussed getting a third dog to join Cassie and Bodie many months ago but felt it wouldn’t be right to bring a new pet into the home — especially one with all kinds of energy — when Cassie was slowing down and struggling as much as she was. It just didn’t seem fair to her. She deserved as much of our attention and love as we could give her, so we put that plan on hold.
When it comes to Piper, it would appear “Black Dog Syndrome” struck again as this beautiful Boxer continued to be up for adoption through the very same Manitoba rescue we got Bodie from, bouncing between a few different homes but never staying very long.
We did a trial meet-and-greet a couple of weekends ago — going to a neutral site, introducing Bodie to her, then bringing her back to our place for a couple hours — to see how it went.
Last Saturday, we made it official.
Piper might just be the sweetest, most loving and empathetic dog I’ve ever met. (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)
Piper and Bodie immediately hit it off, and they’ve had a blast getting to know each other. We’ve seen immediate changes for the better in our boy. And Piper might just be the sweetest, most loving and empathetic dog I’ve ever met.
We’re so happy to give her the loving home she deserves.
Piper has found her fur-ever home. (Mike McIntyre / Winnipeg Free Press)
Without question, this is one of my favourite sporting weekends of the year.
The MLB season begins today. (I’ll have a column in Friday’s edition about the Toronto Blue Jays that will also serve as a bit of a love letter to baseball). The Masters begins as well. (I’ll have a column in Saturday’s paper about Tiger Woods).
And, of course, plenty of pivotal NHL games are happening, with just three weeks left in the regular season.
The remote is going to get a workout, that’s for sure.
Enjoy it, folks.
Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist