“SO NOW WHAT?”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I truly have the best job in the world. And I’m feeling especially grateful right now, as I begin Year 28 in this wild and wacky business called journalism.
Being a born-and-raised Winnipegger and getting to write for my hometown paper — the very paper I used to deliver as a kid pulling a little blue wagon down my street — is as much an honour and privilege today as it was when I first began.
I graduated from the Creative Communications program at Red River College in May 1995 at the tender age of 20 and was fortunate to step right into a full-time gig with the Winnipeg Sun. I cut my teeth there as the crime reporter for a couple years, then moved over to Mountain Avenue to join the mighty Free Press in the fall of 1997. Two more years of covering cops and robbers led me to the downtown courthouse, where I remained until shifting over to sports in June 2016.
Thousands of bylines reporting on the worst society had to offer. Six true crime books. A nationally syndicated radio show that lasted a decade. I wouldn’t change a single thing, even though the subject matter wasn’t always easy to digest.
These last six years in the “toy department” have been everything I could have hoped for, and then some. Getting to cover an NHL team in a hockey-crazed market like Winnipeg is a dream come true — even when the club’s performance borders more on nightmarish, as it did at times this past season.
To be perfectly honest, my job is actually MORE interesting when that’s the case. And the passion and feedback from readers is one of the best parts of the gig.
There’s been so much of it lately, I’m still struggling to catch up with replies to folks who’ve taken the time to email their thoughts. If you fall into that category, please be patient!
“So what are you going to write about now that the Jets are toast?” a few folks have asked me this week, as a disappointing 2021-22 campaign officially came to an end this past Sunday.
Winnipeg Jets’ Blake Wheeler (26) celebrates his goal against the Seattle Kraken with Nikolaj Ehlers (27) during the third period of NHL action in Winnipeg on Sunday May 1, 2022. (Fred Greenslade / The Canadian Press)
I have zero rooting interest when it comes to the Jets, save for quick games and plenty of juicy, interesting storylines. And there’s no shortage of those right now as we head into what is likely going to be the most fascinating off-season since the best league in the world returned to River City in 2011.
In that sense, I will likely have plenty to cover between now and mid-September when the players roll back into town for training camp.
The search for a new coaching staff. The Mark Scheifele soap opera. (I figure there’s now about a 90 per cent chance he gets moved this summer). The entry draft in Montreal — the Jets could have as many as two first-round picks — which I look forward to attending. Free-agent frenzy a few days later, which will give general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff a chance to re-tool the roster. Other potential trades.
That being said, there’s plenty of non-Jets content on the horizon for yours truly. I’ll be checking in on what could be lengthy playoff runs here by both the Manitoba Moose (I wrote about them in today’s paper) and the Winnipeg Ice. I’ll also have Winnipeg Goldeyes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers coverage as well, working in conjunction with talented colleagues such as Jeff Hamilton, Taylor Allen and Mike Sawatzky.
And plenty of golf — including keeping tabs on Manitoba’s top pro, Aaron Cockerill, who is having a breakthrough season on the European Tour, plus covering the Manitoba Open in August, one of my favourite weeks of the year.
Canada’s Aaron Cockerill during day three of the English Championship at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel and Country Club in Ware, England, Saturday Aug. 8, 2020. (Adam Davy / The Canadian Press Files)
Some Toronto Blue Jays content as well, which will include checking out the team in person during a family trip to the Twin Cities in early August. And multiple columns where I muse and opine about whatever happens to be on my mind. Throw in a few weeks of holidays and it’ll be hockey season again before we know it.
Still, this is where I turn to you fine folks to let you know the request line is open. Is there a subject or specific story you think needs to be told? By all means, send your ideas my way. I’d love to hear them.
And thanks, as always, for your support.
Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist