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Mike McIntyre | On Sports
Free Press
Planning ahead with an eye on the past
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Planning ahead with an eye on the past

“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.

Buckle up.

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

Mike McIntyre, Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre

MORE FORE IS HOPEFULLY IN STORE:

Another thing on my “to do” list over the next few months — play at least 20 rounds of golf.

I managed to tee it up 18 times last year, by far the most in ages for me. And that was with the benefit of an extremely early start, with my son and I getting in our first game in late March.

Here we are now in early May and I have yet to hit a single ball. But that’s about to change, with courses opening as early as tomorrow and the majority to follow shortly after.

Last year, my 18 rounds were spread around 12 different courses — Falcon Lake, Pine Ridge, Bridges, Breezy Bend, Southwood, Bel Acres, Granite Hills, Oakwood, Larters, Kildonan, Warren and Shooters.

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I suspect I will be back at most, if not all, in the coming months.

What others would you suggest I check out? Suggestions most welcome.

OH MY, OZARK:

I’m currently getting close to the end of the final half-season of Ozark, which was released last weekend.

Don’t worry: no spoilers to be found here.

Unlike many friends and colleagues who binged all seven episodes in one sitting, I can’t bring myself to do that.

My reason: I love the show too much. And I don’t want it to be over. And so I’ve been limiting myself to one episode per night, just to drag this final hurrah out as long as possible.

That means, as of today, I have just two left. Which makes me sad. Sigh.

Jason Bateman (left) and Laura Linney (right) star in "Ozark". (Steve Dietl / Netflix / TNS)

GO BEHIND THE BENCH:

No, not the Winnipeg Jets bench. That job is open, of course, but I don’t believe True North is accepting public submissions. Even though no doubt plenty of you have some great ideas.

No, our new sports editor here at the paper, Jason Bell, has his twice-weekly newsletter now and up and running.

“Behind The Bench” comes out every Tuesday and Friday, and his debut earlier this week was a terrific read.

If you haven’t already, make sure to go to this link and hit “subscribe” so you don’t miss a beat. Jay will give you an inside look at how he’s steering the ship, with all kinds of observations and insight from his perch.

Have a great week, folks. Enjoy the fact spring has finally sprung. Just try not to get swallowed by a pothole during your travels.

WHAT I’VE BEEN WORKING ON:


Stacked Moose ready to roll

Antlered ones could have a dozen players with NHL experience in lineup to start playoffs Read More

 

Moose expect tough series from rough and tumble Admirals

It appears the Manitoba Moose are going to have one less thing to worry about as they prepare to face Milwaukee in the opening round of the AHL playoffs. Read More

 

Nothing quite like the Stanley Cup playoffs

Expect Panthers to prevail in two-month war of attrition Read More

 

Chevy gets three more years to fix broken Jets, a mess he helped create

The Winnipeg Jets logo includes a stylized compass pointing north, which is both a not-so-subtle nod to the ownership group and an indicator of where the franchise intends to go. Read More

 

Scheifele mulling over future after disappointing year with Jets

Mark Scheifele sure sounds like a guy who’s got one foot out the door and is ready, willing and eager for a change of scenery. Read More

 

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CFL CBA talks progress

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Interesting day for Big Blue at CFL Draft

Bolstered Canadian talent on defensive side of ball Read More

 

Morden pair thrives in Maritimes

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