When your Wikipedia page is called “Winnipeg NHL Team” and the only image we can think of to start this post with is a giant picture of Kevin Cheveldayoff’s head, it starts to look like things are moving a little slowly in Winnipeg.
That’s kind of sad.
The NHL draft is on Friday and we hate to think of some newly drafted kid standing on the stage with Winnipeg executives holding a generic jersey with an NHL logo on it and the word “Manitoba” scrawled across the bottom in pencil.
But that’s what we assume we’re going to see. And the delays won’t stop at the draft.
Here is our guess at the timeline for how things will work with this Unnamed Winnipeg Hockey Team.
June 30, 2011 – Realizing that the team can begin signing free agents tomorrow, Kevin Cheveldayoff starts looking into exactly how to attract free agents to an unnamed team in Winnipeg. While delirious from stress, he starts to look over the Winnipeg line-up to see where he can make adjustments. After seeing players like Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd on the roster, Cheveldayoff slips back in time and assumes that he’s still with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.
July 1, 2011 – After drinking heavily at the Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory party he threw himself in his hotel room the night before, a still confused Cheveldayoff manages to sign several key free agents to the Blackhawks for next season. Those players later confess that agreeing to play for a fictional Blackhawks team where Cheveldayoff is the general manager made more sense than agreeing to play for an actual unnamed Winnipeg team where Cheveldayoff is the general manager.
August 19, 2011 – The team’s players are finally officially told that the Atlanta Thrashers are going to be moving to Winnipeg for the following season. Team management ignores questions like “What will the team be named?” “Who will be the coach?” and “Can you tell us anything at all about this new franchise?”
October 7, 2011 – The Winnipeg team plays its first NHL hockey game in the MTS Centre. Despite the team wearing street clothes and playing with a big question mark painted near the face-off circle, the Winnipeg team wins the game.
October 9, 2011 – After winning a second game in a row, the Winnipeg team immediately becomes more successful than the Atlanta Thrashers ever were.
October 12, 2011 – The Winnipeg team loses its first game after a controversial penalty call and the ensuing power play goal ends the game in overtime. Winnipeg fans immediately join the rest of Canada in complaining about the call and blaming Gary Bettman’s anti-Canadian views for trying to ruin the sport in Canada.
November 1, 2011 – After a surprisingly successful first month, the Winnipeg team finally hires a head coach.
November 12, 2011 – Playing in Vancouver, the Winnipeg team scores three unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Canucks 4-3. Vancouver fans immediately claim foul, once again stating that the league hates Canadian teams.
November 14, 2011 – After rioting for two days following the loss, the people of Vancouver realize that Winnipeg is actually a part of Canada as well.
November 23, 2011 – Something about a controversial head shot.
December 1, 2011 – After a surprisingly successful first two months, the Winnipeg team finally decides which locker room will be used by the home team.
December 20, 2011 – Another controversial head shot with punishment that seems contradictory to the last controversial head shot.
January 4, 2012 – Alex Ovechkin scores a breathtaking goal in Winnipeg. While performing another “this stick is so hot” taunt in celebration, Ovechkin realizes that his stick has actually been frozen for the entire game.
January 29, 2012 – Dustin Byfuglien is chosen to play in the NHL All-Star game. When he is drafted to “Team Lidstrom” he remembers what it’s like to play for a team that actually has a name and official colours. He suggests to Winnipeg staff that the Winnipeg NHL team be renamed “Team Byfuglien.” Staff somehow favours that name over “Winnipeg Jets.”
February 18, 2012 – Winnipeg’s proposed Heritage Classic game flops when people realize the plan was to play the game outside during the winter in Winnipeg.
March 17, 2012 – All members of the Florida Panthers collapse on the ice after their second home-and-home series against Winnipeg. No one in Florida notices.
April 1, 2012 – Team management wonders why people keep screaming “WINNIPEG JETS” during games. They assume that they heard incorrectly and carry on.
April 10, 2012 – The regular season ends and the Winnipeg team qualifies for the playoffs.
April 14, 2012 – The new Winnipeg team wins its first ever playoff game. In Atlanta, the few fans that had been paying attention all year turn off their televisions, disgusted that the league has instituted a new concept called “playoff wins.”
May 10, 2012 – The Winnipeg team is eliminated in the second-round of the playoffs. Rather than rioting, fans are pleased with the team’s progress and excited that the franchise will likely be competitive for several years to come. In Montreal and Vancouver, fans riot out of confusion.
June 21, 2012 – The Winnipeg team decides to hold a fan contest to name the new team.
June 27, 2012 – Mark Chipman finally accomplishes his goal of buying the Phoenix Coyotes.