According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Manitoba’s capital will be “front and centre” when the NHL season opens.  Though the Jets don’t play their first game until October 9, Winnipeg will still be involved with the launch of the regular season on October 6.  This is thanks to NHL Face-Off, the league’s annual kick-off to the season which will take place in Winnipeg.  Regarding the festivities, the paper reports:

“Word is the party in Winnipeg will include a “major Canadian concert act,” with one of the bands rumoured to be Nickelback.”

This story, which broke a few days back, didn’t get a lot of attention.  What will probably get more attention is the plea in the paper today, where both the current and former music critics beg the league in an open letter to exclude Nickelback from the ceremony.

The column is written light-heartedly, referencing the appearance of Vancouver rioters, front-man Chad Kroeger’s facial hair, as well as both Lake Chad and the ‘hanging chad.’ It isn’t the sort of thing to be taken too seriously.  Still, it raises an interesting point: while Nickelback, as arguably the most successful Canadian rock band in recent years, is an obvious choice there are plenty of others.

To quote that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

Among the most notable musical acts associated with Winnipeg are Neil Young, The Guess Who, Bachman–Turner Overdrive, Streetheart, Harlequin, Chantal Kreviazuk, Fresh IE, Bif Naked, Sierra Noble, Econoline Crush, Brent Fitz, Venetian Snares, Propagandhi, The Weakerthans, The Paperbacks, The Details, Crash Test Dummies, The Watchmen, Comeback Kid, Lenny Breau, The Wailin’ Jennys, Remy Shand, Les Surveillantes and The Duhks.

It’s a pretty impressive list.  Not only that, but while a hometown band might be the most meaningful, the NHL isn’t limited to a Winnipeg or even a Canadian band.

It isn’t hard to hope for something less obvious than Nickelback; a band less overtly commercial, or perhaps just a band with lyrics that tend to be less crass and a little more nuanced.  But while that might be the best choice, the NHL really can’t go wrong here: fans are incredibly excited about the return of the Jets, and a free concert celebrating the team and the new season isn’t likely to rub people the wrong way in any event.  Besides that, sometimes Nickelback just works with hockey: