PHOENIX COYOTES VS TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
September 19th, 2007
MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Download Event Handout: Coyotes / Leafs Line-up Card
For the second consecutive year, the Phoenix Coyotes played a pre-season game here in Winnipeg. For the second consecutive year, we had NHL hockey back in downtown Winnipeg. For me, it didn't matter who won or who lost, what mattered was that we got to see our favorite stars live in person in our own city. Stars such as Mats Sundin, Alexander Steen, Shane Doan and Ed Jovanovski and yes even "The Great One" himself, Wayne Gretzky.
There were a few differences this time around as compared to last year's pre-season game featuring the Coyotes and the Oilers. The most overwhelming difference was the amount of Leaf fans that showed up. I assumed that there was going to be Leaf supporters but, you couldn't look anywhere without that blue leaf looking at you. Last year there was almost an even mix of Oilers, Jets and other NHL team jerseys scattered throughout the arena. This year, it was almost completely the Leafs.
Second difference was the noise factor. Last year was the first time that NHL hockey had returned to Winnipeg since the new MTS Centre had been built. Once the game started, it felt like a Jets playoff game. This year, it was very tame. Maybe it was just my section, maybe I wasn't sitting close enough to the obnoxious drunks...or maybe all those Leaf fans were bored. Whatever the reason, it was quiet.
Don't get me wrong, the game was not boring. It contained all the elements that make a hockey game, a hockey game. There were the chants "GO LEAFS GO" and "GO JETS GO", there was a "wave"...a mild wave, but a wave nonetheless, there were great saves, wicked goals, stupid penalties and of course a good old hockey fight!
Thank you to both, the Phoenix Coyotes and the Toronto Maple Leafs for making the trip to Winnipeg and for playing most of your big star players. Thank you to the NHL for giving us the opportunity to watch our favorite sport in our hometown and thank you to all of you who attended the game. I sat near a family who made the 5-6 hour drive from The Pas, Manitoba just to watch this game. Thanks for your support. Maybe next year we will see the Coyotes play the Flames in the pre-season...better yet, maybe the Jets and the Flames.