Just about a week ago it was announced the Atlanta Thrashers were to be sold to True North Sports & Entertainment and, with NHL board of governors approval on June 21, would move to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Hockey loving fans in Canada have been ecstatic ever since, while the Southeast Division was upset, or better yet, will be geographically challenged for at least a season.
This tweak in proximity can actually prove to be a good thing for the Washington Capitals.
From Katie Carrera’s blog post on Capitals Insider:
The length of a round-trip flight to Winnipeg from Dulles airport is 2,460 miles, according to webflyer.com.
Three trips to Manitoba may be inconvenient but some additional exposure to the Canadian atmosphere can do the boys in red (well, white since they’ll be on the road) some good.
Even though the Tampa Lightning are a solid team, and knocked the Caps out of the playoffs this year, they do not have a fan base as consistently passionate and raucous as will welcome the Caps in Winnipeg, no matter what the name of the team is.
Read this Winnipeg Free Press article to see the eagerness and desperation that has been building up and will explode in the MTS Centre night in and night out: Season ticket wait list capped at 8,000 following 17-minute sellout.
It was Tampa Bay’s head coach Guy Boucher, early in this year’s playoffs, who said, “I always believe it’s not about momentum. It’s about desperation.”
That feeling and the chip on the shoulder that fans, who had their team stolen previously, will create an electric atmosphere that the Caps will have to endure and produce in multiple times.
Currently there are intense regular season games on the road in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Montreal and Boston, but is there a regular season environment when Washington visits a Southeast Divisional opponent? Carolina?
Winnipeg, the city if not the team, will test the Capitals and prepare them better for the post-season better than any other divisional rival has over the past 4 years.