Gav on Sports
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By Terrance Gavan
My friend Jeff Blair over at the Globe and Mail got a chance to wax-lyric this week on radio and in print on the return of the Jets – um, Strike! – To Winnipeg.
I was covering University sports at the Winnipeg Sun while Blair was scrumming the same beat over at the Winnipeg Free Press.
I received many calls, tweets, texts and salutations from my peeps in Winnipeg yesterday.
My buddy John Kendle, managing editor of the Freep weeklies, was driving his twin lads to soccer when I finally reached him on his iPhone.
“My friend,” said Kendle. “This is a good day indeed.”
“Are you keeping the twins apprised of all this history?” I asked.
“Of course,” said Kendle. “That runs in the family.”
And? True dat’.
His dad Professor John Edward Kendle taught me a bunch of Canadian history at St. John’s College at the University of Manitoba. For instance, I believe that’s Louis Riel in the background in Freddy Greenslades excellent picture above. He’s a father of Confederation, megalomaniac, religious zealot and terrorist. He was the only Founding Father that we actually hing for bringing a province into the fold.
His seditionist general, Gabriel Dumont is still considered a battlefield genius and his tactics are still studied at West Point.
Take that General Custer! This is my take on the Red River uprising and should not be used in a history essay peeps.
It marks the first chink in the armor-all sheen of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s lamentably napoleonic expansion south. Next stop Guadalajara.
He was booed in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Commissioner Buttinski came bearing one big gift.
He peed all over the party.
With looming deadlines and retrograde bupkis.
“We need to fill that building every game,” schtupped the aging Czar.
Yeah Gary we get it.
The MTS Centre is a small venue.
Can a brotha’ get a donut?
Let these people have their day in the sun. Quit pooping on the parade. Light a celebratory candle ya’ gumstuck Grinch!
Give the fans their day. At that historic meeting place.
Where the Assiniboine meets the Red.
Where Brave Bolsheviks congregated in 1919 just prior to The Winnipeg General Strike. Before, like Louis Riel, being murdered by the Canadian government and the obsequious hegemenous pukka-generic Limey louts that populated the Northwest Mounted Police.
I couldn’t be there to offer my catcalls to Bettman.
So we’ll do it right here.
Boo Buttinski! Boo!
My other friend John Ehinger was on his way to The Forks with his daughter, a high school student in Beausejour Manitoba, when I reached him.
Ehinger is a history teacher in the Frontier School Division and he’s big on the experiential paradigm.
Back when he was a young fresh-faced novitiate he used to bring Louis Riel to his classroom.
Dressed up in crazy period gear.
He would piss, pour and moan some of the Metis Leader’s seminal speeches.
For the benefit of grade nine classes.
John sent a pic of the crowd to my iPhone. Some enterprising guy sported a Jets logo shaved into a faux Mohawk on his celebratory noggin.
“It’s crazy here,” said Ehinger. “But really, really wonderful.” I think he was crying.
On Tuesday a conflagration of fan support that doused the memory of that other day.
I remember when crowds gathered for a similar juke and jive.
On the afternoon of May 6, 1995, the Jets held a farewell at the Winnipeg Arena.
Thomas Steen’s jersey, 25, was raised to the rafters.
The first Jets captain, Ab MacDonald, along with longtime Jet Bill Lesuk, brought out the AVCO Cup (WHA’s version of Stanley).
Tears flowed from an emotionally charged crowd of over 15,000.
I was standing outside that old ugly cathedral at Polo Park that day.
Swapping stories with my good friends, the Johns.
We probably had our Jets Jerseys on.
That sad gathering?
Commonly tagged: “The Funeral”.
And so, the resurrection took more than the previous record – a blinding quick three days.
But that guy was only dealing with some wayward Pharisees and a group of rowdy Roman legionnaires.
The Jets’ crucifixion came via the twitchy talons of one Barry Shenkarow, the Jets owner, and a crass industrialist who makes Pontius Pilate look like Gandhi.
But this is not a time for recriminations.
Time for celebration and memories.
The demolition of the old Winnipeg Arena was chronicled in My Winnipeg, a film by another friend, director Guy Maddin.
It’s a dark, grainy film about skating ghosts. And it features the failed depth charging of the venerable old barn. Most of it came down except for one ugly canopy. Defiant old cinder blocks.
The Winnipeg Arena?
Seating so steep that I once – at a Stevie Wonder concert – watched a guy tumble out of his nosebleed chair and fall four rows before his progress was halted by a University of Manitoba linebacker.
No urinals in the men’s rooms.
Just a long 10-foot horse trough tilted north-south to the drain.
That big old trough should have been tilted vice to the versa.
I phoned an old Winnipeg friend David Wozninski, who lost his grandfather during the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919. Joshua Wozninski was ripped to shreds in a hail of bullets, supporting a general principle of worker’s rights.
Joshua was just another Bolshevik. Murdered by the transplanted English elite colonialists who like to keep the lower classes where they belong: under their boot heels.
“David, what should we name the Jets?” I asked, apropos of nothing.
“No brainer Terry,” said David.
“Let’s call ‘em the Winnipeg Strike!”
Works for me.
The exclamation mark is intrinsic to the nickname.
Gav@countyvoice.ca and twitter.com/terrancegavan.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]