Three’s a Crowd: Experts say adding WHL team to Winnipeg would be a challenge

Moving a Canadian Hockey League team to a crowded market like Winnipeg that already boasts NHL and AHL clubs would present several challenges, sports business industry professionals said.

According to a sourced report in the Winnipeg Free Press last week, the owners of the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice were preparing to announce Monday that the franchise would be moving to the Manitoba capital next season. However, in a subsequent report, the team’s majority owner told the outlet there were no plans for an announcement and nothing was pending.

The Jets have been king in Winnipeg since the National Hockey League returned to the city in 2011. The American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose, who are also owned and operated by True North Sports and Entertainment, came back to Winnipeg in 2015.

Tom Mayenknecht, a marketing communications executive and sport business commentator, said if the Ice did relocate to Winnipeg, differentiating themselves from the other hockey offerings in the city would be key.

“They’ll have to be very aggressive with their pricing in terms of really making it a family entertainment opportunity and price it a heck of a lot lower than the Jets and even the Moose,” Mayenknecht said from Vancouver.

“I think it can be done given how strong the demographics are of the hockey market in Winnipeg, but it certainly is a crowded house.”

It’s rare for one Canadian market to have three hockey teams at those levels. Toronto was the last to do so, but that ended in 2007 when the Ontario Hockey League’s St. Michael’s Majors moved to nearby Mississauga, Ont., leaving just the NHL’s Maple Leafs and AHL’s Marlies in town.

According to the original report, the incoming team would eventually play in a mid-sized arena just outside city limits near Winnipeg’s southwest end. The University of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena would be home – likely for two seasons – until the rink is ready, the report said.

“If they are smart in terms of the community partnerships that they establish, if they have a winning product relatively early, I think they can compete,” Mayenknecht said. “But I do think that not operating underneath the True North umbrella will make it, in my opinion, a challenging proposition to be any more sustainable or financially strong as the Kootenay market was.

“When you see a relocation, you tend to want to say, ‘OK that is definitely a better situation for them.’ I’m not sure that’s the case.”

The Winnipeg Jets have earned a reputation for sold-out crowds at Bell MTS Place.

Sellouts are the norm for the Jets at Bell MTS Place but the Moose have seen a steady decline in attendance since their return. The junior game offers a slightly different style and could market itself as a showcase for fans to see the stars of tomorrow.

“The one wild card is the Winnipeg market,” Mayenknecht said. “It’s not a Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver with all the urban distractions and multiple offerings. But it’s also not a really tiny 500,000 or 250,000-size market … hockey is such a big part of how Manitobans get through the winter months.”

In a city of about 800,000, one concern would be whether the hockey dollar might be spread too thin.

Sports marketing specialist Richard Powers, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said Winnipeg has proven itself to be a hockey town but adding another club might be asking too much.

“All three of these clubs are going to be competing for the same market share,” Powers said. “People already have their allegiance obviously to the Jets and the Manitoba Moose, to bring another team in there is going to be a very hard climb. They have a new arena to be built and they’ll be limited to the capacity that they have there.

“I just don’t see how it can be financially viable.”

The WHL issued a statement regarding the franchise’s situation earlier this season and a league spokesman said Monday that it still holds.

“The WHL is very pleased with the commitment Greg Fettes and his ownership group has made to Cranbrook and the Kootenay region since acquiring the Ice franchise in 2017,”  said league commissioner Ron Robison. “The WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook. The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments.

“The discussions which take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

The Ice have struggled this season with just seven wins in their first 33 games. A message left with team president and general manager Matt Cockell wasn’t immediately returned.

 If the franchise does move east, turning things around on the ice would also help matters in a new market.

“As a startup, operating outside of True North, they’re going to have to invest in their own marketing and sales infrastructure,” Mayenknecht said. “They’re going to have to go from zero to 60 miles per hour on their own.

“Anybody who’s done any startup, whether it’s hockey or any sport, or any business for that matter, those first two or three years are going to be absolutely critical.”


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Mets, Yankees involved in three-way trade discussions with Marlins on J.T. Realmuto

LAS VEGAS – Only in Las Vegas.

In his bold pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen raised the stakes – having dangled Noah Syndergaard and courted the Yankees in an attempt to make it happen.

As first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Yanks, Mets and Marlins have discussed three-team trade scenarios that would put Realmuto behind the plate at Citi Field.

As per reports, and including an industry source, there were no deals in the works on Monday night, the first full day of baseball’s Winter Meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

But the concept is tantalizing to say the least.

The need for Yankees’ prospects and/or controllable big-league talent could be required to complete any such deal, negating the prospect haul that a team like the Dodgers provide.

And the idea of Syndergaard moving into the Yanks’ rotation to facilitate such a deal was just one of many different trade discussions the Mets have had according to a source. 

But talk about a high-limit game…

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Seahawks defender trolls Kirk Cousins after fumble return for touchdown: ‘You like that!!!’

The Minnesota Vikings lost another primetime game with Kirk Cousins under center, and this one brought the $84 million man to 0-7 on Monday Night Football. 

Cousins had a chance to begin a comeback, but with just under three minutes to play down 14-0, the Seahawks sealed the game with a strip sack of Cousins that was returned for a touchdown by Seattle cornerback Justin Coleman. 

Shortly after the game, Coleman had some fun at Cousins' expense, tweeting the clip of his touchdown with the caption, "You like that!!" in reference to Cousins' viral video after a 2015 comeback win when he played for the Redskins. 

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WWE news: Cody Rhodes rejected Vince McMahon's company 'weeks ago' as he teases potential All:In 2

The star, son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and brother to Dustin “Goldust”, has enjoyed a stunning run of success since his departure from WWE in 2016.

The current IWGP US Heavyweight Champion wrestled at the world famous Tokyo Dome and recently produced the historic ALL:In pay-per-view.

But his contract with Ring of Honor has just expired, leading to speculation he could be heading back to Vince McMahon’s company.

Rhodes, 33, is currently touring the UK and appeared on Bruce Pritchard’s Something To Wrestle show.

And when quizzed about a return to the place he made his name, he said he had “passed on the WWE offer a few weeks ago.”


Rhodes, undoubtedly one of the biggest wrestling talents on the planet, was also asked about putting on an ALL:In 2.

He responded: “Hypothetically, would it necessarily be ‘All In 2’… or ‘All In: International’?


WRESTLEMANIA Tickets, best way to get there and rumoured matches


“There are two major territories outside of the US in terms of wrestling: the UK and Australia. If you put up a ring, they [the fans] will come.”

Despite his contract already expiring, Rhodes will perform for Ring of Honor at this month’s Final Battle event against World Champion Jay Lethal.

Cobra bite to cure erectile dysfunction

FEW wrestling fans from the 90s will forget seeing Jake "The Snake" Roberts’ cobra biting “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s arm.

Despite it being 27 years ago, the incident still remains one of the most harrowing ever seen in WWE.

The shocking event cemented Roberts’ place as one of the most evil heels in the industry’s history.

But now the veteran is using it to bolster something else rather than his career – his libido!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY

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Ex-Man Utd ace Jordi Cruyff claims there is no ‘clear plan’ in scathing attack on club

Mourinho's side are sixth in the table, 16 points behind leaders Liverpool and eight off a top-four place.


And Cruyff, who spent four seasons at Old Trafford winning the Premier League in 1997 has voiced his frustration about United’s decline.

The 44-year-old Dutchman told De Telegraaf: "I don't get the feeling that there is a clear plan at Manchester United to show everyone the direction they need to go in.

"United can see almost every week how their competitors have not stood still.

"Another danger has arisen from this, in the past I, just like any other footballer, didn't hesitate for a second when asked to choose whether I preferred to play for Manchester United or Manchester City.


"But with the way City have developed it is no longer self-evident that players blindly opt for United.”

Cruyff also hit out at United’s cautious style under Mourinho, a stark contrast to the attacking approach he enjoyed playing for Sir Alex Ferguson.

He added: "Everything in and around Old Trafford used to be geared towards winning. United always set out to win their games, home or away, and everyone at the club was preoccupied with this every day.

"If Barcelona have a bad season they still won't finish lower than third in the Spanish league.

"That ought to be the situation for United as well – but it is not the case.

"In the last few years, the club has found it harder and harder just to hang onto the coat-tails of the top four."

Cruyff also played for Alaves and Espanyol, and won nine Holland caps.

He spent six years in charge of Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv before moving to China to coach top-flight side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan in August.

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Harry Kane decorates Christmas tree with golden boot as he prepares for crucial Tottenham clash against Barcelona

The Tottenham striker's fiancée Katie Goodland uploaded a snap of their festive decorations completed with "golden balls, stars and boots".


Kane, 25, won the Golden Boot for his six goals at the World Cup in Russia as England reached the semi-finals before finally being knocked out by Croatia.

And at the Three Lions' next game at Wembley, against Spain in the Nations League, Kane was presented with his trophy before kick-off.

For the game, he wore a special edition of his usual Nike Hypervenom boots but they were clearly not his shooting boots as he struggled to trouble the Spanish defence.

They were gold and black with "Lane, Lion, Leader" inscribed on the insole and were ridiculed by plenty of social media users.


But as Katie and the couple's daughters Ivy and Vivienne continue to get ready for Christmas, Kane is in Barcelona hoping to keep Tottenham's Champions League hopes alive.

The England captain played just 16 minutes of the 2-0 win over Leicester on Saturday to ensure he is as fresh as possible for tonight.

Like Kane, Christian Eriksen started on the bench at the King Power Stadium.

Spurs know a win at the Nou Camp would guarantee them a place in the last 16.

Tottenham vs Barcelona: Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen to return but Kyle Walker-Peters in at right-back

TOTTENHAM know a win in the Nou Camp tomorrow night will guarantee them a place in the Champions League knockout rounds.

Fail to beat Barcelona and they are relying on Inter Milan slipping up at home to PSV Eindhoven.

But just when Mauricio Pochettino needed a full-strength side, he looks as though he has a defensive crisis on his hands.

First-choice right-back Kieran Trippier has struggled with a groin strain in recent weeks and was not in the matchday squad against Leicester on Saturday.

Speaking of the England international, Spurs tweeted: Trippier (groin) is undergoing an individual preventive and conditioning programme."

Serge Aurier started at the weekend – and three Champions League games this season – but limped off with 12 minutes to go and has not travelled with the squad.

It means Kyle Walker-Peters is expected to celebrate his fresh new deal at Tottenham by starting against Lionel Messi and Co.

READ THE FULL TEAM NEWS HERE


If they are unable to secure the victory, they must hope Inter Milan slip up at home to PSV Eindhoven.

Matching Inter's result will be enough for Mauricio Pochettino's team to qualify.

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Inter Milan vs PSV: TV channel, live stream, kick-off time and team news for Champions League Group B clash

The Italian's sit third in the table but know that they can leapfrog Spurs into the knockout places if they better the Premier League side's result against Barcelona.

What time is kick-off?

THIS clash is set for Tuesday, December 11.

Kick-off at the San Siro is at 8pm.

In the meeting earlier this season, goals from Radja Nainggolan and Mauro Icardi gave Inter a 2-1 win.

Which TV channel is it on?

YOU can catch all the action live from 7.30pm on BT Sport ESPN.

And live streaming is available for BT subscribers using the App or web player.

Here on SunSport we will as ever be running a comprehensive LIVE BLOG, which will give you instant updates.

What is the team news?

Full team news to follow.

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Barcelona scrap plans to face Girona in Miami this January after backlash from fans

The Catalan giants pencilled in a league game against Girona on January 26 in the US with the blessing of La Liga chiefs.

The Spanish top flight had agreed a deal to play one game a season in the US as part of a 15-year deal with media company Relevent to challenge the worldwide dominance of the Premier League.

Catalonia neighbours Girona and Barcelona had agreed to move their game to the Hard Rock Stadium.

However, the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) and players' union (AFE) were vocal in objecting to the move.

AFE president David Aganzo said after the deal was announced: “The problem is the lack of common sense, a schedule where only the export of soccer benefits – nobody counts on the fans.


"The captains are outraged, they're against it, they are unanimous.

"It does not make sense. We are talking about an agreement that has a validity of 15 years without consulting the players."

Barca said it had "agreed to withdraw" the proposal, adding: "This project will not prosper until there is agreement between all parties."

A club statement added: "FC Barcelona were and remain willing to play a La Liga game in Miami, and accepted that income from the game would be shared among all Primera Division and Segunda Division clubs, following the same criteria of television rights money distribution."

But La Liga say they will still push ahead with the plans to stage La Liga games outside Spain.

In a statement, La Liga said: "We regret to disappoint our fans in the US and will work to, in the shortest possible time, stage an official La Liga game in the US.

"La Liga will continue the planned action so an official game can be played outside of Spain."

The match also needed the approval of Uefa, US Soccer and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf).

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ST Podcast: Racism in the EPL and sports, and StanChart Marathon eyeing Major status

ST Podcast: A Game Of Two Halves | Season 1 | Ep 16 – Racism in the EPL and sports, and StanChart Marathon eyeing Major status

Time: 13:29 mins

Synopsis: A Game of Two Halves is The Straits Times’ weekly sports podcast that is out every Tuesday on all global podcasting platforms – Spotify, iTunes and Google Podcasts.

In this episode, Sazali Abdul Aziz and Shamir Osman chat about racism and running.

Why do racially-charged occurrences pop up every now and then in sports, even when massive efforts are put in to make them more inclusive?

Is multiracial Singapore immune to such racial discrimination?

In the second half of the show, we look at the Singapore’s bid to take the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon into the top table of marathons around the world, alongside the likes of Boston, New York and London.

Does Singapore have what it takes to get there? And what will this mean to Singapore Inc, and the average runner?

Subscribe, like and rate A Game of Two Halves on:

On Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2PwZCYU

On iTunes: http://str.sg/o8MK

On Google podcasts: http://str.sg/oXeS

On website: http://str.sg/stpodcasts

Feedback to: [email protected]

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AFL to bring in ‘Toby Greene rule’ in raft of changes

The AFL has introduced a "Toby Greene rule'' aimed at preventing players from raising their stops and causing injury in marking and other contests.

The AFL Commission has approved of a rule that will lead to a crackdown on players such as Greene who have raised their leg in a way that exposes opponents to boot-stud injury, with free kicks paid and potentially suspensions for more severe offences with studs up.

The Greene rule was passed by the commission, along with a raft of other reforms to the laws of the game, including a change to the bumping rule and have given the match review officer the option of a set penalty of three matches for some head high, severe and intentional incidents.

Stopping the stops: the AFL has amended its rules to deal with raised boots.Credit:Fox Sports

Greene therefore becomes one of the select group of VFL/AFL players to have had a rule modified as a result of his on-field acts. Richmond great Kevin Bartlett's tendency to throw the ball in front of him when tackled resulted in a change to the holding the ball rule, while Lindsay Thomas' slide into Gary Rohan caused the immediate introduction of the sliding rule.

As reported by The Age on Monday, the commission also changed the bumping rule to make the player who elects to bump liable if there's a head clash or other impact that isn't directly to the head and will crack down on low-level punches and niggles. The bumping change could be referred to as the Ryan Burton rule, given that the then-Hawk's bump on Shaun Higgins – for which Burton was cleared – was clearly the catalyst for the change.

The AFL has discussed the option of introducing the red card for serious incidents such as Andrew Gaff's punch on Andrew Brayshaw, but has baulked at introducing it for 2019 and has instead focused on stamping out low-level punches and niggles that can escalate to more serious incidents.

The AFL has changed the rules governing AFLW Tribunal decisions, in a clear response to the suspension for the grand final of Bulldog gun Katie Brennan. In effect, it means the AFLW player in Brennan's position would not miss a game for two minor offences, as she did.

Under the changes, the AFL has created a specific offence for strikes with "negligible impact'' rather than the catch-all of misconduct.

The AFL also will be stricter on fining players who have incidental careless contact with an umpire, with the umpires to vary their approach to centre bounces when it is evident that players are favouring one side of the centre circle. In some cases, umpire contact will bring a free kick against the infringing player.

The AFL has created a new category for intentional umpire contact, whereby charges can be laid for acts that are deemed "aggressive, forceful, disrespectful or demonstrative''.

There is another new category, too, of “unreasonable or unnecessary contact with an umpire” to deal with contact which isn’t covered by the new guidelines but isn't deemed careless.

Stomping and eye-gouging offences can now be directly referred to the AFL Tribunal.

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