Ask any Jets fan if they thought NHL hockey would ever return to Winnipeg after the first iteration of the team left for sunny Phoenix in 1996. Fast forward to 2011 and the move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg and not only is the NHL back in The Peg, the team is thriving.
When the Minnesota Stars-nee-North Stars left town for Dallas in 1993, it was much of the same. Pro hockey was dead in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Dead forever. Until, that is, the area was awarded the expansion Wild in 1997 and now the game is bigger than ever in the State of Hockey.
It even happened in Washington D.C., where they lost Major League Baseball not once, but twice, until they finally took our Expos and made them the new Nationals in 1995. Today – and this brings pain to my gut and a lump in my throat – they’re considered World Series contenders and play to a packed house in the US capital.
And let’s not forget the great re-birth of the Alouettes right here in Montreal.
Yes, folks, despite the chorus of naysayers who seem to be more interested in talking about only the worst of Montreal instead of its greatness, baseball can work once again in La Métropole.
It worked in the past and will work again if we get our shot.
I won’t get into the myriad reasons why baseball failed from poor ownership to the giant toilet of a stadium the ‘Spos had to play in for the majority of their existence. That is well documented. I also don’t need to get into how it can work again – that, too, is well documented.
What I do want to dispel is the defeatist and uninformed argument of “baseball failed once, so we don’t deserve a second chance”.
Despite all of the good reasons Montreal can succeed, there’s proof of many, many cities that once lost a team succeeding on their second chance. Here’s just a few:
The days of the PQ and successive Montreal administrations killing this city are over. It’s time to embrace our potential as a great metropolis and part of that is enthusiastically working towards getting the Expos back.