By Carter Brooks
Photo courtesy of the Winnipeg Blues
The last couple of days in Winnipeg have been very cold, yet also very exciting for the future of hockey in Manitoba.
Fittingly, on the coldest day of the year in Winnipeg, 50 Below Sports and Entertainment announced the plans to relocate the Western Hockey League's Kootenay ICE to Winnipeg for the 2019-20 season. The Winnipeg ICE will play out of a refurbished Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba for the team's first two seasons in Manitoba's capital, before moving to a brand new facility in South Landing, in which construction is expected to last two seasons.
On top of the WHL team relocation news, it was also announced that the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Winnipeg Blues had also submitted a letter of intent to sell the junior team to 50 Below Sports and Entertainment. This agreement has yet to go through the league's Board of Governors, and is expected to be complete by February 15th.
This ownership change would likely see the Winnipeg Blues move south to the new RINK facility, sharing the home ice with the Winnipeg ICE, giving fans at the 4,000-seat arena two home teams to cheer for.
A week earlier, the OCN Blizzard submitted a similar letter of consent, which would transfer ownership of the team from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation to a trio of local businessmen. This ownership change would not spark conversation of relocation, but just change up the hierarchy within the team. On Wednesday it was announced that former AAA Midget Interlake Lightning Head Coach Jamie Corbett has taken over as Head Coach/General Manager of the Blizzard.