Reignite the Whiteout?
The hockey flame has already been burning in Winnipeg for a long time.
The host city for the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship has a long hockey history, dating all the way back to 1896, when the Winnipeg Victorias won the city’s first of three Stanley Cups.
The hallowed cup was still in its infancy. It was awarded for the first time only three years earlier, by Lord Stanley of Preston as a challenge cup for "the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada." Winnipeg would also go on to win Cups in 19.
In addition to the Stanley Cup victories, teams from Winnipeg have captured IIHF World Championships, Memorial Cups, and Olympic gold.
In 1920, the Winnipeg Falcons traveled to Antwerp, Belgium, and captured Canada’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in hockey. Two teams from Manitoba also won World Men’s Hockey Championships in 19. And various teams from Winnipeg have combined to win a total of nine Memorial Cups and nine Allan Cups.
On top of that amateur good fortune, Winnipeg has also had professional success. The World Hockey Association-era Winnipeg Jets won three Avco Cups during the league’s seven years of existence (1972-1979), including the final season, when they defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. In 1978, the Jets defeated the Soviet National Team, becoming the first professional club team to beat the vaunted Russians.
When the WHA was merged into the NHL in 1979, the Jets took on the form that is most commonly remembered today. Although they never won any championships, they did spark a fan base that still remains in Winnipeg today and will best be remembered for giving the world the “Whiteout.”
The void created when the Jets departed for the warm desert sands of Phoenix in 1996 was quickly filled when the Manitoba Moose became the Winnipeg Arena’s new tenant that year in the fall. The Moose played in the International Hockey League until the league folded in 2001. The franchise was then absorbed into the American Hockey League where they still play today, serving as a farm club for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Currently the Moose are one of the league’s top teams, and are poised to enjoy home-ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs for the Calder Cup.
But Winnipeg isn’t just about winning cups and trophies. The city has also hosted major international hockey events.
There was disappointment in 1970, when the Manitoba capital was slated to host the World Championship for the first time in Canadian history but saw the tournament transferred to Stockholm after a dispute with the IIHF about amateur eligibility requirements.
However, in 1972, Winnipeg was the setting for Game Three of the Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Team Canada. The IIHF World Junior Championships were held in 1999 and gave the Winnipeg Arena one last chance to roar before the opening of the MTS Centre in 2004. The new arena hosted the 2005 Canadian World Junior Team’s training camp before it captured gold in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Canadian and American national women’s teams played an exhibition game last January at the MTS Centre as a tune-up before the Turin Olympics, which also saw Canada win gold.
This city has one of Canada’s most interesting hockey histories, and the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship is another addition to that history. The hockey flame in Winnipeg just keeps burning brighter and brighter.