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New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (L) is embraced by Miami Heat's LeBron James prior to their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (HANS DERYK)
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (L) is embraced by Miami Heat's LeBron James prior to their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (HANS DERYK)

Seven in the morning

Winnipeg ready for its close up, tearful Heat, Cuban for tanking and more Add to ...

Seriously, the NHL could be coming back to Winnipeg. My only advice would be to trade for a 1992-93 version of Teemu Selanne as quickly as possible.

We have that, the latest meltdown from LeBron and Miami, some good sports nerd stuff and MLSE's efforts to suck up to the next great Canadian soccer hope.

1. Winnipeg rises like a Phoenix...

There is a sense, finally, that the Phoenix Coyotes saga is lurching to some kind of conclusion, with the news over the weekend that the City of Glendale is considering litigation against the Goldwater Institute for scuttling the proposed deal to sell the team to Matthew Hulsizer because they viewed the bond issue required to make the math work as a contravention of a state law prohibiting public funds being used to prop up private enterprise. This could be a very good week to be an NHL fan in Winnipeg, but in the meantime, Stephen Brunt speculates about how the blame for the failure of the Coyotes will get spread around: In any case, let's skip straight to the next stage, which will be the apportioning of blame.

Glendale? It'll obviously blame the evil Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute? It'll blame Glendale for going against state law.

The NHL? Given all the tall tales spun by commissioner Gary Bettman over the past three years, there are plenty of options, plenty of potential scapegoats, but here's betting the league ignores the current mess and the current players and lays this whole thing at the feet of poor old Jerry Moyes, who took the Coyotes into bankruptcy, and by extension, at the feet of Jim Balsillie, going all the way back to the aborted Pittsburgh Penguins sale.

It's a good story. Easier to sell than the failure of NHL hockey in a sunbelt market. Easier to explain than how, in order to protect a territorial-rights clause in its own constitution that may or may not be legal, the NHL jumped through hoops to block a guy who would have overpaid for the Coyotes (or the Predators, or the Pens) and written Glendale a cheque for $50-million, all for the privilege of claiming a small slice of the world's best hockey market, currently the exclusive domain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, saving the league considerable expense and considerable embarrassment in the process.

No slight to Winnipeg, where many a prayer is about to be answered. But given all that's happened, all the damage done, does anyone really believe this is the better outcome?

2. Can Winnipeg take the pressure?

The city has been pining for the return of their beloved Jets for years; and now it might actually happen. Can Winnipeg deliver? Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press warns it's time : As a city, we've talked the talk. Well, it's potentially bell time around here and now we'll have to prove we can walk the walk. Can and will Winnipeg support an NHL team? It's no slam dunk and, for an NHL franchise to work in this community, there will have to be a tight management strategy and fuel to feed the engine. That fuel is cash, put forth by individual fans as well as business big and small. Strategic and effective ownership, supported by an invested fan base, will make this enterprise work. Make no mistake, an NHL team in Winnipeg playing in the league's smallest arena will not have the same resources as such monster franchises as Toronto and Chicago.

The NHL in Winnipeg will work at one speed and one speed only -- full throttle.

3. Cry, Cry, Cry -- The Miami Heat story

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