The Winnipeg Jets may be out of the playoffs, but for fans based out of Manitoba, there is no shortage of teams to cheer for this post-season.
Manitoba is home to 12 players currently in the playoffs: Darren Helm, Justin Falk, Dale Wiese, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Alex Steen, Ryan Reaves, Cody McLeod, Matt Calvert, Ryan White, and Cody Eakin.
The only series without a Manitoba native in it, is the San Jose Sharks/Los Angeles Kings series, although many ‘Manitobans’ have adopted the Kings’ Mike Richards as one of their own, hailing from nearby Kenora, Ontario.
These players aren’t just in the games, either; Dale Wiese scored the over-time winning goal for the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night: Just a day later, Alex Steen finished the longest game in St. Louis Blues’ history with his triple-overtime winner over the Chicago Blackhawks. That game had 5 Winnipeg-born players: Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks, while Steen and Ryan Reaves played for the Blues.
In the western-Manitoba region, all are pulling for Brandon native Matt Calvert’s Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as Ryan White and the Canadiens. Calvert was the captain of the city’s WHL hockey team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, when they were the Memorial Cup finalists back in 2010. Ryan Reaves is also a Wheat Kings alumni.
Binscarth, Manitoba, is home to Cody McLeod of the Colorado Avalanche, with a population of 427. However, the smallest hometown is that of the New York Rangers’ Justin Falk, hailing from Snowflake, Manitoba. This rural village in the Pembina region of the province is now classified as a “ghost town”, with a population of 2 as of 2012.
A Manitoba native has brought the Stanley Cup home every season for the past four years: Toews was the most recent, and also brought Lord Stanley back to Winnipeg in 2010, while Dustin Penner of the Los Angeles Kings took it home to Winkler in 2012, and Shane Hnidy, current Jets’ broadcaster, introduced the trophy to his home-town of Neepawa in 2011 with the Boston Bruins.
With any luck, it will return in the summer of 2014 as well.
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