The weekend of January 5th/6th will live on with Winnipeg hockey fans as a day of roller coaster emotions.
On Saturday, they woke to find that their beloved Canadian junior team, featuring Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele had lost to Russia in the bronze medal game of the World Junior Hockey Championships. Later that day, they'd find that 2013 draftee Jacob Trouba took home a gold medal on Team USA.
But the tournament quickly became secondary as word spread that the NHL Lockout, nearing the end of its fourth month, seemed to be ending. With the help of mediation, the NHL and the NHLPA were now meeting behind closed doors to put an end to the lockout that was on its way to claiming a full season of shinny, much like what happened in 2004-05.
Early in the morning on Sunday the 6th after a marthon session, news started breaking that a tentative, 10-year agreement had been reached, salvaging what looks to be a 48 or 50-game season.
The season will be unique. Though there has yet to be a formal announcement, the understanding is that each team will play within its conference, much like in 1994-95 when the NHL played a 48-game schedule. As such, the Winnipeg Jets - still in the Eastern Conference for one more season - would exclusively meet the likes of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, while fans hungry for rivalries with the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks will wait one more season for those battles to begin.
Training camps for the Winnipeg Jets and the rest of the NHL are expected to begin shortly, though several players currently in Winnipeg have already been prepping for months. Captain Andrew Ladd and others have routinely been working out at the MTS Iceplex.