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CHN Road Blog: Winnipeg, We Hardly Knew Ye




I love a Game Seven, but for various reasons, I’m happy that the Colorado Avalanche will not have to travel back to Winnipeg again this postseason.

It actually has nothing to do with the city itself. As I detailed in the previous road blog, my opinion on the city of Winnipeg actually went up significantly as the series went on. It’s not a perfect city by any means, and I didn’t see all of it, but for me, it was just fine.

I haven’t been on a ton of road trips with the team this season, but what I’m learning is that I place the greatest value on a city that is walkable. I don’t really want to have to call an Uber before and after every game to get to the rink, because you go there multiple times a day. Winnipeg had plenty of hotels within walking distance that fit the bill, as well as restaurants.

And yes, I chose the hotel with a dedicated Supermarket Sweep channel again.

That’s part of the reason why, selfishly, I’d rather go to Vegas during round two. It has nothing to do with what team I think the Avalanche would do better against, but everything to do with being familiar with the city and knowing you can walk everywhere if you want to. Dallas is a little more…spread out.

As for Winnipeg, it all starts with the food. My goodness, the food. I don’t think we ate a bad meal in that city. When we got into town, all six of us in the media caravan met at Hargrave Market right by the rink. It’s essentially like Milk Market in Denver, where you have a few places that you can choose from and everyone eats in a food hall. I went with Josh Morrissey’s new place and got some Popcorn Shrimp. What can I say? I’m a simple man.

The highlight of this trip, food wise, was Feast Cafe Bistro. We had to go on a little journey to get there (20 minute walk from the arena), but it was worth it. Eric Engels from Sportsnet joined all of us, and we ate good. So good that I didn’t even feel the need to have dinner that night after my Bison Brisket Benedict. That’s when you know you got your money’s worth.

One of the things we talked a lot about during that first blog was the environment in Winnipeg on game days. It could not have been more different this time around. Walking back to my hotel from lunch that day around 4 PM, I thought we’d see the streets lined up with Jets fans already starting to pre-game. After all, that’s what I saw before Games One and Two.

Not the case this time.

The city was dead. Yes, it was a Tuesday, but Game Two also took place on a Tuesday and the city was alive. I saw wedding dresses, I saw hazmat suits, I saw the Pope. None of that was visible this time. I only walked into the arena about 80 minutes before the start of the game, and expected the whiteout party to be jumping.

It definitely was not. I got the sense that the city knew that the party was over, and they were ultimately right, because the Avalanche ended it that evening. That’s what this team can do to fanbases.

We will not be going back to Winnipeg for Game Seven, and I’m very happy about that. Why? Let me tell you about our journey to get back to Fargo for our flight to Denver.

Yes, we did the Fargo to Winnipeg trip again. It’s just significantly cheaper. This time, we had enough of a media crew to split up into two vehicles. I rode with Meghan and Nick from DNVR. When we got into our rental car, let’s just say it had a distinctive smell to it. A smell that anyone in Colorado is probably familiar with, if you catch my drift. They obviously didn’t clean the car very well, because not only was the smell very apparent, but someone left a lighter in there. We didn’t think much of it, and the journey from Fargo to Winnipeg was normal.

The journey back definitely was not.

Getting back into the United States the first time was easy. They didn’t come look at the car or anything. We handed them our passports, had a quick chat, and were on our way. The guy this time around wanted to dig in a little bit more.

It definitely did not help that, somehow, the smell inside of the car only got more pungent during the time we were in Winnipeg. We didn’t even drive the car once we arrived, but when we got in to leave on Wednesday morning, it hit you like a ton of bricks when opening the door. That was a problem.

This rental car, for whatever reason, didn’t have plates on it. It had temp plates on the back, and we just handed them the rental agreement entering the country. That did the job getting into Canada, but that wasn’t sufficient enough for getting back into the United States. The border patrol guy wanted to come out of his stall, check the VIN, and then check out the trunk.

One whiff of that trunk and he decided that we weren’t quite ready to enter America.

Instead of passing through, they held onto our passports, made us go park in a garage, and grilled us.

“You been smoking?” No.

“Have any drugs on you?” No.

“Anything in your bags that shouldn’t be coming back to America?”  Nope.

We were already kind of cutting it close on time to get to the Fargo airport for our flight, but this only made things tighter. They put the three of us in a tiny room with reflective glass, and decided a full search of the vehicle and bags was necessary. That took about 20 minutes before they realized there was nothing funny in the car or our bags. At that point, they let us go, which is good, because I wasn’t ready in the right headspace to be strip searched on about three hours of sleep.

Once we got back in the car, Meghan stepped on it and got us to the airport with about 10 minutes to spare. Luckily, the Fargo airport is not exactly an international hub, so you can get through security pretty quickly. I wasn’t ready to be stuck in Fargo for a night, and after this second adventure, I’m pretty happy the Avalanche aren’t going back.

Regardless of if it’s Vegas or Dallas, at least I know it’s easier to get to those cities than it is to get to Winnipeg.

I’ll have a debrief on the Avalanche and Jets matchup up today, but wanted to share one more journey from this series. I’ll be traveling again to follow the Avalanche in round two, and wanted to thank everyone for their contributions to the tip jar. It really does help.


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