Top o’ the morning to you, Nate Schmidt.
Have you been out back chopping wood and contemplating life today? I don’t have to tell you that’s good for the health and good for the soul.
I used to do something similar back in the day, Nate, when I owned 15 acres just outside St-Pierre-Jolys. I’d give the horses their morning feed, turn them out and then muck out the stalls and/or chop firewood. Very therapeutic. Came to some life-altering decisions while knee-deep in horse manure or whacking a tree with an ax.
So I can kind of relate to your soul-searching in recent days, wondering if leaving the Vancouver Canucks for the Winnipeg Jets was the right thing to do.
They tell me you had strong reservations about changing your postal code from the Great Wet North to the frozen tundra. They say you were as reluctant as a tax cheat heading to an audit. More to the point, like a lot of National Hockey League players, you had Good Ol’ Hometown at, or near, the top of your no-trade list.
Not sure what your hangups were, Nate, but I can assure you that whatever you’ve heard about Winnipeg is lies. All lies.
Except the weather, of course.
It gets cold, Nate. Bitterly cold. Cold enough to freeze the brass monkeys off the Golden Boy. You’re going to need all that firewood you’ve been chopping.
Winnipeg won’t be anything like Vegas or Vancouver, where you could loiter on an outdoor patio in January, sipping a latté and staring at your smart phone, or whatever it is that young millionaires do with their down time. But you already knew that because you’ve spent time in Good Ol’ Hometown with the Washington Capitals, the Golden Knights and the Canucks.
The thing is, Nate, you haven’t seen Pegtown in its best bib and tucker. It isn’t the armpit outriders would have you believe. I can assure you that it’s not 10 months of winter and two months of bad skating.
Why, if you were to come up from your hideaway in the wilds of Minnesota this very weekend, I’d wager you’ll find that most of the snow from last winter is gone. What drifts remain are probably only ankle high now.
It’s true, though, Nate. You’ll be trading in your Shangri-La La Land umbrella for a snow blower, but you figure to make $6 million playing defence for the Winnipeg Jets next autumn, winter and spring, so you can afford to hire a kid from down the street and let him or her do your grunt work.
Just don’t chintz out on their Christmas tip, Nate, because I’m sure you know what it’s like to be on the business end of a shovel. You’re from St. Cloud, which sees plenty of the white stuff.
You’re also just a hoot and holler up the road from Minneapolis-St. Paul, which means you likely root, root, root for the Vikings.
Did you know that one of our favorite adopted sons is the greatest coach in Vikings history, Nate? That’s right. Harry Peter Grant is his name, but everyone in Good Ol’ Hometown knows him as Bud, and some even kiss his ring finger whenever he puts away his fishing pole to grace us with his presence on special occasions.
Bud coached our Winnipeg Blue Bombers to four Grey Cup titles, which is why he’s deity.
Win the Stanley Cup just once, Nate, and the locals might not be inclined to kiss your ring finger but they’ll probably never let you buy a beer again. Ever.
Meantime, I think it’s important that we discuss Winnipeg’s WiFi, Nate. You’ve visited enough to know that it’s just another lie. The WiFi doesn’t really suck, no matter what the San Jose Sharks say. I know this because I’ve used it. My connection never broke down more than two or three times every half hour.
So let me just leave you with this final thought, Nate: Winnipeg isn’t all about a wonky WiFi connection. It’s all about a good block heater.