IceCaps, True North look to extend relationship

Robin Short
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Danny Williams — File photo

Atlantic City, N.J.

Barring any major surprises, St. John’s IceCaps CEO Danny Williams and True North Sports and Entertainment will soon sign off on a one-year extension on their existing three-year lease, and start negotiating for additional years keeping the American Hockey League team in St. John’s.

“It’s just a matter of both parties agreeing, and it just happens,” Williams said of the contract extension. “I would be inclined to think that it’s a given.”

True North owns the Winnipeg Jets, and the team’s farm club, the IceCaps.

When he was negotiating to bring the farm club to St. John’s, Williams said there was some pressure being applied in Thunder Bay, Ont., anxious to get into the pro game and considering construction of a new arena.

“Thunder Bay was a competitive threat a while ago, but there’s no activity there now and even if there was, I don’t see a rink being ready in time,” Williams said.

“I’m very optimistic that certainly we will be going into the fourth year, and after that we’ll consider where we go from there.

“But I don’t think Winnipeg wants to move anywhere else. And we’re very happy with the relationship.”

Williams, in Atlantic City for the annual AHL All-Star Classic, hasn’t denied that he would like to purchase an AHL team, but treads lightly when discussing the topic.

He has never discussed buying the team with True North head Mark Chipman.

“If Mark was ever ready to have us consider that, I think he would approach me,” Williams said.

“Glenn (Stanford, the IceCaps’ chief operating officer) and I have talked about whether we should get a franchise, but we have such a great arrangement here now,” he said.


“This is a good thing. If True North is ever interested in selling the team, we would be interested. But I don’t want to raise that debate, because I don’t want Winnipeg going, ‘Oh yeah, they’re doing great and now Williams wants to buy the team.’ That’s not what this is all about.”

The IceCaps are 27-11-5-1 at the all-star break, first in the Eastern Conference. In addition to the strong on-ice performance, St. John’s is tops in the AHL in building capacity — every game at Mile One has been sold out —  and is a leader in sponsorship revenue.

“Even at meetings this morning,” Williams said, “(AHL president) Dave Andrews acknowledged myself and Glenn and said what an example St. John’s has been this season.”

Williams said Winnipeg has been supportive of St. John’s, and Chipman has indicated to Williams he is anxious to win a Calder Cup (before landing the NHL’s Jets, Chipman and True North had the AHL’s Manitoba Moose for 10 years).

“I kid Zinger (St. John’s GM Craig Heisinger) about getting some toughness on the team,” Williams said. “Zinger made the comment to Glenn, ‘Does Danny want toughness or does he want to win?’ Which is an interesting comment.

“It shows you where their thinking is.”


Organizations: IceCaps, American Hockey League, True North Sports Winnipeg Jets AHL All-Star Classic NHL

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Atlantic City Stanford

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Recent comments

  • Ticked Off
    January 21, 2014 - 12:40

    Well they are moving to Thunder Bay now after this season

  • Lane
    January 30, 2012 - 21:52

    Why won't Williams just go away? I'm tired of seeing his sour-looking face and hearing his arrogant voice all the time.

  • Justin
    January 30, 2012 - 19:44

    Deja vu. Talking with some folks about 2 weeks ago, I voiced my opinion that I believe the IceCaps would be relocated to Thunder Bay within 6-8 years. I'm an IceCaps fan, but from a buisness point of view Thunder Bay makes much more sense on every aspect for TNSE.

    • David
      January 31, 2012 - 13:00

      Justin, bite you tongue! You're not allowed to speak such things, especially with St, Danny involved. Say 4 Hail Mary's and sit in the corner.

  • tom
    January 30, 2012 - 19:34

    As usual the teleggam seeks to make Danny look better. The IceCaps have not sold out every game and the last game with the Marlies had seats left on game night. They have done well but be factual.

  • bucyk
    January 30, 2012 - 14:40

    Spinoffs from each game are enormous . Generates positive economic activity for the whole region . The exposure of the hockey team throughout Canada and the United States should help boost tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador .

    • Anita Brake
      January 30, 2012 - 21:14

      Go Danny Go! You, Glen and your team have transformed the downtown entertainment scene and contributed greatly to the success of the city! Keep it up, I hope you sign up the IceCaps for 20 years!

  • Where are the haters now
    January 30, 2012 - 12:01

    Where are all the haters now?? Where are the ones who once so proudly said…nay complained, whined, “Tickets are too expensive!”, “Parking is too expensive!”, “No one likes hockey in St. John’s” Enjoy your humble pie

    • Edmund
      January 30, 2012 - 16:17

      Geez, isn't that the same way the Baby Leafs started (Calder Cup finals to 7 games vs. Adirondack the first year and down hill from there). Danny is very smart to get an extension so he can start selling seasons seats for year 4 now while the team is in first place and a very strong contender). He is a very intelligent business person and with Glenn Stanford as GM they make a great team, but how long is it going to last? I guess you will have to wait til year 5 to see if the nay sayers are right. At $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 for hockey per season in after tax dollars per seat is expensive and becoming a rich persons entertainment package. Good luck keeping it profitable for the next 10 years, especially if there is a bump in the road and they can't ice a competative team. I guess if they pre sell all the seats that is not a concern. Wait and see!!

    • David
      January 30, 2012 - 17:43

      Extending a deal for another year in St. John's....instead of planning now to pull up stakes after one year and head off to Thunder Bay, a city that (quite wisely for the sake of its taxpayers) does not yet have a stadium. They did not idiotically ignore reality and build a white elephant of a rink, then be played as a 'relocation pawn' for every hockey team in the league to coerce a better deal somewhere else --- well, at least not yet.. Yup, that's a real strong show of the viability of AHL hockey in St. John's, for sure.

  • sealcove
    January 30, 2012 - 08:59

    Everything is a given what with that williams your ego