Jets owners like St. John’s, but have no plans to sell AHL franchise to Williams

Robin Short
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Mark Chipman

Atlantic City, N.J.

Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment has no plans on selling its American Hockey League franchise to Danny Williams or anybody else, but it is quite satisfied to keep the Jets’ farm team in St. John’s.

“To be honest,” True North chairman Mark Chipman said at Monday’s AHL all-star game, “owning an AHL team kind of a badge of honour for us.

“That’s where we learned the (hockey) business. It’s not just a commodity that we’re interested in selling.

“Beyond that, the development of hockey players is vital and you can’t overstate that. It’s particular vital to us in a market our size. We’re not going to be one of those teams taking a flyer on free agency, so we have to develop our kids and we want to control that process and be very involved. So we think ownership of the team is vital.”

True North relocated the former Manitoba Moose franchise to St. John’s last summer after Chipman and company landed the former Atlanta Thrashers in an NHL relocation deal.

True North and Danny Williams reached a agreement that will see Williams lease the St. John’s IceCaps for three years.

“And I don’t see why we wouldn’t go beyond the three years,” Chipman said. “It’s early, and we’re both just getting going, but everything is going very well. I don’t know why we wouldn’t extend. I really don’t.”

Chipman said the length of any one contract would be five years — “we’ve lived on five-year agreements” — much the same as the contracts Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment had in place when St. John’s housed the Toronto Maple Leafs’ farm club.

“I don’t know if we would entertain something beyond that,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t even know how long Danny would be in wanting to go beyond that term.

“But we haven’t even discussed it. We’ve both been so busy getting up and running, and I’ve had no discussions with anybody extending it.”

Chipman admitted Winnipeg did consider Thunder Bay, Ont., when it was looking for a home for the AHL team. Like St. John’s, Thunder Bay had the population base and knowledgeable fan base.

But it didn’t — and still doesn’t — have a suitable rink.

“It wasn’t that long ago we were playing playoff games in St. John’s,” he said. “The fans there have a very strong understanding of the game and a passion for it.

“We want our players in that atmosphere. That’s what made us successful in Winnipeg — it was a hockey market, and players are held accountable in those types of markets. All those intangibles are very helpful in the development process.”

Organizations: American Hockey League, True North Sports, Manitoba Moose Atlanta Thrashers NHL Maple Leafs Sports Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Atlantic City, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay

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Recent comments

  • tom
    February 01, 2012 - 21:34

    sad part, is that if Thunder Bay builds a rink, IF, this team will relocate there in 5 years. There is no doubt about it. Costs and a piece of the Ontario market would be the deciding factor. I would push for a 10 year agreement if I was Danny.

    • Frank
      February 02, 2012 - 08:10

      Highly doubt Danny wants this team for 10 years. Once the novelty wears off and he's not raking in as much money with the IceCaps, he'll be ready to move on to something else.

    • David
      February 02, 2012 - 12:19

      Tom....Danny and True North are true business partners, in that they are using each other for mutual benefit. True North gets a very influential local celebrtiy to arrange for a fantastic deal on an arena and get the locals so worked up about thier team that they fall over themsleves buying season's tickets. Danny Williams is given a way to maintain his aura of hero and stay in the public limelight. Win-win. In the running of the business, Danny Williams is a hired gun, more a figurehead than an executive ---- CEO is the title required for his ego, not one that really describs his job. As far as Danny having any leverage over what TN ever intends to do with their team.....well, that's just not on. And Thunder Bay WILL build that a farm location for Winnipeg, it's pretty much ideal, and most certainly better than St. John's. Mile One is again a temporary sports team address...and that's the best it will be for as ong as it exists.

  • trouty
    February 01, 2012 - 14:00

    My taxes also go to a lot of stuff i have no care for Arts and Republic of Doyle but i dont see the need to go to arts and entertainment section to whine about it ,cause at end of day it wont change it.Also the city had about 2 oportunities to sell Mile One and save your 2 bucks on taxes but chooce to keep it,Brad Dobbin was one buyer

    • David
      February 01, 2012 - 14:49

      Another great Newfoundland trait....selective reality, intellectual dishonesty, and irrational, defensive lashing out. If you don't think that complaining will change anything, why did you complain about my post, Einstein?

    • David
      February 01, 2012 - 15:04

      Tell you what, and 511,000 of your closest friends send me $2 each and I'll stop posting on's only a measly $2, right? Shouldn't be a problem for a guy with your sense of numbers and bon vivant just tell them they MUST pay it...and right now, 'cause I say so. That's how it works.

  • trouty
    February 01, 2012 - 13:56

    So David we should not get the AHL team and Leave the building open for those 38 nights a year and not have those 6300 people in the building,that really helps your tax dollars,give the team back and leave the building empty and forget the money and the spinoff the team is giving the economy.Good idea David you keep the Danny Hating train going

    • David
      February 01, 2012 - 14:44

      The story of Newfoundland.....hand over money with one hand, because you earlier handed over money with the other. That is why this place is as incredibly backwards, ignorant, and as easily duped. In financial terms, Mile One is called a "sunk cost".....the original money is gone, per the local tradition of immense stupidity, and the most irrational thing one could do, under a framework of any economic thinking whatseover, is to use this as any justification to keep pouring more finiancial resources at it. This is the definition of financial insanity. Why, even uneducated laymen have a phrase, borne purely out of basic common sense, for this..... it's called "spending good money after bad". The fly in the ointment of anyone coming thto the "right" conclusion, as alwayas, is that it is public money...which is Newfenese for "no noe's money", which makes it worthless money. But frame the question properly & logically, and treat money like it was worth what it actually is (wow!) and you don't arrive at your quintessentially Newfoundland answer.....amazing, what?

  • trouty
    February 01, 2012 - 04:35

    Hey David answer me how much money this team is costing you,also answer me how much of your tax dollars are coming out of the ahl team.I will help you out its ZERO so if this team anit costing you anything why is their a need,we get it you do not like Danny Williams,we get you dislike the AHL,we understand you wont buy a ticket or attend a game,we understand pal we get all that.The difference between the Icecaps and the Leafs,is that the Icecaps are costing you and the city zero,and is bringing in money to downtown.I bought my season tickets with a 150 buck 3 year and 1106 bucks a season knowing its a 3 yr lease,knowing they could leave in 3 yrs,but we all paid for that,and if we get a extension great,if they leave i will get over it as i did with the Leafs and Devils,life goes on.I dont get what people get from complaining on something that affects them none.Want something to complain about complain about arts that rack in millions or Republic of Doyle which are goverment hands 1.5 Million too,something the Icecaps generate easily and at no cost

    • David
      February 01, 2012 - 13:09

      Any temporary economic viablitiy of this professional sports team is entirely predicated on the egregiously below-market lease arrangement for a publicly owned stadium, one that all Newfoundland taxpayers are on the hook for years to come. This situation represents an explicit and significant public subsidy to a private business venture, with none other than a former multi-millionaire premier as one of the direct beneficiaries. Unlike you, I know when I'm being being robbed AND abused, and I am not so remarkably infatuated with all things Danny Williams as to celebrate it.

  • David
    January 31, 2012 - 13:10

    I'll bet it comes as an absolute shock to 98% of your readers to learn that Danny Williams doesn't own the team. Well, it's not like kbnowing the truth about stuff was ever any impediment to supporting Danny. Ah, Thunder Bay.....1985 Allan Cup...... good times.

    • I am the two percent
      January 31, 2012 - 14:21

      I must be the 2% you are talking about then. I knew this was tentatively a 3 year lease. It was mentiioned from day one. Now I know you probably have a dart board hung somewhere in your house with a picture of Danny Williams taped to it. At least Danny Willliams had the resources (money, people, and yes ego) to arrange an AHL franchise. What have YOU done for Newfoundland lately besides inbreed?

    • David
      January 31, 2012 - 15:17

      I like to think I represent an educated, thinking Newfoundlander capable of writing a cogent, articulate, perhaps even entertaining personal opinion without resorting to being a childish, bullying guttersnipe. And thanks for the unsolicited verifcation of the 'Danny man-love' affliction.....Bravo, 2%.