The man who heads up the operations of the St. John’s IceCaps says there are no plans for the American Hockey League team to play games in Winnipeg in the event of a National Hockey League lockout.
“First I heard of it,” said Glenn Stanford, when asked about a short, speculative piece carried in the online edition of the Winnipeg Sun and topped by the headline ‘IceCaps coming home in case of lockout? We’ll see.’
True North Sports and Entertainment owns both the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and the AHL franchise in St. John’s, although the operations of the farm club are leased to Danny Williams, who heads up the IceCaps. True North and the IceCaps recently announced the extension of that affiliation agreement through the 2014-15 season.
“We have an agreement and that agreement is for us to play all of our games out of Mile One (Centre) and nowhere else,” said Stanford, the IceCaps’ chief operating officer.
The IceCaps sold out all of their regular-season and playoff games at Mile One in 2011-12, their inaugural campaign after a franchise shift from Winnipeg, where the team had been known as the Manitoba Moose. The IceCaps expect to sell out all of their games this season as well, with the vast majority of the tickets pre-sold in season ticket packages.
The American Hockey League has yet to release its 2012-13 regular-season schedule, although that should happen in a week or so, meaning all that’s left is last-minute tweaking. Tweaking wouldn’t describe what would have to be done to accommodate IceCaps games in Winnipeg, even if there were plans to do so,
The piece in the Sun also spoke about the possibility of IceCaps exhibition games being played in Winnipeg in the event of a lockout. However, Stanford says the Jets and IceCaps “have never discussed that” either. For a second year in a row, the IceCaps will play their exhibition games in this province. The dates, locations and opponents for that pre-season schedule also should be announced shortly.
NHL president Gary Bettman has said the league will lock out its players should the two sides not reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement by Sept. 15, the date the current CBA expires.
“We as an organization are going to function (as) if there were not going to be an NHL lockout. We’re going to be business as usual until we’re sure it’s not going to be business as usual,” Jets’ spokesman Scott Brown told the Sun.