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The JetStream

@ The Winnipeg Free Press

July 27, 2011
The Final Post

 

Campaign E-Store
  The eStore is now closed and all T-Shirts are sold out. Thanks to all for wearing your support. These beauties should be collector's items one day!

 
Introduction
   
 

Hello Everyone.

Well, I've had some time to reflect on the past 2 months. What an insane part of history for our province.

This website's purpose has truly come to an end. And it is truly hard to find the final words for its final post.

We have a team, a GM, a coach, a sold out arena for years to come, a home on the radio (ahem) and now a logo and identity. I always thought that the final post would include our new logo and sure enough the timing is right. All of the negative notions we fought day-in and day-out all turned out to be wrong, every single one of them. The corporate support, the ticket prices, the fan base, the NHL approval, the ownership. It's incredible really. For those people to be THAT wrong is astounding.

This dream was something I always truly felt would come true. It is why I pushed on so relentlessly even in the face of being exploited, at times, for my pipedreaming, especially early on but even right up until mid-May of this year. The fact of the matter is, in 2003 I felt Winnipeg was on the cusp of a re-birth. Now, in 2011, we already have Canada's newest arena and newest NHL team and are about to open its newest stadium, airport, national museum and IKEA.

I heard all of the talking heads like Rob Warren tell me over and over that we couldn't sustain such a resurgence, yet here we are. I heard others tell me the NHL would never come back to Winnipeg and would only use us as leverage for eternity, yet there is a Winnipeg Jets webpage up on NHL.com right now.

You see I always, we always, had to justify our beliefs and back them up, but "they" never had to the do the same. Their stance was based on 1993esque rhetoric and the same old local AM talk radio jargon that hyptnotizes people into believing we are a "can't do" city.

No more mosquito talk, pothole complaining, or wind chill chatter. All of those things come with living here. And now so do NHL goals, assists and sellouts. Yes sellouts...in ink for years to come with a waiting list that stretches well into the next two decades.

But we can't afford it, remember?

But lets move to the positive. Quite simply we knew we would see this day. If you didn't know it, you could at the very least come here to believe it without being made to feel like an idiot. If I provided that for you, then I am happy.

I have taken my fair share of criticism over the years (why I'll never know) but mostly people have been nothing shy of incredible and so supportive. I appreciated all of it and will cherish this journey for the rest of my life, not only because we succeeded but because of all of the incredible people I had the pleasure of meeting from the spring of 2003 right up until the draft last month in St. Paul. That experience by the way was outstanding. From all of the journalists that covered my quest to Mark Chipman himself, who has become a great friend of mine. Shaking Mark's hand right before he made yet another monumental announcement, that of our team name being Winnipeg Jets, was a proud moment for me. Being greeted by Steve Yzerman, meeting Dustin Byfuglien, and Mark Sheifele and his family. Painting the town white in a 16 seat Hummer limo. What a cap-off to the greatest month in Winnipeg history. June of 2011. Will we ever forget that month?

I don't need to go on in-depth about all the ideas on this website that ended up being correct. You know that already. You've been on here for a long time. You've been ridiculed for believing. You get it.

Regardless of whether you believed or not, we all get to enjoy NHL hockey now for years to come and, with the front office that we are forming and culture we are creating, a Stanley Cup championship is certainly something we can truly conquer as well.

And together we will enjoy every minute of it.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for hanging with me all this time. Dream big, achieve big. I hope you all follow me over to "The JetStream" at the Winnipeg Free Press, the best chat forum for everything Winnipeg Jets including my commentary that will also be found at DarrenFord.ca come this fall. The boards will be extensively moderated and a whole lot of fun too! Also, follow JakesTickets.com for all of the updates about the kids my son Jake will be sending to NHL hockey by giving his tickets away in partnership with True North and their foundation, still to be named. The Winnipeg Free Press provides a very credible platform for me to take this to the next level and True North provides Jake's Tickets with deserving kids that can't otherwise afford to get to live NHL hockey and are maintaining their grades and school attendance.

I debated for a long time on what path to take with JetsOwner.com. There was a compelling argument to keep it alive and yet also one to lay it to rest. I ultimately chose the latter. I wanted to let this website stand alone in history and be remembered for what it set out to accomplish rather than re-invent it into something that it was never intended to be. It will remain up on the net, as will the boards, to view but never to be updated again.

I am sad and happy all at once.

My very first media attention came when a short letter to the editor was printed in the Winnipeg Sun in May of 2003. The comment from the editor after my piece was "don't hold your breathe, Darren". And so I built a half-assed website and the rest as they say is history.

I did hold my breathe, and over 8 years later, I finally exhaled as I sat down in my newly chosen, centre ice seats to Winnipeg Jets NHL hockey at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I just sat in my seats and stared at the arena for about 5 minutes. And then I smiled.

See you at opening night!

Sincerely,
Darren Ford

June 5, 2011
Last Chance for T-Shirts!

Miss out on the big party? Still want a Mission:Accomplished Collector's T-shirt? Well thanks to Popeye's Supplements this week will be your chance!

Due to logistics and the postal strike, Popeye's has agreed to distribute the shirts at their Winnipeg locations (if demand is high enough, Brandon as well) starting Monday, June 6th. It's your last chance to grab one of these rare t-shirts and help Jake's Tickets to send underprivilaged kids to NHL hockey!

It's really simple. $20 cash and carry. That's it! No strings. Simply pop into one of these locations and grab your way to show people that you believed all along!

WEST WPG - #C130, 666 St. James Street
EAST WPG - Unit B, 930 Nairn Avenue
SOUTH WPG - Unit #170-1600 Kenaston Blvd

June 1, 2011
8th Anniversary, End Of The Road

I suppose this photo says it all. The naysayers who said the NHL would never come back here, YOU WERE WRONG!

I personally thanked and shook the hands of David Thomson, Bill Daly, Gary Bettman and of course Mark Chipman who personally escorted me into the biggest press conference in history. That I will never forget.

What a day. Lots of photos and video to share soon.

See you at 4Play on Friday, the biggest party in town! 3pm until close!

May 24, 2011
Mission: Accomplished!

Yes, it is surreal to type these words, in fact I am shaking, but JetsOwner.com is making it official. The Return of the Jets to Winnipeg has become a reality. We did it! We are back!

The NHL has landed back in Winnipeg!

MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED!

I repeat, MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED!!

After an 8 year journey of "pipedreaming" and being deemed as lunatics, the National Hockey League will once again call Winnipeg home. We have proved the naysayers wrong. Everything that this website and campaign laid out as steps to bring the NHL back has systematically come true. Now here we are, awaiting a season ticket drive to fill MTS Centre to the rafters and show the world that the best hockey fans on earth are back! And we're gonna be loud and we're gonna be proud. And we will not lose this team again.

Special thanks to Mark Chipman and everyone at True North Sports & Entertainment for their vision, patience and persistence. Our dream was indeed Mark's dream as well. I told all of you faithful followers to trust me. I hope you will all remember this well into the future. That is all I ask. I have learned so much and met so many great people along the way and it has truly been a remarkable experience for me.

I will have further closing words in the coming weeks, but for now we party.

Specifically at a MUST-ATTEND event that will serve as the official JetsOwner.com celebratory extravaganza. Sleeman Breweries presents the Mission: Accomplished bash at 4Play Sports Bar, Friday June 3rd, 2011 starting at 3pm and running all night. The event will help support Jake's Tickets, a new idea I am heading whose goal is to send under-privilaged kids to an NHL hockey game. Many different kids and a guest will enjoy NHL hockey when they otherwise may not be able to afford to. NHL too expensive? Well Jake's Tickets will help that many more kids be able to see their NHL heroes on the ice, live at MTS Centre each year. This event will help reach this goal to purchase NHL tickets specifically for this reason. Entry will cost only $20 which also gets you an official collector's Mission: Accomplished T-shirt, a complimentary pint of Sleeman beer and other cool Sleeman swag plus there will be a limited supply of refreshing Freixenet Cava to toast later in the evening. In additon there will be an incredible Jets memorabilia auction with loads of autographed jerseys, photos and more! Sorry, no tickets in advance, just show up ealry and file in!

We expect many key members of the media and politicans to be in attendence.

Join me in celebrating this monumental achievement and greatest day in Manitoba's history. It will be fantastic to finally meet all of you and for you all to meet eachother after all these long and waiting years.

Don't forget. 4Play Sports Bar. Friday, June 3rd. 3:00pm to the wee hours of the morning! You can't miss this night...See you there!! Date subject to change depending on official announcement by TNSE and the NHL.

May 21, 2011
Brunt: Deal Is Done, Thrashers to Winnipeg

Well the world didn't end today, so that is good. Wouldn't that just be our luck, we're on the verge of getting our NHL team back and Armageddon strikes!

Speaking of eruptions, all hell did break loose on Thursday when Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail declared it official that True North Sports & Entertainment had struck a deal with Atlanta Spirits to sell and relocate the Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's a story he stands by still today yet others refute. Are we dealing with Semantics? Quite possibly.

The fact of the matter is, this deal is, at the very least, so far along that it need only be signed and delivered to the NHL Board of Governors who will be quick to give approval. The deal is one that has been in the works for some time, hence my "eyes in two directions" comments months back. Atlanta was always Plan A, and Phoenix was always the "well I guess if we have to" kind of situation, one that used Winnipeg as leverage and also, may I add, took the spotlight off of Atlanta's issues which was a very good thing for us here in the hockey hotbed of the world. TNSE's purchase price is likely set, but how the money is divided among the NHL and Atlanta Spirit group may be a remaining issue.

Meanwhile it has also been reported that next Friday, the Manitoba Moose will relocate to St. John's, Newfoundland to become our very own AHL affiliate while the Vancouver Canucks will look elsewhere for an AHL partner, quite possibly the Chicago Wolves who will have been left stranded by the Atlanta Thrashers impending departure.

True North has been quiet, underground and by the book. Just the way the NHL likes it. Sticking to this protocol only increased our chances of seeing this day come to light.

Thanks to the incredible number of media requests to cover the story that I dealt with the past couple days (over 25 by the way) and I apologize to those whom I could not accommodate. And a special thanks to everyone at The Hustler & Lawless Show and Illegal Curve show on 1290 Sports Talk Radio for having me as a guest the past few days. I truly appreciated the comments I received from all callers and the treatment I received from all staff down at the BOB/FAB station.

Once JetsOwner.com feels confident enough, the meter will reach its maximum level. And it will echo 'round the world.

As always, stay tuned while the key players get this done and make it official. Only then will Portage & Main swell to tens of thousands, not hundreds like Thursday night. Only then will we line up to grab our seats to the hottest ticket in town and the cinderella story of the decade in Canada.

May 16, 2011
Peachtree TV

With all the media attention our dream receives now, it isn't often I single anything out anymore. In the beginning, a tiny letter-to-the-editor would justify a post!

But this is not 2003 and Frasier has been off the air for some time now.

CBC's Elliotte Friedman has reported that NBA Atlanta Hawks and Phillips Arena are to be sold separately to local interests, leaving the Thrashers franchise for Winnipeg's taking. The soon-to-be new owners of the Hawks and Arena have no interest in hockey and all of the red ink that comes along with it, upwards of $32 million last season alone according to several reports. Add to that the dismal future of now needing to rent the building off new NBA owners and owning an NHL franchise in The Big Peachtree seems anything but peachy. The 41 vacant dates could be much better served with concerts and other events that actually generate revenue.

It has also been widely reported that the NHL are not fond of ASG and therefore would like them to be out of the hockey world. Whether this is true or not still doesn't change the fact that no new suitors are stepping up as replacements. Well not anyone that does not have a 204 area code anyway.

As my hints for a long time have suggested (eyes in two directions, hurry up Phx you are holding things up, the 'ol 99% meter reading debacle) our sights were never aimed at Glendale to begin with. Mind you, that is a team we very well might have ended up with.

But now we hang tight while True North continues their underground approach. It's gotten us this far so I'd say it's safe to bet on it just a tad longer. Like I always tell people, I've run this marathon for a long time, I'm not tripping at the finish line.

I said I would not mis-lead. And I have not.

Thanks for the insane amount of kind words on the boards and in personal emails. I try to reply to them all but I haven't invented an 8th day of the week yet.

Stay tuned for details of a great event at 4Play Sports Bar sponsored by Sleeman Breweries and Freixenet Cava. We can all meet once and for all!

April 29, 2011
Revised Ticket Pricing

All the sudden everybody wants to be JetsOwner.com now! Oh the irony.

With all the recent rumours surrounding anouncements at Portage and Main and other myths, I'm here to make sure you keep your feet grounded. Have a quiet weekend and relax. This thing will heat up before you know it. Apologies to the many media requests I've had to turn out the past few weeks. There are only so many hours in the day.

Thanks to Tom Brodbeck for giving me some love in The Sun last week. Much appreciated. Gutsy to call out his own colleagues!

I have tried to hint as best as I can at what is going on for months now. None of this is standard procedure but the rules to this game have been made on the fly. Please disregard 80% of what you hear. Maybe 20% is anywhere near accurate.

That being said, please take a peek at my slightly revised ticket pricing chart, according to me. Pricing boundaries are not concrete, but a guestimate and few zones have gone up slightly, but not enough to make any significant investment changes.

Talk amongst yourselves to discuss what you can afford and get your ticket group ready.

April 14, 2011
"It May Be Time To Find That Old Portrait Of The Queen"

And with that statement from CBC HNIC the national love affair with Winnipeg will begin. We are in the final stretch run. Apparently St. James is getting a team as well because the Atlanta Thrashers will need a home as well. Maybe MTS IcePlex can be expanded to 15,000 seats.

This past week I have learned a great deal of information. It is time to cheer on a Calder Cup Championship, then work on a Stanley Cup thereafter. The day has finally come where everyone, almost everyone anyway, believes in what this website set out to see happen. Some needed a push, a kick, a time machine...whatever....but they are here now. It is fun to finally be in this seat isn't it?

I will call to arms the army of JetsOWner.com supporters at some point and I hope you all will be ready to answer the call. A gathering, not to push our cause (that is LONG over with), but to celebrate. None of this happens until there is reason, officially, to do so.

Until such a time, get out and cheer on your Manitoba Moose. If you haven't already, get a feel for the building. Get a feel for how loud it has the potential to be and how intimidating it will be when it is full to capacity of Manitoba hockey fans.

March 23, 2011
Regarding The Message Boards

Just wanted to drop a little note regarding the message boards. While these are open discussions, we all have to remember that how we conduct ourselves on these boards reflects on Winnipeg as a city and us as citizens of it. While the moderators do a great job trying to keep the boards clean, there is always the odd thread or comment that "slips" past the goalie due to the shear volume of participants. While the message boards are not directly correlated with content on JetsOwner.com, they are an extension of the movement as a whole. Most members are civil and carry out mature and well-mannered conversations. Unfortunately some continue to indulge in inappropriate behavior involving personal attacks, whether it be racial, religious, sexist or otherwise abusive.

This includes those that reside in other cities that may or may not be losing their franchise one day. Merely being a fan of their struggling team should not render them open to ridicule or abuse. Being a moderator is certainly not a paid job. None of this is and I do not have the additional spare time to police an excessive amount of this sort of conduct. Therefore I ask that you take it upon yourself to represent this city and province with class and integrity. You would not believe how many people log on to these boards now. Most still only view the comments and obstain from posting themselves. This should be something you take pride in. Pretend it is your real name that you use...remember...I have to.

Thank you,

Darren

March 4, 2011
F5 In Full Gear, Sports Radio 1290 Tonight

Hope everyone is enjoying (or exhausted from) the media frenzy. Had a few of these haven't we; but none with this significance. And yes, yes I've seen the Jet Meter that TSN is using on TV and their website. I spoke with Dave Naylor and we had a good chuckle about its origin. I told him to imagine 8 years of GRADUAL movement on our meter. It's been quite the ride.

Speaking about media, our newest radio station, and key ingredient for an NHL return has invited me to join them in studio this evening. The Hustler & Lawless Show on Sports Radio 1290 will air tonight from 4pm-6pm and the entire show will be featuring one topic. The NHL's return to Winnipeg. Join us at 4pm for two hours of our favourite topic. You can tune in to 1290am or listen live online at www.sportsradio1290.co

March 1, 2011
NHL's Savior: Winnipeg?

It was once (more than once actually) told to me that Winnipeg's ideal situation to re-gain an NHL franchise would be one that included more than one team being in trouble at the same time. It was a tall order yet, as JetsOwner.com laid out, one that was conceivable.

What we have before us is a mess of epic proportions for the NHL. Two franchises, one of which they own, in dire need of more than a band-aid to stop the hemoraging. Band-aids aren't cutting it any longer. Reconstructive surgery is what is needed, and fast.

While the league uses Winnipeg, ironically, as leverage to push the corrupt deal through in Glendale, the Atlanta Thrashers wait in line to be the next league-fix. The NHL isn't about to go into the ownership role again, not after the debacle in Gongdale. No, that two-year long disaster was only intended to keep an NHL team away from the dirty hands of Jim BALLSillie. There have been several bluffs that have gone sour in the desert. It now seems that only fiction could come up with the what has gone on in Phoenix over the past 18 months. Sadly it is all too real.

For us in the Manitoba capital, we are tired of the games. We want hockey games. We want this to be over once and for all. While Gary Bettamn doesn't think of Winnipeg as the ideal solution, it is one that he will have to settle on at some point soon. His magic wand will not likely find a way out of the legal mess that is the Phoenix Coyotes, nor will it dig up someone wanting to purchase an NBA team, NHL team and Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.

What he should be ecstatic about is the idea of having perhaps the most solid ownership in the league with Mark Chipman and his partner David Thomson. This is the kind of reputation the league needs. Smart, well-heeled owners with top notch front offices...and amongst the most passionate fan base in North America. Gary Bettman is lucky to have such patient and loyal people that want to be part of the club that is the National Hockey League. Because really, who else is there? In 2011, nobody else.

Our 15,000 seats will be full, loud and proud. And the SHED district that will unfold around MTS Centre will generate more than an extra 2,000 seats could EVER provide for the overall sustainability of big league hockey in Winnipeg. Brilliant really.

We just need to fill the seats and generate the noise. And I think this website has successfully done so for almost 8 years.

From pipedream to our new team, whoever and whenever that is.

Everyone "gets it" now. That's all I ever wanted.

January 31, 2011
Speculation From A Non-Blogger

The NHL has no leverage with Glendale if the only market in North America that has any interest, ability and an actual bid to take on a franchise (Wpg) goes ahead and gets their team from Atlanta.

Then Glendale says "ah-ha, what do we have here...looks like the NHL has nowhere to turn to now that Winnipeg has got their team...hmmm, I think we'll need another year to find an agreement here in Glendale"

What could the NHL do then? They'd be screwed with owning the Coyotes another year and the entire BoG would flip out. There would be nowhere to put them with Winnipeg off the table!

They CAN however, tell Winnipeg that we have to take the Coyotes off their hands and tell Atlanta they need to spend another year (or so) trying to find local owners. Maybe in another year Quebec has their ducks in a row.

Bottom line: Phoenix was first in line at the Shite-Storm Stand. Atlanta is 2nd priority. Period.

Winnipeg pressure gets Coyotes deal done? NHL is VERY appreciative and lets Winnipeg in on Atlanta.

Speculation? Maybe.

Preparations in full swing here at home to welcome either team? Definitely.

January 26, 2011
State Of The JetsOwunion. AKA: Worst Header Yet!

Dreger is a pawn. 3-5 years!? I am so glad I didn't get into journalism back when I was 18 (I was seriously considering it until the Jets left and the idea ripped my heart out). The profession has largely become being people's pawns or noting "sources" that have no name.

Hey, I can't disclude (is that a word?) myself from that realm, however I can tell you my sources are impeccable.

On that note, I must come clean with all of you because I have always been straight up with you. While I expected the PHX thing to crumble, and it likely will, The Choose Day thing was based off of something entirely different, if not uncertain to begin with.

There is a lot of posturing going on right now and this issue is as sensitive as you could possibly imagine. I have led a privilaged existence thus far and WILL NOT mess that up.

We here at home, ie True North, have created an iron-clad atmosphere by which to run and successfully operate an NHL franchise, yes with a 15,000 seat arena. In fact, it will blow your mind how little an extra 2,000 seats would matter when you see how much thought has been put into creating a sustainable environment for the NHL here in our smallish, yet hockey-mad prairie city of 750,000.

So when Darren Dreger plays his pawn role on CJOB via telephone, I Pay No Mind (sweet Beck reference for you 90's kids). Myself, I have to live in this city for the rest of my life, proudly. Therefore I will hold back stuff, and ideas, which I've done since 2006. That's when I learned my goal to find a JetsOwner had come to an end. I found the guy that thought like I did and had Winnipeg in his blood like I did....just with a fatter wallet and saavy business skills, not to mention a dynamite person in general. It felt amazing. But patience would have to be the greatest trait. If you couldn't hack the wait, don't fish and cut bait.

As per usual, I have no idea where I'm going with this now. But I think I will let things roll as they may, rather than guesstimate when press conferences will occur. My respect for the top dog runs too deep. I have many sources but it doesn't do any of you any good to lose sleep or decode my cryptic messages (which by the way have me either howling or shaking my head, but none-the-less are usually hysterical, but the odd time are bang-on, you members know who you are )

Anyway, listen, we are in the position that was always the ideal one...two teams hurting and only one place on the continent that can adopt one of them in a week's notice...Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. And I dare anyone to explain what other city exists. They do not. Quebec City will one day. But not today.

Today there is one place. And there are two teams and so we sit in the driver's seat.

Hey, I say St. James and Charleswood get a team each. We make the Bill Clement Parkway a draw bridge and the battle begins!

Cheers to all of you. I am not saying I will be silent, but I will think harder before I click "post message".

January 10, 2011
Thrashers, Coyotes & Our Own Backyard

Things are heating up in the mainstream media. John Shannon of Sportsnet (4:22 mark) has reported that the Atlanta Thrashers are to be sold to the NHL as is desired by the newly reduced 5-man ownership group Atlanta Spirit. Since settling their lawsuits it is believed that the remaining owners are not so keen on keeping the bleeding hockey team around to leach off of the richer NBA Hawks. Furthermore, he reports that once the NHL has control of the team it will be flipped to True North Sports & Entertainment and moved to Winnipeg for the upcoming 2011-12 season. This isn't the first we've heard of the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg but things certainly seem to be heating up and this will not be the last we hear of it. Since I refuse to be the guy who starts or breaks the news, I do feel comfortable passing along mainstream news. Things are too tight and too close to be messing up the process now. I will respect that process as I always have.

Meanwhile in the desert, Matthew Hulsizer still seems far away from "purchasing" the Phoenix Coyotes and keeping them in Glendale. In a less-than-ideal bond market the city still needs to sell $100 million worth of municipal bonds in order to "buy a parking lot". Sigh. In other words in order to pay for a majority of the purchase price of a sports team that garners little interest even when parking is free.

Right here at home is where the exciting stuff is happening. Preparations for the big league are coming together nicely should the NHL have a team (or two) to offer us. Just know that we will be ready when the call comes. Some pretty cool stuff is in our horizon.

Just remember at the beginning when this whole thing was pie-in-the-sky. Now there are potentially TWO teams to choose from.

Stay tuned to CJOB. They will flip back to a pro-stance again without a doubt. After all, it's safe again.

The bottom line is we have an extremely smart group in True North. I love it when a plan comes together.

December 22, 2010
Merry Christmas And A Very Happy New Year!

December 16, 2010
The Neverending Chapter

There is officially a new definition for the term Horse and Pony Show. In this case, the Glendale city council and their two city "managers".

Listening to Ed Beasley and his assistant Horatio Skeete was like politely hanging tight while a 2nd grader says Grace at the dinner table. This is a massive spend (unheard of actually) for a tax base the size of Saskatoon on a dead sport and franchise that has lost triple the amount of money that is now being pledged to keep it afloat for 5 additional years. You'd think they could put forth someone who can public speak. Or a mayor who was paying attention enough to remember her questions. "That's what happens when you get old". What?!? Are you kidding me. Farting accidentally happens too, and that might have been the only ridiculous thing that DIDN'T happen during this important council meeting.

What Glendale, Arizona has done is unprecedented in pro sports. It's beyond absurd. Never mind that this team should already be in Winnipeg (or never should have left in the first place, but that's another can of worms); but two other suitors for the Phoenix Coyotes have been turned down for wanting less yet

Matthew Hulsizer is getting 59% of the purchase price covered and 6 years worth of losses covered by the tiny city of Glendale. For a sport that doesn't belong in the desert and for a team that has been riddled with red ink since 1996. A total of $197 million is being coughed up. That is more than the arena itself cost.

And who are they kidding:

"Purchasing parking lots". Translation: we are going to pay 59% of the team for you.

"Managing fee" Translation: we are going to cover all of, or most of your losses

"Crucial tenant" Translation: we don't recognize that an AHL team could draw nearly the same arena revenue (larger crowds, third the cost). Can the city not find ANY other tenant for a brand new arena besides the NHL?

"Parking revenue" Translation: we expect that the few thousand people who REGULARLY come to games and park for free, will now pay $20.00 to park. What about those people on the bubble about going to games? Gimme a break. Every fan would have to drive one vehicle to every game and they still wouldn't cover debts.

"Other fees to generate revenue" Translation: we don't have a clue what fees we speak of. Nobody does, yet we expect you to assume they will be generated adequately. Oh by the way, those type of fees are already being used to pay off the arena construction as it is.

"609,000 people went to games last season " Translation: we expect you to believe that 14,850 people went to every game on average. Wow. Any picture I've ever seen the past few years there has been 3,000-4,000 people. If there was EVER 14,850 people how many were free? With free food? Where is the revenue stream from free food?? That's a loss, not revenue!

It is absurd that the NHL would allow this to occur, but the bottom line is...well...the bottom line. The other 29 owners (i.e. Bettman's bosses) just want their $6 million out of this and want to wash their hands. They couldn't care less that some deer-in-the-headlights city council in Arizona is getting raped in the process. They just want out.

And you can't blame Mr. Hulsizer. Hell, I'll take a crack at owning the team.

With that rant off my chest...

The JetsOwner.com story isn't over, but the final chapter seems to be lingering on. That being the chapter where we get our team. We have the JetsOWNER. We've had that for quite some time, although only recently made public. The Coyotes returning would have been a fairytale ending for this quest. A quest that was nearly, as in 20 minutes nearly, complete back in May. The NHL isn't toying with us. Okay maybe they are. But they are sincere in being okay to see us back in the league. The press conference set-up at MTS Centre that day with the simple figure "13,000" on the scoreboard proves it. A select few individuals in this city also have an extreme collector's item...a 2010-11 NHL schedule where the word "Manitoba" is seen 82 times.

I can tell you one thing that should be of comfort. Our buyers remain very positive and patient. I suppose we should all...gulp...do the same. Nothing that happened down in the desert could have been influenced by True North. It was lunacy on live TV.

If you've ever believed in suck-up points. I'll tell ya, we have a million of them with the NHL

A quick note regarding the Jet-O-Meter. I have had inquiries as to why it hasn't dropped to a lower number. The reason is quite simply because nothing has set our mission back. Maybe timeline-wise it has but not fundementally. By this I mean a lowering ofthe meter would have to include some form of blow to OUR end of the equation. True North saying they are no longer pursuing an NHL team would certainly qualify. Or the NHL saying there is no way in hell they are going back to Winnipeg. Luckily this isn't the case. And so it shall stay stuck at 96% until we find our final 4% in the form of a relocated team.

I'll be on The Fan 960 in Calgary tomorrow (Friday) at 3:45pm.

Happy Holidays and have a safe New Year!

October 16, 2010
More Chapters To This Desert Dog

And the emails flood in.

I want to make a brief comment about the latest (and merely the latest) news out of Phoenix. Actually, you can just read Gary Lawless' article in the Free Press or this editorial in The Sun to get my stance. Be warned, they sound like posts from JetsOwner.com from anywhere between 2003-2009, which is wonderful and I mean that sincerely. Actually both local papers' tone is now that of JetsOwner.com's from years past. My broken record for the day? How many times did I say that our ownership was in place and solid? And that they were taking the perfect approach with the NHL and waiting patiently at the front door rather than breaking in the back door window. Or that the NHL was fine with MTS Centre and its capacity. Or that Bettman was fine with this market. I know it all seems like common knowledge now, but remember there was a time when nobody had a clue who was going to own this team. I recall David Asper being the constant savior. Seems funny now.

Okay, so now everybody knows. Now Don Cherry is the guy who predicts the Coyotes will come here. Sorry Grapes, but its kinda easy to take that guess now.

Now these sort of quotes are seen every day in the papers, or as I mentioned in JetsOwner.com at any point before 2009:

"Don't worry, there are other options and other failing teams"

"We WILL get a team at some point."

"It's not a matter of "if" but "when"

Sure beats, "Darren Ford is a dreamer and all of those JetsOwner.com followers are nutjobs" or "Winnipeg simply can't afford the NHL". Now people seem to conveniently forget what our stance has been for years. Every time I open a paper, it's pro-NHL headlines simply because the cat is out of the bag about ownership and about Gary Bettman's view of Winnipeg. I get it. It's safe now to believe...but people shouldn't forget what WE all knew this entire time. And to some of you that claim I try to make this about me (how dare you) notice I said "WE".

This is turning out to be not-so-brief...

I know from how Mr. Lawless writes that he in getting credible information and know from whom he gets it from. If you are going to pick one "official" local guy to listen to, pick him. I know you all have listened to me here on this website, but a majority of average citizens will not take what I have to say with any merit, but rather wait for the papers to get the news. I understand. No biggie. At least the papers have Jetsowner.com's tone finally.

I tend to get worked up on this topic. I apologize and again thank Tom Brodbeck for his article from a few months back (which is no longer up on the site due to a glitch, I'll get it back up at some point).

Now on to Phoenix.

While it would be unfortunate for yet another wealthy person to throw away good money trying to keep hockey in the desert, the fact remains that Glendale needs to find a way for this to work or they have 250,000 voters to answer to. Answers pertaining to why there are hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on sports in under a decade and a core facility that may not have a tenant to use it. As I mentioed several times...it's either waste more money saving the Coyotes or waste an obscene amount of money losing them.

Luckily, we will have other options. I know that doesn't comfort most of you, in fact it probably ticks you off. It ticks me off.

But as I told The Sun yesterday, I'll believe this deal when I see it signed. How many times have we heard the Coyotes have been saved? Heck, how many times did we hear the Jets were saved in the spring/summer of 1995? And how did THAT turn out?

Hang tight. By design, we are ready here in Winnipeg to take a team on a moment's notice. Tomorrow morning we could get rolling. That is how many things have been put in place. We're at the starting gate if the gun goes off.

It's cocked and loaded. Where it's aimed? We shall wait and see. There are weeks of chapters left in this debacle.

September 7, 2010
The Trip Is On!

Due to a ton of interest, the Desert Whiteout is now live and online for booking! There is an Early Bird price that will save you $170! If this trip interests you, be sure to grab your spot now. Talk to your company or your buddies or even your wife! if you love golf and hockey and want to make a bit of a statement of how much Winnipeg loves hockey, this trip will be a weekend of non-stop fun!

 

August 26, 2010
Luxury Golf and Hockey Getaway, Exclusive To Jet Fans Like You!

Hello everyone!

Your feedback would be greatly appreciated on this. Please email me or discuss on the chat boards what you think of the following luxury NHL/Golf trip for JetsOwner.com believers and all Winnipeg Jet fans alike. This is a high-end event but I know there are many members of the corportate community that could use this as a perfect opportunity to do business as well as simply a group of pals that want to have a heck of a time golfing two of Arizona's nicest golf courses and catch a "Jets" game in between.

We can show the league how passionate we are about hockey by filling an entire block of lower level seats , clad in the same white jerseys. Winnipeg will be seen and heard!

A weekend of golf & NHL hockey in Phoenix, via private Jet
Exclusively for Winnipeg Jets Fans
An exclusive opportunity to see the Phoenix Coyotes play the Pittsburgh Penguins Nov 6th 2010


The "Desert Whiteout 2010" package would include:

  • PRIVATE JET CHARTER in a Boeing 737 from Winnipeg to Phoenix and transfers to the Hotel
  • One night at the 5-Star Fairmont Scottsdale Princess
  • Two rounds on the outstanding 18 hole Troon North and Kierland championship golf courses
  • Block seating and white gear for Jets fans in lower level at Jobing.com Arena
  • Plus gifts, dinner and golf prizes on the return flight
  • Coach transfers to and from airport, hotel, golf courses and NHL game
  • Roughly $1800 per person (includes all taxes ) based on double occupancy
  • Single occupancy and non golfers welcome also
  • November 6-7, no weekdays used

This trip will be put on by a key national charter flight company and up-scale golf tour company and promoted via the radio as well.

August 24, 2010
MTS IcePlex: Final Piece Of The Puzzle

Took a VIP tour of the new MTS IcePlex last week. Operations Manager Dean Court took me through an in-depth walk through of the facility that has quietly slipped onto the Winnipeg landscape, barely, on the western edge of town. Not surprisingly it is on Chipman family land just north of Pointe West Auto Park and just south of Assiniboia Downs.

It is shaping up to the be the final peice of the puzzle to succesfully house an NHL franchise here in Winnipeg. As I've mentioned before, don't get too comfy with "Winnipeg" or "Jets" as a new team name. As much as I feel it needs to be, there will be a strong case made to start fresh, with both names.

The four-sheet ice palace is state-of-the-art with no corners cut. Some key features include:

  • All four rinks feature heated seating for spectators and can be accessed and viewed from the 2-storey main central concourse
  • One 1500 seat rink, three 250 seat rinks
  • 2500 sq ft training facility (that included Jonathon Toews having a workout as I walked through)
  • Gigantic fully licensed sports bar and restaurant with 8-foot viewing glass of two of the rinks
  • Pro style dressing rooms for "a pro team" (currently the Moose) as well as the Winnipeg Blues with extra wide hallways throughout
  • Fully loaded pro shop with NHL calibre skate sharpening machines
  • Multitude of hockey school programs
  • Pam Am Sports facility leased within
  • True North offices
  • Hockey Canada offices
  • Three Zambonis with internal dumping facility
  • Future goaltending school facility to come including extra ice surface to be built
  • Top notch concessions
  • Best ice in the city

IcePlex takes a huge burden off of MTS Centre ice conditions as it has enough to combat with concerts and other non-hockey events. Now all practices can take place at IcePlex and leave MTS Centre ice to harden for game nights. This is what any good pro team has in their city. And now we have one too, and just 5-10 minutes from the new airport, and 30 seconds from The Oaks, the new swanky (and likely hot spot for players' homes). This is a brilliant concept. Practice and home in less than a minute or hop on the team plane in 7 minutes.

There is no doubt this is the final touch of the grand plan. This along with land acquisition around MTS Centre makes the True North movement nearly complete. Only an actual NHL franchise is left to go.

IcePlex is a true hockey mecca at all levels. From 9-year olds to our future pro team, this facility will be the hub of everything that is needed and more. It is a must-see so be sure to check it out when it opens in mid-September. Thanks for the tour Dean!

August 21, 2010
Hot Line Inducted Into WHA Hall Of Fame

U. Nilsson, J.Daley, A. Hedberg, B. Hull

It was quite a night at the WHA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and documentary release. It really proved why this was the golden era in Winnipeg sports history. It was great meeting all of those who approached me to introduce themselves.

Quote of the night goes to Bobby Hull as he leaned into me just before grabbing the Avco Cup and said:

"The first time we picked it up the f#%!@ thing broke into four pieces!"

Classic Bobby Hull. Thanks to organizer Timothy Gassen for this great event (and for the pic below!)

Sporting my newly autographed Hull jersey

August 12, 2010
WHA Event: Hull, Hedberg & Nilsson

The enormous 4Play Sports Bar would like to invite all JetsOwner.com followers to the Hot Line Reunited event on Friday, August 20th where the screening of "WHA Legends: Remembering The Winnipeg Jets" will take place. Most importantly, Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson will all be in attendence along with many other special guests. The event is in support of the Amadeus Steen Foundation and tickets are now only $50!

I will be there to support and I hope to see all of you there as well.

Click here for more info

Click here for tickets

Click here to view Free Press article

June 29, 2010
Why Not Canada?

This is the title of an upcoming mini-series produced by Dave Naylor of TSN/Globe & Mail. The 6-part series will commence Monday July 5th during SportsCentre and run until the following Monday. Winnipeg will be featured on Tuesday, July 6th. The series will be podcasted on TSN.ca as well as be seen on The Globe & Mail online and in their print edition.

This production is of big-budget calibre and I was fortunate enough to be included in the piece that enlists Mark Chipman and Gary Bettman as guests as well. In fact, they spent 4 hours at my home in St. James.

Other cities featured include Quebec City and Hamilton.

Be sure to catch it!

June 3, 2010
A Birthday Present For All Of Us, Courtesy of Tom Brodbeck

Despite what a small, slightly insane, group of people might think, I don't need my ego stroked. Hey I think I've earned the right to call these people the nutbars now!

For those of you who didn't see it today, Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun did a follow-up piece on a June of 2003 article he wrote, the very first week I had JetsOwner.com on the web. The 2010 version sports what seems to be a jab at not just naysayers, but maybe even some of his collegues.

Tom gives all of us the vindication that I feel is due. As I state in the article, we're not there yet, but the checklist of things that peolpe told us were impossible is now completely checked-off. Nothing remains!

Think about it, here is the checklist that was once entirely blank:

  • An NHL calibre arena
  • A new NHL economic landscape
  • A strong Canadian dollar
  • A strong corporate community
  • An incredibly well-healed ownership group
  • The backing of the NHL and Gary Bettman
  • The failing teams that were destined for failure

Even a new, amazing football stadium! This city is positioning itself to be THE sports meca of Canada in the next couple of years. It's something I always dreamed of and something I knew could happen.

So what Mr. Brodbeck is saying is, good for us for sticking with the vision. We don't look so crazy anymore. Thanks to Tom for pointing it out.

What an ego I must have to do something so crazy. Sigh.

June 1, 2010
Happy 7th Birthday JetsOwner.com

Almost had a fantastic birthday gift last week. 20 minutes away from it. Lucky number 7 may have to be lucky number 7 and a half.

May 29, 2010
Bettman Confirms Winnipeg's "Bona-fide" Offer As "Gratifying", Slams Southern Ontario.

Gary Bettman Press Conference

Since I can't seem to embed the video onto this page, I will give you 3 key points in which to view after you click on the above link.

16:30-19:00 - Bettman addresses Coyotes situation and confirms Winnipeg as viable owner and market

28:15- 30:00 - Bettman slams Toronto reporter about Hamilton talk and endorses Winnipeg (and Quebec) as a priority

30:00 - 31:00 - Winnipeg Free Press reporter Randy Turner asks about our patience and timeline

Maybe all of the naysayers can now go away. They have to now. Some have already switched their tunes (ahem Rob Warren of Asper School of Business, all the sudden Winnipeg's economy over the past 6 months has changed so drastically that we can now support a team?, gimme a break). And there are many more flip-flops, yet no shout-outs to this campaign for seeing and believing. We all should be proud of our stance and the fact that our research was legitimate, not dreamed up to suit our desires. The media likes to claim they just report the facts, but those "facts" have far too often been incredibly wrong. I've got the facts, and now they are reality.

If I sound bold, it comes on purpose. So many of you write to me and suggest that I be a tad less diplomatic. Diplomacy is always the correct path, but there comes a time when respect is warranted too. I get it from those that matter. We are ALL united in this cause. JetsOwner.com isn't just one person. It's tens of thousands strong. I speak for all of us here.

Recently all concern about who would front the money for this dream were put to rest with the public confirmation that True North were willing to lead the charge (via Mark Chipman and David Thomson). JetsOwner.com told all of you not to worry about ownership for the past four years and that was validated with this official news. Now, the only missing piece of the naysayers puzzle was the NHL's recognition and interest in True North as a buyer of a franchise. Well finally yesterday this was confirmed as well via Gary Bettman's press conference. JetsOwner.com told you to watch this conference as there would be substantial reassurance coming from it.

And reassuring it was. Words like "bona-fide offer" and "gratifying" were used in reference to True North's interest and offer for an NHL franchise, specifically the Phoenix Coyotes in this case. The word "focused" was also used when speaking of Winnipeg as the market the NHL would look to first if relocation becomes a necessity. And where did we hear this so many times?

The commissioner seemed encouraged, almost pleased and impressed, by our patience with this process. And, as we all know, we were this close to getting that team last Friday, twenty minutes away in fact.

For the first time, the names Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North were used in direct relation to an offer to purchase a team. Winnipeg was finally a welcomed topic rather than an avoided-at-all-costs one.

Bettman also defended our arena as NHL calibre while throwing cold water on the notion of a team in Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. He seemed irritated by the shear ignorance of the Toronto reporter who suggested that Winnipeg didn't have an NHL building. But of course he may be from the same camp as Fan 590's Bob McCown who for some unknown reason clearly has an agenda for Southern Ontario.

Bob McCown

McCown insists that Winnipeg is a bandaid solution and that David Thomson is not part of any group trying to bring NHL hockey back to Winnipeg. Yeah and Gary Bettman just confirmed it to a national audience. He must have been lying Bob. He must have been lying about the wealthiest man in Canada being partners with Mark Chipman. Virtually the only two owners of True North now by the way.

Sigh.

Bob McCown also emphatically insists that a team would only move here for a few seasons and then be bound for Southern Ontario. Give it up Bob, you are sounding more silly by the day. Yeah, Mark Chipman wants to try for 6 years to get an NHL franchise, tease the citizens of Manitoba for a few years, then rip their hearts out, move the team out of the province leaving no tenant for MTS Centre as the Moose would be gone, then try to show his face and continue to do business here. That sounds like a plausible route to take. And don't say that David Thomson is the guy that will move the team because he isn't in the ownership group remember?

Double sigh.

Sorry Bob, but those shades are clouding your judgement and your sources need to be replaced. Get me on Prime Time Sports....I'll explain

May 23, 2010
Time To Relax and Reflect

Take a deep breath.

Ahhhh.

There is mass panic it seems that the NHL is changing the rules as they go to make it impossible for Winnipeg to get back into the league. The NHL did not and will not "screw" us around.

They need us more than you think. There are no other viable markets to place teams in. Even if they wanted to, they couldn't ignore us anymore. The fact is, no matter how arrogant Gary Bettman may come across, the truth is that he has been very aware of True North's intentions for 5 years now and realizes the strength this city can have for the league. Imagine that.

True North were always told to be patient, as I have passed along to you. We are not jumbo money, even though David Thomson has it, he isn't about to spend $400 million to get an NHL team. That is why the Phoenix situation is ideal. It comes with a wholesale, break-even, owned by the league price tag on it. It's not some wealthy person selling it to another wealthy person and trying to make a killer profit.

True North have been patient, have never played by their own rules, started ticket drives, launched websites or blurted soundbites to any media outlet that will listen. They have also been well calculated in their meetings and spot on in their approach, not to mention systematically buying out each and every equity partner that was initially involved with their group. The "group" is virtually two.

One is a very well respected hockey team owner and the other an international business mammoth with a helluva lot of cold hard cash.

This equals the absolute wet dream we would have soiled ourselves with in 2004 when we were hanging our "hopes" on Dan Vaandal in a Jets uniform writing a letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So lets put all of this into perspective. Yes, we were that close to the Jet-O-Meter reading 100%. But it remains at 96% until hopefully a wonderful Christmas gift comes our way and the countdown to New Year's 2011 has a more important celebratory ring to it.

There is a third partner in all of this...US! And we will need to do our share when the time comes.

May 22, 2010
Clock Expires For Relocation For 2010-2011: New Deadline Revealed

As was suggested here last week, the chances of the Coyotes moving here for next season were next to nil. A formal agreement between the City of Glendale and the NHL has been drawn up which states that if the city cannot find an ownership group willing to purchase the team and keep them in Glendale by December 31, 2010, the NHL is free to sell the team to waiting buyers...that of course being True North Sports & Entertainment. Further info is still to come.

THE AGREEMENT

Despite the fantasy antics by annonymous people on the forums, there is little hope that the Coyotes will be here next season. The only glimmer of hope lay within the outside chance that the city of Glendale refuses this agreement and lets the team go or the Goldwater Institute ruffles so many feathers that the NHL bails on its obligations in the agreement. Basically the agreement is written in such a way that gives the NHL incredible power. That same power is the voltage that can spark a move to Winnipeg. This can be finalized before December 31st in the event that Goldwater fights hard the $25 million gift bank account. After December 31st, the NHL is clear and free to move the franchise. And also noteworthy, the NHL can refuse any offer to buy the franchise they deem unsuitable. Talk about a nearly impossible resolution in Phoenix.

I cannot believe the city of Glendale have put themselves in this situation. Bearing a miraculous fan support and attendence boom, they will be on the hook for a year's worth of losses and an arena for a team that is leaving anyway.

This agreement more than fulfills the obligation of the bankruptcy parameters to try and keep the team in Glendale. More importantly it virtually solidifies the NHL's interest in Winnipeg as a market, and so those skeptics can finally pipe down. Finally, there is an official offer on the table from Winnipeg! Think about it...we have waited so long to hear those words. Now the whole world knows.

I think this story has many more twists and turns to go, Leave a 1% chance for next year.

In the meantime...get your seats long in advance, for Moose tickets call 780-PUCK!

May 13, 2010
The Final Countdown For Coyotes To Move To Winnipeg For 2010-2011 Season

Once again, you had it here first, yesterday's post seen below stated what is being reported today, that there is a Friday deadline (ahem 48 hours) set to getting a relocation complete. I went a step further on the boards and suggested that Monday would be the ultimate drop dead date for the 2010-2011 season, because we all know deadlines are destined to bend a bit. A weekend gives an extra hidden two days to finalize things. Whether this is a self-imposed deadline is uncertain, but it is likely coming from True North's end. They are the ones that would need to scramble to get ready for next season.

Don't get too caught up in it, but it is possible. To quote yesterday's post "Here's for hoping something crazy happens in the next 48 hours".

Lets stay tuned to find out...

May 12, 2010
What The Vote Really Meant: Time Has Nearly Run Out For 2010-2011.

Barring something miraculous in the next 48 hours, it is too late for next season, whether the Coyotes situation falls apart or not (which it most certainly will either in a month or 7 months).

Just to clear up one poster's comments, I am very much "in the loop" and I had a 20 minute conversation about what happened as I was heading to the KICK FM radio show. People were skeptical of me when I kept saying I knew our ownership was in place and I knew who it was, and how did THAT turn out? True.

Now back to the issue.

The bottom line is the NHL didn't think Glendale would blink at such a risky proposition. They did....7-0. Gary Bettman looked agitated because quite frankly he was.

The good news is, yes there is good news, we are even higher on the NHL's good books than we already were for not opening our traps during all of this. True North learned a lot in the process and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they remain VERY MUCH interested in plugging away at bringing a team here. I'm talking 110% interested. They can't control, however, what happens, and that disfunctional city council in Glendale have just raped the citizens of $25 million for a team that is likely going to move anyway. Possibly here to Winnipeg still, but there just isn't enough time anymore for it to occur for the 2010-2011 season. The schedule needs to be finalized, ya know that one that put us in the NW division (sigh), tickets sold (good luck Phoenix) and sponsorships confirmed (see previous).

One more year to wait gives True North plenty of time to make any necessary upgrades and prepare thoroughly, rather than race around frantically.

I don't want all you guys freaking out about this. Does it suck? Yeah kinda. But it could be waaaay worse. True North could tell us they are done seeking a team and move on. That news would shoot the Jet-O-Meter down to 1% in a hurry. Instead, it will remain at 96%, probably for some time, like I said unless something miraculous occurs by the weekend.

That vote in Glendale has essentially bought them some more time. For what I'll never know. I do know one other thing...had it fallen apart there like it was supposed to, the team was headed to Winnipeg, that's a fact. We were so very close. That vote still really meant nothing in substance, but it meant a ton with regards to the clock running out for next season. Think back to what happened to Minnesota when they were about to get the Jets in 1995, last minute buying of time screwed them, and we failed anyway but it was already August and too late to move.

Hope that clears the suspense up a little. Hey, nobody wanted to see this happen more than me, plus I could gain some of my life back from this campaign. What I will tell you is there are media that would die to get the texts and phone calls I get. But they won't. Please don't doubt my committment to doing this the right way. I should have never leaked the NW division thing, I've learned my lesson there. But it really wasn't rocket science for anyone to draw that conclusion anyway, and any smart league would need to have come up with a division alignment just in case, so I don't really see why that created such a stir. The media just needed a story that wasn't there and so they grasped at anything, because again, True North won't speak with them. Good thing.

Here's for hoping something crazy happens in the next 48 hours, but after that it's just too late to move on next season. Waiting is brutal, but we have no choice.

The NHL should have pulled the plug when they had the chance. Instead they gambled and we don't have the NHL for next season because of that.

May 10, 2010
Buy Pol Roger Champagne, But Don't Chill Yet

This is by far the most exciting night of this campaign. Well, second for me. The most exciting night for me was the first night I went to sleep knowing who was behind our ownership group.

I'm trying to keep my BlackBerrry charged!

It is believed that not only has Winnipeg been included in the 2010-11 NHL schedule, but we are likely to be in the NW division while Colorado moves into the Pacific division. This would make our rivals, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Minnesota. Believe me, it is surreal actually typing this, not as fantasy but as a likely reality. Makes sense really.

The Jet-O-Meter will not move until this all becomes official.

Even MTSC seems to be prepping for a face-lift. But I won't dive into that just yet.

It's been a long ride but like I told all of you back in June of 2003, WE WILL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH.

Anything can happen down in Phoenix still but lets hope common sense prevails and we get what we deserve. I hope I soon get to write the post I have been waiting to upload for a long, long time. Caution: It may ramble on for eternity.

Nothing is done until it's done. No one knows that better than us...and so we wait...just a wee bit longer.

ps - Manitoba Homecoming is May 15th at the convention centre...can you imagine??

May 7, 2010
Smoke Starting To Clear

With things starting to fall apart in Phoenix, the smoke should clear shortly, and Winnipeg will be left standing. It comes as no surprise that Jerry Reinsdorf's deal has hit a snag. It was a bad deal. For him and for Glendale.

As for Ice Edge, they don't have the liquid capital that True North has and seem content with taking the Manitoba Moose and placing them in Thunder Bay. And who do you think the other 29 owners would rather see as owners in the NHL, a billionaire group in a hockey starved market or an amateur group scraping the funds together from banks and who have no track record in sports ownership? No offense to Ice Edge intended but the answer is obvious. The other teams want this problem dealt with and don't dare want to have to write another cheque to anyone in the desert ever again.

The fact is, the Coyotes are a charity case and the league needs a success story with a strong market and deep pockets. Their initials are T.N.

The NHL is saving face and has to make it seem like they have exhausted all measures to save the franchise in Phoenix, and truthfully they probably have, to go along with their mandate that they don't "give up" on markets.

But this market in Phoenix is done. Cooked. Sizzled.

People shouldn't expect any announcements any time in the short term (ie, next week) as nothing is official until it's official.

That True North released a statement virtually admitting to the process, shouldn't come as a surprise as much as a relief that they are finally dropping the "we are committed to an upcoming season of AHL hockey" and "David Thomson is in no way behind such a movement". Not that I don't fully understand why they went that route, quite simply they had to, after all, Mark Chipman and Co. have been steering the ship smoothly thus far, why rock the boat right near the finish line.

Chipman is not spelled with the word Balls or Silly.

And quite frankly it is the Moose organization that has helped put us in the hockey spotlight all this time. They are run like an NHL team in almost every capacity. Kudos to them and their possible new careers with an NHL franchise.

Let me be clear, nothing is done. But start waving your arms around to clear the smoke. We're in there somewhere, deal in hand.

I told you last fall to start saving your money. I hope you all have done so. I would love nothing more than for this website to have the greatest 7th birthday bash EVER! June 1st is our 7th birthday.

I look forward to meeting you all one day at various games as I will proudly post where my seats are.

Until then, as always, stay tuned. A little bit longer...

April 5, 2010
Coyotes Ideal For Winnipeg, But Not The Only Hope

As we await the outcome of two lease proposals to the city of Glendale City Council it is important to note two things:

1) This is not the end of the road for our quest to grab a franchise.

2) This is ENTIRELY in the hands of the NHL right now, make no mistake. If they want Reinsdorf as the owner of that team badly enough, it will happen. The other owners will like it as they will gain a proven sports owner and they will be rid of the financial burden that Phoenix has been to them.

It is baffling that anyone would want to try (for the 4th time) to make a go of pro hockey in Arizona after the staggering losses they have endured there over the past 14 years. But if the concessions are good enough someone like Reinsdorf, who has no shortage of cash, might just take a crack at it. He may ask for clauses ranging from being able to break his lease in two years to something more solid like a gaurantee from the league that if certain numbers aren't met the NHL will buy back the team for no less than he purchased it for or assure him they will find a buyer that will do the same. This way he assumes no risk of a financial loss on the purchase price.

Of course this is based off my imagination, but honestly, wouldn't you ask for these kinds of things if you were being asked to buy into a complete failure of a business model?

True North and Winnipeg offer the NHL another intriguing option, but one they can explore with another troubled team (there are more). Personally I think the Coyotes (ahem, Jets) offer us an ideal situation, not only because they are actually our old team, but because the NHL owns them and can set the price as a break-even proposition, and therefore wholesale rate.

And we all know Winnipeg loves a coupon.

Coupon expires June 30, 2010. Limit one per billionaire.

March 22, 2010
Kickin' It Up A Notch: Winnipeg "A Deal In Principle"

Well, it's time to kick it up a notch. The rumours are no longer merely in blogger nation, they are now in mainstream media outlets and they are about to explode to degrees we haven't seen yet.

To be honest I just love watching all of this fall into place just like I knew in my heart (and in my mind) that it would. I don't mind that the mainstream are just catching on now to who our ownership group really is (something known to me since 2006) because it would have only hurt the cause.

As this dream nears closer to reality with each passing day, it is astonishing that two-and-two weren't added up long ago but because they are finally equalling four now, we are better off. The process needed to be kept underground as long as possible and I wasn't about to be the guy who surfaced it just to grab the spotlight for the week. I am just a guy who saw how this could happen and wanted to lay out exactly how to the world, or whoever would listen. Thanks to all you listeners I created a voice and a cause. The cause has gone very well and since the Jet-O-Meter read 8% I have endured every pessimistic comment known to mankind about the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg. Something I know far too well how to deal with as I was born and raised here. And I will raise my son here and take him to games too.

Since 2006, things changed substantially for me. This is when I not only thought it could happen, but I KNEW it would happen. How I led this campaign had no choice but to change. I became privy to certain information, and when I say certain, by no means do I mean all information. I have had the pleasure to meet some incredible people over the years. Some of which we are very fortunate to have as dedicated Winnipeggers and who it is a pleasure to be considered an ally of.

Now back to why things are about to get a little crazy. It all started Saturday night when Don Cherry decided to go on a tirade (one we are more than happy to hear him belt out) about how Winnipeg is the best place for the Phoenix Coyotes to relocate to. As ironic as this would be - as it would come under almost identical circumstances as how we lost our team to them and how they would be returning it to us about 25 ranks higher than when we gave them up - the key message was WHY Winnipeg would be the best option. Quite simply: ownership!

The name of this website is JetsOwner.com because the idea was to seek an owner for the Jets. Well this time Grapes didn't follow the usual path of citing Winnipeg as a generic contender, but rather the specific names of the group, David Thomson & Family as a partner with True North Sports & Entertainment. Cherry went as far as to say where he learned of our emminent re-birth by stating that former premier Gary Doer told him all about the plans. I can gaurantee Gary Doer was (and likely still is) in the loop on this. For complete tirade click here to watch video from Hockey Night in Canada (thanks P. Bonomo for the video rip).

Next, almost as a complete reaction to the waters now being safe to spill beans, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported that "there is an agreement in principle in place to sell the team to Canadian billionaire David Thomson, who will move the team to Winnipeg before next season." Click here to read full article. Ken also finally portrays what we have been saying for years about capacities and paid tickets as opposed to reduced or freebie tickets in bad markets and the fact that attendence numbers are smoke and mirrors in many places.

These aren't bloggers. These are now credible sources. I know that JetsOwner.com is a credible source, more so than any, but that will never be the belief by the average reader. Again, you may not hear a rumour here first, but I can gaurantee you'll hear a confirmation here first. Don Cherry and Ken Campbell can grab the headlines, they don't have relationships to maintain. I do. I don't care if people think I know things or not. That is not my concern and I don't care to prove them wrong. All I care about is where I am going to sit one day for 41 games a season.

Some key reasons why the Thomson family would be key to a successful Winnipeg franchise:

  • First one is a no-brainer, very deep pockets.
  • Major influence for corporate support out of Toronto, home to many Winnipeg business headquarters.
  • Endless television and other media support. Afterall, he does own TSN and CTV among many other outlets. Winnipeg would have ample and prime network positioning.
  • Top notch marketing capabilities of the "Jets" brand all over the world.
  • Respect among NHL brass, something Mark Chipman has maintained from day one.
  • Complete control of MTS Centre and the land it sits on, which generates obscene amounts of money through concerts, other sports and other events.

Imagine having the deepest pockets in all of professional sports here in the smallest market of all professional sports. Wow.

When Don Cherry said a Winnipeg team would be the most successful team and one "everyone could be proud of", he was right. It is ironic to think that a city that nobody thought could be part of the NHL again might just be the Cinderella story of the NHL very soon.

Couldn't be a day too soon for me.

The Jet-O-Meter will rise again. Just wait and see.

February 24, 2010
Keilback Among Highlights of Jets Dinner

The first Remembering Our Jets Dinner went off without a hitch last night at Earls St. Vital. Thanks to all the beautiful Earls Girls for their help throughout the night. They looked even better in Jets gear. The highlight of the entire night, which included a great 4-course meal and wine, was the very first minute I arrived.

It was in this first minute that the one and only Curt Keilback told me he had been following this website since the beginning and checked it regularly while in Phoenix. He felt that the content has always had a head-on-straight feel to it. He also told me that, a ways back, he wrote a long email to me but decided not to send it for various reasons. He seemed as glad to meet me as I was him, which you can imagine felt pretty amazing.

Curt shared some incredible Jets stories including how close we were to aquiring Mike Modano for Phil Housley straight up, memorable fan-made signs in the playoffs, memorable player interviews after games (a-hem, Freddie Olausson), antics of the North Stars GM in our press box and many, many more.

Also with some interesting stories was former NHLer, Carey Wilson of Flames, Whalers and Rangers fame who sat with me at my table. I'm always up for some Whale-Tales!

A huge congratulations to Gordie Tumilson and the rest of the ROJ committee who pulled off a great night packed with amazing auction items and free schwag. Thanks to Scott Taylor for introducing me at the event. It certainly wasn't necessary. I had many wonderful conversations with various people after I was identified.

All the Jets footage which I had courtesy of a guy whose name I can't even remember (been a while) was goosebumpy, as can be expected.

A friend had texted me during the event to ask the score in the Olympic game...to which I replied...3-2 Jets!

February 15, 2010
On Track For Our Goal

That would be to see the Jet-O-Meter hit 100%, which of course means we have accomplished our mission.

Amongst all the speculation that the Atlanta Thrashers have been purchased by True North Sports & Entertainment (aka Mark Chipman and David Thomson) and are moving the team to Winnipeg for the 2010-2011 season, comes a renewed sense of hope for NHL starved fans in Manitoba. The trouble is there is just no truth to the rumour at this point.

 

I will not put my name on it. Anyone that does may be risking their credibility.

While I maintain that no deal is done, I do remain extrememly optimistic that Winnipeg is in a better position than ever to regain a franchise.

Top 5 things that I have heard that are NOT true...yet:

  1. Gary Bettman was in Winnipeg recently
  2. MTS Centre is expanding 3000 seats
  3. The Atlanta Thrashers have already been purchased
  4. The Moose are headed for Saskatoon
  5. Kovalchuck refused to play in Winnipeg, so he requested a trade upon news of the team's departure

Gary Bettman has not seen our beautiful Sargent Ave. entrance into town from the airport. MTSC may only require additional press box space and MAYBE additional luxury and regular seating, possibly bringing it to 16,500 which I think would be perfect for Winnipeg. The Thrashers are owned by their existing ownership group, for now. The Blades will remain Saskatoon's hockey team and Kovalchuck doesn't even know where Winnipeg is, let alone let us influence his trade requests.

Will these things become reality? Lets hope so. But as of today they are not.

This is the danger of getting wrapped up in this stuff....the letdown. Keep level-headed and you will maintain composure.

The process is complicated and requires the need for extreme caution. As I have said a hundred times, we should sit back and wait for the key individuals to iron this out as needed, in the timeline that is needed, without media distraction. I know in this day and era, that seems virtually impossible, but for my part, I will not play the rumour game. I will play the confirmation game.

You'll never hear a rumour here first, but you can bet you'll hear a confirmation here first.

I've always said, save your money and I still say save your money. Enjoy the Olympics, stay grounded and stay tuned.

I'm not saying this won't become reality, I'm just saying it isn't there yet. But how exciting if it did get there! Lets let the process take its course.

February 14, 2010
Remembering Our Jets Dinner

Please click on this invite for complete details of the upcoming Remembering Our Jets Dinner at Earls St. Vital on Tuesday, February 23rd. Should be a fun-filled evening of nostalgia and great Jets footage (as well as live Olympic hockey!) on the Earls screens. Tickets are $100. Gordie Tumilson has worked hard on this as well as a planned series of radio and TV shows hosted by none other than Curt Keilback!

February 14, 2010
Love Is In The Air, Rumours Too!

Holy Schmoly!

I have never gotten so many phone calls from people I speak with usually once or twice a year.

I have also never seen a rumour snowball out of control so quickly.

It has taken me a few days to digest the rumours and, for the most part, dispose of them as fast as they got started. But they sure are fun to read and watch evolve.

There is no one that wants to believe them more than me, but the truth is (how do I word this) I have no reason to believe the specifity of these rumours. That is not to say Winnipeg is not on track, because we most certainly are. You have to remember how easy it is to come up with a story and let people run with it, especially with so many things in place.

Now it is quite possible that I am being kept in the dark too now, and to that I say great! I just want my team back. So if March 2nd rolls around and True North steps up to a podium, I will be the happiest of Winnipeggers. I understand that this kind of situation would call for an extreme gag order, and "nobody" owes me anything, despite how open "they" have been with me for nearly 7 years now. Wow, has it been seven years??

So my official stance is that while these recent Atlanta/Phoenix to Winnipeg, Bettman in town, papers drafted, announcement in March, Moose to Saskatoon rumours are false RIGHT NOW, it doesn't mean we are not working towards making them a reality IN THE FUTURE.

All I can hope for is that I am being misled on purpose. I have never wanted to be misled so badly in my life.

The Jet-O-Meter remains at 92%...for now. Hey, it started at 8%, so we're doing okay!

February 5, 2010
Back Online!

Ay Carumba. I am finally back on Dreamweaver after installing Windows 7 on my computer.

I have not gone away, nor have I lost ANY passion for this campaign. As I've said before there is little to do at this point but sit and wait.

We know Winnipeg is in line, we know Winnipeg has the ownership group, we know Winnipeg has the arena and the most certainly the fans.

I'd like to overhaul the site but to be completely honest, the time just isn't there right now (as you may notice from my lack of blogs on TheHockeyWriters too).

Right now the NHL has the Easy Button. But they have full control. If the owners had full control, teams would already be up for sale and gone. The NHL will try every conceivable measure before leaving a market, even if they know it is doomed to fail. That doesn't mean those measures won't run out. They will.

October 12, 2009
Adjusting to Lower Altitude

After being in Denver for 12 days I am settling into all that is going on here at home now and thankfully the thick air we have here at 800 feet above sea level as opposed to 5200 feet in the Mile High City. (Broncos 5-0!!

On a quick side note, the Joe Sakic retirement ceremony, which lasted an hour, was the most classy event I have ever seen in pro sports. Sitting at row 16 dead centre ice didn't hurt either. The Avalanche organization sure have been 180 degrees different than what our team turned into.

And after watching my Broncos beat Dallas and New England (and watching the Rockies lose the NLDS in a freezing cold, record setting night at Coors Field) it was time to head back to Winnipeg.

I have a whack load of media requests, anywhere from Red River College to Newsday in New York City, as well as some key lunch dates to fulfill while I gather my thoughts about what is going on. All of this while running my own company and preparing for an addition to our family. Please bear with me.

We are amongst interesting times and possibly the most exciting times of this 6.5 year campaign. Just like that, it is Winnipeg and Quebec City grabbing the headlines and the attention of NHL brass. No longer do hear the words Kansas City or Las Vegas uttered in relocation conversation.

We have the fan base, the arena and the ownership group in place. Always have. I told you not to worry. Like I've always said, just start saving your money!

Over and out....stay tuned

September 25, 2009
Sour Grapes? More Like Sour City

Thank you Grapes. Thank you for the echo of my sentiments regarding this city's attitude when it comes to NHL talk. Yesterday, Don Cherry made it clear that Winnipeg's biggest fault is our negativity on the subject of an NHL return. It puzzles him. It has always puzzled me. Thankfully it is only a minority, but it still rings loud and clear to outsiders.

As Paul Friesen writes in the Winnipeg Sun that the prediction of a team landing here for the 2010-11 season is "outlandish", I have to wonder how it is that anyone can STILL maintain that the idea of an NHL team returning to Winnipeg, even that soon, is anything but possible, if not likely. It boggles my mind and it should come as a wake-up call to those negative 'Peggers that people from outside the perimeter take note of our attitude.

The writers in Winnipeg continue to lack an understanding of the issue. I completely understand the issue, and deeper than most would think. And while I actually think it is healthier for mainstream media to be out of the loop for the sake of due process, it would still be nice to drop the negativity towards this topic.

For the record, Grapes was NOT speaking merely "from his gut", I can assure you that.

Another year, another NHL exhibition game. No campaign stunt carried out. This is because the message is strong now and there isn't much left to explain to people, that is the people who will listen. To be honest, I am growing tired of two other cities coming to town to play at full NHL prices for us. The message is clear now that Winnipeg can support the NHL once again. We are already on the right path to see that happen. Now it's time to go watch OUR OWN team at MTS Centre.

There have been several struggling teams that have already had a first hand peek at what their new home might be like one day.

September 7, 2009
City Pulse, Bobby False

Global Winnipeg did a piece (17:00 mark) on the NHL returning that aired this evening and though it was somewhat balanced it was disappointing to hear the quick, easy-out replies given by the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull.

What is Bobby Hull even talking about?

1) "15,000-16,000 season tickets plus a few thousand walk-ups"

That would make our building seat 19,000+ seats. He clearly has no idea of what the capacity of MTS Centre is.

2) "Something extraordinary would have to happen for the NHL to LET us back into the league"

The NHL and their commish have already stated that we should be the next place offered a team.

Legend given all due respect, but Bobby Hull clearly has no "pulse" on this city any longer and no recent background on this topic. He rambled off some negative, cliche rhetoric and moved on. It would have been nice to even hear him say something like "not sure if it is possible but this community sure has the spirit and passion for the game so you never know". It would have been a cop-out but still would have given some love to the city that made him hockey's first millionaire.

And if half this city now thinks we can afford NHL hockey (way up from years past) that means 360,000 people think we can afford it. I'm not certain where the negative can be drawn from that.

Editor's note: the poll conducted by Global consisted of 411 people. Draw your own opinions.

June 26, 2009
Jets Talk in Denver

As some of you might know, I am a freakish Denver Brocnos fan. That's why when I was asked to be a guest on DenverSportsRadio.com I jumped at the opportunity. I will be on the Dino Costa Show at 1:40pm CST today. It is one of North America's first online only radio network and therefore you need to listen online to the live streaming audio.

June 24, 2009
Already On The Right Path

Well, an interesting summer is ahead of us. I think we are about to see a real shake-up in franchise stability. It's a house of cards in so many markets down south and a real gust of wind is about to blow.

Winnipeg is a very desirable destination for any team that may need a new home in a year (next season is far too soon). We have the building and the fans. And we most certainly have a very well-healed ownership group in True North Sports & Entertainment. Now I know many of you want to discuss (to death) the specifics of that, but I would like to simply leave it at that. I believe in the path we are taking with the NHL and I want to see a franchise return via smart business decisions rather than through a local media circus.

As of late I have been asked to join forces with several movements that have sprung up out of the blue. For the most part I will steer clear of merging with another movement mostly because I have spent over 6 years carrying out this campaign and I cannot afford to slip. That is not to say that all others are unorganized or lack credibility, but I have to protect what has my name stamped on it. There are those that are always looking for me to slip as it is. Still not quite sure why.

Should something be very worthwhile I would visit it, as I do with all requests. But quite frankly, it comes as no surprise that these things are springing up now. That's because now there is much less doubt and much less pipe dreaming. Therefore a person is protected from being called nuts because this idea has become very attainable and all the pieces are falling into place very nicely.

I completely respect anyone who feels they want to do something or start rallies or events. And all the power to them, really. But I don't feel that JetsOwner.com and the original Return of the Jets Campaign needs to organize anything right now. I know people are dying to speak up and get excited. But the truth is, we have been heard and we need to focus more on saving our money to buy tickets one day and less about how this might all go down. Lets let the key individuals carry on with their due process with the NHL. So far it has been the right approach.

June 1, 2009
Happy 6th Birthday JetsOwner.com!

Although some of the original content from 2003 and 2004 hasn't been loaded onto this site from the old site, it is incredible to look at the news back then to the news now. We're well on our way. Thanks to the thousands of people who logon, from once-a-monthers to the daily viewers!

May 24, 2009
Tides Have Turned As We Go On Six!

Ah, the local media are finally getting on board. Yesterday marked the first time that the Winnipeg Free Press, via Randy Turner, took a look on the bright side, if not both sides, of the issue of the NHL returning to Winnipeg. It was a fairly comprehensive piece and it looked at the things that have occurred to set the landscape for a re-birth of the Jets.

As for the long time supporters of this campaign, which turns an astounding six years old next week, it is nothing you haven't all been hearing JetsOwner.com lay out since the beginning. You've been on the right path all along. Sometimes others' quotes are so similar to what is on JetsOwner.com is makes me wonder.

But still, it is good to have mainstream media "getting" the picture. I seem to recall the terms "pipedream" uttered quite a bit over the past six years and as for the names I've been called personally? Well, lets just leave that alone. Thankfully, 95% of them are supportive and humbling. To be honest I never understood why people didn't see how this could all happen. People smirked in an uber condescending manner as if to say, "aww, what you're doing is so cute little fella". Or "what, are you after 15 minutes of fame"?

Fame? Hardly.

Time and passion? Definitely.

But here we are in 2009 and so much of what I was pipe dreaming has come to see the light of day.
Yesterday's Free Press special feature contains statements that are found all through JetsOwner.com's initial content and blog entries from 2003 to 2009. The similarities are staggering. From words to number crunching (and no Randy, not on a napkin, but rather in the office of high places).

In another Free Press article the same day, an economics professor in Alberta raises my same analogy of large population markets like Atlanta and a hockey hot beds like Edmonton (or Winnipeg) almost word for word. How Atlanta may be a significantly larger city but there are more people in Winnipeg that will buy hockey tickets and therefore it is actually the better HOCKEY market. Even pointing out that there are so many more sports in these US cities to compete for people's disposable income. Now, I know I'm no economics professor, but really, do I need to be? Two years ago and certainly five years ago this same guy would have almost certainly been found quoting that Winnipeg simply couldn't afford the NHL and that we're just too small.

But you see, what did I tell you? Once the pendulum swings to our side by at least 51% we then become the majority thought pattern and then it's all uphill from there. Well, the pendulum has swung and we're in full gear now. Mainstream thought is now that this can realistically happen. Took long enough eh? All I ever wanted form our local media was a balanced look at the issue but too often got the negative, stuck-in-1995 song and dance.

Welcome to 2009. It's brighter here.

Now it can be expected that a handful of others will come out of the woodwork and start a movement of their own. After all, it's easy now. Nobody thinks they are nuts. Nothing needs to be envisioned any longer. It's all set up, ready to roll. Turn-key.

It is an exciting time for all of us believers. We have been proven correct in all areas of this dream. Pat yourselves on the back for sticking this out. And to those that are just starting to believe (and your emails have been overwhelming), welcome aboard. You were skeptical, but now you are hopeful. Hope isn't scary or dangerous like some would have you believe. Hope is what keeps us going. We are tough, us Winnipeggers.

So start saving your money, if you haven't already. There is one major step to go. Finding and landing our team.

The following has been accomplished or checked off the list since 2003:

1) A new arena for Winnipeg

2) A new league economic structure for the NHL

3) A complete failure of at least "4 or 5 American teams"

4) A Canadian team led NHL gate revenue

5) A steady Canadian dollar

6) A proven MTS Centre revenue model for NHL sustainability

7) A ROTJ campaign appearance on HNIC and hundreds of television, radio, newspaper and magazine coverage from all over North America.

8) A ROTJ t-shirt e-store, website, forum, booster events and PR stunts.

9) An estimated over 2 million hits to the website.

10) A successful six year old campaign that is closer to the issues than any other source of information.

11) A turning of attitude in Winnipeg about the possibility of the NHL returning.

12) A "so far, so good" set of predictions from JetsOwner.com.

Thanks for being with me for six years. Happy Birthday JetsOwner.com! I can't believe this all started with an email to about 20 people after one late night game of Risk with some friends.

But seriously, I don't want to do this much longer! Wink.

Cheers everyone! Here's to attaining the final, and largest, step of our goal.

Here are a few articles from the past few weeks. CBC Sports, Winnipeg Sun, and The Hockey News among others. Thakns to CBC Radio for having me on and taking calls from listeners, to CBC National for their piece last Sunday night and to CBC Newsworld for repeatedly trying to schedule me for a live spot. We'll get it done one of these days!

And of course be sure to check out my blog at The Hockey Writers.

May 17, 2009
CBC Sunday News Coverage

CBC National did a decent piece tonight on the fact that Winnipeg is high priority for the NHL should a team need to relocate.

A quick comment from myslef dealt with how Winnipeg is going about things the right way with the NHL by waiting patiently to get in the front door, through due process, rather than trying to sneak in the side door, a la Jim Balsillie.

A Calgary professor was included in the comments, but unfortunately he only had the same old "in 1995 Winnipeg couldn't bla bla bla" type of things to say. No substance, no back-up, and stuck in the past with no mention of WHY the Jets left town. As I say, it's always to easier to spew negativity with nothing to back it up than it is to spread positivity with proof.

He stated that the NHL was a billionaire's club and that Winnipeg was too poor to be part of that. Yeah, a lot of good these billionaires have done the past 15 years. What a success story.

The real fact is that the NHL is a niche sport that requires a fan base to survive. Winnipeg is the ultimate fan base. We fit the mold perfectly. More people will buy hockey in this city of 720,000 than will in Atlanta, a city of over 4 million. And so with nobody watching on TV in Georgia and no real TV deal anyway,Winnipeg is more ideal. The NHL is a gate driven league. Winnipeg can sell the gate, and at regular price. No gimmicks, no deals.

But if he insists that the league is that rich and we can't play in the big leagues, all I ask is permission to contact him in 18 months.

Remember, we're not a major market in North America, but we are a top HOCKEY market in North America, billionaire or not.

Other contributors to the CBC piece were Mayor Sam Katz and file footage comments from Mark Chipman.

May 16, 2009
Winnipeg To Get Team First

Finally!

Finally I don't need to ask people to take my word. It's finally there in writing. Gary Bettman has finally declared that Winnipeg, not Hamilton and not Toronto, is the NHL's preference for a Canadian relocation. I have been trying to get some peolpe to believe that we are the highest in the pecking order for a few years now. This Globe and Mail article confirms it.

We are playing by the rules of the club. We are letting the NHL broker a future move of a franchise. We are not bullying our way in through he back door. We are waiting in line paitiently at the front door. Kicking and screaming out back won't get us anywhere. It hasn't gotten Jim Balsillie anywhere on three seperate occasions.

So you had better "Make It Eight" Mr. Balsillie, because #7 will be in Winnipeg. And sooner than people anticipate.

May 7, 2009
Blanket Coverage

What a busy 48 hours its been. I have spoken to The Sporting News, Globe and Mail, National Post, Canwest Global, Canadian Press and am due for a live TV interview this afternoon.

CBC Newsworld planned to have me on this afternonn, but timing just didn't work out. I prefer live TV because I can say what I want to say without editing. So once again, I'll have to wait for another day.

I am very busy with Winnipeg Wine Festival and therefore can't add much right now. Just wanted to give an update.

May 5, 2009
Firestorm Begins, So Soon? More Like What Took So Long!

Quicker than expected, but the Phoenix Coyotes have declared bankruptcy and it only took a North York minute for Jim Balsillie to sweep in and bid an outragegous $212 million for the troubled franchise. That is about triple what Forbes says the team is valued at and for a not-so-great product on the ice. I guess the CBC will have comments by the league now, despite it being playoff time. But time is running out if this team is to play in a new home by the time the NHL schedule is made in July.

I don't like that Balsillie inflates these team values, but other teams that are on the waiting list to skip town must love this guy. Hey, what can you say? The guy wants an NHL team. BAD.

What should be interesting while we watch this play out is the following:

a) Will the NHL stick to its guns and keep rejecting Balsillie due to his insistance that the team be relocated to Hamilton, not to mention his tendancies to tick the league off by playing by his own rules. This of course brings up the 3-decade old issue of the NHL (and Buffalo and Toronto) not wanting at team in Hamilton. They still don't. Is this offer too big and too easy to pass up? Time will tell. But the Sabres and Leafs will have something say.

b) Will Winnipeg wait for the next team to move, which should be sooner than later. Or will we get involved with this game? I can't us being involved unless Balsillie is rejected. The NHL will no doubt want Winnipeg to submit as we are a favoured destination over Southern Ontario. But $217 million to beat the bid? Almost zero percent chance.

c) Will this set-off a firestorm of movement this summer? I think yes. There are teams in just as bad of shape. They will want to move before there are no longer any takers. There certainly won't be anymore Balsillie offers. Of course I can't say for sure, but since nobody has even come close to the offer for the Coyotes, it seems that it would ring true. Whatever a Winnipeg offer may have been I have to believe would be good enough for most owners.

Get ready for the wildest summer to date since JetsOwner.com was established 6 years ago. Stay tuned to the boards for up-to-the minute articles. The supporters of this site are masters at placing links to articles that I don't even think the writers have finished yet!!

April 30, 2009
Coyotes, Meet Irony

After being involved in some good pieces in the Calgary Herald recently, it looks like it's back to national news coverage for Winnipeg again. With news breaking that control of the Phoenix Coyotes has been handed over to the National Hockey League, none other than CBC: The National plans to cover this story closely. Further details should arrive on Friday with regards to the level of coverage, but it is clear that this story has extreme relevance to our quest to regain a franchise. Ironic if it were our old franchise, who finally got their new arena, but in a poor hockey market and in an even worse location within that market. It was reported back in February that the league had indeed helped the Coyotes through some financial issues, mainly with regards to their rent and other operating fees owed to the city of Glendale and Jobing.com Arena. Money was loaned, but it has not been enough to pay their bills and a clause stipulated that should such a time arise that the NHL would take over operation of the franchise. Apparently that time has come.

I can't help but think this is the ideal situation for Winnipeg largely in part because it would involve a price tag that is reasonable as the franchise would be league controlled. A league-owned team in receivership would have the possibility of being a bargain-basement price as compared to what an owner-to-owner transfer might cost. Much of this depends on how many teams are up for sale at once of course, but thinking in terms of just a single team, you'd have to conclude that this Coyotes situation could be best for Winnipeg. Let another Toronto team or a Vegas team pay the inflated prices of an Atlanta squad or a Florida squad.

Winnipeg should get our old team back and fix them up. Doesn't seem ideal to want to re-build a brutal hockey team, but it might be fate and beggars can't choosers.

Stay tuned to CBC: The National and to JetsOwner.com for complete coverage.

February 3, 2009
Les Dales Hawerchuk!

Live at The Pyramid on Saturday, February 14th @ 9pm it's Les Dales Hawerchuk. These guys had to get a shout out from me. They have been around for several years now and are ready to rock Ducky's old hockeytown. Click the poster for their website.

January 26, 2009
Just Go For Broq!

Last year it was Pilot Mound vying to be Kraft Hockeyville's grand prize winner. This year, the Top Ten list includes La Broquerie, Manitoba. Be sure to check out their stories at the CBC Hockeyville website and cast your vote to see the home of The Habs reach one of the top five finalists.

This year La Broquerie needs your help! The grand prize includes hosting a NHL® Pre-Season Game as well as a CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast plus $100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft. Your votes will decide who will be crowned Kraft Hockeyville 2009! Each of the other 4 lucky finalists will also win $25,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft plus host a CBC Hockey Night in Canada broadcast from their community.

January 17, 2009
Covering Winnipeg for TheHockeyWriters.com

I have recently been asked to cover our cause for a growing hot new blogspot called TheHockeyWriters.com based out of Montreal. It aims to cover all 30 NHL teams as well as a handful of other hockey related categories, such as one I dubbed "Winnipeg 2.0". I have turned down other blog offers in the past but this one was intriguing because of the scope of coverage they aim to tackle. I even designed the logo and tagline! I had a few ideas and designs but the administer, Bruce Hollingdrake had the final choice.

I will not simply double-up my postings on JetsOwner.com but rather link to the blog as it will be more of an editorial style. Plus, while JetsOwner.com gets another facelift, it will serve as a great destination. Although topics on JetsOwner.com may sync up with the blogspot, posts will never be word-for-word.

A new JetsOwner.com will take some time and I could have held off telling you about it, but I thought some feedback would be healthy. Be patient (we're all good at that right!) things will get snazzy! Especially with my pal Lauren Robb on the job. Just remember he has to put his paid gigs top priority.

Anyway, check out the latest blog at TheHockeyWriters.com.

January 9, 2009
Is It Time For Another Overhaul?

Fellow believers...has it become time for JetsOwner.com to re-invent itself again? It has been nearly six years since this campaign began. It just may be time for a 3rd, and brand new, version of this website. Please voice your opinion on the forum portion of this site. This website is very slcik, I must say, and was quite an improvement from my initial atempt in 2003, when I merely wanted to show the world that I was nuts (apparently!).

But now, with some patience, I believe it can become even better, but only with Lauren Robb's invaluable help.

I have chosen reccently to make a link to Manitoba Mythbusters, rather than to include its content on JetsOwner.com. This certainly had nothing to do with the website's content, or the fact that those involved with that website (Chris and Phil) have done a magnificant job digging up info and providing insight on the content of that info. For months, they begged for JetsOwner.com to host this info and I, admittedly, could not provide the up-to-date articles that arose from the related topics. They wanted the articles read, and I completely understand that desire. So now JetsOwner.com becomes larger in scope. It becomes larger in depth. It just becomes bigger.

What's happened? I'll tell you what has happened.

Two guys decided that this cause was bigger than one person, as much as they gave kudos to me for launchng this whole ordeal. Two guys decided to, rather than create their own seperate force, join forces with an already in-place entity. They created a webiste whereby followers of JetsOwner.com could furhter their education of many related topics pertaining to the return of the NHL to Winnipeg.

As one, JetsOwner.com will proudly link to Manitoba Mythbusters, a seperate yet joint venture with the original Return Of The Jets Campaign.

We will also aim to re-invent ourselves to yet another version of this website, the third stylistic change in six years. Be patient, but I can envision a new look in the coming year.

To be honest, I want this to be my last verision, becasue I fully intend for the Jet-O-Meter to reach 100% sometime soon.

I long for the day when JetsOwner.com's headline reads...

" MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!"

December 26, 2008
CJOB...Remember Me?

Well CJOB is at again. Don't get me wrong, it is always great to have positive energy behind this idea, but to listen to Bob Irving the other day from a link someone sent me (believe me I wasn't listening to it live) was like reading from JetsOwner.com in 2003! Listen here (13:00 minute mark).

Some noteable moments were when Mr. Irving declares,

"Mark my words, the size of MTS Centre will not prohibit Winnipeg from regaining an NHL franchise".

"We will have a chance to get a franchise".

"Four teams will fold in the next few years"

Weren't these actually my words 5 years ago? Even his ticket prices reflect JetsOwner.com's. Weren't these my same words when Mr. Irving would not have me on CJOB despite my level-headedness throughout this campaign? They were the only major station not to have me on, both radio and TV, in Winnipeg. Why is that?

What is so hard for that station to just give me some credit? I have crunched the numbers to justify my beliefs and I have maintained my inside spot with regards to information regarding this hot topic. I may have just answered my own question.

Maybe that is the reason for the refusal to acknowledge me. I simply have the info before they do. I'm not trying to toot any horns here, but I would like to give CJOB listeners a grasp of reality with regards to the Jets coming back to Winnipeg. I have never misled people down an overly positive path nor have I flip-flopped to a negative stance at any point. I have always maintained a realist viewpoint. Unfortunately, CJOB feels that a realist view is the negative view.

Or maybe they just really don't know the difference.

Either way, glad to have them on board. It's been a VERY slow journey for them.

December 10, 2008
Hurray Economic Crisis?

I know it is becoming too much of a CNN tagline, but this "economic crisis" should speed up the process of finally doing away with these horrible NHL markets down south. I know our dollar has dipped some, but surely not to the level that would jeopardize an NHL team for Winnipeg. I arrive at this conclusion because I can only assume that market values for franchises must be plummeting much like the Dow ticker, therefore more than off-setting any dollar weakening. The NFL might be the only league that will come out of this unscathed, mainly due to extreme popularity, high TV revenue and a short and affordable schedule.

As for the NHL, could this be the final nail in the coffin for a league that has been kidding itself for far too long now? It has become almost scarily evident now that the economics of this league, which relies so heavily on gate revenue, does not work in just any market with population, but rather only in markets that fully embrace the sport to begin with.

I recall when I was a "nutjob" in 2003, but the time has come where there are few who don't believe an NHL can come back to Winnipeg and thrive. Those who still don't believe it is possible are obvisouly blindly negative or ignorant to the situation. Notice I said "possible". If there are those that think that it will not happen for whatever reason, then fine. But to say it isn't possible is just plain out of touch.

All that is being written about hockey right now is its miserable attendance (like that's anything new to us) in so many of its non-traditional markets. Markets that never should have had a team in the first place. Does this really come as a shock to people? Apparently Phoenix, Atlanta and Tampa are seeing 6000-8000 "fans" in their brand new arenas. S-i-x T-h-o-u-s-a-n-d!

At some point the doors of these arenas will just simply close.

When the fat needs to be trimmed from sports fans wallets in the sports world, hockey is the one of the first to go. It is a niche sport at best in at least 10 American cities. Niches don't weather an economic storm very well, especially when compared to sturdy structures like the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, NCAA among many others. Even true hockey fans will be trimming back as is evident in "HockeyTown USA", Detroit.

The fact is, this crisis may be a blessing in disguise for little 'ol Winnipeg. That up-front cost I speak so much about should be coming down while available teams should be going up. That kind of storm is exactly what Winnipeg needs. More supply than demand. The footprint needs to be across Canada, not across the Bible Belt.

I think you'll see several teams looking to our fair city for new owners soon enough, although never soon enough for us. As for another exhibition game next fall? Don't be surprised if a different struggling team, not named Coyotes, shows up to check us out. Mark my words.

October 26, 2008
Going to the Hamptons

I am pleased to be a guest on NYI FYI, a show dedicated to the New York Islanders. I will be a guest with Sean Croft at 9:15 CST (or 10:15 Long Island time) for those of you interested to listen online. I know there are already some supporters in the NYC area, so lets gain some more! Click here to listen live.

October 21, 2008
TO Talk? You mean Terrell Owens, Right?

Actually I don't want to talk about Toronto or any member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Another morning, another mini-flood of media phone calls. I got to three of them out of four. It's funny because in some instances I am not even aware of why they are calling. This morning was one of those times. So when I received messages about coming on the air or camera I quickly googled "NHL" & "Winnipeg" to find out what was in the news that was so pressing. This is certainly not the normal way I find out what is going on, but this morning it was. And so as I clicked my mouse up came random references to Toronto one day having a second NHL franchise. Not Hamilton. Not Waterloo, Kitchener or Dryden either. The actual city of Toronto.

The sexy topic of the week that the Globe and Mail decided to plant and watch the country water it until it blossomed into nonsense. Mission accomplished. I can hear Lloyd Robertson in the other room right now plugging the story for the upcoming national news tonight on CTV.

With many topics like this I decline to comment as they either do not directly pertain to the return of the NHL in Winnipeg or I just don't feel it has any legs. I don't feel this Toronto topic has legs either, but it did relate to Winnipeg, no matter how off base it likely is.

Listen, if I had a nickel for every "whisper" from an annonymous NHL board of governor, I'd have enough money to buy a team myself, or at least Joe The Plumber's business in Ohio (whereby I'd tax him higher just for being on my TV too often).

This Toronto talk is just another topic-of-the-week just as talk of Las Vegas, Kansas City and teams in Europe is. The mere suggestion that an already tarnished prospective owner like Jim Balsillie would be able to storm into the most powerful market in hockey, ante upwards of $700 million in expansion fees and territory infringement costs and spawn a second Toronto franchise while halving the Maple Leafs market share is almost absurd. Time to get another AHL team and put them in the St. James Civic Centre. However, I must note that one of my CBC radio interviews was conducted on a BlackBerry.

Honestly, maybe this was all just a scare tactic to get the Leafs to resemble an NHL franchise in the first place.

Once again, Winnipeg will stay out of the headlines and stay on the slow-and-steady path.

Sure, Toronto could sustain another NHL team, possibly two more. But that doesn't give the NHL any more revenue outside of an expansion fee. Hockey fans are already feeding the NHL there. Winnipeg is an entire market that has been virtually untapped for 12 years. And if people truly believe that the NHL is thinking of expanding any time soon with the economy the way it is headed then they just don't understand the true state of the game right now. Notice how we haven't heard much about Kansas City lately. Why not? My hunch would be some pretty cold feet from watching a half dozen current US franchises failing brutally and waiting for even harder times ahead. What sane person shells out $200 million to place a hockey team in Kansas City, Missouri in this economic climate? I know, I know, the same type of person that puts hockey in the desert. But that was 1996 when there was the excuse of it being uncharted, breakthrough territory. This is 2008, where the only territory that makes any sense is once again back here in Winnipeg or any other place north of the border. While Toronto is north of the border it is far too complex of a place to put another team, from market sharing to venue sharing to country venting. That's right. Canadians would have a collective cow if Winnipeg and Quebec City got left out in the dark in favour of this idea.

Lets just all sit back and wait until the hockey talk carousel spins back around to us again so we can enjoy listening to people out east fail to know anything about Winnipeg and our corporate abilities with regards to supporting a hockey team. My apologies to those of you out east that do know a thing or two about Winnipeg, but even you would admit that your neighbour likely doesn't.

Let this talk fade. I'm sure it will be squashed by tomorrow afternoon.

Fun Fact: Ever notice that the most struggling teams in the NHL are "red" states? Maybe Barack should use that in his campaign? If Florida goes "blue" does that mean that BOTH of their NHL teams will move?

September 24, 2008
Another Ex Game

I will be Calgary Flames radio at 5:25pm today to discuss various topics. One major point I will be making will be the fact that tonight's exhibition game will generate nearly triple the gate income that the Coyotes generate on average in Phoenix during regular season play. It will also generate close to what the Calgary flames generate on average. If this game sells out, it will have taken in nearly $1.1 million in revenue by my calculations. Earlier I estimated that a Winnipeg team could rake in an average of around $930,000. That was with tickets averaging slightly less than what True North wants for this year's exhibition game. Listen here.

Another interesting website has spun-off recently from solid ROTJ supporters called Manitoba MythBusters. It focuses on the hard facts and goes further into JetsOwner.com's number crunching with regards to gate revenue and various scenarios that can be derived from league data. Be sure to check it out. Always good to see more awareness and I am honoured to have started such a contagious movement.

Keep it up!

July 28, 2008
I Finally Made It On The Simpsons

Yes, I do still exist. Despite this Kent Brockman newscast I caught the other night.

 

I know being extremely busy or out of country doesn't excuse not having anything to post for months, however in my defence, I don't like to regurgitate the same info and viewpoints over and over again. That being said I believe it may be time to include links to articles that supporters like yourselves find in the media (credible media) to provide on-going updates as to where related issues stand. There are certain supporters who have excelled at digging up wonderful articles that go straight to proving our cause to be achievable. On a regular basis (I know you just rolled your eyes) I would like to post these links in the main page's content. In the early days, I used to scan every single blurb that was found in the media, mostly local, because it was such a hot topic. Now there are so many outside media sources mentioning Winnipeg but not directly mentioning this campaign that it would be impossible, if not unecessary, to carry out the scanning process. I only wish we had YouTube from the beginning to have all the awesome TV clips about JetsOwner.com in the first two years of this movement. There were so many.

Anyway, this is something I will have to think about in terms of how I'd like to present it. Another way might be to build a seperate page that simply lists links to articles on an on-going basis. Just a page filled with links and important data. It could go directly into the current "In The Press" page where you currently find YouTube and article scans from the past.

Now for some thoughts.

I do not plan to do anything for the NHL Exhibition game for several reasons. Firstly, it's kinda been done. I have done something for the past 4 games and there isn't really anything that I feel I still need to get across to people. That doesn't mean there isn't a use for doing it, it just means that I don't feel it is necessary at this point. But remember, this idea of the return of the NHL doesn't begin and end with me. It is with all of you. Secondly, True North has been gracious enough in the past to give full permission to flyer or hand-out something prior to the game, something they do not let ANYONE else do at their venue. Though I could have asked again, I have chosen not to. Thirdly, I will be away the 10 days leading up to the game making it extremely difficult to properly put anything together. Believe me, if I had the sponsors and money I'd be handing out a white pom-pom and t-shirt to every single fan that walked through the gate. But if I had that kind of money I'd be involved with the group of people that will one day bring a franchise back to this city.

Which brings me to all this talk about expansion. While reports continue to surface that indicate expansion money to all 30 teams in 2010 ($15 million each which would indicate two more teams at $225 million expansion fees) I still fail to understand how this league can be improved by adding more franchises without first fixing the dozen teams that suffer miserably right now. $15 million doesn't go very far. Just ask the Coyotes who lose that by Christmas each year. All the money Jerry Bruckheimer has isn't going to pull these teams out of the mud. That being said, it does look like the NHL will strongly consider this option. As stated before, this will not likely be Winnipeg's ticket back into the league. Our chances still remain highest with relocation. The fact still remains, hockey will never be feasible long-term in Nashville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami or Tampa to name a few.

N-E-V-E-R.

Despite the repeated hits they seem to take on the chin every year, these teams will only be able to survive so long with poor gate draws, no TV audience and a looming economic downturn in the US. If you live in Nashville and do happen to go to some Preds games, what do you think will be chopped from the family budget first? NASCAR? Titans football? Not a chance.

Meanwhile the Canadian dollar remains strong and at par with the greenback and our six teams still account for over 32% of league revenue. A third of money brought in comes from a fifth of the league and all north of the border. That is precisely why so many league officials and players alike see Winnipeg as the land of opportunity now. We would fill seats and pay for them. More revenue, more salary cap.

Winnipeg also continues to go about this process exactly as the NHL desires. Quietly and with strict protocol. The same cannot be said for the likes of Boots and Balsillie, whose backroom shenanigans seem to pile up as quickly as you know what. Shady characters will not get into the NHL and our group in Winnipeg is far from shady. It is solid and is in no immediate rush (although we'd all like them to be). Ideally, Winnipeg will need several teams to be ready to move, not just one. If only one surfaces then the price skyrockets as compared to two or three teams vying for our attention.

I wish I knew how long this intends to go on for. Believe me, it has already been 5 years since I began this trek and I would have thought we'd be looking forward to training camp by now. But at the same time, I knew just as well that things could have gone sour and there might be no hope by 2008. So as I look at the progress, I remain extremely optimistic that things have come along quite nicely thus far. As I have said many times, the next step has nothing to do with us. We have made it known we will support the NHL again, the whole world knows. They also know we can support it successfully. Well some people don't know, but whoever still doesn't see it is a lost cause by now. It is hard to even argue that it can't be done. A far cry from the beginning when all I did was fight uphill to argue that it can.

Below is a photo courtesy of Chris Mackie. Quite a sharp looking banner in the stands at GM Place.

March 24, 2008
Pilot Mound Needs Your Help!

Pilot Mound, Manitoba has been voted in as one of the top 5 finalists for Kraft’s Hockeyville 2008!

Starting March 29, 2008 at 11:59 pm EST the voting is again open to unlimited votes by telephone and on-line. This continues until April 4, 2008 at 11:59 pm EST. The winner is announced April 5, 2008 on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada.

Remember, this is unlimited so please vote as often as you can to help us achieve the ultimate title as Kraft’s Hockeyville 2008 champions!!

The town is now guaranteed $20,000 but are hoping to win the $100,000 grand prize as well as host a pre-season NHL hockey game in our new complex. This prize would definitely help us to open our doors in the complex by this fall.

To vote by phone dial 1-888-843-5604 and follow the prompts.

To vote on-line go to www.cbcsports.ca/hockeyville and vote for Pilot Mound.

To view their story you may go to www.pilotmound.com/hockeyville.

Spread the word! As JetsOwner.com supporters, any attention drawn to our province is certainly a positive. And the more new rinks the better! Be sure to call or go online to cast your vote for Pilot Mound to be this year's Kraft Hockeyville!

February 15, 2008
E-mail glitch!

Wow. It seems my e-mail server has glitched since I changed to Windows Vista. Since August 30, 2007 I had not received very many e-mails. I figured things had just slowed down and nobody had reported not being able to get a hold of me so I thought nothing of it.

Tonight, after my suspicions, I got it all fixed to the horrifying ring of 271 inbox chimes. That's right, two hundred and seventy one backlogged e-mails that I never recieved!

To all of those who were any of those e-mails, I appolgize and I will try to get to some of them as soon as possible. I missed media requests, Wear in the World photos, questions and much, much more.

One big D'OH!

February 6, 2008
CBC's Mansbridge Talks Jets With Chipman

It's no wonder I've always preferred live interviews whenever I've spoken to the media. You see live interviews can't be plucked, altered, edited or spun into a negative context, a la some local writers we know too well. I refer to a lengthy discussion on tonight's CBC: The National that aired nation-wide from right here in Winnipeg (The CBC is en route to Winkler, MB for this year's "Hockey Day In Canada").

The segment by Mike Beauregard and subsequent interview by Peter Mansbridge with Mark Chipman was a no-bull, straight-up and accurate portrayal of where we stand in seeing the NHL return to Winnipeg. This just days after I've been ranting about how our local media relentlessly spin this topic deep into the negative.

Too much. Too small. Can't do. No support. Right?

Wrong.

It's strictly math. Numbers. And the numbers add up.

Which brings me back to the beauty of the live interview. This type of dialogue lets the speaker get across what he/she wants to relay to the public, in it's entirety. It does not allow for interpretations based on personal, if not mislead, viewpoints.

Tonight's in-depth segment (thankfully YouTubed by P. Bonomo) began with a well done piece on the loss of the Jets and the replacement Moose and moved into a one-on-one between Mansbridge and Chipman. At no point in time were the words "NHL Too Much" ever uttered. Instead, quite a positive reflection was given. This coming from Chipman, a man who is closest to the situation in every regard and a man who sits in a tight circle with every key financial player in this storyline.

I suppose I'm to believe that he looked into the eyes of Mansbridge, us Jets fans and the entire country, and lied through his teeth?

Hey, that might just sell papers.

Maybe this site needs a daily JetsOwner Girl. Wait, don't answer that.

January 29, 2008
Credible Website?

It has come to my attention that certain local media personalities question my credibility. Ironically I cannot rebut this to any lengthy extent in order to maintain the credibility that I already have plenty of.

But what I can say goes something like this.

There is no need to be upset just because for 4 years this website has been keeping people (albeit less of the general public I suppose) in tune much better than the local dailies have. Some of the heaviest hitters from the business sector to the political arena will speak with me openly because they have come to realize long ago that I stand for seeing the highest caliber of hockey back in Winnipeg and for putting our city back on the international stage. Not for 15 miutes of fame that would have ended in the fall of 2003 if that were the case.

You see, I don't receive generic conversation nor generic answers. That's because I am trusted.

Furthermore, my figures and information are accurate and have been verified to be by indivduals I will not name. JetsOwner.com is ironclad and misleads nobody. I do not give the public the generic answer and flip-flop my stance to whatever the vibe of the week is. I understand, "they" are in the business of selling papers. If they figure more subscribers want to hear that tickets are going to be $200 a seat, as ridiculous as we all know that myth is, then that is what they'll get to read.

Me? I am in no busness whatsoever and only aim to a) see NHL hockey return to Winnipeg and therefore b) see Winnipeg back on the map again with a thriving downtown.

I will not, under any circumstance, get into a war with local writers who think they're getting the answers. I am smarter than that and I will keep my eye on the prize.

One day, I'll get my (and all of you will get your) time to smirk.

Now regarding the credibilty of my numbers, which by the way were created a couple years ago now.

When compared to these official Forbes numbers (via RodneyFort.com), you'll see they are more than accurate, and therefore, dare I say...credible? My numbers arrived at $48 million (ticket revenue) + $30 million (other revenue) to form a grand total of $78 million, which according to the latest Forbes numbers fall in line with that of Calgary and Minnesota (markets we can relate to in size and ticket price respectively), and both of which have healthy payrolls plus "other expenses" of also near what my numbers arrived at. This leaves a grand total of break-even, give or take a few million for both my projections and that of official 2006-07 NHL season numbers in the above mentioned markets.

That's why my numbers were given the green light, that's why certain individuals were blown away that I arrived at these before any post-CBA era NHL/Forbes figures were made public, that's why my numbers compare to that of other team's books and finally that's why I have, dare I say....credibility.

Sorry daily papers, I don't need to wait for the whole world to know and then spew out these numbers as my own AFTER the fact. And us believers don't need another generic interview with generic answers from True North and quotes form Paul Kelly that were read by us days before. That's because we already know what the deal is. Hey, click on JetsOwner.com to stay tuned. Or better yet, pick a stance and stick with it. We're all glad you finally "get it", but we're just sick of the roller coaster of positions you all seem to take depending on what the vibe of the week is. That miserable tendancy is something I call the Pegger Gene, that is the gene that seems to make a Winnipegger want to piss on anything progressive.

None of what is going on in the NHL surprises me. Remember I started this whole thing precisely because this is what I knew was likley to occur. Whenever somebody asks me "did you hear Bettman's latests words, or Paul Kelly's, or various NHL owners or players etc", I always respond...."and?"

That's because none of it surprises me and I only wonder what took them so long. That's also because there still remains the "and" to the story. The "and" is a team back in Winnipeg. Until then, there will always be "and".

But please, please stop with the "can't-do's". They are predictable and just plain misleading.

Thanks for listening. Good to have more people on board...or are they?

December 9, 2007
Quiet Season, Thus Far

Though continuous positive comments keep flowing through the media regarding Winnipeg as the next destination for the NHL, it has been a relatively quiet 2007-08 campaign so far.

When I first began this campaign there was almost daily news or weekly at the least. But that was when we were starting from scatch. So much to prove. So many to convert.

Now the topic has been in the spotlight in every corner of the media circus in this country and beyond. That is the good news. But talk is cheap as we all know. If it wasn't, we'd still have a team with an aging Keith Tkachuk and Thomas Steen as coach!

There is no doubt in my mind that if a team were 100% available right now, we'd have an equal opportunity to grab it. Notice I said 100%. There are so many teams that are "on the brink" but legal logistics keep them hanging from the cliff. Financially it makes no sense to stay where they are. In fact it makes no sense from whatever angle you look at it. Unfortunately sports franchises aren't easy to pluck away from their markets even if they do want to desperately leave.

Inevitably they will cut loose, and we'll be there to snag them. If I said that the timeline for all of this isn't frustrating me, I'd be lying. But like the weather, there is nothing we can do to change that. It's not as if the big money in town is waiting for us to prove we're interested. They know we are. And so ranting about wanting a team will not do anything further to help our cause. What they don't know is how much they have to pay up front for a team or when they'll have the chance to throw that dollar figure at a current "get-me-out-of-this-league" owner.

As fans and supporters we know a few things. We know the dollar is at par and league economics are in favour of a Winnipeg return. We know we have the support of the NHL to return and we know we can sustain a franchise in MTS Centre despite the fact "the average Winnipegger earns $661 per week" (sorry Scotty T, but I can't get over that stat). Here's where I get off track a little...

Firstly, for Manitoba $661 was the figure three years ago. It stood at $677 for 2006 and is likely closer to or past the $700 mark for 2008.

Secondly, should it not be mentioned that while Albertans earn over $100 more weekly on average, Manitobans don't have to pay the $70,000 more on average for a new house, in most cases much more than that. Why wasn't cost of living taken into account when mentioning our weekly income.

Thirdly, and most importantly, who cares!? What the average person earns means little to a sports franchise (besides, a $1400 bi-weekly earning can still leave you plently of disposable income to catch some NHL action). But the real key is are their enough people that earn more than $700? That answer is...of course there are. If there are 30,000-40,000 Manitobans that earn more than $700, and by definition of the word "average" for the labour force in Manitoba there easily that many, then everything is just fine.

I don't feel like researching every current NHL city for weekly incomes but I would suspect that the Nashvilles and Columbus' are in the same average income boat. After factoring in the cost-of-living index, I'd bet even big markets compare. And so what does this stat mean. Again nothing.

Thanks for letting me rant a fill some space. News? No. Fact tracker. Yes.

September 24, 2007
Another Successful Blitz

Thanks to all of you that helped hand out campaign magnets last Wednesday night before the NHL game. We got 8,000 of them out to fans attending the game. Also worthy to note, there were two excellent colour banners, professionally made courtesy of some loyal supporters, to hang up in the seating bowl area. As of yet, I have not received cofirmation that those banners saw the light of day, or in this case the lights of MTS Centre. I sincerely hope this was not due to True North staff dis-allowing them to be hung. At last year's game there were several extensive banners displayed. We will stay tuned for that news.

As for the game, to be honest I left in the second period. A bunch of Leafs fans getting their rocks off and flashing logos of old Jets rivals to get the crowd to cheer wasn't my cup of tea. To be honest, I can't believe we continue to support this game as much as we do considering the profits go to the franchise that took our team to the desert and since then have had nothing much better to do than sue colleges for the use of the "Whiteout" term and fire the best play-by-play announcer in pro hockey. I mean really, the Coyotes should focus more on winning games so they can actually get to the point where they even need to use the term Whiteout.

The fact is, this city is so hockey hungry that it repeatedly shells out any price tag for any form of hockey that visits that building. From women's junior hockey to NHL pre-season-going-through-the-motions hockey.

Thanks to The Fan 590 in Toronto for having myself and Lauren Robb on the air the day of the game. Good questions, good response time. I love that because I always have so much to say. Also thanks to Global TV for covering the magnet handout. Most importantly...thanks to Trackitback for their continued support of this campaign!

September 17, 2007
Hand-out Helpers To Meet Before Game

Those who wish to help hand out campaign magnets before the game on Wednesday should meet at 6pm SHARP outside the main entrance to Tavern United directly across from MTS Centre. We will aim to begin handouts at 6:30pm and run up until game time, or 45 min - 1 hour of handout time.

Please Contact me now if you wish to help out. This will be straight forward and take hardly any time to carry out.

September 10, 2007
Campaign Fridge Magnets: Newest Stunt!

Another NHL Exhibition game, another stunt. JetsOwner.com is pleased to announce that it has struck a deal to produce 10,000 fridge magnets for distribution prior to the NHL Exhibition game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes on September 19th at MTS Centre. That's right...10,000!

We have already received the green light from MTSC brass to go ahead as we did last year and man the doors before the game to give out the magnets. Last year we did more elaborate flyers, this year straight forward magnets. They will merely include a slogan, the website name and the sponsor, Trackitback, one of Winnipeg's up-coming business success stories.

Just like last year, we will need a dozen helpers to assist in handing out these magnets prior to the game. All that is required is about 45 minutes of your time, something I know you all are willing to give. Grab a friend and come down a little early to help give these magnets to people as they walk into the game.

"Here ya go, enjoy the game" Simple as that!

Please e-mail me your pledge to help with contact info as soon as possible! Serious inquiries only please. You'll be in your seat by the time the puck drops. Although I know most of you don't care about that but rather about the cause and continuing to push the message to anyone and everyone.

Contact me now!

July 13, 2007
Asper Weighs-In On NHL Talk

As if we haven't heard this before (but some choose to keep forgetting), David Asper clearly stated on CJOB radio that he is there for Mark Chipman if he can prove that a team is viable in this market and in MTS Centre. When asked by a caller about whether getting so involved with the CFL's Blue Bombers and a new stadium hinders the chances of involvment with bringing the NHL back Asper simply replied "no". He went on to joke that his now teenage sons have made it clear that he is absolutely to be part of bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg, if given the chance. Listen to the clip on the CJOB Audio Vault. Choose July 10, 7:00pm, 14:20 mark.

This website has always maintained that that chance will come. It has never led anyone astray and remains a solid, level-minded source for direction with regards to the Jets coming home. It is quite a process but the progress that has been made is quite positive. Just this year alone has seen small leaks of "official" information from key local investors as well as excellent vibes from the NHL with regards to Winnipeg as an option for the league again.

The size of MTS Centre has repeatedly been verified as a non-issue (though that never seems to stop people from debating it) and we are taking the right approach by keeping a low profile and following the steps the NHL has laid out.


In a nutshell:

Teams struggling: check.

Financial viablilty: check.

NHL's approval of Winnipeg: check.

Verification of MTS Centre: check.

Money in place when opportunity arrives: check.

Overwhelming coast-to-coast support (ie polls): check.

Cost to bring team here: unknown.

Timeline: unknown.


That sure beats when the list ended with "unknown" in almost ever category 3 years ago.

June 28, 2007
Balsillie Out, Boots In?

It is difficult to determine what the deal falling through with Jim Balsillie means to us. It may sound strange on the surface, but I believe this is good news for several reasons. Don't take it as the NHL not wanting a team in Canada. It is more of an issue of them not wanting a team in Southern Ontario. You see, the league wants to grow in fan base and the Golden Horseshoe is already more than secure in that category. In other words it does nothing for the NHL to have another team in that region, they still would have the same number of fans. In Winnipeg, granted, we also have a great fan base already but the difference being we don't already have a team in the region to cater to those fans. We also fall well outside the Maple Leafs 80-kilometre buffer zone.

So here are the reasons this is good news.

1) A major competitor has been removed from the list, Kansas City. However much we know this experiment will fail, KC was being considered for expansion in the future.

2) A major owner has been taken off the list of potential buyers. This is the second time Balsillie has failed at gaining membership into the NHL and that likely means he is now black-listed in the Board of Governors minds. Although you have to hand it to him, he did fight for Canada through Hamilton and to that I say "cheers". It would be great to have him champion a team here in Winnipeg. In fact I almost gaurantee that it would go smoothly if it were here he was wishing to place a team. However, his tactics thus far have ticked too many key people off and his destination plans only soured the deal.

3) It proves the NHL will never go into Hamilton, removing yet another candidate. It's not like we scratched one competition and left another remaining. These cities are both gone from the list. If a billionaire like Jim Balsillie, however rebel-like he was, can't get a team into Hamilton with a $100 million over-bid then it doesn't look good for this city ever again.

4) The cost of a franchise has come half-way back down to actual levels. By halfway I mean it still needs to drop to the $140 million-ish range to be even at the high end of what these failing teams are worth and to be at levels any group from Winnipeg is going to cough up. Luckily, the $190 million Boots DelBiaggio is still considered to be an over-bid.


We will have to see if any of this story proves to be true or if it is just a tactic to get Balsillie to offer a binding agreement to purchase the Predators. You can't blame him for not jumping at finalizing anything, especially when the league seems so intent on nixing any movement to Hamilton. What warm-blooded Canadian who has turned himself into a billionaire wants to be forced to own a hockey team in Kansas City, Missouri?

June 15, 2007
Where Are We At?

I have deleted some content from the prior post because it came across too negative for the liking of many people. That's not how intended it to sound.

Okay, as for today...where do I start?

Firstly, I have to call out The Fan 590 in Toronto and others like them who we have to learn not to rely on. They speculate aimlessly and get "facts" from multiple "official" sources whose information ends up contradicting itself. They keep discussing Vegas like it is some sure shot market (yeah I'm in Vegas for four nights and I'm from Little Rock, Arkansas and I'm going to spend one of them at a hockey game that the casino left tickets to on my bed) and then spend 3.5 seconds trying their best to dismiss Winnipeg. Only some of their guests via telephone ever have anything grounded to say, like putting a team in either Kansas City or Las Vegas over Winnipeg is absurd. Do you think the NHL feels those markets are more viable long-term than Winnipeg is? Not a chance. But the fact remains that there are guys like

Jerry Bruckheimer who want into "the club" bad enough that they'll pay whatever it takes to get in. And that's not the kind of recklessness anyone from Manitoba is used to taking part in.

This is about money. All sports are. It was about money when the Jets left in 1996 and it's still about money now. If two billionaires are prepared to throw a total of $400 million at 30 owners to be part of their gang, that is where the final two teams will end up. When I say final I mean final expansion (we've heard that before).

Just remember one thing, if those two cities are to land expansion teams, even if that timeline is uncertain they will know they are likely to get one and therefore be out of the running for relocation. There are only a handful of cities interested in being part of a league that boasts a 1.1 television share during the most important time of the season. Winnipeg, for one. Then light interest from the likes of Houston and possibly Seattle or Hartford.

I know this has gotten more complex, but that is something we have no control over. We have an ideal building that can generate ample revenue. We have hockey crazed fans. We have the support of the NHL to have us back. But they cannot control how much people are willing to throw at them. Frankly, I having a hard time believing ANYBODY is willing to pay ANYTHING. I must admit, I never saw this coming. But our time will come because there are far too many teams in trouble and they can't all find a Jim Balsillie to pay $100 million over the appraised price of their franchise. Leipold got lucky because he was the first one willing to jump ship and the first one with the convenience of having an out-clause in his lease agreement.

Finally, speaking of Balsillie, it will be interesting to see if he even gets the blessing of the NHL Board of Governors. He has rocked the boat far too much already, and is showing signs of being a rebel in a club that is used to being very much in control and very much a tight family. Clearly he has overpaid for the Preds in order to win over the other owners by raising their franchise values, in theory anyway. But when a guy hasn't even gotten his membership card yet and already has had negotiations with a city and arena for plans to move a team he doesn't even own yet, it ruffles a few feathers. Those are key feathers. Afterall he needs 75% (not 51% Fan 590) or 23 teams to vote in favour of his purchase, now well knowing he intends to move the team on his terms. That means if 8 teams dislike his vibe, it's at no-go. Stay tuned, Hamilton could be in for a real let-down once again. If he doesn't get accepted, he could back-out or look at Kansas City as an option. Whatever the case, it has become very apparent the NHL doesn't want a team in Hamilton and neither do the Leafs, who are essentially the league anyway. We know this because of the Penguins ordeal where the NHL placed tight stipulations on keeping the team in Pittsburgh, mostly because they knew Balsillie wanted to do the very same thing he is doing now, despite telling the league otherwise just weeks ago. Balsillie has also played the "challenging the competition laws" angle which sends the message that he is the type to take on the NHL at every turn. Looks like he may have showed his hand a little too early. Now the decision for the Preds sale has been bumped back in light of all of this maneuvering. If this sale also falls through (a la Penguins) Balsillie will not be taken seriously anymore and would likely fade away. This is about to be an ugly game of chess.

Truthfully I kind of admire how ballsy (no pun intended) he is being but either way it won't have much effect on Winnipeg's chances. If this guy were from Winnipeg, we'd have a team today. The corporate support would be put to the test and once it passed along with the fan support, we'd have an RIM Centre sign being made for the outside of our arena. The NHL wouldn't have an issue because we're not in the Golden Horseshoe's TV market (hell we're not in anyone's TV market!). Winnipeg money would only have to buy in as a minority and the building would be paid for and ready to roll.

Sound too good? Well Mr. Balsillie, ask Gary Bettman where he might want to put a team in Canada. He'll hook you up with the right people.

You'll be "intrigued" too.

Checkmate.

June 9, 2007
Bizarre Times


With rumour that the purchase price for the Nashville Predators is now approaching $240 million, it has become time to be concerned. While that price does not necessarily raise the next purchase price, it does increase those odds and also likley raised any expansion fee significantly.

The mere mention of expansion is bad enough considering this league needs to re-shuffle where teams are as it is, but to Kansas City and Las Vegas?! This is an absolutely ridiculous concept and it is destined to follow the same failed path as Phoenix, Miami, Nashville and on and on. I can't imagine how true fans, most of whom are Canadian or old-school American fans, would react with anything but disgust and resentment. These fans are all the NHL has left, after TV contacts have repeatedly failed to gather new ones and the hockey novelty always wears off in whatever non-tradtional markets they have put teams into. Now they want to add two more?

I am nearly beside myself here at the thought of this. Yes, Jerry Bruckheimer would be a good addition to the owners circle, but we've seen this story play out before. Bad hockey markets are bad decisions...every time.

The scary part of all of this isn't the rumoured expansion cities, but rather the fact that the price tag, that was already a stretch, has now likely gone way up thanks to Jim Balsillie and his agenda to gather NHL Board of Governors' support by raising their respective team value by over 50% over night.

The first thought that came to my mind was, great, KC and Vegas get in through expansion, making a clear path for us to land a relocating team. But now with the surprising purchase price of the Predators, we are up against steeper odds. Even through expansion the fee has skyrocketed into the price range of what was very recently the ballpark range of a relocation price. Somehow, someway (spelled Jim Balsillie) the NHL has managed to increase their memebership value, despite falling far off the radar in the United States...so far that re-runs of The West Wing have got it beat.

If we are ignored after all the pro-Winnipeg talk from journalsits to the league itself, there will be a bashlash from this sports fan. If there is soon teams with the names Hamilton, Las Vegas and Kansas City in the title while we still have the Moose, you should be part of that backlash as well.

Myself, I'd like to think this is all hocus-pocus, and that stations like the The Fan 590 in Toronto are self-absorbed and mis-informed and that they report stories without concrete proof to back them up. Myself, I feel Winnipeg has taken the correct steps to staying patient and following the NHL's route for getting "back in". I feel we are looked upon as beneficial to the league again and that our market is repeatedly praised for its passion for hockey in any form. That's why none of this expansion talk adds up. We will have to keep close tabs on the situation and as I mentioned before, it may be time for the big money in town to break from their silhouttes and become faces in media.

The vibe is still good, but things are certainly getting interesting if not bizarre.

June 7, 2007
Congrats to Teemu!

Congratulations to Randy Carlyle and Teemu Selanne for their Stanley Cup victory. We all wish Teemu could retire here with the new Winnipeg Jets one day.

June 5, 2007
Bettman RSVP

There should no longer be any doubt that Winnipeg is considered a hot spot to put a struggling, or shall we say horribly failing, NHL franchise. That part we have all proven and need not be concerned with waving the Winnipeg flag to gain attention. We don't even need our heavy hitters to make headlines (but read on). That's because we make headlines on our own, without even trying. And the media, thank their always-beneficial souls, have kept on Bettman relentlessly for 3 years now. This website for four years, as of June 1st may I add.

The national coverage on the recent comments made by Gary Bettman about Winnipeg were overwhelming. Referring to a return to Winnipeg as "intriguing" and "righting a wrong" are huge steps toward not only a franchise coming back to Winnipeg, but to the NHL admitting defeat in its footprint across America plan. They followed the footsteps long enough only to find out they led back to Winnipeg anyway, like ET following Reeses Pieces.

It is nice to have the NHL on our side, or at least speaking highly of us, but there is still loads of work to be done. Like finding another team willing to officially part ways with their NASCAR-crazed environment and the dough to buy it. While I do not feel the benchmark for an NHL team is set at $220 million just because Jim Balsillie paid that for his ticket into "le club", it is probably closer to that range than zero. I'd have to say that for the first time I may have to call out the heavy hitters in this city. No vague comments via Mark Chipman, no more "Mark has my number", no more "we are in close contact with the NHL". I understand the process and quite frankly feel that carrying it out underground is the way to go. But giving the public some sort of indication as to where the process stands would be nice. We all understand that a team needs to become available but we need to know what ballpark the big money in this town are willing to play in. No need to worry about the emotional rollercoaster, afterall, we are already on one.

We know MTS Centre works, we know there is the fan support, the corporate support and the right financial team to do this. We know the NHL is clearly in favour of Winnipeg over the blue leaf-controlled southern Ontario and we know a current team will eventually follow Craig Leipold's lead. So how much is too much? What deal is right? How much does the NHL really like us?

Those questions are anyone's guess but it might be about time we got some further concrete answers instead of "possibilities" or "conceivables".

One thing I believe is crucial is something a few of you have e-mailed me over the past few days. That is to invite Gary Bettman and a national audience to witness MTS Centre during this fall's exhibition game between the Coyotes and Leafs on September 19th. Though it won't be the playoff atmosphere we had in the past, it would still be full of energy, especially if Bettman attends. Imagine the noise and signs in the crowd if we were using the game to showcase our own cause. I know what mine would say..."We're not in Kansas Anymore, Toto" or "NHL footprint leads to Winnipeg!"

And for a meaningless exhibition game at full prices. Sounds like just the right sales pitch to me.

Note: I apologize to the many radio and TV stations that requested to speak with JetsOwner.com after Bettman's comments. I was overseas and could not participate. Thanks to Rob Kerr of The Fan 960 in Calgary for having me on, yet again. His stance is always fair and from both points of view and his desire to promote the cause is always strong.

May 24, 2007
Chalk One Up For Canada

The new era has begun.

The dream of the United States gleaming with NHL hockey from coast to coast has officially died. "Bet"tman's hand has been dealt a 2 and a 7 and has now folded. We have known this day would come for some time, perhaps since the day the dream began, but we are finally no longer in the "if" era but now into the "when" era. When is now.

For the first time, the NHL has admitted defeat and come to the realization that Dixieland isn't the place hockey will thrive, but rather Dairyland (aka southern Ontario) or anywhere in Canada, where hockey is king. There are endless conclusions that can be drawn from this newest development regarding the sale of the Nashville Predators, but one thing is for sure; Canada is the new "cool" in the NHL and it's about time.

The sale of the Nashville Predators to a Canadian spells northbound. Especially considering

Jim Balsillie backed out of the Penguins deal because he wasn't allowed to move that team north and the fact that he recently purchased 25 acres of land in the Cambridge area (aka Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, population: Winnipeg). Hamilton is likely not in the cards because a new arena would have to be built anyway and if he has to build an arena regardless, he is going to build one in a zone where he doesn't need to pay-off the Leafs and Sabres as well.

Instead of rambling on about of the pros and cons of this deal for Winnipeg, let me just address some major issues by taking the negative and spinning a positive on it:


The Waiting List

While Winnipeg may still be on the waiting list, what the sale of the Predators has done is dis-lodge a huge piece of timber from the log jam that has been building up for years now, just waiting to burst. The flow of water is finally trickling through the gates and more logs should follow soon. If teams begin to feel their time is now to get out while anyone wants them, it will send a ripple effet throughout the league and arena leases will begin to crumble along with franchises. As I said, the new era has begun. This next one will see several teams pack it up and look for better places to call home. We've got a home. We've got fans. We've got corporate support. What we don't have is $200 million US to throw at the first person that wants it.


The Price Tag

Spending $200 million US certainly seems outrageous but take into considerationn that Balsillie has boatloads of money and some people will do what it takes to get into a prestigous club, even if they have to build a brand new clubhouse as well. In Winnipeg, it would be a stretch to come up with $200 million US knowing that money will never be re-couped. It is up-front cost, never to been seen again, gonzo. Now for the spin. The bright side is that this $200 million that has seemingly set the new market value for an NHL franchise isn't necessarily the new benchmark. That is because Balsillie didn't outbid anyone, he simply gave Leipold what he was asking. Period. This doesn't mean that anyone else was willing to pay that and it means the next team is only worth what someone is willing to pay. If there is another Balsillie out there, then there is nothing we can do about it. But remember, that money man/woman would have to be a good fit for the NHL and have a plan to benefit the league. Balsillie is one of those people, but it's not like there's many of them to go around, not for this league.


The Destination

Moving to southern Ontario may be the desired location for this franchise, but the NHL has certainly warmed up to Winnipeg as of late and no doubt has allowed our business leaders inside the loop much like they have kept Balsillie in the loop recently. There are still other suitors for Winnipeg. Cross your fingers that Kansas City gets the SuperSonics of the NBA so we can scratch them off the waiting list. Should they still be on the waiting list in the future, don't count Winnipeg out as equal contenders for the next team to pack up. Bettman and other NHL officials have been, all of the sudden, very pro-Winnipeg in various media outlets as of late. They now see us as a profitable market, especially when compared to where they reside now. This is something we have never seen and it bides well for how they feel not only towards our city and market, but what they think of our group of potentials investors. You're not in the loop if you're a joke and we are most certainly in the loop.

May 23, 2007
Predators Sold! Moving to Canada?

Channel 5 News out of Nashville and Bloomberg.com have reported that the Nashville Predators have been sold to Canadian Billionaire Jim Balsillie. Terms have not yet been disclosed but this development can be good news or bad news for Winnipeg.

Bad...because the sale price is said to be near the $220 million USD mark. This is the ballpark former owner Craig Leipold was looking for and he got it which sets the market value for an NHL team very high. This is NOT a good figure for Winnipeg.

Good...if Winnipeg is a place Mr. Balsillie is considering moving the team. This would assume that he wants it north of the border and that hamilton is out of the question. It also assumes that Kitchener-Waterloo was just a whacky dream.

Early polls have 80% of fans in Nashville believing the team will relocate to another city under the new ownership.

Whether it is safe to assume that Kansas City, with their own group of big money, is out of the running for the Preds is anyone's guess.

We will have to stay tuned for further developments.

May 7, 2007
Political Arena Not Necessarily Good Building

The morning began with a phone call from Hugh McFadyen. He wanted to invite me to come down to his grand announcement regarding a way to help with the purchase cost of an NHL franchise. All I could think was...here we go. Personally, I would prefer this topic not be debated in an election campaign only because that leads to the media, which in turn leads to mis-communication and far too much generalization. On the other hand, it does put it in the headlines again.

The reason I have reservations about using the political arena as a platform is that it carries a lot of fluff with little substance. To be honest, I was quite content with the way things were going behind the scenes.

Then the other phone calls poured in, the media and the private sector, trying to find out what just went on this morning. As my day was busy enough, remember I have a regular job, I had to turn down most interview requests. For those who care to listen, here is what I told the few stations I did speak with (Global and CBC).

First of all, while it is nice to be thinking outside the box with ideas like creating "Jets bonds" and "Whiteout to Win lotteries", we have to be careful when dangling these types of carrots in front of our group of potential Jets-owners. It gets their mindset into the gear that they'll be getting help from government and our public investments. While I am not against it by any means, it is a huge step to promise it. I believe the private sector can handle this venture on their own. In fact I know they can. Revenue generators like lotteries are great ideas but lets see what our heavy hitters can do on their own first. Don't get me wrong, if these ideas ever came to light, I'd be right there in support of them. It's just that the process is going on underground right now and lets also not forget that the Jets left on the Conservative's watch the last time. I know, I know....that's the past. Just a reminder.

McFadyen's theme of "Friends Don't Let Friends Move To Alberta" was effective in my mind and his focus on halting the out migration of our youth rang well with me too. All in all, I think it was a good message and outside-the-box thinking. Then again, it is an election campaign which could just mean inside-the-box political manoeuvring. Smart to lure Thomas Steen to the gig.

Enter Gary Doer tomorrow who will likely rebut that he has been involved with many behind the scenes talks with key players in this fight to get our NHL team back. He will be telling the truth too. He has been well in the loop throughout the process. Stay tuned for his thoughts.

The real story may stem from the price tag of $145 million for the Edmonton Oilers (or $130 million USD). This is not the $175 million that has been thrown around and may not sound like news, but it is. This squashes the belief by some that NHL teams are worth x-amount of money just because Forbes Magazine appraises them so. The truth is, teams are worth what someone is willing to pay for them and the Penguins were worth $175 million WITH A BRAND SPANKING NEW ARENA ATTACHED TO THE DEAL. The Oilers, who are successful on and off the ice, have been offered $130 million USD. The number is going down and this is good news for Winnipeg. What is a team worth that is unsuccessful and in dire need of a new place to call home? $110 million? $120 million?

Time will tell. Lets just hope that time is sooner than later. The waters remain very warm...with or without political campaigning.

May 5, 2007
Winnipeg Fans Still Legendary

It seems that not only does Winnipeg still find itself included in current NHL polls with current NHL teams, but we also win those polls!

When polled regarding the richest playoff fan participation, Winnipeg fans took the win over Detroit, Calgary and Edmonton....and we haven't been in the league for 11 years! Sad that nobody could strip us of this title in all that time. Imagine MTS Centre packed to the roof trusses with white clad fans and white shakers at playoff time. The noise in that intimate building would be overwhelming for any opponent. Can't wait.

April 10, 2007
The Real Record Setting

The NHL announced this week that it set league records for attendance in 2006-07. The words "set records" brings a few other things to mind. Like record setting give-aways.

For instance, the Montreal Canadiens matched their league record season attendance of 872,193. Wonderful. Too bad the NHL had already given away more tickets by January 31st, only a little more than half way through the 2006-07 campaign. 881,135 freebies to be exact. That's on pace for 1.4 million complimentary tickets given to "fans" to come out to NHL buildings. Wow, no wonder their smashing attendance records!

All of this mind-boggling data can be found in this ticket report courtesy of The Globe & Mail (and retreived by supporter "Wagner3") which analyses complimentary tickets and gate revenues over the past two seasons. Notice where the Canadian clubs rank in give-aways.

Edmonton, dead last, only feels they need to part with 207 tickets per game on average. Meanwhile, Atlanta and Florida need to give away over 2,800 per game. And that doesn't include tickets that are significantly reduced in price.

What this says to all of us, and especially to those who STILL insist on debating MTS Centre's capacity, is quite clear. Once you tally up the freebies, the discounted tickets and the empty seats that still remain after those incentives, what you are left with is a figure far less than MTS Centre capacity anyway. 17,000 seats less 2,800 freebies, less 1,000 half priced seats (equivelent to 500 paid), less 2,000 empty seats equals 11,700. Now who has the AHL market?

The report also further validates the numbers that JetsOwner.com has come up with in regards to gate revenue per game. $930,000 for a Winnipeg team still sits nicely with Calgary ($991,252) and Edmonton ($1,020,499). Notice in the chart how the Canadian clubs now sit high in the rankings when revenue is the focus.

Quite simply, we're holding this league together. That will show even more when they realize the TV ratings with Montreal and Toronto out of the playoffs, the league's two largest TV markets in real numbers.

As for the Coyotes honouring Dale Hawerchuk? Sad. Sad because they are desperately trying to pull any stunt to get people out to Glendale for anything other than shopping. Unless of course the Cardinals are playing. Trouble is, they don't know who Dale Hawerchuk is. They don't know what he did, when he was drafted or why his number is being hung to the rafters along with those other guys that wore #25 and #9. Welcome to Coyote country, home of the longest trail of red ink around.

"Ahhh-ooooo
Werewolf in London
Ahhh-ooooo!"

April 3, 2007
Dangerous Idea (That We All Like)

The Winnipeg Free Press recently posed the question of whether you would support the raising of the PST by 0.5% for two years in order to raise the capital to purchase an NHL team. Here's the scary thing with a proposal like this...

Now the private sector has a taste of not paying a cent to get a team here and when the idea gets overwhelmingly shot down (and it will) they can use that as an excuse to back away from moving forward, even though we all know that those responding "no" to the tax idea poll are nearly all non-hockey fans and therefore have no real impact on the sustainability of a team anyway.

Would I pay another 0.5% in PST for an NHL team?.....heck yeah. But the Free Press should know better than to give CJOB an entire day worth of negative phone calls to air. To be honest it's irresponsible. At a time when health care has so many issues there is NO WAY any government is going to pass raising the PST to fund the purchase of an NHL team. If it were that easy, it would have happened 11 years ago. And if it did happen...where was that plan 11 years ago?

This is a private sector venture and while I think government should give breaks to help out a future franchise, there is no hope of raising taxes for one. That is the death wish for any project.

We'd all do it in a heartbeat though...wouldn't we.

Now for new streets, a new stadium and a domed St. James all we need to do is raise the PST 3%.

March 20, 2007
One Week Strike on "Got Fans" Section

Why? It's as simple as this. Apparently I am to believe that on a Tuesday night in Raleigh the Hurricanes drew 18,639 paying customers to watch them play the Panthers. And then I am to believe the same paying crowd came out two nights later vs. the Devils despite the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels playing their first match in the NCAA Final Four Tournament that night.

Runner-ups?

Tampa Bay consistently claiming that 21,300 people pay and attend their games.

Atlanta and Florida telling us that they have over 18,000 paying and attending nearly every game

I feel bad for picking on the same teams week-in and week-out simply because they provide REAL attendance figures. Hence my strike for one week.

March 15, 2007
Buffalo Duo On Our Side

You may remember Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell from their visit to our city during one of their many voyages to critique pro and amateur sports facilities. Their critique of MTS Centre can be found on their website www.thesportsroadtrip.com. Recently they have launched a different kind of website that includes a range of blogs and articles. Their latest installment of their theme Puck Stop is a focus on Winnipeg and includes interview clips from myself and Teppo Numminen. Good of these guys for continuing the push in the US. They get it in Buffalo.

I'd also like to take the time to thank all of the radio stations that have had me as a guest over the past couple months. I don't report on all of them. That includes stations in London, Calgary, Montreal, and Halifax. I will soon be appearing on Saskatchewan radio and I'll try to up keep you in the loop on that one.

If you haven't yet purchased a t-shirt, be sure to grab one online! They are in home and away formats and come in all sizes. For a limited time beginning March 16th, they will be $5 off. Lets get more of these on the streets!

February 11, 2007
The Numbers Add Up

Not that my calculations haven't already been validated, but something struck me as I read Mark Spector's exclusive report in the National Post regarding the NHL's true attendance and revenue figures. The detailed report spent some time discussing Nashville's current revenue situation, among others, strictly regarding gate revenue. It revealed that the Predators pull in an average of $525,000 US per game from the gate (ranked 23rd in the NHL), mostly due to many tickets being given away for free or vastly reduced in price. What might be scarier is the fact that there are seven other teams that pull in less! While that shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us, it did indirectly reveal key information about our six Canadian teams. The real interest I took came from Mr. Spector's simple breakdown of percentages. The article states that the Predators pull in $525,000 US per game and that was roughly 50% of what four Canadian teams (which included Edmonton) pulls in every night and close to 60% of Calgary and Ottawa's gate. That would mean Calgary pulls in roughly $875,000 US per game (60% = Nashville) and Edmonton at least $1,050,000 US per game (50% = Nashville). It was assumed that Edmonton was the lesser of "the four" Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Either way, the figure is close.

My calculations have a Winnipeg team pulling in $931,000 (CDN) per game WITHOUT luxury suite seats. That's nearly $1 million a game from approx. 14,220 seats. Add luxury seating per game and you would add $163,000 (CDN). That's a total of $1,094,000 (CDN).

Making the currency conversion at 0.85...that's $930,000 US per game, assuming sellouts, which is what both Calgary and Edmonton enjoy every game. Surely if they can draw 19,000 and 17,000 respectively to each game then Winnipeg could draw 15,000, albeit at slightly higher prices to compensate for less capacity.


Seems to me that my numbers fall right in between, and therefore in line with, Calgary and Edmonton. It also looks like my figures just got that much more credible.

Per Game Average Gate Revenue by Canadian City

Calgary and Ottawa - $875,000 US
Winnipeg* - $930,000 US
Edmonton - $1,050,000 US
Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto - over $1,100,000 US

And remember...this is only revenues from tickets alone, not the many other sources of revenue that can be drawn from. Examples include concessions, merchandise, TV, radio, Pay-per-view, advertising, parking, VLTs, lottery tickets and non-hockey events at MTSC like concerts. It also does not account for additional luxury/regular seating that may or may not be added to MTSC.

Another interesting fact recently discovered was that the six Canadian teams pull in 33% of overall NHL revenue (source: The Toronto Star). That's 1/5 of the league accounting for 1/3 the ticket revenue, most of whom are paying the highest prices for tickets. 

I will assume that American revenues aren't helped much from Nielsen ratings of 0.01 which is what a Devils-Panthers game produced a few weeks back. Just in case you're wondering, that is a whopping 736 households! In a local TV market of over 20 million people (source: New York Times).  

January 29, 2007
For The Record

To Nayersayers who claim that $150 average ticket price:

The average ticket price in the NHL right now is exactly $43.13. The highest average ticket price is Vancouver with $58.96. The lowest, you guessed it, Phoenix, which is $25.41...only $1.59 less than the Jets average ticket price in their last season, over 11 years ago!! (source: Team Marketing Report)

To Rob Warren (Asper School of Business):

How do you arrive at $210 million for a team? The Penguins are trying to fetch about that much (CDN) and they are absolutely the most highly talented team out there. You are also assuming that Winnipeg purchases 100% of a franchise. How do you come up with $50 million for player salaries? That would be the absolute upper end of the salary cap. And finally, how do you include that salary figure with start-up costs, bringing the total to $260 million? That's like saying that since the club can gross over $75 million a season, that the Jets will make $75 million net. You can't include year-to-year costs as part of start-up costs...or take the absolute highest case scenario for every monetary figure.

Unless, of course, you are trying to skew the issue far in the direction of negativity. I think I just answered my own inquiry.

I can play that game. I'll go the other way. Tickets are going to cost $21.50 on average, a team will cost $85 million and players salaries will only be $31 million....oh and all figures are in Yen!

C'mon. How dumb do these people think we are.

You want the facts? Average ticket prices in the NHL are one-third of what is claimed so recklessly by so many people that are too lazy to do the research or want to scare the public into thinking that NHL hockey is WAY out of their budget. As for Winnipeg, we would likely need to fall among the higher end of ticket prices, but that would still be less than half of the $150 price tag that the skeptics throw around. Yes there might be a ticket worth $110, but they'll also be a ticket for $34 or less. If average tickets were $150, let me tell you, this new Winnipeg franchise is going to make a fortune!

You want the facts? Simply check out the "How Much?" section of this website to get an accurate picture of the economics of a Winnipeg NHL franchise. How I arrive at the bottom line could fluctuate in one or more categories but the end result remains consistent.

And no, my figures are not ill-founded or without merit.

How do these people keep getting on television?


January 27, 2007
NHL Gives 'Peg Green Light: But We Must Be Ready

The recent comments made by Gary Bettman on Hockey Night In Canada during the All-Star Game in Dallas were monumental. There is no question. The voice of the league has never so much as even hinted that Winnipeg is on their radar. In fact that comment was made at the 2004 All-Star Game. "Winnipeg is not on our radar". Fast-forward to this year and oh, how things change. Now it's "I believe, in an ideal world under the partnership we have with the players and the salary cap, that Winnipeg probably could support an NHL team". Good on Ron MacLean to pressure that response out of him, but at the same time, he never would have said it if it weren't true. Gary Bettman knew the headlines such a comment would generate hence being sincere when he said it.

This website has always led you in a realistic and responsible direction. It will turn out to be correct in all capacities so long as it remains grounded. We all must remain grounded but prepared. We must be ready to step up and open our wallets with very little notice because in the event a team comes calling for help, the likelihood that particular team will need to relocate here quickly is very high.

On an advice note, do yourselves a favour, don't listen to CJOB. Their brand of journalism is counter-productive and only spins the negative without substance. I am not here to bash anything or anyone (and I never have), but enough is enough with that station's ongoing disregard for realism, not to mention community spirit. They don't get it. They likely never will. If they bring you down don't listen to them. Fortunately for all of us, what CJOB and their don't-change-a-thing listeners think have no bearing on what our business leaders feel. The demographic an NHL franchise in Winnipeg wants to tap are not those of CJOB's demographic. If their listeners want to buy into the claim that a pair of average tickets are going to cost you $10,000 a season and that apparently you have to buy an entire season in the first place, then sobeit. That's all I'll say with regards to that topic. It's down right bizarre but, we move on.

As noted many times, we don't need 15,000 Winnipeggers to purchase 42 games a year. Afterall, that many people don't have the time nor money, granted. We need 170,000 Winnipeggers (or Manitobans) to purchase one game or one ticket pack every year, a scenario much more realistic for any market, not just Winnipeg. Obviously any breakdown within this framework works just as well and a breakdown of something along these lines would probably be most realistic:

6,000 season tickets (including suite seats)

6,000 people/corporations buying a season

6,000 season ticket equivilents

6,000 people/corporations buying a 22-game pack

12,000 people/corporations buying an 11-game pack

3,500 single game tickets/walk-ups

3,500 people buying random seats


That's 24,000 bodies that need to support the team per year at one of those 3 levels plus another 147,000 bodies that need to come to one game per year. There is an affordability at every level for NHL hockey. Really. I suppose we just won't be able to take our family of six to 42 games a year and buy a jersey, program and a pizza for each of them every game. Shucks!

Putting sarcasm aside, the way the NHL budged this week was encouraging, not because we needed them to budge, but because it puts to rest so many of the skeptics' belief that Winnipeg wouldn't be welcomed back in to the league. Or that we can't afford it. Or that our arena is too small. All aspects that JetsOwner.com has repeatedly declared to be false. They will be proven false.

Keep your hopes on high, but keep your feet on the ground.

When the time comes, then we leap.

January 19, 2007
Whether Pens Stay Or Go, 'Peg Still Sitting Pretty

The most recent developments out of Pittsburgh indicate strong last ditch efforts to keep the team there. Scare tactics like visiting Kansas City's new Sprint Center only fuel the bargaining fire between Mario Lemieux and city officials in Pittsburgh. It's looking more and more like Penguins really can't fly and therefore won't be headed outside of Pittsburgh. That's not to say they may still not move because, as we well know, anything can fall through. Very quickly.

Some feel the Pens staying put hurts Winnipeg's chances because Kansas City will still remain a front runner for the next team that becomes available. That point has validity but consider this; there is a good possibility that Kansas City will land an NBA team before that time comes, especially since they have so successfully advertised a virtually free building (and practice facility) to any frachise that wants to call it home. This has raised the eyebrows of more than one team from both the hockey and basketball realms. If successful in landing an NBA team for the Sprint Center, expect Kansas City to quickly fall out of love with NHL hockey.

Without knowing for sure, I feel the NHL is skeptical about Kansas City as a market for reasons discussed many times on this website. Most notably the fact that after the Chiefs, Royals and a handful of NCAA sports, there isn't much of a supply of people left for hockey at any level to draw from. Let alone 18,000 of them 42 nights a year. Even from within they are skeptical. This from David Martin of The Pitch in Kansas City,"On a per-capita basis, Kansas City is actually overserved by professional sports, which is a significant reason that no NBA or NHL team owner has agreed to move a team to the Sprint Center".

In fact, this same problem exists in a dozen current "NHL markets". Heck, television ratings alone can spell that out, a 1.1 rating for last week's season debut on NBC. A desperate landlord wishing to lure a tenant for his building in a city with no proven track record for hockey hardly seems like the right direction for a league already up to their ears in troubles with their non-traditional markets.

Oklahoma City bowed out suspiciously at the last minute, leaving the speculation that they realized that they were being used as a bargaining chip for leverage with the city of Pittsburgh.

Despite rumours regarding cities like Seattle, Portland and Hartford, none of these cities have made any real effort to bring the NHL to their neighbourhood.

Plus, the Pens price tag remains at an inflated level.

Add all of this up and it becomes clear to me that the Pens will likely stay in Pittsburgh and that Winnipeg is no further behind with it's quest, albeit a quiet quest, to regain membership in the National Hockey League.

Meanwhile, be sure to keep tabs on those flagged teams down south who are now officially and openly in dire straits. Most notably Nashville and Florida. They can't draw bees to honey and when they do, many of the bees get the honey for free.

 
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