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Winnipeg’s team name will emerge once they sell 13,000 season tickets; Front office questions linger

Jun 2, 2011, 6:17 PM EDT

NHL in Winnipeg AP

The Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg was finally made official earlier this week, which generates a different set of questions regarding the team’s immediate future.

As we already discussed before, True North Sports and Entertainment hopes to reach a preliminary goal of selling 13,000 season tickets.* For the many people wondering what the new Winnipeg team’s name will be (you can still vote for your favorite choice here, by the way), True North provides a simple window for when they will provide an answer. CBC News reports that the team’s new name will be revealed once the new team crosses that 13,000 season tickets sold threshold.

The CBC reports that ticket holders and corporate sponsors for the True North’s AHL team the Manitoba Moose have been given the first opportunity to snatch those hot tickets. The general public will receive an opportunity to start gobbling up the rest on Saturday, so that 13,000 goal seems pretty reachable in the near future.

While we wait to see if the Winnipeg Jets will return to the NHL once more, Elliotte Friedman thinks that the franchise itself should focus on some important front office questions in the mean time. Much like the general managers they often hire, new owners often prefer to hire “their own” people. With that in mind, Friedman points out that it would be fair and logical to make those decisions soon so anyone who doesn’t make the cut would have time to find another job.

What Chipman must do now is make a quick decision on Rick Dudley, Craig Ramsay and the rest of the Thrashers’ front office/coaching staff. If he doesn’t want to keep some or all of those people, the right thing to do is release them quickly so they can find new jobs.

One of the reasons the sale took a little longer to close was that True North didn’t want to be on the hook for contracts (like Dudley’s recent extension) it didn’t take. Teams want their staffs in place by the draft. The longer the Jets/Falcons/Moose/Polar Bears take to make those choices, the less chance those individuals will have to land on their feet elsewhere. There is a lot of competition, especially when it comes to coaching.

As for True North’s own structure, Chipman made it very clear that Craig Heisinger will have “a significant role” moving forward. It’s also believed Claude Noel, who impressed both the Moose and the Canucks this year, will get the big-league coaching job. Both men have really good reputations, but Chipman will look for a more experience NHL-level executive to help them get started.

That may not be easy, because you’re going into a situation where [you don’t have] full control over who is working for you. Anyway, Vancouver has two candidates, Vice-President of Player Personnel Lorne Henning and Vice-President Hockey Operations Laurence Gilman (who is from Winnipeg). And don’t discount former Toronto GM John Ferguson, either. He has Winnipeg connections and knows Chipman well.

(That rising cackle you just heard is a chorus of Maple Leafs fans laughing at the mention of the name John Ferguson, a roundly ridiculed GM in Toronto.)

While I like a lot of what I’ve seen from GM Rick Dudley in just one season with the hockey artists formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers, he was in the early part of a rebuild mode. Going with a different general manager (and also canning head coach Craig Ramsay, if they want to) now would be more reasonable than waiting for the first opportunity to fire him later. It might not be fair for them to lose their jobs after just one season of promising improvement, but True North has the right to put their own stamp on their new team.

Whether you hand this new Winnipeg ship the title of Jets, Moose or some other name, a winning team will ultimately drive jersey sales more than nostalgia or a great logo. We’ll keep you informed as True North begins to steer this boat in a new direction.

*At this moment in time, the “Drive to 13” Web site indicates that 4,170 season ticket packages have been sold.

  1. trbowman - Jun 2, 2011 at 7:39 PM

    Really excited hockey is making a return to Winnipeg.

    I feel bad for the Trashers fans out there. There are people in Atlanta that love their hockey, but there’s just not enough of them. Winnipeg will be behind that team.

  2. tommytd - Jun 2, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    So what’s the ticket I buy going to say on it. Gametime is 7:30, featuring the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Winnipeg “NO NAMES” or the Winnipeg AS YET TO BE NAMED”, or the Winnipeg “WATCH THIS SPACERS” … How exciting…!

    • whatagreatfootballmind - Jun 2, 2011 at 10:55 PM

      are you an idiot or pretend to be that dumb? regular season tickets don’t even go on sale until mid september for most teams. i would assume winnipeg would have their team name well before then.

      • tommytd - Jun 3, 2011 at 3:38 AM

        I’m that dumb but thanks for responding…

    • sippindasyzurp - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:03 AM

      The season ticket drive is only a deposit that your putting down to reserve your spot to get your choice at tickets for whichever area you decide to sit in… They can release tickets yet cause the NHL hasn’t even released the schedule for next year!

      • sippindasyzurp - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:04 AM


  3. sknut - Jun 2, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    I think it would be a mistake to let go of Dudley after one year. Give him one more year where you can evaluate him in a fair manner and then make the decision.

  4. asteinberg77 - Jun 3, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    Can they fire the staff before the move is official through the Board of Governors meeting June 21st??

    • hystoracle - Jun 3, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      I hope so because the Draft is that weekend 24-25th with Free agency the following week. that would be a tall order to get someone in place to get them up to speed that quickly. I don’t have a horse in this race but I would think the best bet would to keep Dudley for the time being. He will wear out his welcome eventually. He has everywhere else he’s been.

      If you are going to make a change then do it now. The longer they wait the harder it will be on the team.

  5. Robert - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM


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