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Jets owner to interested Saskatoon group — be discreet

Mar 16, 2012, 1:03 PM EDT

Mark Chipman AP

Winnipeg Jets owner co-owner Mark Chipman has some advice for the group interested in bringing an NHL franchise to Saskatoon – recall how Jim Balsillie tried to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, then take the exact opposite approach.

Chipman didn’t actually mention Balsillie’s name, but he didn’t need to.

“(Taking a behind-the-scenes approach) is very wise,” Chipman told the Star Phoenix. “It doesn’t get people’s expectations up real high, only to have them disappointed if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason. The league itself appreciates that approach and are more likely to take people seriously when they’re doing their homework quietly and methodically and legitimately, rather than trying to grab a headline for whatever purpose.”

Chipman did, however, have one reservation about Saskatoon’s ability to support an NHL franchise.

“The only question is how far will people drive to get to a game? That’s the only question I have in my mind,” he said.

“Provincially, our population bases are basically the same. Yours is just scattered out far more than ours is.”

With a population around 260,000, Saskatoon is less than half the size of Winnipeg, which is already the NHL’s smallest market. And while similarly sized Regina is a three-hour drive from Saskatoon, that’s a three-hour drive in Saskatchewan winter weather.

Related: Saskatoon group interested in landing NHL franchise

  1. solador78 - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Saskatchewan’s recent economic growth is severely threatened by the collapse of the wheat pool and pollution from Alberta’s oil sands. Wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into a ghost town over the next 10 years.

    • Brian - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:22 PM

      Yeah, neither of those things are actually true. Still, I don’t see how Saskatoon could support an NHL team. Aside from the small population base they’re missing the biggest factor in Winnipeg getting a team, namely that one of the world’s richest men wanted them. When a multi-billionaire starts getting involved in talks to bring a team to Saskatoon, then I’ll start taking them more seriously.

      • solador78 - Mar 16, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        Give it more time. Harper’s suppression of the scientific discourse can’t last forever. And Viterra is screwed.

    • rupertslander - Mar 16, 2012 at 5:40 PM

      Your moronic comments appear to be based on the belief that Sakatchewan became the sixth richest jurisdiction in North America as a result of agriculture when in reality it was the resource sector and especially energy (including oilsands) that made that happen.

      Believe me, you will not want to see Saskatchewan “turn into a ghost town over the next 10 years.” Because before Saskatchewan’s economy goes down again it will be the turn of almost every other jurisdiction on this continent.

  2. acieu - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Feckin Canucks will never be happy until they turn the NHL into a real minor league. Why nor Halifax or Dawson Creek?

  3. rupertslander - Mar 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    What Chipman is trying to say (and is true) is that an NHL team in Saskatchewan would need to be supported by the whole province and not just Saskatoon.

    To that end, I expect that any team in Sakatchewan would eventually play games in both Saskatoon and Regina. That would address Mr. Brough’s concerns. Regina doesn’t have a suitable arena yet, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be the same facility as the Roughriders’ new stadium converted into an NHL arena for the CFL off-season.

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