Chipman excited to bring back NHL team

Part owner of Winnipeg's new NHL team Mark Chipman speaks with the media at the MTS Centre in...

Part owner of Winnipeg's new NHL team Mark Chipman speaks with the media at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Man., May 31, 2011. (QMI Agency)

PAUL TURENNE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:11 PM ET

WINNIPEG - The memory of losing the Jets all those years ago has never been far from Mark Chipman's mind, especially since the NHL lockout ended.

"Clearly when the NHL came out of the lockout season of (2004-05) there was a very, very different economic model, prior to which we couldn't even contemplate the return of the league," Chipman, part-owner of Winnipeg's new NHL team, said Tuesday.

Chipman, president of Megill-Stephenson Co., which owns the Birchwood Auto Group and is an equal partner in True North along with David Thomson's Osmington Inc., was involved in the failed bid to save the Jets back in the 1990s and believes that helped drive him and the entire city towards returning the NHL to Winnipeg.

"I came away from that experience with a deep sense of disappointment, but also the realization that our lack of success was not anyones fault. Rather, after 17 years the economics of our city and the NHL were no longer compatible," Chipman said. "While the loss of the Winnipeg Jets in many ways had a profound effect on the psyche of our city and province, I believe it also stiffened our resolve to press on and jointly move our community forward."

Chipman, a married father of three girls, whose entire family attended Tuesday's announcement, could hardly contain his excitement when announcing the big news.

"I am excited beyond words to announce our purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers. In a sense, I guess you could say that True North, our city and our province has received the call we've long since been waiting for," he said.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman praised Chipman's approach.

"He just in a very professional, constructive, quiet way kept doing the things that were necessary to ultimately get to this point," Bettman said. "He understood this wasnt a process he could control the timing of, that this wasnt a process that could be pushed faster than it would go on its own. He exhibited extraordinary patience. For all those reasons we're here today."

paul.turenne@sunmedia.ca


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