WINNIPEG - NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly provided a glimpse into the name game of Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise Thursday.
Daly, in town for meetings with True North Sports and Entertainment, saw some of the possibilities for the team name but wouldn’t divulge them.
“I know a little bit more today than I knew yesterday,” Daly said. “But I don’t think that decision’s been made, yet. Part of the presentation today was going through the team identity and the possibilities there. Mark (Chipman) still has a lot of good options in that regard.”
While the NHL owns the Jets name and is willing to give it to Chipman, the chair of True North, Daly points out the team’s competitive history, including team and individual records, belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes.
“One of his concerns about the Jets’ name and identity is that he really doesn’t own his history,” Daly explained. “The Phoenix Coyotes, if you look in their year book ... their franchise records are all players who played for the Jets. And they’ll continue to have that. They maintained those rights when they relocated from market to market.
“He hasn’t indicated that pushes him away in any material way, that’s just a point of fact.”
In the same way, all Winnipeg franchise records will include the history of the Atlanta Thrashers, inglorious as it is.
SAFETY CONCERN: The NHL is forcing True North to replace the boards and glass at the MTS Centre in time for next season, part of the NHL’s effort to reduce head injuries.
Daly said he only learned last Tuesday, the day True North completed the purchase of the Thrashers, that Winnipeg’s facility, which has seamless glass, wasn’t up to the new standards adopted earlier this year.
“We are, beginning next year, mandating that all our clubs have an acrylic glass system so there’s more give in the glass,” Daly said. “We have been able to determine that seamless glass in our buildings does cause more injuries than an acrylic system.”
Other ongoing renovations for the NHL include the addition of a second, suspended press box and renovations to some luxury suites, reducing their size but increasing the number from 48 to 55.
SIDE BET: It appears Chipman owes NHL commissioner Gary Bettman a beer, or something like that.
The two had a friendly wager going about how fast True North would sell 13,000 multiyear season tickets.
“Gary and Mark had a gentleman’s bet about how quickly the marketplace would respond, and obviously it exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Daly said. “The commissioner was more bullish than Mark in the bet.”
Winnipeg was the real winner, opening eyes around the league with the quick sellout, and the 248,000 requests for tickets in just minutes.
“That’s a third of the population of Winnipeg,” Daly said. “We certainly were hopeful the city would respond the way they did. But the levels to which they responded, and the speed to which they responded was pretty amazing.”
ON THE AGENDA: The league sent out a report on the Winnipeg franchise to its governors this week, preparing them for the June 21 meeting at which they’ll vote on the Thrashers sale and relocation.
Daly predicts a slam dunk.
“I have no reason to believe it won’t be unanimous,” he said. “All the factors would indicate this is something that’s in the best interest of the league to approve this relocation and approve the transfer of ownership.”
THE QUEBEC QUESTION: Daly said the league is tracking the problems and controversy dogging plans for a new arena in Quebec City.
But it’s not involved.
“It’s really a local matter. It will resolve itself the way it’s meant to resolve itself,” he said. “If there’s a new building in Quebec City, I suppose it puts itself in a position that Winnipeg’s been in since 2004 when they built this building.”