Mark Chipman

Jets owner to interested Saskatoon group — be discreet


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

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?