Tag: True North

Winnipeg Thrashers Hockey

Jets management deals with short turnaround time to get team ready for next season

There are a wide variety of ways to describe the Atlanta Thrashers’ metamorphosis into the Winnipeg Jets (scorned Thrashers fans would probably share the most colorful descriptions). Yet amid all the discussions about the team’s new logo, front office moves and other changes, people often overlook just how sudden this change really has been – maybe because the city has been waiting so long for the NHL’s return.

Then again, it’s not as if hockey is totally new to True North Sports and Entertainment, the company that runs the new Winnipeg Jets. They probably put together a preliminary plan or two when their flirtations with the Phoenix Coyotes reached its greatest heights. True North also ran hockey teams at the IHL and AHL levels during the NHL’s absence.

In a way, their two month scramble could probably compare to the NFL’s lockout-shortened training camp challenges. On one hand, many of the pieces of a team were already in place and much of the Jets’ front office would carry over from the Manitoba Moose. That being said, the organization dealt with quite a “to do list” that probably keeps them from soaking in the significance of bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg, something Jets chairman Mike Chipman discussed with Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press.

“I’ll be honest, we’ve missed a lot of the reaction and we really haven’t had a lot of time to daydream,” Chipman admitted. “But every now and again the reality hits you that we’re playing the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 9th and you picture how that’s going to look and feel. It’s fun to contemplate on those things but we don’t get the chance to dwell on them for a long period of time because we’ve got everybody going flat-out right now.

“But I don’t want to give you the impression that we’re so overwhelmed here that people are frantic. It’s not that way at all. I mean, it’s very busy, but it’s also very controlled or measured. Everybody’s going real hard, but it’s work that people like to do. When we first got into the business 15 years ago there was really no chance to exhale. Paint was drying on the walls when we opened up.


“Our people enjoy the process,” Chipman added.

“This is what we’ve been living for and working towards for a long time.”

The Jets and Winnipeg will probably be in honeymoon mode through a big chunk of the multi-year commitments that fans made by snatching up season ticket plans. That being said, every move True North makes will be scrutinized because it would be devastating for that small market to lose the NHL again. They will probably be too busy preparing for the team’s season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on October 9 to really follow the criticisms anyway, though.

Winnipeg Jets round out coaching staff with Tony Borgford, Wade Flaherty and Charlie Huddy

Claude Noel, Kevin Cheveldayoff

While hockey fans await the unveiling of a new Winnipeg Jets logo and the team’s new jerseys, the actual makeup of the 2011-12 team keeps coming into greater focus. Winnipeg discarded many of the elements of the Atlanta Thrashers team they inherited, particularly when they exchanged former GM Rick Dudley and ex-head coach Craig Ramsay for new GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and bench boss Claude Noel (both of whom are featured in this post’s main photo).

There were rumors that beloved former Manitoba Moose forward Mike Keane might be primed to join Noel’s staff as an assistant coach, but it looks like that won’t be the case. The team instead looks to fill out its coaching staff with three new additions: Charlie Huddy, Wade Flaherty and Tony Borgford.

Huddy will take Keane’s rumored spot as the team’s new assistant coach. Flaherty will act as Winnipeg’s goalie coach while Borgford will remain the Jets’ video coach.

Huddy’s been an assistant coach in the NHL for 12 years, serving in that role with the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars. Flaherty was Chicago’s goalie coach for three seasons. Both Huddy and Flaherty might be familiar with fans from their NHL careers; Huddy won five Stanley Cups as a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty while Flaherty played 120 regular season games as a goalie. Borgford is one of the rare Thrashers employees who will make his way to Winnipeg; he’s been with the franchise since the position was created in 1999, according to the Canadian Press.

For better or worse, the foundation for the Jets’ first season seems like it’s in place. Now we just need to wait for an idea of the aesthetics.

Former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay rips Winnipeg Jets owners for not reaching out to him

Craig Ramsay

Parting is often such sweet sorrow, as the saying goes, but the way things have gone since True North bought the Atlanta Thrashers have been less-than amiable for former head coach Craig Ramsay.

Ramsay, who was just hired as an assistant to Kevin Dineen with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, was asked about how things went with the Thrashers after True North purchased the team and things clearly did not go so well. While GM Kevin Cheveldayoff did his part to reach out to Ramsay and interview him for the head coaching position (a job Claude Noel eventually landed), the ownership apparently weren’t as forthcoming with him.

The Winnipeg Sun gets the word from Ramsay about how things broke down once the Thrashers were sold off.

“I never got a phone call from the Winnipeg people when they apparently bought the team,” Ramsay, who lost out on the Winnipeg job when Claude Noel was hired, told Brophy. “None of us did. There are always three choices: ‘We want you; we don’t want you or we really don’t know at this point because we don’t have a general manager in place.’ At least then the communication is open and you’ve spoken to the (new owners) and that didn’t happen. It’s disappointing.

“The fact that they dragged it out meant there were jobs that were going by the wayside while we were under the assumption that perhaps Winnipeg was interested in bringing our group along. It was a month or more just sitting by the phone waiting for things to happen while you are under obligation not to talk to other teams because of tampering charges. When Kevin Cheveldayoff got the (GM) job he at least called right away. Other than that we were just sitting there and waiting and that’s not fair.”

The lack of communication Ramsay talks about kept him from being able to interview for open head coaching jobs that became available after the season was over. While there’s still one more opening left in New Jersey, Ramsay either wasn’t under consideration or jumped at the chance to be an assistant in Florida.

After True North decided to let former GM Rick Dudley walk away that had to Ramsay’s biggest sign that his job wasn’t likely to remain in Winnipeg.  Of course at that point he was still waiting to hear what was going to happen next. It looks poorly upon the Winnipeg owners to not even reach out to Ramsay, but unfortunately when new owners come in these things have been known to happen.

At the very least, Ramsay will get a chance to help the rebuilt Panthers climb to respectability in the Southeast Division and if all things go right, he can help the Panthers keep the Jets down as they’ll be divisional foes for just this season.

Hmm… Wonder if there will be any money on the board in the locker room for those games?