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Volume 24 No. 160
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NHL Jets Owner Optimistic Over New CBA, Declares Support For Bettman

NHL Jets Chair Mark Chipman discussed several issues surrounding the league’s recently concluded lockout, including his support for Commissioner Gary Bettman, with Gary Lawless of the WINNIPEG FREE PRESS. Below are excerpts from the Q&A:

Q: Is the NHL fixed now?
Chipman: Is it optimal? I'm not sure yet. Let me put it to you this way, if this doesn't work by the time the deal expires, I'm not sure what the next step would be. This ought to give all the teams in the league a chance to be viable.

Q: Will you be a cap team now?
Chipman: What the new CBA does is give us an opportunity to invest in the augmentation of our team when it makes the most amount of sense.

: The Pittsburgh Penguins, for one, have apologized to their fans. Do you have words for yours?
Chipman: I don't regret having taken the position but I apologize for it having angered people. Having said that, I've been taken by the amount of support we've had in our community.

: Do you support Gary Bettman as the commissioner of the NHL?
Chipman: Very, very much so. There wouldn't be a team in Winnipeg but for Gary and I owe him for that and I always will. I also admire how he handled this very difficult negotiation.

: Is the honeymoon over between Winnipeg and the Jets?
Chipman: I don't think so. I think our building is going to be right amped up. Maybe some people won't be quite so energized. … I think our fans are smart and they understand the game and business of the game (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 1/11).

: In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen writes after some "some short-term pain, based on the immediate drop in revenues and the ‘make-whole’ payments to honour existing player contracts, Chipman says the Jets should improve their already-healthy bottom line in the new deal.” Chipman noted profits will "increase." He said, "I wouldn't use the word 'significantly,' certainly not in the early stages, that is to say this season and perhaps next.” Chipman, on the limit of player contract length, added, “In the last system there was a means by which the spirit of the agreement was circumvented, by entering into contracts that really nobody ever anticipated. The term limits that now exist hopefully will curtail those practices." He believes the new CBA "does enough for the have-nots," though he is not certain. Chipman: Like the last agreement, it's going to take some time for those matters to be determined. I'm satisfied it has a chance to do that” (WINNIPEG SUN, 1/11).