Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jets owners' patience was rewarded

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TODAY marks the one-year anniversary of the major announcement bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg.

It's also the approximate time two years ago of an important promise eventually kept.

Mark Chipman and David Thomson of True North Sports & Entertainment were waiting quietly in the wings but were not successful in their May 2010 bid to rescue the still-ailing Phoenix Coyotes. It was then, sources say, that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman promised them the next team available.

During his annual press conference at the start of the Stanley Cup final, May 28, 2010, Bettman embraced a couple of questions about Winnipeg and spoke openly about the interest from Chipman and Thomson.

It was a week after Glendale city council had met a deadline to come up with the US$25 million to fund the Coyotes' losses for 2010-11, ending a week of intense work in New York where Chipman and associates were in intense preparations to be the NHL's backup plan.

Had Glendale not bucked up, and just to refresh memories, Bettman said: "We would have been forced to move it. There has been a lot of speculation about Winnipeg. Winnipeg did make a bona fide offer. We never concluded a deal. That offer was made by Mark Chipman and David Thomson as partners in True North. And they are very comfortable with the process. They understood the likelihood that the team was going to be remaining in Phoenix. They wanted us to know of their interest and they have told us that they are prepared to be patient."

One more year was all it took.

-- Campbell

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 31, 2012 C2

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