PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Mark Chipman has plenty of friends in Winnipeg and on game days probably wishes he had a few less. But Chipman could use a few bros he can count on in the NHL boardroom.
The owner, chairman and governor of the Winnipeg Jets is attending his second NHL board of governors meeting this week and his interests will be front and centre as the league determines its new look and executes a plan for realignment.
The Jets will be moving from the Southeast Division and heading North and West to varying degrees. Chipman will have some say in where they land, but he's just one voice in 30, and has had little time to form alliances that will allow him to influence the outcome.
Favours, votes on other governors' pet projects and time working with the other men in the room are all things Chipman is short on. In the past, Chipman has been instrumental at the board level in both the AHL and the IHL but the bonds, respect and power he developed at those levels won't help him now.
Certainly, Chipman's experience in the boardroom will work in his favour and in time he'll become a respected and sage voice at the table, but that's down the road. For now, Chipman will undoubtedly do a lot more listening than talking.
So where do the Jets have friends? In one aspect Chipman will immediately become a member of the most powerful group in the NHL -- the seven Canadian teams.
The Canadian clubs have unique and distinct issues and voting together as a bloc always a threat. Not only are the Canadian teams banded together by the border, but also by cash.
A disproportionate slice of the revenue pie comes from up North and the Jets will only add to this. Canada's clubs have a major voice in the NHL and Chipman will immediately be able to use that to his benefit.
Realignment is expected to go one of two ways: Either a simple swap that sees the Jets move to the Western Conference, with one of Detroit, Nashville or Columbus heading East; or a far more involved restructuring that would see the league morph into four new geographic conferences.
Either concept would likely see the Jets move into a division housing a number of Central time zone teams such as Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis.
Talk of Winnipeg moving to the Northwest with Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton has fizzled and so has discussion regarding all seven Canadian teams forming one conference.
The league expects the framework of realignment to be determined today with details such as scheduling, playoffs and conference makeup to be hammered out on Tuesday.
Every team in the league has a stake in these discussions with rivalries, travel costs and time zones for broadcast schedules all part of the mix. It's not expected to be a quiet couple of days on the Monterey Peninsula.
Chipman used silence as his biggest asset in gaining way into the NHL club. Now he has a voice and it will be interesting to see how he swims with this new set of sharks.
Winnipeggers have come to know their franchise owner as a measured and composed leader. But there's a fierce competitor in there as well.
Again and again, Chipman has shown he has the ability to get done what is best for his franchise and this community.
We shouldn't expect anything else at this level as Winnipeg once again proves it's NHL-ready in maybe the most important area of all: ownership.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless
Top 'o' the
Anaheim: Henry Samueli
Boston: Jeremy Jacobs
Buffalo: Terry Pegula
Calgary: Murray Edwards
Carolina: Peter Karmanos, Jr.
Chicago: Rocky Wirtz
Colorado: Josh Kroenke
Columbus: John P. McConnel
Dallas: Tom Gaglardi
Detroit: Mike Ilitch
Edmonton: Daryl Katz
Florida: Cliff Viner
Los Angeles: Tim Leiweke
Minnesota: Craig Leipold
Montreal: Geoff Molson
Nashville: Joel Dobberpuhl
New Jersey: Lou Lamoriello
NYI: Charles Wang
NYR: James Dolan
Ottawa: Eugene Melnyk
Philadelphia: Ed Snider
Phoenix: Don Maloney
Pittsburgh: David Morehouse
St. Louis: David Checketts
San Jose: Kevin Compton
Tampa Bay: Jeff Vinik
Toronto: Larry Tannenbaum
Vancouver: Francesco Aquilini
Washington: Ted Leonsis
Winnipeg: Mark Chipman
Old guard: The Original Six clubs led by Wirtz and Jacobs.
Power brokers: Snider, Jacobs, Tannenbaum, Wirtz, Edwards, Molson are all major players.
Canadian cabal: Teams in Canada represent a major slice of the NHL's revenue pie and can band together as a Group of 7 to protect their own interests.
The commish: Gary Bettman is still the most influential man in the boardroom and is unafraid to take on his bosses. Bettman leads the room, directs the vision and influences votes. Most often, what Gary wants, Gary gets.