Mark Chipman Press Conference Before Game 1

Posted by Michael Remis in Press Conferences,Winnipeg Jets on October 10, 2011 — 1 Comment

Before puck drop, Winnipeg Jets owner and chairman of True North Sports & Entertainment Mark Chipman spoke to the media to mark the historic event. Here is a full transcript of the press conference.

How do you feel?

“I feel great, I feel really good, very grateful, the emotion around the building is extraordinary, I just made my way back from a quick radio interview, the people on the street are very warm, and very appreciative, so that makes me feel good.”

On what is going on outside the MTS Centre

“It’s obviously an outpouring of emotion that’s probably been many years coming, but I keep getting asked the question in different ways shapes or forms, I don’t know how to answer it that well to be honest with you, I have a tough time articulating or describing how everybody’s feeling, how I’m feeling, it’s just a combination of a number of emotions. “

On being nervous

“Always nervous, always nervous before a game, probably one of the strongest emotions I feel right now. Home openers are hard to play in, it’s been my experience anyways, I hope we get off to a good start, we’re obviously playing a good hockey team today. I hope they get off to a good start and play well.”

On the possibility of shedding a tear

“Yeah, I probably will, you’re going to see a tribute to Rick Rypien today that I was fortunate to have a hand in, and that’s going to be hard to get through for sure. There’s a big hole in our organization as a result of Ryp not being with us today. That will be emotional I’m sure, and there’s lots of other emotions as well that might evoke some of those types of feelings.”

When you look back on how it happened, do you sometimes feel like you have to pinch yourself to believe it?

“It does, I said to a friend of mine this morning, I know how it happened, I can go back over the past sixteen years and I can tell how it happened, but I’m not sure I can say why it happened. I’ve had enormous amount of good things happen to me, I’m not sure why that is, I struggle with that one. Even when I do pinch myself, the answer doesn’t come to me; it’s not clear to mewhy we’ve been so fortunate, but obviously, I feel very very fortunate.”

On the feelings felt today being similar to the first Moose game

“Similar feelings in a lot of ways, this is different, clearly, there’s a lot more emotion coming from the community. I was very nervous that day as well; we were trying to make a good impression. When we opened the building, similarly when we played St. John’s in that first game, fortunately we had a win. The same kind of feelings, just that nervous energy before a game.”

On his pregame ritual

“I had my regular lunch with the Prime Minister, the Commissioner, the Ambassador, the Premier. (Jokingly, accompanied by laughter from the press) No honestly, I did, it was quite a remarkable lunch. Not my regular lunch crew, but it was very humbling to be in that company. Same routine as always, it’s a game day, try to get to the rink early. I like being around our group, I like being around our coaching staff on game days. Got here early, just been soaking it up every since.”

On the topics of conversation at lunch

“Well, the Prime Minister is a Hockey Historian, I learned that he’s getting close to concluding a book he’s been writing for some time. Just hockey, and the general consensus amongst everybody that was there, including I invited Geoff Molson (Montreal Canadiens Owner and President), he and his wife were there. Just a broad range of topics, mostly centered around hockey, but everybody’s understanding on how important this is to the community. It was great to have Geoff there. I’ve been travelling through this business for fifteen years, I’ve tried to learn and observe and look at organizations. In my view, the Montreal Canadiens are the gold standard. That’s something we aspire to someday be, I joked with him that when I was a kid my favourite teams were the Bruins and whoever was playing Montreal. Put that aside, they run a fantastic organization and are so important in that community. It was very informal, and some nice conversation about the game of hockey.”

On playing Montreal for the first game

“I thank that Commissioner for that, the schedule came out with them as our home opening opponent and we were thrilled. I honestly couldn’t imagine a better team to play against. Detroit would have been cool too, in that was where the last iteration of the Jets finished off playing Detroit on that April day, a 4-1 loss I think, that would have been neat. But bringing Montreal in here, the most storied franchise, the important franchise in the history of this league, I thought was a great gesture by the Commissioner to allow us to play them.”

On the amount of Habs fans that would attend games in the old Arena, compared to the few that will be in attendance at the first game

“It makes me feel great, because, one, that means there weren’t three, four, five thousand tickets to sell.  And that’s often why, those games filled up with Montreal and Toronto fans, which was great for those fans, not so great for us Jet fans. Obviously, there’s not that kind of capacity now, I’m sure there will be some loyal Montreal fans here today, but not quite the numbers we saw in the past.”

On when he realized that this was not a dream and was in fact reality

“I don’t know if I can answer that, or if I know a specific day. It was such a gradual process, that I don’t know if I can point to a specific day. Although as I think I have said, when we were invited to make a presentation to the league in ’07, that’s when I started really considering it, in terms of it being possible. And shortly thereafter, when we started getting some interested from the league about some possibilities. May 31st was a big day, obviously, this one is as well. But I can’ tell you I’ve dreamed my whole life of owning a NHL team. But I can also tell you, I can’ even begin to tell you how humbling it is to be a part of the National Hockey League now.”

On the one person he thinks about most on this special day

“My father has been a great example to me, he really has. I’m really pleased he could be there at that lunch. My dad was a really good hockey player, growing up played his junior hockey in Winnipeg, and allowed me to play the game. He was also smart enough to know when I needed to stop playing. I’m very grateful to him, he’s been a wonderful example to me and my brothers, I’ll be thinking him a lot today.”

On feeling the fan presence in North Dakota

“My wife’s from Grand Forks, we have family down there, and family in Bismarck, I’ve got a lot of friends that I went to school with that live in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota. I get texts, e-mails and reminders from my classmates and teammates from those years. That’s’ been really neat to see that it’s spread so far beyond our own community.”

“I think that will take more time (for the fan support from North Dakota to be felt by most Winnipeggers), I think I’m privy to it because we have those connections into that community, I know we’ve got some season ticket holders from Fargo, and we’re delighted that we do. Hopefully this brand, this team becomes embraced by the state of North Dakota. With Buff coming from Roseau, hopefully we can collect a whole bunch of those fans as well.”

On what today signifies

“Those are the ones that are so hard to answer, I’m glad that people feel so good about this, I really am. This is a great city and has been for a long time. I think it became an even greater city after the NHL left in ’96. As I’ve said in various interviews, rather than  wallow in self pity and roll up the sidewalks, the community dug in we pulled off a very successful Pan-Am Games, the ballpark got built, the arena got built, our cultural institutions continue to thrive, the capital campaigns around the universities have been successful, and around the hospitals. A friend of mine Sandy Riley said, “The City of Winnipeg is a collective act of will”. It really is, we’ve overcome lots, we’ve had to, for generations. I hope maybe this is just another step in that process, this is another chapter in the collective act of will. The act of will in this community over the past fifteen years, in helping the economy grow that allowed us to bring the team back. It’s just another example of that collective act of will, if that makes sense. Hopefully that’s what it is, it’s just another chapter, but a chapter that’s a very positive one of our community stepping forward.”

On the possibility of publicly honoring Assistant General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations Craig Heisinger

“You know Zinger, he’d just brush me off if I did that. We’ve had our chances to do that. He knows how proud I am of him; he knows I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s the reason we had success as a team. That success as a team turned into fans, fans turned into a business that worked, which turned into an arena. He’s the first guy I hired, he’s the most important that I’ve ever hired in this organization. He knows that, I don’t have to tell him that, it doesn’t need to be said.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609456468 Kris Merrells

    Zinger’s hilarious.