Category Archives: Mark Chipman

06 Apr

Pity for Leafs Fans

During this past summer, it must have seemed like a dream
When the schedule makers gave you a late-season date with the league’s worst-run team

Down the stretch, your team would surely need a win
With the easy two points, maybe the Leafs would get in

It did not take the Amazing Kreskin for foresee
That in early April, your woe begotten opponents would be ready to take to the first tee

All they had to do was give it a halfway decent showing
Instead, fans were left crying and moaning

Because there can be nothing more emasculating to a player or a fan
Than to lose to a team run by Mark Chipman

The playoffs are something Chipman’s team will never see
For this year, neither will the Leafs, since misery loves company

17 Dec

Moose Flashback: “We’re Not Marketing Fighting”

“We’re not marketing fighting on our hockey team.”

Those were the words of Tim Scott, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing of the Manitoba “Fighting” Moose back in 2000, as told to the Winnipeg Free Press, in response to the instant backlash to an ad that the Moose had placed in the Free Press.

 
Do you remember this infamous ad?

The ad in question was designed like a fight card and couldn’t help but remind hockey fans of the scene in Slap Shot when Reggie Dunlop was in Joe McGrath’s office going over a similar ad with the heading of “Aggressive Hockey is Back in Town.” Dunlop suggested, among other things, putting a picture of a groin injury and a “For Sale” sign on the ad, since the fight-happy Charlestown Chiefs were scheduled to fold at the end of the year.

The Moose were in no less trouble than those fictional Chiefs. Their lease was expiring at the Winnipeg Arena and despite having recently rattled off ten wins in a row and sitting comfortably in first place, attendance and fan interest were bottoming out. Crowds were regularly announced in the 6-7,000 range, but, in reality, there were less than 4,000 actually in the building. Many of the Moose’s fans had apparently doused themselves in some leftover invisible paint that Wile E. Coyote had ordered from the Acme catalog as part of one or more of his futile schemes to catch the Road Runner.

Two weeks earlier, Mel Angelstad, the Moose’s fighter, got into a scrap with Chris Neil of the Grand Rapids Griffins after Neil had tried to pick a fight with Moose captain Brian F. Chapman. Sensing an opportunity to capitalize on a potential rematch between the two heavyweights, the Moose placed this ad and printed off 2,000 posters of Angelstad to be given away that night.

Fighters came and went, but there were none like Mel Angelstad. Known as “Mad Mel” or the “Angler,” Angelstad was unquestionably the biggest “celebrity” fighter in the game at the time. He tracked his fighting numbers the way a sniper would track his goals and would boast with pride about his annual totals of 30-40 fights in a season.

He also understood better than anyone that sports was an entertainment business and there was no bigger showman than Mel Angelstad. After taking care of business on the ice, he would tip his helmet and beam his child-like smile at his admirers on the other side of the glass. While he was with the Moose, most of those admirers were the Moose’s preferred demographic, the 8-12 year old boys who were pounding on the glass yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

As the Moose had hoped, the ad did generate plenty of attention, but, as was commonplace during that era, it was very negative attention. The Moose were forced to hastily backtrack and reworded the ad the following day to instead promote the opposing power plays and penalty killing units.

“We realized right away it wasn’t an accurate reflection of what we’re all about. So we said, ‘Let’s change it,’” said Moose owner/president/general manager/head coach Mark Chipman to the Free Press.

But it was an accurate reflection of what the “Fighting” Moose were all about.

During their five seasons in the IHL, the Moose had more fights than points in the standings and they had led the league in number of fights the previous season. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” was easily the most common chant during those years. By contrast, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I heard a “Go Moose Go” chant.

This was but one of many colorful, zany stories from an otherwise forgettable era of hockey history in Winnipeg that few fans saw.

Hmmm, maybe someone should write a book featuring all those stories.

And maybe someone is doing just that.

24 Nov

Dear Jack Ask

This past week, I read an interesting item in the Winnipeg Sun’s new advice column. You can read the column here, including the response from Jackie De Pape Hornick, a.k.a. “Jack Ask.”

For the reader’s convenience, here was the question put to “Jack Ask”:

DEAR JACK ASK: I have breakfast with Ladd and sleep beside Noel. At least that’s what it feels like since all my husband does is live and breathe the Winnipeg Jets.

I was pumped, too, when the Jets returned, but now my husband goes to all 45 home games and watches every away game on TV, so the Jets’ schedule (stuck on my fridge) serves as the new family calendar. He literally asks me if I’ve “checked the fridge” if I mention a party we’ve been invited to — even for away games.

With the holiday season coming, he’s refusing to go to my work party and a family gathering because they fall on home game days. I’m starting to feel like a hockey widow and he’s not even a player. I don’t want to tell him he can’t go, but I don’t want to spend the holidays alone, either. What can I do?

— Married to the Jets

“Jack” gave a clever response. In this case, however, I think that I can do one better.

Dear Married to the Jets: Your situation is not unique among couples in Winnipeg, where the madness concerning this sorry excuse for a hockey team is still raging.

The end of this honeymoon period, however, is on the horizon, and with every loss that “Thrashers Light” piles up, interest in the team will continue to wane. Even your husband will soon be looking to pawn his tickets.

As long as owner/president/general manager/head coach Mark Chipman is in charge, you need not worry about a miraculous upturn in the team’s fortunes that might re-ignite your husband’s passion. Chipman and his hand-picked cadre of brown-nosers, personal friends and cronies will do little but let a bad team flounder while gleefully pocketing your hard-earned tax money.

Be patient. It won’t be long before your husband and every other hockey fan in Manitoba will grow weary of watching a collection of fourth-liners and waiver-wire pickups that would have had trouble beating the Moose. Ride the wave and be ready to welcome him back when once he realizes that ownership is not nearly as committed to the team’s success as the fan base.

In the meantime, enjoy the time alone. You’ll soon be seeing more of him than you can handle.