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True North expects more Winnipeg cancellations as Jets, Ice and Moose games all on indefinite hold

Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman talks about suspension of NHL season
Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman responds to media questions after the NHL announced the season will be suspended Thursday over fears of the spread of COVID-19.

Winnipeg Jets owner True North Sports + Entertainment says they expect more cancellations of events at their venues during the days ahead.

Owner Mark Chipman and VP Kevin Donnelly addressed media Thursday after the NHL suspended the season indefinitely due to the spread of coronavirus.

Manitoba recorded its first presumptive case of COVID-19 Thursday as well.

“We’ve been monitoring the situation,” said Donnelly, adding that on Thursday, they decided to cancel the Disney on Ice show scheduled for Bell MTS Place this weekend.

READ MORE: NHL suspends its season amid coronavirus pandemic

“This tour’s previous stop was in Salt Lake City, the same venue as Utah Jazz, where two players have tested positive.

“We immediately took measures … to cancel these events.”

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While other non-hockey events scheduled for True North’s Bell MTS Place, The Burton Cummings Theatre, and the MTS Iceplex have not been cancelled at this point, Chipman said he expects more cancellations in the coming days.

Disney On Ice show cancelled in Winnipeg over COVID-19 fear
Disney On Ice show cancelled in Winnipeg over COVID-19 fear

Chipman said he hopes to reschedule any events that are cancelled. If the hockey season resumes, tickets will be good for those games.

For events or games that can’t be rescheduled, ticket holders will be refunded, said Chipman.

In the meantime, the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose are coming home to Winnipeg.

“While information is still coming in, I have asked the Winnipeg Jets to return to Winnipeg from Alberta, and the Moose are coming home from Milwaukee,” said Chipman.

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The pair said True North is in communication with its 300 full-time and 1,200 part-time employees, and no one has been laid off.

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Players are all still being paid.

Chipman said he has no idea what the cancellations and postponements will mean to True North’s bottom line.

True North Sports & Entertainment on venue plans during COVID-19 fears
True North Sports & Entertainment on venue plans during COVID-19 fears

“I hate to use the excuse, but I think it’s just too early to tell if we’re in a postponement or cancellation scenario,” he said.

“If we’re not able to return to play, the outcome would be significant, can’t put a number on it, though.”

AHL, CHL also suspended

The American Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League have also suspended their seasons indefinitely, meaning, like the Winnipeg Jets, the Manitoba Moose and Winnipeg Ice seasons are now also both on hold.

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The Moose had already traveled to Milwaukee where they were preparing to face the Admirals on Friday, the start of a stretch of three games in just three nights.

The Moose have 15 games remaining on their schedule.

They are scheduled to fly back to Winnipeg later Thursday.

READ MORE: Former Winnipegger says ‘everyone’s suffering’ as Italy locks down over coronavirus fears

The Canadian Hockey League also put their season on hiatus, shutting down the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Ice defeated the Regina Pats in the Queen City on Wednesday to move into second place in their division, and were getting set to host the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, with just five games remaining in the regular season.

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Manitoba junior hockey still on, for now

Meanwhile, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League is taking things day-by-day.

Commissioner Kim Davis says Thursday’s night’s game in Virden between the Oil Capitals and the Winkler Flyers has been postponed. Davis says decisions will be made on the remainder of the playoff schedule on a day-by-day basis, with the idea of “exercising caution as the situation continues to unfold.”

Manager of Winnipeg’s emergency operations centre on reports a city fire station closed over COVID-19 fears
Manager of Winnipeg’s emergency operations centre on reports a city fire station closed over COVID-19 fears

The Steinbach Pistons completed a series sweep of the Winnipeg Blues to lead the charge into the semifinals while Portage and Swan Valley hold 2-1 leads over Dauphin and Waywayseecappo in the two remaining matchups which are scheduled to resume Friday Night.

The message from Kerry Lines of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League is that he and his owners will continue to monitor the warnings from health authorities and “will not be taking action without the consultation of the membership.”

READ MORE: Steinbach Pistons crowned ANAVET Cup champions

Lines says he also sent all ten teams in the league a preventative, proactive checklist that can be adapted to each of their situations. “We, as a league, care for the well being of both the fan base and our member teams and will continue to monitor any changes daily.”

And the journey to the MMJHL’s McKenzie Cup also gets underway Thursday with the Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins taking on the St. Vital Victorias.

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The Manitoba U18 championship final between the Winnipeg Wild and Pembina Valley Hawks is scheduled to start Thursday of next week and President Greg Thompson says “we’ll play until we’re told not to.”

–With files from Kelly Moore

Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer on the province’s first presumptive case of COVID-19
Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer on the province’s first presumptive case of COVID-19