No True North layoffs planned amid NHL lockout

CBC
About 20 Winnipeg Jets players rented their own ice time at the MTS Iceplex so they could practise on Monday.
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About 20 Winnipeg Jets players rented their own ice time at the MTS Iceplex so they could practise on …

The National Hockey League's lockout of its players won't results in any layoffs at the MTS Centre, home of the Winnipeg Jets, according to the company that owns the team.

True North Sports and Entertainment has no plans to lay off any of its approximately 185 employees at this time, says vice-president Jim Ludlow.

"We're not laying people off. We're not retracting or retrenching," Ludlow said Monday.

"We think we need to be in a position to be able to execute on everything, in our best form, when hockey does come back for this season."

Ludlow said True North has lots of work to do on its digital properties and development and planning.

As well, there is lots of construction work being done at the MTS Centre, which will keep staff busy, he added.

The NHL locked out its players at 10:59 CT Saturday, marking the league's second lockout in seven years and the fourth work stoppage in two decades.

Pre-season games are expected to be cancelled next week, and the likelihood of the NHL's regular season starting on Oct. 11 is becoming less likely as the lockout continues.

The previous lockout wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, making the NHL the first North American sports league to cancel an entire season over a labour dispute.

True North has already notified Jets season-ticket holders of their options, which include getting a refund at the end of each month in which games are cancelled, or holding that money as credit for tickets next year.

About 20 Winnipeg Jets players took to the ice for practice on Monday morning, but it was not an official team exercise — no coaches were present, and the players paid for the ice time themselves.

"We gotta keep busy ... not much else to do besides working out and skating," team captain Andrew Ladd told reporters.

"We're as regular people right now. We're paying our own ice and doing our own laundry," said centre Olli Jokinen.

At least two Jets members, including goaltender Ondrej Pavelec and forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, have already signed with hockey leagues overseas.

Pavelec has signed to play in his native country, the Czech Republic, and will suit up for the HC Trinec team, his agent announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Other Jets players, including Alexander Burmistrov, have been sent to farm teams in the American Hockey League.

"That's the team choice … so I have to do this. I will go there and play hockey," Burmistrov said.

Former NHL player Georges Laraque, who went through the 2004 lockout, warned that the current lockout could last all season.

"I do think that the season is done," Laraque said.

"The difference between two sides was way too big, and this looks way too much like 2004, but this is actually even worse."

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