Ben Hatskin was the owner of the Winnipeg Jets when the team first entered the former World Hockey Association. Instant recognition for the league and the Jets was attained when Hatskin gave Hull a $1-million contract and snatched the Golden Jet from the NHL’s Chicago Black Hawks.
One scene that remains indelibly etched in the minds of hockey fans is the 1972 presentation to Hull by Batskin of an enlarged $1-million cheque at the corner of Portage and Main.
Saul Simkin, who was a long-time friend of Hatskin’s said a debt of gratitude is owed by present NHL hockey players to Hatskin. He challenged NHL contracts, which virtually held players in slavery, and the U.S. courts agreed with Hatskin that they violated anti-trust laws. As a result, a free agency system that is still in effect was created.
His love of sports would eventually lead him to helping found the WHA and the formation of the Jets.
Raised in Winnipeg’s North End, Hatskin also became a major player in Winnipeg’s business community.
He was involved in his father’s corrugated box business, and numerous other businesses which all came under the umbrella of Lodge Investments in later years.
He was also one of the first developers of commercial real estate in the St. James area, and was involved in developing shopping centres in St. Vital and Charleswood.