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The Winnipeg Jets play in the smallest arena and the smallest market in the NHL, but contrary to expectations, they will not need to rely on the NHL's revenue sharing program this season. Team owner Mark Chipman made that announcement on Friday afternoon, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
"When we first modeled this business, we did so quite carefully," Chipman said. "We had the benefit of those years leading up and we looked at where we thought we would fit in. Initially, we thought we'd be a (revenue) share team. And so we studied that model very carefully.
"We thought we were going to be dependent on it. So we spent time with teams like Nashville that have managed their way through that process very well. As it turns out, our revenues have exceeded the point at which we are allowed to participate in revenue sharing so we feel really good about that."
Half the league participates in the NHL's revenue sharing program, in which revenue from the top half of the league is redistributed to the bottom half. In order to be eligible for revenue sharing, teams must be located in a media market under two million people and must rank in the bottom 15 in per-team revenue.
The Jets have sold out all 41 games at the 15,000-seat MTS Centre this season, but those numbers on their own are highly predictable. Higher-than-expected revenues via merchandise sales and broadcast partnererships fueled Winnipeg's jump into the NHL's wealthy tier.
For more on the team, check in with Jets blog Arctic Ice Hockey.
With all the anticipation that surrounded this new version of the Winnipeg Jets over the summer, and with the length of time it took the Jets to unveil their new uniforms, it was only a matter of time before fake counterfeit ideas popped up. In fact, it got to the point this summer where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police seized counterfeit knockoffs.
But in the end, after the real jerseys were announced, how close did the counterfeiters actually come to nailing the design? Let's take a look. First, here's a look at the fakes:
As Icethetics pointed out earlier this summer, these are basically just a reworked version of the Columbus Blue Jackets' third jerseys. It's a Photoshop, plain and simple. As has been the case with fake 2012 Winter Classic jerseys, counterfeiters took this fake design and created actual jerseys with it, but nevertheless, it was a fake.
Compared to the real jerseys, though, they really aren't that far off. Via the Jets:
There are differences, to be sure, like those stripes on the sleeves and a slight difference in the striping along the bottom, but the similarities are also pretty striking. The same shoulder patch, the same basic design.
This just goes to show the lack of creativity in the design process when it comes to NHL uniforms these days. How many of us, even those of us that couldn't care less about what the Jets are wearing this year, could have guessed that the jerseys would have looked something like this?
The Winnipeg Jets went to an air force base in Winnipeg, stood in front of an actual jet, and ended the long wait: they unveiled their new Jets uniforms.
And really, it went just as you'd expect a jersey unveiling at a military base to go. There was cheesy rock music, the opening of a giant cargo plane, smoke, lights and then then dramatic entrance of Mark Stuart, Andrew Ladd, Nik Antropov and Eric Fehr wearing the new threads.
Jerseys will not be available until October, which doesn't make sense at all. But as general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said, the jersey design and approval process usually takes much longer than it did this summer for the Jets, so perhaps that's part of the reason why. Pre-orders are available immediately on the Jets website, however.
For more on the Jets all season long, check in with Arctic Ice Hockey.
A month after announcing at the NHL Draft in Minneapolis that they would indeed name their team the Winnipeg Jets, True North Sports & Entertainment has unveiled the new logos for the team that will debut this fall.
They feature the same red, white and blue color scheme as the old Winnipeg Jets that left town in the '90s, although the actual logo is actually quite different. Via the team:
The logo on the left is the primary logo, and it is indeed the logo that was leaked prior to the announcement. Shortly after that leak, the word came out that the Jets were going to officially make this announcement, so it's possible the leak had something to do with the timing here.
What do you think? Reaction on Twitter is rather mixed. Some people in the logo community, such as the esteemed Icethetics blog, have voiced displeasure, while some others have welcomed the new team identity with open arms. Personally, I find the inclusion of the Maple Leaf to be a bit cliche, but overall I don't mind the look. I really love the JETS cursive wordmark, though.
Here's what True North had to say about the designs:
"True North Sports & Entertainment felt it was important for the new Winnipeg Jets to develop a strong new identity," said Mark Chipman, Chairman & Governor of True North Sports & Entertainment. "We felt it was important to authenticate the name Jets and we believe the new logo does that through its connection to our country's remarkable Air Force heritage, including the rich history and relationship that our city and province have enjoyed with the Canadian Forces."
For more on the Jets, be sure to visit our team blog, Arctic Ice Hockey.
After a few weeks of the True North group debating about what the new Winnipeg team should actually call themselves, it seemed that they finally buckled into fan pressure in bringing back the old Jets moniker after the original team left for Phoenix back in 1996.
While the design of the jersey and the team colors aren't official yet as their first round draft pick Mark Scheifele donned a standard black NHL jersey, the Winnipeg fans that traveled to Minnesota for the draft consistently chanted Go Jets Go.
The Jets will eventually debut their jerseys at some point in the summer and the one thing that we know is that those jerseys will fly off the shelves fairly quickly. The Jets fans have shown that they are a diehard group of fans.
For more information on the newest team in the NHL, follow our Winnipeg Jets blog, Arctic Ice Hockey.
The final hurdle has been cleared. Like, officially. We swear. The NHL's Board of Governors has, as expected, approved the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers from Atlanta Spirit Group to True North Sports and Entertainment, and they've also approved the proposed relocation of the team from Atlanta to Winnipeg.
This isn't really news, other than the fact that it's news. We knew it would happen, and there was literally no doubt in anybody's mind that this wouldn't happen.
Next on the agenda is the building of a hockey team, and new general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has a lot more to do. There's still no head coach for the team, and of more importance to most people, there's not even a name for the club yet. At the draft on Friday night, when Cheveldayoff and Co. select 8th overall, it's expected that they'll just hand off a generic jersey to their pick. Should be fun.
For more on Winnipeg's new NHL team, visit Arctic Ice Hockey.
Winnipeg's new NHL team is this much closer to having a new head coach, but it means that they're current head coach won't be making the move. Craig Ramsay will be sticking around in Atlanta when the Mayflower vans move out, as the new owners told him on Monday that he's out of the running for the new head coaching job in Winnipeg.
It's understandable: presumably, the new ownership wants to put their own guy in charge. It's common in every business, not just hockey, and it also looks like their guy will be either Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland or former Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel.
Noel is obviously familiar with Winnipeg and True North Sports, having worked with them for a year as head coach of the Moose. He's only coached a handful of games in the NHL with Columbus in an interim head position, spending most of his career in the ECHL and AHL. He's definitely paid his dues, though. Noel has been in coaching since 1990, and he won a Calder Cup in 2004 with Milwaukee.
Haviland got his start in the ECHL, coaching the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Trenton Titans each to Kelly Cup championships. He jumped to the AHL and coached in the Chicago system for three seasons before being promoted to the NHL in 2008 as an assistant with the Blackhawks under Joel Quenneville. Obviously, he won a Stanley Cup in 2010 with the Hawks.
For more on the coaching search and Winnipeg's new NHL team, visit Arctic Ice Hockey.
Until now, the NHL has never officially sealed it's return to Winnipeg. It's just a formality, really, but when the Board of Governors meets in New York City on Tuesday, they will vote on the future of the Atlanta Thrashers -- on whether or not to approve the sale of the team from Atlanta Spirit Group to True North Sports and Entertainment.
They've been in hospice care, and today we pull the plug. Today is the final day of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Any change in ownership needs to be approved by three-fourths of the Board, while the relocation bid to Winnipeg only needs to be approved by a majority of the Board. When looking at relocation, the Board is supposed to take into account things like the viability of the new market and if there were legitimate reasons to leave the original market.
Selling 13,000 season tickets in half a second or whatever the impressive number was is a good way to prove things are going to work out. And when the Commissioner says that the Atlanta market "wasn't economically viable," well, you see where this is going here.
The Board is going to approve the relocation bid and the sale. The question is: will the team have a name and uniforms by Friday night's draft?
For more on hockey in Winnipeg, visit our new Winnipeg NHL blog at Arctic Ice Hockey.
Rick Dudley won't be making a move to Winnipeg. The Atlanta Thrashers general manager will not be retained by True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that has purchased the team and will be relocating them north to Manitoba's largest city. TNSE announced that in a press release on Sunday.
Reports from various outlets have followed that Kevin Cheveldayoff will take over as general manager. Cheveldayoff has led the IHL/AHL's Chicago Wolves since 1997, and in that time the team won two IHL Turner Cups and two AHL Calder Cups. Perhaps ironically, Cheveldayoff worked with the Thrashers organization previously, as the Wolves were their AHL affiliate.
Manitoba Moose general manager Craig Heisinger will also have a position within the new organization, although it's unknown if he'll be working in St. John's, where the AHL team is relocating, or if he'll be sticking around in Winnipeg with the NHL club.
As for Dudley, it's not that he isn't a strong choice to keep around or anything. It's more that True North wants to have their own man at the helm instead of a hold over from the old regime. That's another indication that Craig Ramsay, the current Thrashers head coach who was hired just a year ago, could be out of a job thanks to the change in ownership.
For more on the Thrashers' relocation to Winnipeg, check in with Behind The Net Hockey, which will soon transition into our new Winnipeg NHL hub.
Hope you didn't sleep in on this Saturday, Winnipeg NHL fans. If for some reason you weren't around to buy season tickets to your new hockey team at 12 p.m. CT, you've already lost your chance.
17 minutes after tickets went on sale to the general public on DriveTo13.com, the 5,842 tickets that remained following this week's presale were gobbled up by fans. There are none left. Four days after it was announced that the Atlanta Thrashers would be relocating to Winnipeg, 13,000 season tickets have been sold.
That's just absolutely incredible, and it sends a damn strong message to the NHL's Board of Governors that Winnipeg's population will throw their support behind NHL hockey. The Board votes to approve or disapprove the relocation bid on June 21.
There's a waiting list for fans who missed out on tickets, at the cost of a $50 deposit and $100 per year to hold your spot. On the waiting list. Folks on the waiting list do have the opportunity to buy Stanley Cup Playoff tickets before the general public, though.
Considering there are 13,000 season ticket holders and the MTS Centre only seats 15,015 for hockey, individual game tickets are going to be extremely hard to come by in Winnipeg this season and in the postseason. It's a small market with a small barn, and the only way hockey will truly work there this time is if they sell out every game.
Shouldn't be a concern, at least in the first year or two. After the new car smell wears off? Well, we'll see.
It was expected that the City of Winnipeg would jump out of their seats to buy up season tickets to their shiny new NHL team, and that's exactly what's happened.
True North Sports and Entertainment, the new owners of the Atlanta Thrashers, haven't even opened sales up to the general public yet, and as of 4:30 p.m. local time on Friday, they had sold 7,158 season ticket packages. The presale, open since Wednesday, was open to corporate sponsors and former season ticket holders of the AHL's Manitoba Moose.
On Saturday at 12 p.m. local time, the general public will have their opportunity to purchase tickets, with roughly 55 percent of the 13,000 available already gone. 5,842 remain, and it wouldn't be shocking to see those tickets sold by Monday morning. Hell, they might be gone by Saturday night.
The goal of 13,000 has been created to give the new ownership a stronger case when the NHL's Board of Governors votes to approve or disapprove the relocation bid. There's not a soul in the world that thinks they'll vote against it.
True North Sports and Entertainment is in the midst of their Drive to 13,000 season tickets, and according to CBC News, they won't announce a team name until that campaign is over. Scott Brown of TNSE said that the company doesn't want to get people ahead of the curve, and that they want the focus to remain on the all-important ticket drive.
If the goal of 13,000 season ticket sold isn't met, it's possible the NHL's Board of Governors could deny the request to relocate the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg. It's highly unlikely that happens, though.
The campaign will have to end by June 21 at the latest, when the BoG meets to vote on the relocation proposal. Likely, it will end before that, but that's dependent on when the 13,000 goal is met. It could be a day after tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday, or it could be a week or two after.
In any event, you have to assume the team name is known by folks inside TNSE. If they have to wait until June 21, for example, they'd have less than a week to create their new identity before the NHL Draft, when they presumably will parade out a new look when they make the No. 7 overall selection.
There's a bit of intrigue this Thursday on the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports, the group that's relocating the team to Winnipeg.
As you are likely aware, True North has started a ticket campaign, trying to get 13,000 season tickets sold for the new team in advance of the NHL's June 21 Board of Governors meeting. At that meeting, they will vote to allow the relocation, and part of the terms of accepting that relocation are that Winnipeg can support an NHL franchise.
Selling 13,000 season tickets in three weeks is a good way at proving that, and it's expected that they will meet that mark. They're using a website called driveto13.com to facilitate the sales.
Here's where the intrigue comes in. As it turns out, a quick search on that domain name shows that it was registered way back on February 28, long before the Thrashers were rumored to be heading to Winnipeg. That's obviously an indication that True North expected some kind of season ticket campaign this summer, and they had gone into enough detail as of February to name that campaign and register a website. It's telling.
A lot of folks seem quick to jump on the idea that Michael Gearon and the Atlanta Spirit Group were up to something, and given that they left a lot of folks in the dark throughout this entire sale process (employees, players, fans, etc.), that's not really out of the question.
Considering the ownership situation in Atlanta was called "urgent" by ESPN's Pierre LeBrun on February 19, just a few days before True North registered the website, it's possible they were talking with the ASG long before last month.
At the same time, True North was also interested in the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that was also sitting in a perilous position in February as attacks from the right-wing Goldwater Institute threatened (and continue to threaten) the sale of that team to Michael Hulsizer, a businessman intent on keeping the team in Arizona.
This development raises questions and not many answers, but really, at the end of the day, it doesn't really make too much of a difference. The Thrashers are headed to Winnipeg.
Tickets were made available beginning at 12 p.m. local time on Wednesday to a select group of current Manitoba Moose season ticket holders. Between the start of the pre-sale and Noon local time on Saturday, Moose season ticket holders will all get their chance to grab tickets before they go on sale to the general public.
True North has placed the 7,000 or so Moose ticket holders in eight groups, and two of those groups had the initial opportunity to buy tickets on Wednesday. That's about one-fourth of the 7,000, meaning that just about everybody who had the opportunity on Wednesday bought a ticket. The numbers skew when you consider some bought more than one, up to an allowed maximum of four, but it averages out to an impressive number.
It's very possible that there are only 5,000 or so season tickets available come Saturday when the general public has the chance to claim them. True North is giving an update each day at 5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. local time on the progress of ticket sales, so we'll know exactly where they stand in terms of their 13,000 ticket goal.
After Day 1, it's hard to see them not reaching it.
True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman appeared on Hockey Night In Canada Radio on Wednesday afternoon, and among other things, he noted that the new Winnipeg NHL franchise will keep Nos. 9 and 25 retired in the rafters of the MTS Centre.
No. 9 was retired by the Winnipeg Jets in honor of Bobby Hull in 1989, while No. 25 was retired in 1995 to honor Thomas Steen. The retired numbers relocated with the team to Phoenix and the red and white banners currently hang in the rafters of Jobing.com Arena, the home of the Coyotes.
Bobby's son Brett Hull briefly played with the Coyotes in 2005 and the team "unretired" No. 9 briefly so he could wear it.
The Coyotes also retired Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10 in 2007, long after the Jets moved to Phoenix. Hawerchuk never played a game for the Coyotes, pulling on a Winnipeg uniform for the final time in 1990. Teppo Numminen also saw his number retired by the Coyotes in 2010, but he actually played games in a Phoenix uniform.
It's a bit strange, then. The franchise relocating to Winnipeg doesn't have any ties to the old Jets-Coyotes franchise, yet those numbers are still going to be out of commission. Will Hawerchuk's No. 10 and Numminen's No. 27 be off limits, or does that not matter because they weren't retired in Winnipeg?
It's an odd situation, completely unique to the rich hockey history of Winnipeg and their still-burning love for the old Jets franchise. It might be a different team now, but we do know one thing: Evander Kane is going to need a new number.
Now that the Atlanta Thrashers have been sold and they're on their way to Winnipeg, the debate around them has turned to the new name. Just about everybody agrees that the team must be called the Winnipeg Jets, after the team that played in the WHA and the NHL between 1972 and 1996.
But whether that will happen or not has been up in the air, with some going as far as saying that it strictly won't happen. There have been rumors that True North Sports and Entertainment has refused to use the name, and there have been rumors that the Phoenix Coyotes -- the relocated version of the Jets -- own the team name.
Over the last two days, however, we've learned these things are either A) not true or B) not a hinderance.
On Tuesday in Winnipeg at the sale announcement, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told media that the NHL would allow the Winnipeg franchise to use the Jets name if they so desired. The NHL currently owns the Coyotes franchise, and thus has control of that name until they sell.
Then, on Wednesday, True North's Mark Chipman said they haven't taken the idea of Winnipeg Jets Part II off the table. Via the Winnipeg Free Press:
"(The 'Jets' name) is not off the table," said Mark Chipman, chairman of the board for True North Sports & Entertainment. "We haven't been able to engage in that subject, but we will do that now. We haven't ruled out any names. We've honestly been very, very focused on concluding this transaction."
Chipman also noted that True North has spent a lot of time developing the Manitoba Moose brand, and that the name will definitely be sticking around. The AHL's Moose will be relocating to St. John's, N.L., although it's unknown what nickname the team will have. It's possible they reserve the Moose name for the new NHL team.
Or, they call them the Jets. Or something completely different. It would definitely be silly to name them something other than the Moose or the Jets, but crazier things have happened.
With the NHL's return to Winnipeg, there's been a lot of talk and speculation on exactly what could happen with the AHL team that's called the 'Peg home since 1996. Both the NHL club and the Manitoba Moose can't call the MTS Centre home at the same time, and as a result, the Moose will be on the move.
Until today, there was only speculation. Now, we know where they'll be going. According to The Telegram of St. John's, N.L., the Moose will be on the move to their city.
The Telegram has learned Danny Williams has a tentative agreement in place with True North Sports and Entertainment that will see the new Winnipeg NHL team house its American Hockey League team at Mile One Centre in St. John's for the 2011-2012 AHL season.
Williams, the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, has been helping assist the negotiations for weeks in an attempt to land the team, and said on Tuesday that a potential deal "could slip away from us very easily."
St. John's Sports and Entertainment, the city government group that operates the Mile One Centre in St. John's, had requested an annual subsidy from the provincial government to assist with travel costs for the team. St. John's is the Easternmost point in Canada, and thus over 2,000 miles away from the nearest AHL opponent, the Portland Pirates. There's no word on whether or not the province gave in to that request for a subsidy.
True North Sports and Entertainment, the Winnipeg group that owns the Moose and now the Atlanta Thrashers, will retain ownership of the AHL team in St. John's. The request for help with travel costs was a major part of the deal for them, so there's definitely some money coming back to them with this move, whether from the province or from elsewhere.
St. John's has been home to AHL hockey before. From 1991 to 2005, the St. John's Maple Leafs called the city home, and they served as the primary affiliate to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They relocated in part due to the extreme travel costs involved in playing in St. John's, as well as the desire of the Leafs to have their AHL affiliate closer to Toronto. They became the Toronto Marlies upon their move in 2005.
The following season, the QMJHL entered St. John's to fill the void left by the Maple Leafs. The new team lost money and attendance paled in comparison to that of the AHL days, and the team relocated to Montreal in 2008. Mile One Centre has sat vacant since.
The Atlanta Thrashers are going to play in Winnipeg next season, but the completion of the sale to True North Sports and Entertainment won't be complete until June 21, when the NHL's Board of Governors votes yay or nay.
In the meantime, as the new owners are busy selling season tickets in an attempt to prove that Winnipeg is a viable NHL market, the hockey world keeps spinning. There's a team assembled in Atlanta and those hockey operations will be on the move to Winnipeg.
We don't know exactly who will head up those operations, with True North's Mark Chipman saying that he's yet to talk with Thrashers GM Rick Dudley and that current Manitoba Moose general manager Craig Heisinger will play some role in operating the new Winnipeg NHL club.
We also don't know exactly how the time table will work out. We'll know before the NHL Draft on June 24 the final fate of the sale and relocation, and we'll know before July 1 when free agency opens as well, but as of now, there's no team name, no color scheme and no uniforms.
That begs the question, then. On June 24, when whoever the general manager is walks to the stage at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., what jersey will he have in his hand to give to the seventh overall pick? Will the Winnipeg team have something ready by then, or will they still awkwardly, technically still be called the Atlanta Thrashers?
You have to imagine things will be sorted out by then, but uh, it could be awkward if they aren't.
The Atlanta Thrashers have been sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and will be relocated to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 NHL season. That wouldn't be possible without the efforts of Atlanta Spirit Group's Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon, the owners who signed the paperwork on the Thrashers side of things.
Fans are directing their ire at those two men in Atlanta these days, blaming them for neglecting the team and for not giving the fans a chance to support a successful organization. In one last dispatch to those fans, the now-former owners discussed the ultimate outcome.
In recent months, we openly indicated a growing urgency to secure assistance in off-setting our operating losses in hopes that our public plea would produce investors who, to that point, had eluded us.
After extensive effort, nobody has come forward. As a result, we had no choice but to explore the investment option presented to us by the NHL in the form of True North Sports and Entertainment.
Relocation of the Thrashers is not the outcome that any of us ultimately wanted. We knew when we purchased the club in 2004, that professional sports teams are seldom, if ever, money-making investments but rather vital community assets. We believed in the overall impact that the team had on the sports landscape of Atlanta, and over the past seven years, invested a significant amount of money into what we felt was an integral piece of the greater metropolitan Atlanta area. We are truly grateful to have been a part of this city's professional hockey history, to have made an indelible impact on the community through our players' outreach, our organization's activities and our foundation's donations, and most of all, to have been a part of paying tribute to you, our fans, each and every time our team stepped on the ice.
Thank you for the opportunity to be entertained, thrilled and inspired alongside you by Atlanta Thrashers hockey. None of this would have been possible without your support.
Fans aren't going to like that. They can't stand Gearon and Levenson, and this will no doubt come off as smug and self-serving. That's very possibly the legacy the Thrashers will leave in Atlanta.
The NHL is heading back to Winnipeg.
At a press conference at the MTS Centre on Tuesday, True North Sports and Entertainment announced their purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers, and their intention to relocate that franchise to the 15,015-seat arena in downtown Winnipeg.
That move is pending approval from the NHL's Board of Governors, but given the presence of Commissioner Gary Bettman at the press conference today and the nice shiny NHL logo on the back drop in the interview room, that's only a formality. The Board of Governors meets on June 21.
The big reason for making this announcement before the official approval is to sell season tickets. Bettman urged that the best way to send the message to the board that Winnipeg can support NHL hockey is to sell 13,000 season tickets, and True North announced their "Drive to 13,000" ticket campaign at driveto13.com.
Tickets go on sale for current Manitoba Moose season ticket holders on Wednesday, June 1 at 1 p.m. local time. For the general public, season tickets go on sale on Saturday, June 4 at 12 p.m. local time. Season ticket prices are cheap compared to many other cities and comparable with prices in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. They're organized in seven tiers.
The most expensive tickets come in at $5,805, while the cheapest tickets come in at $1,755. Each ticket comes with a mandatory three to five-year term, while True North says they will guarantee that ticket prices won't rise more than 3 percent over the course of that term.
Bettman made sure to say that he believes Winnipeg can support NHL hockey, but that if the arena isn't full every single night, it might not work out. The expectation is certainly that the 13,000-seat goal will be met. Winnipeg is hockey mad, and the Moose had an average of 8,000 fans per game in the AHL. Getting that to capacity for the NHL product shouldn't be much of a problem.
So, that's the next step. The ticket drive begins Wednesday and Saturday, and Board approval is pending in late June. It's all just formality though, really. Atlanta Spirit Group no longer owns the Atlanta Thrashers, and they're moving north to Winnipeg.
True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg has called a 12 p.m. ET news conference on this Tuesday to announce that they've purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and will be relocating the team to Winnipeg.
You can watch that press conference live here, via this stream from the Winnipeg Free Press. It's now scheduled to start around 12:15 p.m. ET.
This announcement will provoke parties in the streets of Winnipeg. Local officials are telling fans to avoid the usual party spot of Portage and Main in Winnipeg's downtown -- after all, it is a work day today -- and instead are urging fans to party at The Forks, another local gathering spot where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet.
It'll be interesting to see exactly what we learn at this press conference today. Will we learn the name and color (perhaps we should say colour) scheme of the new club? Will Gary Bettman be present (and will he be booed or cheered)? Will we learn officially that they'll play in the Southeast Division?
There are still a lot of questions, and hopefully today's press conference gives us some answers, and some much needed closure for fans in Atlanta as they lose their team.
It's here, finally. After weeks of waiting to learn the official news, at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday morning, the NHL will return to Winnipeg in the form of the relocated Atlanta Thrashers. True North Sports and Entertainment, the group purchasing the Thrashers from Atlanta Spirit Group, has called a press conference to announce the deal.
Any deal is pending Board of Governors approval from the NHL, but it's expected that's just a formality. The BoG meets next in late June.
The Winnipeg Free Press is reporting that the deal is not yet through, but that both sides, plus the NHL, feel comfortable enough to announce the deal today. It makes sense: the NHL doesn't want this taking away from the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Wednesday, and surely without an announcement, it would be the dark cloud hanging over the head of the entire league.
Of course, it's not completely avoiding the Final. Media day at Rogers Arena in Vancouver begins at 1 p.m. PT, and you know the reporters there will be buzzing about the Winnipeg news.
Winnipeg has been without the NHL since 1996, when their beloved Jets packed up and moved south to Phoenix. Since then, there's been a tumultuous relationship with the city, their fans, the league and many Southern markets, and the debate on whether or not the NHL belongs in the American South is one that still rages and will continue to rage, despite this move of the Thrashers.
Ironically perhaps, they'll continue playing one more year in the Southeast Division -- a painful travel toll for the Winnipeg team and their geographically confused divisional rivals: Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida.
It's a joyous day full of party in Winnipeg, while in Atlanta, fans are losing their beloved team that they've rooted for hard since 1999. It's easy to forget that sometimes, and just as Winnipeg fans lost their team 16 years ago, fans in Atlanta are experiencing the same. That's something that goes beyond geographic location.
We'll embed a live stream of the press conference right here, so be sure to stop on back at Noon ET for the announcement. Here's what True North's announcement looks like this Tuesday morning:
It's getting cloooseeeeer. The Atlanta Thrashers' imminent move to Winnipeg, where they will almost certainly be re-branded as not the Thrashers (and probably the Jets), appears to be very close to happening. So close, in fact, that the NHL has staff in place in Winnipeg, ready to make the big announcement, or so says Rogers Sportsnet's Arash Madani.
Being told NHL staff are in Winnipeg already for an announcement. League is beyond adamant they want this official before Cup finals start.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyArash Madani
That making an announcement before the finals thing makes a whole lot of sense, since the league probably wants the focus to be on the teams themselves during the Stanley Cup finals, not the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets. According to some other reports, the announcement is expected as soon as Tuesday, which would be absolutely perfect timing. The sale and move would probably get mentioned during Game 1 coverage, at which point everyone could move on with their lives and enjoy actual hockey games.
Over the Memorial Day weekend in the United States, the news came out of Atlanta that there was another potential local owner interested in purchasing the Thrashers and keeping them in town. So much for that.
As has been expected for weeks now, the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, and thus their pending relocation to Winnipeg, could be announced as soon as Tuesday morning. Multiple reports, including the always-trustworthy Bob McKenzie of TSN, have said on this Memorial Day that the lawyers are finalizing the paperwork as we speak.
McKenzie reports that the lawyers for True North have signed the deal, and they're just waiting on the lawyers with Atlanta Spirit Group to do the same. He notes that if that happens today, the deal will be announced on Tuesday morning. Who knows exactly how the holiday impacts things, but presumably lawyers still have their pen skills despite the day of remembrance.
It seems all but certain that the Atlanta Thrashers will be sold and moved to Winnipeg before next season, but is there a glimmer of hope for fans in Georgia after all? Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution comes the news this Saturday that there's another last second local group interested in keeping the group in town, according to Thrashers president Don Waddell.
"Along with all other groups who have expressed an interest in pursuing an ownership opportunity, which has happened as recently as earlier this week, we have said continuously that ‘until an agreement is signed and approved by the board of governors, it's never too late but they will have to move very quickly and decisively. Ownership still is committed to selling at a greatly reduced price to anyone committed to Atlanta.' "
The question, of course, is what that greatly reduced price could be. The deal between Atlanta Spirit Group, the current owners, and True North Sports and Entertainment, the Winnipeg group, is outlined as a reported $170 million. $110 million is the sale price, and $60 million is the NHL's relocation fee.
Obviously, if a group buys the team and keeps them in Atlanta, there will be no relocation fee, so we're talking about a price under $110 million here for the Thrashers. An AP report in January said that the Thrashers have lost $130 million since 2005, and in December, Forbes valued the club at $135 million. Atlanta Spirit purchased them in 2004for $80 million.
No matter which way you cut it, this is a losing proposition for the current ownership. They're just trying to bail before losing any more money at this point, but would they really turn down cash from True North to keep the team in town? They haven't shown much good will towards the Atlanta market in the past, so frankly, it's hard to see them doing that now -- especially when there's money on the line.
Last Monday was Victoria Day in Canada, and we were told that day that since the banks were closed north of the 49th parallel, a deal to sell the Atlanta Thrashers to a Winnipeg group would not be completed. Now, a week has gone by without a finalized deal, and we're in the same situation again.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the deal will not be done before the Memorial Day holiday in the United States, observed on Monday. That gives us at least four more days of speculation around this whole thing.
Also, if you extrapolate that a little bit, and you consider that the Stanley Cup Finals begin on Wednesday in Vancouver, there's only one more day between now and the start of the Finals that the NHL could make an announcement that the team is moving to Winnipeg.
It seems strange that they'd want to announce such a thing during the Cup Finals, as not to overshadow their premiere event, so we could very easily see this thing drag out until mid-June, even if there is a final deal in place before then.
The sale of the Atlanta Thrashers isn't quite done, despite a report to the contrary. That's what several of the principles are saying, and that's what Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting this Thursday morning. He indicates that the sale could drag into next week.
Gary Bettman also reported on the radio in Florida on Wednesday evening that the deal could still fall through, saying that people are being "presumptuous about what's going on," although that seems more like posturing than anything else at this point.
The situation hasn't really changed: Atlanta Spirit wants to sell, and True North Sports and Entertainment is offering them more money than anybody else, especially now that no other groups are interested in the team. Therefore, they're selling the team to True North and that group will move them to Winnipeg.
There are still details to work out, apparently, but all parties want this deal to reach completion. It seems the biggest hurdle -- the allocation of the sale price and relocation fee -- has been cleared, and this still seems like a matter of not if, but when.
At last, the Atlanta Thrashers sale is complete. That's according to a report from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, who says that the only step left is an official announcement that the team has been sold and will be relocated the Winnipeg.
The hold up had been caused by a fight between the NHL and Atlanta Spirit, the current owner of the Thrashers. Campbell reported last week that Gary Bettman and the league wanted the full $60 million relocation fee, as well as a chunk of the $110 million sale price, at the expense of Atlanta Spirit.
According to Campbell, that's been resolved, and Bettman hasn't won.
In fact, one source close to the situation said the final obstacle holding up the sale - how the $170 million purchase price would be split between the NHL and Atlanta Spirit - has finally been overcome.
And it appears to have favored the Atlanta Spirit and owner Bruce Levenson, who will reportedly receive $20 million of the $60 million relocation fee that is included in the purchase price.
Campbell also reports that there's a bit of in-fighting at the NHL on when to make the announcement about the team moving to the 'Peg. Some want it to come between the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, while others believe it should come after the Finals and before the Draft, as not to take away from the NHL's championship round.
Whenever the announcement is made, it seems like everything's wrapped up now.
The wide consensus is that the deal to bring the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg is all but complete, and while folks in official capacities with the NHL, the Thrashers and the eventual new ownership group are all stying quiet, the reports continue to mount that point to a completed deal and the relocation of the team.
The latest on this Tuesday comes from the Winnipeg Free Press.
An Eastern Conference team source has told the Free Pressthat his club has already been told to expect two trips to Winnipeg next season.
That indicates the league will likely stand pat for another season with its current divisional and conference alignment, one that would keep Winnipeg in Atlanta's current slot in the Southeast Division.
We've already know the Southeast Division detail for a week now, but the news that Eastern Conference clubs have been informed of the news is a new development. That means that the wheels are in motion at the league level, and the quiet we're getting from Gary Bettman's office on the story isn't totally honest.
Add that to the fact that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed seems sold on the fact that the team is moving, plus goaltender Chris Mason speaking about the team using the past tense and it all seems like a matter of not if, but when.
"I definitely felt the support," Mason said. "At games and especially when we were out talking to fans at events. You know there are die-hard hockey fans in Atlanta. It's hard to maintain the interest when you don't have success, especially from the casual fan. ... One trip to the playoffs is not enough. If you win more people will come. In my opinion, that has a lot to do with the numbers."
Speaking to reporters, Reed said: "I think any time we lose a major sports franchise it is tough. It's going to hurt the city, but we are going to withstand it just fine. We will get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we will be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit."
At this stage, the Thrashers staying in Atlanta would be a huge coup. Some major fallout would have to take place.
During a tailgate in support of the Atlanta Thrashers over the weekend, forward Chris Thorburn showed up to thank the fans for their efforts. He also spoke with the local FOX affiliate. What's he think of Atlanta Spirit Group, the guys who are trying to push the team out of town through a lengthy, often nasty sale?
"For owners to turn their backs on you, it kind of makes you mad. Obviously, we don’t know every aspect of the deal or where they’re coming from because it hasn’t been publicly noted in the paper, but from everything we’ve heard, from rumors that we’ve heard, it’s discouraging just knowing that they’re trying to dump us. That makes a guy mad."
You have to imagine just about all of the Thrashers players feel that way, even when guys like Bryan Little tried to look on the bright side of playing in Winnipeg. In a different interview, Little wondered out loud about how cool it'd be to have the sports attention of the whole city.
It appears as though the last hopes of a local owner swooping in and buying the Atlanta Thrashers are gone. According to Chris Vivlamore at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the final prospective owner has "probably, not completely" dropped out of the process, leaving True North Sports and Entertainment as the only group left willing to buy the team.
Of course, TNSE would move the Thrashers to Winnipeg.
Without a prospective local buyer willing to buy the team and keep them at Philips Arena, the Thrashers only have a minor glimmer of hope when it comes to staying in town. If the deal, for some reason, falls through between Atlanta Spirit Group and True North and nobody else is interested in buying the team, ASG will really have no choice but to hold on to the club and allow them to play in Atlanta next season.
But we all know that seems unlikely at this point. True North has waited for the chance to get a team in Winnipeg for years, and with such a good opportunity here, they'd be silly to let a potential deal skate away. Meanwhile, ASG has tried to sell the Thrashers for years, and they now have the best chance to do just that. All sides want to get a deal done, and really, it's probably just a matter of time.
If the reports are true and the NHL is just days away from making its triumphant return to Winnipeg, we'll have a whole laundry list of other issues to talk about beyond relocation fees, legalese and the future of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Among those issues will be the new alignment of the NHL. Will the league shift the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise to the Western Conference immediately, or will the team stay in the Southeast Division for one season? If it's the latter, this new team will have a whole lot of travel on their hands.
Dirk Hoag, who covers the Nashville Predators at SB Nation's On the Forecheck, ran the numbers on Thursday night when the report came out from the Globe & Mail that the deal was final. The extra travel that the current members of the Atlanta Thrashers will have to endure is rather staggering.
In the 2010-11 season, the Thrashers traveled a total of 44,079 miles, and they changed time zones 20 times over the course of the regular season. Should they play a full Southeast Division schedule in 2011-12, but host home games in Winnipeg instead of Atlanta, they'll travel a whopping 66,340 miles and they'll shift time zones 50 times over the course of the year.
That's an added 22,261 miles to their schedule. By comparison, the New Jersey Devils only traveled 27,157 miles over the entire 2010-11 season according to Hoag's numbers.
A Winnipeg team in the Southeast Division also means a whole lot of extra travel for the other four teams that play in the division, too. The Carolina Hurricanes would add about 6,000 miles to their yearly travel, the Florida Panthers would add exactly 5,000, the Tampa Bay Lightning would add around 7,000 miles and the Washington Capitals would add a little less than 4,000 miles.
The numbers for the new Winnipeg team could be offset slightly if the NHL bunches up their divisional road games in groups -- for example, if they play Washington, Carolina and both Florida teams on one trip. But for their potential divisional rivals, they're all likely making three separate trips to Winnipeg, and that's not easy.
Read the entire story over at On the Forecheck and see just how a Thrashers move to Winnipeg would impact your team's travel.
It seems all but done at this point, but the Atlanta Thrashers have not yet officially moved to Winnipeg, despite a report on Thursday night from the Globe & Mail that reported otherwise. Why the hold up?
True North Sports will pay $170 million to acquire the team if the Globe report is true, but according to Ken Campbell at The Hockey News, the NHL is holding out for a bigger chunk of that money. They want to do so at the expense of Atlanta Spirit Group, the current owners that are set to run before the ink ever dries on any deal.
Apparently, the Atlanta Spirit owner Bruce Levenson wants a bigger piece of the purchase price and is trying to get a portion of that $60 million from the NHL. It's believed the league, meanwhile, not only wants the $60 million relocation fee, but a portion of the $110 million purchase price. In fact, there's a possibility that the Atlanta Spirit might end up with only $80 million to $100 million of the purchase price.
Wait, so let's get this straight. Levenson and his partners ran the team into the ground, ultimately facilitating this move that puts egg directly on the face of Gary Bettman ("Hockey never belonged in the South, Buttman!") and breaks the heart of thousands of Thrashers fans (yes, they are there, guys).
Meanwhile, Bettman, the tactical lawyer that he is, realizes that Atlanta Spirit has no room to really negotiate, considering there are no other buyers that come close to what True North is offering. For Atlanta Spirit, it comes down to taking what they can get or losing millions (again) by holding on to the team for another season.
So the league will push ASG and get all they can out of them before allowing the deal closes, the ink dries, the Mayflower trucks move in and Levenson's crew runs away to Cabo or something.
After a week of speculation, there may soon be a resolution to the Atlanta Thrashers' relocation. According to the Globe and Mail, True North Sports and Entertainment will purchase the Thrashers and move the team to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Terms of the sale have not yet been announced
If true, an announcement is expected to come on Tuesday, when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will be in Winnipeg to make the move official. The Thrashers will become the Manitoba Moose, currently the name of the AHL hockey team there.
However, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reports that True North has said that the "deal is not done yet." Kevin Allen of USA Today is also reporting that no deal has been finalized yet, but says it still could be completed. Stay tuned.
As it turns out, J.B. Smith, the prospective buyer of the Atlanta Thrashers that would apparently keep the team in town, has some issues. Several reports claimed that the venture capitalist was a member of the firm Equity 11, but that company distanced itself from Smith via a press release on Wednesday.
That press release doesn't shine a very nice light on Smith. Via Marketwire:
Equity 11, Ltd. and iSekurity, an identity theft security and restoration firm comprised of former United States Federal Agents, announced today that media reports about JB Smith's association with Equity 11 and iSekurity are untrue.
"The shareholders of Equity 11 and iSekurity removed JB Smith from all positions he held with our companies in June 2010," said Jim Juliano, Equity 11's and iSekurity's Chairman. "In addition, the Oakland County Circuit Court entered a $1.9 million judgment against JB Smith, banned him from all positions with Equity 11 and iSekurity and ordered him to relinquish any ownership in these companies. JB Smith has not made any payments on this judgment. Several other creditors are also seeking payment from JB Smith." The Court took this action in Oakland County Circuit Court Case No. 10-1100121-CB.
And, uh, yep. Good luck with that sale, guys.
There's still that glimmer of hope for Thrashers fans, though. We said on Tuesday in this StoryStream that it seemed like two separate reports -- one from John Kincaid of ESPN Radio in Atlanta and one from Kevin Allen of USA Today -- were talking about the same local group interested in buying the Thrashers.
According to SB Nation's Bird Watchers Anonymous, however, it seems those reports were referring to different people. Kincaid was referring to Smith. Allen? Somebody else.
It's been rumored that Tom Cousins, the former owner of the Atlanta Flames, is involved in the group in some capacity. He's recently been awarded the rights to develop the Gulch parking area. This group's not as far along as True North in their offer, but hey - they have an offer in. And that one little offer gives fans a glimmer of hope.
Stick tap to Mirtle for that press release.
Finally, some good news for hockey fans in Atlanta. According to Kevin Allen at USA Today, there's a second group interested in purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers -- and they're not True North Sports, the group that wants to relocate the team to Winnipeg, Man.
Will this group be able to stack up with True North, though?
For what it's worth, a group interested in keeping the Thrashers in ATL has submitted a term sheet to Thrashers owners spelling out an offer. The 2nd group interested in the Thrashers is serious, but not as far along in the financial process as the True North group. For those asking, don't have any idea whether 2nd group can get any traction in bidding for Thrashers. True North seems way way ahead.
At the same time as Allen's report, John Kincaid, an ESPN Radio host in Atlanta, reports that venture capitalist J.B. Smith is interested in buying the Thrashers and keeping them in town. He tried to purchase a piece of the Pittsburgh Steelers from the Rooney family back in 2009, but that fell through. It's not clear if Allen and Kincaid are talking about the same thing here, but it seems like that could be the case.
Smith is reportedly interested in purchasing all three entities owned by Atlanta Spirit Group: the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. That could be key, since as we mentioned earlier, it seems strange that a local group would be interested in purchasing the Thrashers without the arena, since paying on a lease seems silly from a financial standpoint when it's a team like the Thrashers we're talking about.
One of those Atlanta Spirit owners, Bruce Levenson, told a local television station in Atlanta that a local solution hadn't moved any closer to reality in the last month or two. Presumably, if Kincaid's report is correct, he was talking about his discussions with Smith. Levenson didn't identify the party involved.
None of this is great news for those that wish to see the Thrashers stay in Atlanta, but it's certainly better than nothing. A glimmer of hope, you could say.
If the Atlanta Thrashers do indeed move to Winnipeg, Man. for the 2011-12 season, there might not be any divisional or conference re-alignment after all. At least not for the first season, according to Darren Dreger of TSN and Craig Custance of the Sporting News. Here's Custance:
This situation is far from settled, but multiple sources told Sporting News that the most likely scenario right now would be to keep Winnipeg in the Southeast for one season and then restructure the divisions in 2012.
Winnipeg. In the Southeast Division. Needless to say, that could be a complete nightmare.
A quick breakdown of the mileage between Winnipeg and each Southeast Division city:
Washington D.C.: 1,231 miles
Raleigh, N.C.: 1,340 miles
Tampa Bay, Fla.: 1,701 miles
Sunrise, Fla.: 1,894 miles.
That's one-way air mileage, airport-to-airport. Of course, the Winnipeg team would certainly bunch their trips to the East and play several division teams at one time, but for the Southeast teams that actually play in the Southeast United States?
They'll each have to make three trips to Winnipeg each year, and since every team near Winnipeg is a Western team, they won't have the same luxury. You only play cross-conference teams once, at most, on the road.
This could hurt the Capitals, Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers more than anything else.
The owners of the Atlanta Thrashers, Atlanta Spirit Group, have been looking to sell the team for years, but local buyers in Georgia have not been all that interested in purchasing the team. Sure, there's been some exploration there from a ton of different people -- former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine probably tops the list -- but nothing has ever really passed that first stage.
Atlanta Spirit owns the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, and it turns out they're looking to sell their entire lot. It's a convenient set up now, of course, since the same group owns the arena and the hockey team, but as it turns out, the folks interested in the Hawks and the arena aren't so keen on the Thrashers.
That complicates things. CBC's Elliotte Friedman, who's done some great reporting on this story, explains.
In fact, it appears that the Hawks and the Arena will be sold before the Thrashers.
However, the reason the hockey team remains available is that the new ownership (which apparently is local) has no interest in buying it.
That's an enormous problem, because who is going to want to buy the Thrashers without control of the building? Nobody. Renting Philips Arena 50-odd nights a year and banking on sponsorship revenue is not a recipe for success.
Even more heartbreaking for Thrashers fans: the final conclusion Friedman comes to in his article is a question of not if the Thrashers will move to Winnipeg, but when they'll move. Not good things for Atlanta, yet great things for Winnipeg.
Atlanta Spirit, the group that holds control of the Atlanta Thrashers, has wanted to sell for years now, and as they continue to lose money hand over fist, it was only a matter of time before they started talking with groups outside of the local area. You know, groups that would keep the team in Atlanta.
According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Spirit has opened up negotiations with True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that would love nothing better than to buy the team and relocate them to Winnipeg. Details:
A deal has not been completed and it is also not known how long the two sides have been negotiating. However, the fact that talks are on-going negotiations could mean the Thrashers would relocate to Manitoba perhaps as soon as next season.
This is obviously horrible news if you're a fan of the Thrashers. True North has a lot of money and they're willing to spend it to make this deal happen, and when the current ownership group has said multiple times that there's a "sense of urgency" to sell, it doesn't seem like there's much that will get in their way.
Of course, the NHL does have to approve relocation, but thus far, there's really been no indication that the league would hold up a move from Atlanta to Winnipeg in the same way they've tried to hold up any potential move from Phoenix to Winnipeg.
It does seem a little late in the game for relocation to happen for the 2011-12 season. As the AJC story points out, the schedule for next season will be released within the next month, and given the NHL's weighted schedule format, in which teams play those in their own conference more than teams from the other conference, it might be too late for a team to switch sides.
Beyond that, there's a January 1 deadline for relocation proposals to be sent in writing to the NHL offices, although there are ways to get around that deadline if most other teams in the league vote to allow it.
The full story? Well, there's a very real possibility that NHL hockey could be played in Winnipeg in just a few months.
With news that the Phoenix Coyotes will be sticking around in Arizona for at least one more season, the relocation talk in the NHL has shifted, at least temporarily, to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Atlanta Spirit, the group that owns the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, has been trying to sell their hockey team for several years, and as the investment loses money year-after-year, their patience is understandably wearing thin. (Fans would tell you it's the fault of the horrible ownership group that's led to that circumstance, but that's really another story.)
With the Coyotes off the table for now, a group in Winnipeg could turn their attention to purchasing and relocating the Thrashers. True North Sports and Entertainment is reported to be interested in the Thrashers, and there are also reports that they would pay much more for the team than a local, Atlanta-based group would pay to keep them in town.
That could lead us down a messy path, of course. As we know from the Coyotes saga, the NHL will go to just about all lengths to avoid relocation, especially from vital American television markets like Phoenix and -- yeah, you guessed it -- Atlanta.
It's a top-10 metro area in the U.S. in terms of media market and sheer size, so you understand why they want to have a base in such a place. The only difference between Phoenix and Atlanta, though, is that the local government in Glendale, Ariz. has just as much a stake in the Coyotes' departure as the NHL does. They own the building, which would go dark without the hockey team that currently occupies it. Bad news for the city.
The City of Atlanta, on the other hand, doesn't have any financial stake in the arena or the team, and thus, they're much less likely to shell out millions of dollars to keep the team around at all costs.
In fact, they definitely won't, according to the mayor. Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Reese McCranie, spokesman for [Atlanta Mayor Kasim] Reed, said Atlanta has not been approached by the NHL about making a financial deal such as Glendale's. Even if approached, the city - in the midst of pension reform and possible layoffs in 2012 - would not consider it, McCranie said.
"We are aware that the ownership of the Thrashers is having difficulty and they may leave," McCranie said. "The mayor has had robust discussions with business leaders in the metro region [who might] potentially buy or join a team of buyers to keep the Thrashers here.
"He has gone through extraordinary lengths to ensure that the Thrashers can stay in Atlanta, but at this moment there is not a deal on the table that we can present."
To be clear, there has been no sale of the Thrashers or anything like that just yet, but it's something that's a very real possibility, especially with the way things are playing out in Arizona. The owners want out, and there's a group in Winnipeg willing to pay top dollar to jump right in and relocate the team.
If another solution can't be found, the NHL might be on their own in this fight without any help from the City of Atlanta.
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