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.