Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
Blog Entry

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Posted on: May 16, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:23 pm
 
It appears Atlanta is close to losing its second NHL team.

The Thrashers owner Atlanta Spirit are in negotiations on a deal with True North Sports and Entertainment, , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports citing a person familiar with the process. The deal would include relocation to Winnipeg, which lost out on the Phoenix Coyotes after Glendale (Ariz.) agreed to pay the NHL as much as $25 million to cover expenses for the 2011-12 season.

Here’s more from Vivlamore:

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.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, reach via e-mail, said there was "nothing I'm prepared to say at this point." A True North Sports and Entertainment spokesperson had no comment.

Technically, NHL owners do not have to seek league approval to sell a franchise. However they would have to get permission to negotiate with a party interested in relocation. Once an agreement in principle has been reached, the NHL’s Board of Governors would be asked to judge the acceptability of the new ownership.

Negotiations began after a buyer willing to purchase the Thrashers and keep the team in Atlanta could not be found.

It's been a messy ownership situation for years since a fraction grew within the controlling group. We chronicled some of the attempts to keep the team a few weeks ago. There was also talk that former Braves pitcher Tom Glavine was interested in buying the team. Those fronts have been quiet of late.

This is almost exactly what happened three decades ago. The Flames’ ownership group in financial straits announced in May 1980 that it was headed to Calgary after no ownership group could be found locally.

This stands to be the first NHL franchise to relocate since the Hartford Whalers, who left Connecticut for North Carolina and became the Hurricanes, in 1997.

Since getting a new arena built -- the lack of one was the impetus for the exodus from Winnipeg in 1996 -- the fans in the former NHL city have been dying to get the big leagues back in town. Relocation has been a very popular topic across the league in recent years, with the Coyotes having been rumored to be on the move for a couple of years now, starting with Blackberry owner Jim Balsillie, who was denied in his attempt to move the franchise to Hamilton, Ontario. Southern markets like these two at hand and others with lower attendances have long been the targets for those hoping to get back into more traditional markets.

True North is expected to have to pay as much as a $60 million relocation fee.

But this may not be over. Expect the league to do whatever it can to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta much like it did in Phoenix. The league just signed a 10-year deal with NBC/Comcast worth $2 billion and NBC/Comcast won’t be thrilled to lose a top-10 TV market to Canada.

-- A.J. Perez and Brian Stubits
Comments
kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:53 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:38 am
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

I think the Wings would need another team to move to the West. Things would look pretty stupid if Columbus was in the West and Detroit was in the East. Also, Detroit moving into the East damages the rivalries the NHL has fought to promote. Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal have rivalries with each other. Buffalo has a nice rivalry with Ottawa, Toronto and Boston, and Boston and Montreal have been fierce rivals from the beginning.

Detroit's rivals are Chicago and St. Louis. If the Red Wings move to the East, those rivalries vanish. So does Boston-Montreal, along with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Why should the NHL sacrifice four rivalries because the Wings want to go to the East when moving another team doesn't blow things up? If you move Columbus to the East, you can put the Blue Jackets in the Southeast. Detroit would have to go to the Northeast, moving Boston to the Atlantic and Pittsburgh to the Southeast. If Columbus moves to the Southeast, no problem. Minnesota moves to the Central and Winnipeg goes to the Northwest. Simple solution.



Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:25 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Finally, could this be Detroit's best opportunity to move the the Eastern Conference?  Hockey belongs in Canada.  Atlanta and Colorado have had the chance to have 2 separate franchises.  Give Winnipeg one more chance!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:07 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Moving the Sharks makes more sense than moving the Senators. Don't be an idiot.


SHARKS#15
Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:23 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator



SHARKS#15
Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:20 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

One more thing: The Senators have beaten the Sharks in attendance every year since 2003. Guess we should send the Sharks to Kansas City, they're clearly not drawing in San Jose if they can't even beat poorly-drawing Ottawa. See how ridiculous that sounds?



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Ottawa would be the logical team to move to Winnipeg, they will have huge issues drawing fans
for the next 5 years while they rebuild. They could not draw well even when they were in the playoffs for so
many seasons. Melnyk is planning his escape.
Since the lockout, the Senators have placed fifth, fifth, third, seventh, 12th and 11th in the league in attendance. Try again.


SHARKS#15
Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:18 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: May 17, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Orange, your desire to defend the good people of Atlanta is admirable.  The numbers don't support you, but it's nice you're willing to fight a noble fight.

Atlanta is not getting dissed when they don't show up for a bad product.  I will diss them at every turn when they complain about not getting a good product on the ice and they don't show up.  In the first season played after the lockout, the Thrashers didn't make the playoffs but they played damn good hockey.  A 90-point season is good by any standard.  How did the good people of Atlanta reward the club-- by ranking 23rd in the NHL for average attendance and putting barely 15,500 in the arena on any given night.  You wanna say they had to get back into the swing of having hockey again, I'll give them a mulligan.  The team got better and went to the playoffs for the first time.  Again, how were they supported?  Not even another 750 people a game showed up-- 21st in attendance and less than 16,300 a game in an arena that holds 18,500.  Maybe it'll get better the next season...  Well, the team tailed off a bit and fell in the standings.  They dropped back to 22nd in attendance with 15,800 a game.

Let's cut to the chase.  The last three seasons the attendance plummeted and they haven't been out of the bottom three in the NHL since.  They've had exciting players and it hasn't translated to wins on the ice.  But considering the Atlanta metro area has a population better than 5 million, to ask 18,000 people to drop into a hockey game once or twice a week during the season isn't that much to ask if they want the franchise to stick around.  We're talking less than a third of a percent of the population in the area.  Atlanta's metro area population is larger than Boston, Detroit, Montreal, St. Louis, and San Jose and all of these cities blow away Atlanta on a nightly basis for people going to the arena to watch hockey.  Calgary is one fifth the size of Atlanta and sells out an arena that seats more than Phillips Arena.  How do you explain that away?  The fact is not enough of Atlanta wants ice hockey.  Some do, but not enough to sustain an NHL franchise.  By the way, this is the second time the NHL has had this problem with Atlanta.  Calgary still thanks you for your franchise-city-change from 30 years ago.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com