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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

Since: Dec 30, 2007
Posted on: May 17, 2011 10:33 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Your an idiot

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:45 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

For all non-Atlanta is the deal why hockey is in the state it is in in Atlanta:



A lot of bombshells about the undermining of the franchise by Waddell and the ASG clowns.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:37 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

The Thrashers ownership group is scum. They only want to be in the NBA business and are asking for way too much for the NHL side of things. Atlanta is the second biggest NHL TV Market in the U.S. SECOND ! but the NHL has no problem turning their back on Atlanta because they get 60 million from the deal. What a huge cluster **** the NHL is. Atlanta has had awful ownership, and an even worse front office and it is the fans that have to suffer.

Since: Apr 29, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:12 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Well at least they still have the Flames....oh wait.

Since: Jan 29, 2008
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:06 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

As a Buffalo native and Sabres season ticket holder I can say that the Sabres' season ticket based is roughly 20%, and as a Sabres fan I'd prefer a team to stay out of Hamilton. The effect on our ticket revenue might not be as impactful, but a samller market team liek Buffalo with low ticket prices (23rd out of 30 teams) makes a ton of their money from merchandise, which could be greatly affected by a team in Hamilton.

 In terms of Hamilton being able to support a team, I think they could if they were the only team in town. People forget Hamilton is home to the Canadiens' AHL affiliate and is a very good team. If the city were to get an NHL franchise the AHL team would either have to be relocated or become an affiliate of the city's NHL team, much like the Leafs have the Marlies in Toronto.

I can see the Toronto ownership being resistant to the idea of Hamilton having a team, but in no way would it affect the Leafs' ability to sell out the ACC; those seats are long gone.

Lastly, people seem to forget about league alignment. If there is to be relocation the best fit would be to have Phoenix go to Winnipeg, and just have Colorado move to the Pacific Division and have Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Minnesota make up the Northwest. If you move Phoenix east or Atlanta west it creates a whole new issue. If Atlanta goes to Winnipeg there is rumor Detroit would be the team headed back to the east, in my opinion Nashville would be more logical to just move to the Southeast Division, but that can't happen since they are in the central timezone. It will be interesting

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:04 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

One place never mentioned but i think would be a great hockey town is Seattle. Somebody should look into that.

Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:03 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

You drive really slow if it takes 2 hours from Buffalo to Hamilton.  I can get from Buffalo to Toronto in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:02 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Red Wings arent going to the East thats crazy talk

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:01 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Well, Atlanta is like 80% black people, and black people could care less about not a good mix. But its gonna suck for the players to move from comfy Atl to cold ass Winnipeg..wait i dont even know where Winnipeg is lol. Btw Winnipeg Trashers doesnt sound about, WINNIPEG JETS!

Since: May 23, 2007
Posted on: May 17, 2011 9:01 am

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

This would be a VERY good move for the Red Wings - off to the Eastern Conference they go and all is GREAT in Hockeytown. 

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