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

Since: Oct 24, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 12:29 am
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Funny how Don Waddell is still in the middle of all this. He, along with the owners are the root cause of all this. If a team wins, people will watch. Waddell was given 11 years to make this work and he failed miserably. Bad trades, stupid drafts, dumb coach choices. there are a lot of fans here in Atlanta that like hocky and would go if the owners and the team acted right, I hope they all lose a gazillion dollars, they deserve it for ruining this team!!!



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:54 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Detroit is not the right team to move to the East. You're losing a Southeast team, so it stands to reason that the team that should move is Nashville. They really don't have any noteworthy rivalries with anyone in the West, and Detroit has all kinds of rivalries with teams there. Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose now, Colorado (speaking of, move the Avs to the Central to accommodate the Winnipeg team and to replace Nashville there, the NHL needs that rivalry to get hot again). Moving the Wings to the East would be a stupid, stupid move on the part of the NHL.
It would be stupid, you're right. You get the Red Wings back with Toronto and Montreal, but at the cost of Wings-Blackhawks and Wings-Blues. The team that makes the most sense to have move is Columbus, but you can't do that because you'd lose Bruins-Canadiens and Penguins-Flyers as divisional rivalries.

Really, the solution is a simple one for the best play. Out of Atlanta, Florida and Phoenix, nuke two of them. Move the third to Winnipeg. Return to the old divisions. The Northeast absorbs Columbus and Carolina and becomes the Adams. Washington, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay join with the four remaining Atlantic teams to form the Patrick Division. I decided to sacrifice Carolina's rivalry with Washington and Tampa Bay in order to keep Pittsburgh with its traditional rivals and keep Washington and Tampa Bay together, since that rivalry is stronger than Washington-Carolina. Of course, having the Penguins and Capitals in the same division makes things even better.

In the West, Dallas joins with the four Central teams left minus Columbus, along with Minnesota and Winnipeg, to form the Norris. The western Canada teams join with the three California teams and Colorado to form the Smythe. If you want, you can move the Jets to the Smythe and put the Avalanche in the Norris. I figured the Jets would want to be with Minnesota, but I don't think they'd complain about being with Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:43 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

atlanta and miami suck as hockey markets....as do dallas and phoenix...but dont lump tampa in with them or it just makes you look like an ignorant moron.....which you probably are
Then don't lump Dallas in there either. It's like Tampa Bay, hockey has worked quite nicely in Texas.




Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:42 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

The lightning finished 3rd in attendance with the worst record in the league a few years ago
And what happened as soon as the team tailed off the next season?
2006-07 -- 3rd in attendance (conference finals)
2007-08 -- 8th in attendance (did not qualify)
2008-09 -- 21st in attendance (did not qualify)
2009-10 -- 21st in attendance (did not qualify)
2010-11 -- 18th in attendance (conference finals...so far)

Almost immediately after the Ligthning missed the playoffs, the "fans" in the greater Tampa area ran for the beaches.  Stop pissing and moaning about why it's so hard to get to a game.  Just about every city with professional sports teams can have problems with people trying to get to the building for any given game.  No excuses.



Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:19 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Really the only reason why the Jets left town was that the city of Winnipeg didn't want to fund a new arena. That problem has since been remedied.



Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:18 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Detroit is not the right team to move to the East. You're losing a Southeast team, so it stands to reason that the team that should move is Nashville. They really don't have any noteworthy rivalries with anyone in the West, and Detroit has all kinds of rivalries with teams there. Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose now, Colorado (speaking of, move the Avs to the Central to accommodate the Winnipeg team and to replace Nashville there, the NHL needs that rivalry to get hot again). Moving the Wings to the East would be a stupid, stupid move on the part of the NHL.



Since: Dec 30, 2007
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:05 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

I'm in the US, but would love to see the Peg return to Canada. My concern is, there were reasons the team left Winnipeg in the 90's. Have those obstacles now been overcomed? Can the team remain viable there?



Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:53 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Canada is the hotbed of hockey.  The US hockey ratings are so miniscule that losing the Atlanta market is no big deal! I betcha more peolple will watch the games in Winnipeg, on TV and in person, than ever in ATL anyways. 



Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:51 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

 The Rays are also a good example.  In a season when they made the World Series, they had to give tickets away to get people in the stadium.


the rays also play an hour or more away from their core fanbase...actually their core fanbase has the farthest commute in all of mlb..no mass transit to the game and you have to cross the bay on one of three bridges that are always screwed up...all the while trying to catch a 6:40 start.....its a shitty example really....you do realize the lightning finished 3rd in attendance with the orst record in the league a few years ago right.....atlanta and miami suck as hockey markets....as do dallas and phoenix...but dont lump tampa in with them or it just makes you look like an ignorant moron.....which you probably are



Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:52 pm
 

Reports: Winnipeg group in talks with Thrashers

Yes, there is an agreement to move Detroit to the East. They were talking about this during the 2nd intermission of the Boston-TB game on CBC.


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