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Blog Entry

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 6:11 am
 


NHL hockey is back in Winnipeg.

True North Sports and Entertainment completed a purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers early Tuesday morning and will move the franchise to Manitoba. The transaction still needs to be approved by the NHL Board of Governors, although that could come as early as their next meeting on June 21.

“As we have said repeatedly, we don’t like to move franchises,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a news conference at the MTS Center on Tuesday. “But sometimes we simply have no choice.”

Winnipeg lost the Jets to Phoenix in 1996. The Thrashers are the first NHL team to relocate since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. This is the second time Atlanta has lost an NHL franchise; the Flames moved to Calgary in 1980.

It's not clear yet what the team will be called. True North will pay $170 million to complete the transaction, which includes a $60 million relocation fee that is distributed among the other 29 franchise.

“A name has not been chosen,” said True North Chairman Mark Chipman “We know that subject is of great interest to the community, but we have not fully engaged it yet. It’s obviously one of the first orders of business that we will turn ourselves to now. We will do so very thoughtfully and should have some news on that in the very new future.” 

STUBITS: Who will move in realignment?

True North Sports president Jim Ludlow said the team aims to sell 13,000 tickets by the Board of Governors meeting in three weeks and introduced a website to take the orders. The base price for tickets range from $39 to $129 per game, comparable to ticket prices in Ottawa and Edmonton.

“I think it would be a good idea to tell the Board of Governors as quickly as possible that there is nothing to worry about here,” Bettman said. “The economics or running a franchise, particularly in this building and this market, require the support of having the predictability that season-ticket holders will give you.”

Chipman said while the 13,000-seat, season-ticket threshold hasn’t been imposed by the NHL, “it’s an objective we both think is necessary and achievable”

Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson said an agreement to sell and move the team isn’t ideal, but was the only path after an ownership group willing to keep the team in Atlanta could not be found.

“Our objective was always to find a solution to keep the team in Atlanta, and we spent a considerable amount of time, effort and resources trying to do so,” Levenson said in a news release. “This is not the outcome we wanted and it’s extremely disappointing that a buyer or significant investor did not come forward that would enable us to keep the team in Atlanta.”

Times are much different now -- not only for downtown Winnipeg, but the league --- than they were when the NHL left town.

“We were extraordinarily unhappy when we left in ’96,” Bettman said. “We had no choice. That’s why with the celebration here there is obviously regret what’s happening in Atlanta. To be able to come back to place we know loves NHL hockey (and) to be able to do it in a city that has changed, a collective-bargaining agreement that has leveled the playing surface, with this building and this ownership. These were factors that didn’t exist in ’96. To be able to come back and right a wrong is an extraordinary thing.”

A couple Tharshers players took to Twitter to thank Atlanta Tuesday afternoon. 

"Thanks again. I will miss the great people and city of Atlanta," wrote Thrashers left winger Evander Kane.

"Our time was short Atlanta but thanks to all the fans and their support," Thrasher right winger Blake Wheeler wrote.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Associated Press
Comments

Since: Feb 18, 2012
Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:01 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Whinnerpeg deserves NOTHING ! The Thrashers need to be RELOCATED BACK TO ATLANTA.


The team, while riding high now... Will crash and burn within ten years for sure, I hope SO !


No player in their RIGHT mind wants to play in that Worthless city, it's the most NOTHING city I have ever seen !


bettman LIED to Atlanta NHL fans and atlanta STUPID group did not care, as they want to be associated with
the GOON nba.


The NHL needs to wake up and get the Thrashers back in Atlanta for 2012-2013, several players I know...
simply HATE it there !         
;   


kkjyywlpo
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:38 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Feb 1, 2010
Posted on: June 1, 2011 11:17 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Smackman2003, Atlanta has had 2 opportunities to support an NHL franchise, TWO!! Now, I'm not at all against the idea of a team in the south, but Winnipeg deserves a team simply based on their desire and love for hockey. It's similar to the Expos leaving Montreal for Washington. Montreal had their chance. I felt sad to see the Expos leave Canada, but it was better for baseball and a great move for Washington. Knowing Bettman, I wouldn't be surprised if the NHL placed a team in Las Vegas.



Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 8:15 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

I don't get it.  So a league would rather stay unstable losing money left & right yearly versus having actual stable dollars coming in.  Atlanta's cheap NHL tickets compared to the Northern cities make it quite hard to keep swallowing as a league, they were losing money & fans had to be drawn in on the cheap in the first place.  Gary & co. already beatup the PA over the same self-inflicted losses created by their own willing choice to put these teams where they are, trying to play that same exact card again will not go over well with the paying public this time around. 

Either take easy money or prepare for fan backlash in a couple seasons the moment a lock-out comes rearing it's head again.  The experiment failed, Gary should stop playing money cards on Northern cities about their teams, when you have all these fires going on down South.  Nobody needs some hypocrite whining about cities which actually pay top dollar in the first place with their arenas.



Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: June 1, 2011 6:20 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Why do people keep saying the Thrashers drew at the gate? This past season, they were 28th, 75% attendance. They at least made it to 22nd and 85% in 2007-08. I don't know why people keep acting like this team was selling out games. They were always in the lower 3rd in attendance. From looking at the records, 22nd is highest they ever made it in attandance. This team did not draw, as much as people would like to think otherwise.



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:24 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Where's the spot to comment on tonights game.



Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 5:11 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

As a Hurricanes fan, I'm actually sad to see the Thrashers go. Especially since the presence of a hockey team in a major market in the south had a chance to succeed and win fans for the league that it wouldnt otherwise have. In Winnipeg, there is no opportunity to grow the game- everyone there was born with hockey and probably follows the NHL anyway. In Atlanta, the NHL was in a major urban area with corporate might and where many of the more than 5 million people arent familar with hockey, but an uncompetitive team (or really a lack of urgency by the owners to compete in the league) doomed the sport's vitality in Atlanta from the beginning. There are few teams in any sport that struggle so profoundly and still draw at the gate (look at the Pirates in MLB, Raiders recently in the NFL, the Nets in the NBA and even the Islanders), and with a sport that fewer people are familiar with, a high success rate is even more important to making a mark on the community. That and making efforts to grow the game in the area. Apparently, the Thrashers weren't involved in running youth leagues in the Atlanta area, which would have drummed up support for the team and interest in an unfamiliar sport. Atlanta represents a missed opportunity to reduce the heavy regionalization that plagues the NHL and prevents it from knocking on the door of the big three professional sports leagues in the United States.

Returning to Winnipeg is good for Canada and good for Winnipeggers. But the strength of the league does not improve by adding a small city (by pro sports standards) to its fold. How this team will fare when the American dollar recovers remains to be seen. Will the owners be willing to undergo losses in order to compete with teams paying in stronger currencies? Or, more likely, will the team once again encounter financial troubles because if the small market, lack of corporate power, and less valuable currency? I think the marriage between Winnipeg and the NHL is short sighted at the present and will not likely be terribly long-lived. Especially as there are other, stronger candidates for a hockey team (namely, Seattle and Houston), with larger media markets and more presence of large companies to back a potential team. Those markets also have what the NHL wants (or really, should want)- fans new to the game in areas not traditionally tuned into it.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 3:41 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

This isn't a fair criticism, because the NHL didn't move teams out of Canada to the South. The South teams were all expansion teams or came from the U.S., except for Winnipeg. Plus, the majority of the relocated teams actually succeeded.

The NHL has moved four teams to the South under Bettman and John Ziegler. They are the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. Two of those are American teams and one moved to Denver, which nobody would call the South. Only Winnipeg left for what is truly the South.

Of those four, Minnesota became the Dallas Stars. I don't think anyone would dispute the Stars as a success. Quebec became the Colorado Avalanche, who were immediately embraced in Denver. Hartford became the Carolina Hurricanes, and although it took a while, Raleigh has fallen in love with the game. Only the Coyotes are failing. So of the teams that were moved out of the north or out of Canada, three of four became successes.

Who are the struggling teams? Atlanta, an expansion team. Florida, an expansion team. Columbus, an expansion team. Up until recently, when the market began to embrace them, Nashville, an expansion team. The only one who is not is, again, the Coyotes.

So the stats show that moving teams out of Canada or the north and into the south isn't a fiasco, never has been and probably never will be. The fiasco is overexpanding and expecting a new market to automatically embrace a new sport. With guys who don't know what they're doing, like in Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix, it fails. When the front office is clued in, like in Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina, it works.



Well said. I happen to agree that over expanding, in any sport, can have negative results. It also dilutes talent.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:51 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

you can add the new york americans to that list also

This franchise did not move..in fact what happened with this franchise should not even be in the discussion. The Americans suspended operations for the war's duration. In 1945, a group emerged willing to build a sports arena in Brooklyn, which could house the Americans. However, in 1946, the NHL reneged on promises to reinstate the Amerks and canceled the franchise.

If where comparing a franchise being lost with how the Thrasher were lost then this does not fit the mold. The poster you quoting is giving examples of teams that moved to different cities.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:21 pm
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Thank you, Gary for allowing this move to go through.  Thank you for beginning to acknowledge that moving NHL teams out of Canada and into the South was, is, and always will be, a fiasco.
This isn't a fair criticism, because the NHL didn't move teams out of Canada to the South. The South teams were all expansion teams or came from the U.S., except for Winnipeg. Plus, the majority of the relocated teams actually succeeded.

The NHL has moved four teams to the South under Bettman and John Ziegler. They are the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers. Two of those are American teams and one moved to Denver, which nobody would call the South. Only Winnipeg left for what is truly the South.

Of those four, Minnesota became the Dallas Stars. I don't think anyone would dispute the Stars as a success. Quebec became the Colorado Avalanche, who were immediately embraced in Denver. Hartford became the Carolina Hurricanes, and although it took a while, Raleigh has fallen in love with the game. Only the Coyotes are failing. So of the teams that were moved out of the north or out of Canada, three of four became successes.

Who are the struggling teams? Atlanta, an expansion team. Florida, an expansion team. Columbus, an expansion team. Up until recently, when the market began to embrace them, Nashville, an expansion team. The only one who is not is, again, the Coyotes.

So the stats show that moving teams out of Canada or the north and into the south isn't a fiasco, never has been and probably never will be. The fiasco is overexpanding and expecting a new market to automatically embrace a new sport. With guys who don't know what they're doing, like in Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix, it fails. When the front office is clued in, like in Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina, it works.


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