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

Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:07 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Fantastic!! As for names, I vote for the Winnipeg "Falcons" - in honour of the team that won the first Olympic Gold in ice hockey...from Winnipeg no less!! No disrespect to the "Jets", but that franchise had its time.

I've seen several people wishing the new ownership group luck and comenting on the clubs lack of success - fyi, this club will soar in Winnipeg! The new ownership group is sure to hire a hockey guy to run the show and they will see great things. Byfuglien, Ladd, Kane, Enstrom - this club has a great core and will only get better.


Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:48 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Atlanta is a SIX MILLION POP market... AND YET... they can't sell any tickets to a hockey game... they can't sellout a 17,000 seat NBA arena... they can't sellout an "average sized" 68K NFL stadium... and they can't even sellout PLAYOFF games to the Braves let alone the regular season?!?!?

I think it’s funny that the so-called experts beat up markets like Kansas City, Milwaukee, Jacksonville, etc for attendance when they do as good or usually better than Atlanta who has 300% to 400% of their populations?!?!?

Seattle and Tampa - both with approximately 3 million people in your metro markets - you aren't much better. Tampa may not have a single professional team in the next few years if attendance means anything while Seattle will most likely only have the Seahawks.

Sad indeed.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:47 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Move the Coyotes to QUEBEC.....  

There is only 1 other place in Canada right now that deserve hockey and that's Quebec

Quebec has a new $400 millions Arena, Bring Back the Nordiques.
It's planning to build the arena. If it begins construction on the arena, it should be rewarded with a team. The new arena is scheduled to be completed in 2015. My hope is that the NHL gives Phoenix time until they break ground on the new arena in Quebec. If Phoenix comes to a solution before the shovels hit dirt, hey, great, keep the Coyotes in the desert. If not, allow them to be sold to Quebec City, having them play at the Colisee for two to three years while the arena is built.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:42 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Move the Coyotes to either Hartford or Hamilton,ON
No and no. If they move, they should go to Quebec City.

Since: Feb 9, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:37 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Hockey is a tough sellin the south. Anyone can support a winning team but to supporta team means winning or loosing.The ATL failed twice and wants to point fingers a townership. Two new areas and still no support, no one in ATL cared about hockey before and won't now. TB onlysupports the Bolts when they win and FL couldn't care less about hockey. Hockey is played on ice and up north is where the ice is.

Since: Apr 6, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:35 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

phila_pride writes:  Even more solid proof that Atlanta is one of the worst sports towns in America. You lost two separate NHL teams. Nice going. Goes along with a half-full Turner field.

Toronto 76'ers in 2013?  And how about that 1/10th full Vet/CBP from 1995-2003?  If you don't compete for 13 years and it's because of management and ownership, fans don't show up.  See Detroit Lions Pittsburgh Pirates New York Islanders Cleveland Cavaliers (before and after Lebron James) etc, etc, etc.

The Atlanta Spirt, LLC, is comprised of non-fan businessmen that have no interest in building a team.  They were horrible owners that couldn't keep players, didn't advertise, and managed to field ONE "competitive" team in 13 seasons.  They also own the Hawks and look how that is going.  This sucks hard.

We're not really losing a hockey team since we never had one to begin with.  Bring back the Atlanta Knights to Phillips Arena.  They won a title and drew sellouts nightly.  Funny how that works.  Compete and win and you develop a fan base!

Sure, someone here wrote here, and I'm paraphrasing; "Fandoms are reflected during down times, not when your team is winning."  Well if you lose 93% of the time (12/13 seasons), and your "owners" concentrate on one sport over another and have no business owning 1 team let alone 2, you get the Thrashers.

Enjoy your new team, Winnipeg.  I wouldn't wish our franchise's luck on anyone.  This kind of "run" can be weathered by cities that have a long history with a team.  But if you stink from literally day one (1st draft for Thrashers = nobodies), you probably won't make it.

Since: Sep 25, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:32 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

There are some good things here, but this really isn't Bettman's fault. Atlanta Spirit's problems have been well known for seven years now. If they couldn't come up with a buyer after all this time, nobody who's currently there wanted to own the team there. Plus, the city of Atlanta did not try to keep the team. The reason Bettman has worked so hard in Arizona is because Glendale has done everything and more to try to keep the Coyotes, potential buyers have popped up and the alternative was selling to a rogue owner who didn't want to play by the NHL's rules. In Winnipeg, Mark Chipman was willing to work quietly the way an owner should. Neither Bettman nor any commissioner is going to fight a guy who is willing to play the game the right way. Seven years is enough time.

Yes it is Bettman's fault.  No fanbase will come out and support horrible teams and horrible ownership.  If the same ownership that had the Tampa Bay Lightning and the same players were in ATL, the fans would have come.   Truly sad for the hockey fans in the area and it's truly sad that they were never given a fair chance.

Hate Boston&LA
Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:30 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:53 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Move the Coyotes to either Hartford or Hamilton,ON

Since: Oct 7, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:49 pm

Pokey Reddick

I meant him...not Reese. Ma bad bad

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