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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: Jun 2, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:43 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten like the lost art of Editing..."



Since: Mar 28, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:40 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

HAMILTON??? are you nuts......the only city in Ontario that could support a new NHL team is in the land "Sarnia" !!!




Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: June 1, 2011 2:39 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Mixed feelings on this one.  I was in Atlanta when the Thrashers arrived so I took to them and supported them.  Got some jerseys and even an intact opening night ticket from their first game ever signed by the whole team. On a side note, I wonder if that is now a collectors item or totally worthless just like my boxes of un-opened Thrashers cereal from 1998.  Anyway, so i am bummed to see them leave just because of the memories I have there.  However, let's be honest.  The Thrashers totally sucked basically always.  They had 3 truly great players and 1 killed a fellow player so he had to go and they could not resign the other 2(Kovalchuk and Hossa)for whatever reason.  Waddell never seemed like he really knew what was going on and other than one kind decent season where after they were promptly swept in the playoffs, it was a losing deal.

Having lived in Atlanta for a number of years then moving in 2002 and never really taking on any of their sports teams with the kind of exception of the Thrashers, I feel I can give some objective looks at the fan base.  Atlanta is not a bad sports town, it is a bad PRO sports town.  Meaning this, if the pro teams are winning, the fans will show up(before mentioning the Braves, remember definitions of winning change after a while.).  If not, they will not.  I am not sure this is such a bad thing.  I tend to think certain fans make to big a deal about "supporting a team".  I support my family.  I cheer for my teams and will attend and purchase merchandise if and only if I feel like it.  I have no obligation to attend or finance any pro sports organization.  I can assure you the same is true in reverse.  Go see the reaction if you get ahold of your home teams GM and say due to the economy you need the teams support of 100K or so.  Good luck with that.  Sometimes people make to big a deal about stuff like this.    I can assure you the folks in Atlanta will be just fine.

Two final thoughts.  1. The guy I really feel for if he is still around is the dude who used to dress like Braveheart at home games.

2. When I left Atlanta I moved to Phoenix.  Guess I am the kiss of death for NHL teams!



Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:54 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

"The only thing going to be blowing the roof off in winnipeg will be the horrific mosquitos.  Atlanta cant hold an nhl team like pittsburgh cant hold an nba team.  Should have just gotten rid of the whole team."

 
Marino - the mosquitos in Winnipeg are indeed horrific if one does not take measures, no doubt...but last time I checked they only lasted a couple of months.  Oh and they did get rid of the whole team - we bought em.  Pay attention.



Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:48 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

LOL at all the experts saying that the Winnipeg franchise is going to fold within 10 years.  Are you aware at all who the ownership group True North consists of?  Billionaire and won of the richest men in the world, David Thomson and multi-millionaire, and local Winnipeg business success Mark Chipman.  They are in this for the long haul and so are the fans.  Chipman will be the primary and he LOVES his hockey. As do the fans.  I guarantee that within 3 weeks there will be 13,000+ season tickets sold for the next 3-5 seasons.  There is an old saying that almost always proves true.  You don't know what you have (got) until it's gone.  True in love. True in death.  And true in this case.  This will revitalize Winnipeg's downtown sports district, provide much appreciated revenue for the citys businesses and the players and our already talented team will only get better playing in a hockey rabid market.  I guess haters gotta hate but uninformed half baked comments just make you look foolish.  Oh yeah, I believe over 15,000 people rallied and partied downtown in Winnipeg today.  Nice!



Since: Nov 21, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:29 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

columbus is not exactly a warm weather city they do get pretty cold i know nothing like the canada cities but thats like saying pittsburgh dont get cold there almost a dead straight shot from each other of a couple hundred miles



Since: Apr 1, 2010
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:28 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

The only thing going to be blowing the roof off in winnipeg will be the horrific mosquitos.  Atlanta cant hold an nhl team like pittsburgh cant hold an nba team.  Should have just gotten rid of the whole team. 



Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: June 1, 2011 1:18 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

"How's this for hockey interest in Atlanta:  my office got a partial season package and we did not use some of our tickets.  The Thrashers office literally called us saying that we could have free tickets to replacement games just so they would have some people in the stands. "

THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ATLANTA & WINNIPEG.  I am so tired of posters complaining that the MTS Centre in Winnipeg only holds 15,000 and that Atlanta averaged 13,500.  The MTS Centre is an incredible building with great site lines and will be packed nightly with 15,000+ PAYING PATRONS.  No freebies or giveaways needed to put seat fillers in the stands.  Real money from real hockey fans.  I invite any true Atlanta Thrashers fan to come up and experience a real hockey environment that is going to blow the roof off the Winnipeg Arena on a consistent basis.  You will not want to leave...Just avoid January and February unless you are as tough as a Canuck.  This is going to be a Stanley Cup to remember - GO CANUCKS!



Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:27 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

give us a break hamilton!even as Buffalo is drying up,you'll never see a team as long as while still playing.the only 2 teams in buffalo will be there forever,F!@#$ toronto too.especially after this new owner took over,you will see the SABRES as 1 team that will win the cup for a lot of years.as for the bills,they will always be second rate with ralph still alive~



Since: Mar 29, 2008
Posted on: June 1, 2011 12:25 am
 

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

give us a break hamilton!even as Buffalo is drying up,you'll never see a team as long as while still playing.the only 2 teams in buffalo will be there forever,F!@#$ toronto too.especially after this new owner took over,you will see the SABRES as 1 team that will win the cup for a lot of years.as for the bills,they will always be second rate with ralph still alive~


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