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: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:42 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

What is that supposed to mean, it's just Hamilton?  When Hamiton joins the NHL(when Bettman leaves sanity will be restored) they will definitely be in the top 10 revenue producers ahead of Buffalo, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix plus many more.  New York which has about 1/10 the hockey fans of the GTA(Greater Toronto Area) boasts three NHL teams, give me a break let Hamilton have a team.

Since: May 13, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:41 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

another failed project by the weasel bettman in his attempt to organize and locate his franchises to secure a monumental network tv pakage he fasiled to realize that the first qualification of having a franchise is that there needs to be an interest in hockey by the local community another thing the weasel fails to understand is that there will be no huge tv network deal for the leauge no matter how many areas of the country have a hockey team the rastings for hockey are too small to support anything other than the miniscule pakage it has weasel you will never get a network deal similar to the other sports no matter how many teams you have scattered across the country in areas like phoenix ect that could give a hoot about hockey

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:35 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Hamilton is NOT getting an NHL franchise with Toronto and Buffalo both less than 75 miles away. Plus come on, it's Hamilton...

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:32 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Congratulations Winnipeg! You shot, and scored big time! I'm an Islanders fan, but I'm real glad to see Canada get one of their teams back. Way to go guys, now don't blow it again. Lol.. Hopefully, Quebec will be the next city to get their team back & a new arena for my Islanders...

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:28 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Also, how would you react to an ownership group that had never told you the truth from day 1?

That's the EXACT same thing that Pirates management has been doing too Pirates fans for years. So don't act like your the only ones that get lied  too and can't support a team with a city your size. It only takes 17,000 to sellout hockey game. Pittsburgh fans have been lied too for years about building a contender. But the fans still go to the games and support the team even though they suck. They draw over 20 and sometimes 30 thousand for 1 baseball game here for a small city. And your big city can't get 17,000 to a hockey game? If your Arena is in such a bad place and people don't want to go then you don't deserve and can't support team. Pirates ownership won't even sell the team. They are making money losing! I guess Atlanta can't say the same! Even though your twice the size, if not more, than Pittsburgh. I've already seen how Atlanta supports a losing baseball team. You know, back in the 70's and 80's? When the Braves stunk! I didn't realize there was so much to do in Atlanta either? Which beach do you usually go too?


Since: Dec 29, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:18 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Congrats Winnipeg. Stick with the 'Jets' name.
BTW, I've always wondered why no hockey team has ever been called 'Snowmen'?
Finally, regardless of attendence, Nashville is losing money and money takes priority over bums on seats.

Since: Jun 19, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:13 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Yeah, Hockey in Tampa is miserable....  Oh wait, we tend to sell out quite a bit down here and have a great fan base.  We've seen a growing number of youth hockey leagues expanding and a community that rallies behind the Bolts.  Have you seen the pics of the fans out to greet the players returning from a LOSS in game 7? 

Since: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 10:09 pm

Thrashers begged for fans...

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.  I honestly think that this can be put solely on the shoulders of Dan Waddell who completely squandered high draft pick after high draft pick.  

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:58 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

They should move a team to Utah and Maine. Those states are hotbeds for the NHL!

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:08 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Seriously who ever thought the NHL would last in Atlanta???  They also need to get out of FLorida and back to Canada!!!  Lets just be real and not over do it, the NHL tried to expand too fast into places it would never work.  Winnipeg will work, they just will not make millions like the Rangers, Boston, or other very large maeket teams.  The NHL needs to understand who and where hockey thrives, I am I the only person who knows this?

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or