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: Dec 1, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:04 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

This is a little sad because the games were fun, but the travesty is that they pissed away top draft picks and never could build a contender.  What a shame.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:41 pm

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Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:09 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Even this years home playoff games were blacked out on VS!!! How stupid is that?!
Not at all stupid. They do that so the Sharks can be seen on their home station like they have been all season long.

Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 8:00 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Great for Winnipeg. I hope they go back & use the original name the "Jets".

However, I am personally bummed out because my fmaily & I are moving to Atlanta in August & I was looking really foreword to becoming a Thrashers fan & seeing some game with my son. Teach him more about hockey & the history of it. We don't have that much exposure to it in Nor Cal other than the Sharks but they're 2.5 hours away & home games are blacked out most of the time. Even this years home playoff games were blacked out on VS!!! How stupid is that?! So, yes I am bummed out about this news. Good luck Winnipeg, you're going to need it!

Since: Apr 19, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:36 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Now let's move the Phoenix Coyotes to Quebec and we can have the Nordiques back in the league. No one in Phoenix cares about hockey! Bring back the Nordiques!!!

Since: Nov 8, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:21 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

good luck in winnipeg,  hotlanta also its nice to see canada get another hockey team  since this is there sport  . hockey will never servive in the south . and they should be called the JETS like old times

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:56 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Ok, I'm an Atlanta fan, but put yourself in our shoes. Would you support a team that's ownership had cut the payroll so greatly that we literally had no chance of winning? And also, what about not putting any money into advertising them, not to mention even getting them on TV? (Literally, there was not a station that would show all the games, ergo the team lost a lot of support from people who would go and see one or two games but watch the rest on TV). Also, how would you react to an ownership group that had never told you the truth from day 1?

lived it see koles, oren and barrie, len......even when the lighting were awful they still drew decent numbers.....a few years agothey finished third in attendance while finishing with the leagues worst record.....

and yes the coyotes will move.....the city of glendale will only foot the bill on that abortion of an idea for so long....competitive teams cant even bring in a crowd city will be the next city to reclaim thier team. 

Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:46 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Feb 19, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:39 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Winnipeg is getting a steal here. The Thrashers, or whatever they're going to be called, are a pretty good team. Personally, if I had to buy a team tomorrow - in terms of talent - I'd probably take this team over three of five eastern confernce playoff teams from this year (Buffalo, Montreal, Rangers).

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:20 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

But I guess you'll just dump me into the 'bad sports fan from Atlanta' catergory even though you know nothing of this city.
Ugh, not the pile of "bad sports city excuses" again. Listen: even if metro Atlanta is a serrated hellscape and life insurance is unavailable to Atlantans due to the high likelihood of death when they venture outside their house, it doesn't change the bottom line. Any Atlanta team would be justified in moving, especially the hockey team.

I'm a supporter of the NHL's southern experiments, because the league needs roots in growing communities to survive. Canada's "native" population is stagnant and shrinking. It doesn't matter how much they love hockey, the numbers don't add up. But some of these experiments work and some don't. The Thrashers obviously haven't made a dime since the lockout. Tampa plays good hockey and are occasionally profitable. Phoenix is a long term experiment in a major growth area; it's now the 5th biggest city in the US and all those transplants will eventually grow families. Methinks that Nashville could be the next on the block.

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