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: Apr 7, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:19 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Winning is the best way to create a solid fan-base. A city without a die-hard loyal hockey following can't just rely on poor to mediocre teams year after year and expect any interest to generate. There was no buzz so the people stayed home. 
Sucks that the fans lost their team. Good luck & congrats to Winnipeg.
Didn't they already lose a team too? 

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:06 pm

It's official: Thrashers on --reply to MtubaJ

I feel bad for all fans who lose a team.  Especially a hockey team-- as I truly believe that NHL FANS are the most diehard (albeit a small group compared to nfl Fans) fans in sports.  I know very few CASUAL hockey fans... (I know people that go to games, and don't really root for a team-- but most people I come across that like hockey-- LOVE HOCKEY).  But the Falcons were charging 160 bucks for a full season o tickets a few years ago.  Thats 20 bucks a game.  I'm not sure what they are at now---but going to a FALCON game or even buying season tickets-- is somewhat affordable. 

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:04 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Ok Winnipeg now do the right thing and pick a name that makes sense...unlike the freaking "Wild" still can't get over that one.


"Winnipeg North Stars" <<<screw dallas, they can still be the stars.

In 1974, Kansas City planned to be called the Mohawks. Chicago vetoed that name. Dallas will do the same.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:01 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Who's next? I would say Phoenix, but it seems the NHL IS committed to that franchise. My guess would be Nashville moving up to Canada next.
Nashville has developed into a solid market and isn't going anywhere. The NHL is committed to Phoenix, but they were committed to Atlanta too. If it doesn't work in Phoenix, the Coyotes will leave.

Since: Aug 27, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:58 pm

Atlanta didn't support a Major Pro Team? GET OUT

The Hawks don't draw, the Braves don't Draw, the Falcons just started selling out (season tickets for 140bucks a year-- WHY NOT?)---And Georgia is not exactly hockey heaven.   I appreciate the NHL's effort to expand--but this was so predictable.  Will a hockey player ever sign a long term contract to live and play in Tennessee?  Nashville is next.  Sorry. 

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:42 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

And the tourist meca of Hamilton is a desired location???   hahahahahaha  Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes from a Hamilton fan who hasn't come to grips with the reality that the NHL has NO INTEREST in putting a franchise in that market.  Maybe give them a shout when/if you have your "proposed" arena renos complete and an owner they trust.  And as far as Winnipeg not being able to convince players to come - I have heard nothing but positive comments from many of the current Thrashers players regarding the move to a true hockey market.  Don't be bitter,'s not a good look.

Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:31 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:29 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Who's next? I would say Phoenix, but it seems the NHL IS committed to that franchise. My guess would be Nashville moving up to Canada next.

Since: Nov 16, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:28 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?

As for your comments on the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks; the Braves are projected to draw over 2 million customers this year, and have for the last few. If you didn't notice, during the summer when school is out, the Braves put butts into seats. Something you have to realize is that the stadium is in a horrible location, and that there is not enough wealthy people to fill the stadium when MLB jacks the ticket prices up in the playoffs. Most of us watch the playoffs at home, wishing we had the dough to go to the game. But when it comes to feeding our kids or going to a game, the guesswork is taken out. For the Falcons, for the last three seasons, we have sold out every home game. Granted, we don't travel very well to other cities (see above comments on money), but there are always 50k+ at the Georgia Dome. Hawks have decent crowds, nothing to brag about, but still sell out all of the big games (i.e.: Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Boston Celtcs, LA Lakers, etc.).

I don't know if you have pulled the records for the MLB's attendance records, but Pittsburgh is often near the last in attendance. That's a team that lives off of other teams monies.

But I guess you'll just dump me into the 'bad sports fan from Atlanta' catergory even though you know nothing of this city. Just because there aren't people who go to every single game because we like to earn money and have plenty of other things to do than just stick our heads into a snowdrift makes us terrible I suppose.

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:23 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

I'm curious about something.  Everyone saying how Nashville should do same soon because its not a traditional "hockey town".
Should the 10 or so teams with lower attendence averages then them last season lose those teams also? 

Islanders?  Devils? avalanche?  I mean if Nashville's such a horrible hockey town.  What in the world does that make all those teams with worse attendence then them?

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