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 13, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:18 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

I would NEVER put another team in Atlanta. The NHL gave them 2 chances and they failed miserably. They won't support baseball, football or hockey! With the population Atlanta has, there should be no problem with supporting these teams. Yet, they don't! I don't follow the NBA because it sucks, so I can't comment on how Atlanta supports their NBA team. If anybody knows, let the rest of us know? I do know they can't get good support for all of their other sports teams. This should be a lesson to the NHL. If they keep going south, they will eventually have to move these teams. And it's quite funny when a city as small as Pittsburgh can support a MLB team when they haven't had a wining record in 18 consecutive years. Yet some Attanta fans make up excuses as to why the franchise moved. I could of sworn they picked up everybody the Blackhawks couldn't afford? And they have a young star they picked in the draft in Evander Kane. Yet the excuses keep coming. Winnipeg seems to be glad to have the team. So what's really the problem Atlanta? Just a bad sports town! Of course, most of us in the U.S. have known this for years...


Since: Feb 15, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:14 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

And in a related story, the Atlanta Constitution Journal reported that 21 Atlanta Thrashers wives simultaneously filed for divorce seconds after the move was announced.

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:12 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Congrats to all the Winnipeg fans.  Cool to see you all finnaly get a team again.  Hope it works out for you.

Gotta feel for Atlanta though.  Was some really great hockey fans down there, and no real fan anywhere should ever wish a City to lose a team like this.  Inept ownership once again costs some great people a team.  Just like it has so many times in the past.  Some people really have no buisness owning a team.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:02 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

In addition to the arena problem their next issue will be convincing players to come to Winnipeg. Edmonton already has it's hands full trying to attract / retain elite talent, and Winnipeg is a much less desirable destination than Edmonton. Something to consider.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:56 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

 While I'm happy to see another Canadian team in the NHL, I wonder why it was Winnipeg. Hamilton would be a much better destination, with the proposed reno to Copps Colliseum they would have had an amazing arena with a capacity of 18,000+. Why is the NHL awarding a team to a city with an arena that holds 15,000 people? That is already the smallest venue in the NHL, by far, and they haven't even played a game yet. Not only that, where is the corporate support going to come from to afford the luxury suites? This situation has trainwreck written all over it. If Winnipeg wanted/expected an NHL team to return, why didn't they build a suitable arena when they built MTS? Didn't they have the foresight to at least build an arena that would put them somewhere in the middle of the pack for NHL venues? The MTS looks nice, but it is already too small. Hamilton has been the most NHL ready city for the past few decades, it's too bad the Maple Leafs have the NHL in their back pocket. They have way too much sway with the league and would hate to have any competition, that might give them motivation to actually put an NHL caliber product on the ice. Pretty sad state of affairs IMO. I hope the NHL smartens up and thinks of Hamilton when the Coyotes finally leave the desert. I wish Winnipeg the best of luck, but it seems like they have their work cut out for them.

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:38 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Fantastic news and great day for the city of Winnipeg and it's rabid hockey fans - Congrats!   And for all the doubters saying that the NHL won't last in the River City - sorry but you don't have a clue.  This is not 1996 - everything is different...This team will thrive immediately and will continue to do so for many years to go.  Solid ownership, corporate sponsorship and loyal fans will see to that.  I do feel genuinely sorry for the true Thrashers fans who supported their club in Atlanta.  I'm sure this is a hard pill to swallow.  As I'm sure it is for Bettman too...

Since: Feb 26, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:29 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

I'm tired of hearing that Atlanta is not a hockey town and the fans here suck.  How many last place teams in any sport drew sellout crowds last year?  Thrashers' fans came out to games for years, but after we realized that we were everybody else's farm team, we stopped going because the product that the Thrasher's management was putting out there wasn't worth the effort.  Kovalchuk, Heatley, Savard, etc were developed here and then shipped off so the assholes that run this organization could save a few dollars.

The Thrashers' management never had any commitment to building a franchise, that's why they're moving. 

Stop blaming the fans or the south because we do like hockey here, it was the commitment to mediocrity that we didn't like.

Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:25 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Falcons ain't happenin. It's too much of a cheap knock. See Atlanta Falcons.

Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:24 pm

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

Bottom line, get hockey out of the south.  The whole expansion and idea of exploring new markets failed miserably.  Hockey belongs in Canada and the northern USA.  Time to pull the plug on teams like Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida and Phoenix.  Don't move the teams, rather just find a way to get them out.  Imagine 72 hockey players needing to find a new home on another team.  I just think reducing the size of the league down by 4 teams would do more for the sport in terms of better hockey for the locations that care about their hockey than trying to struggle your way into making the southern states grow into it.  Facts are facts and as another person mentioned, Atlanta struggles to sell out playoff games, the Carolina Hurricanes couldn't sell out playoff games, the Lightning fans totally disappear in years they aren't's just time to realize unless these teams are great, they just don't care enough to support them.  I just don't know of many owners willing to throw out tons of money to make their team competitive when they aren't seeing a return from their fan base.  I feel for transplants that find their only source of hockey in terms of following the local team when their old team comes to town, but there just isn't enough support. 

Since: Mar 9, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:10 pm
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