Tag:Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: June 8, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 3:54 pm

Winnipeg hires 'Hawks' Cheveldayoff for GM

Things are coming together in Winnipeg.

The still-nameless team announced Kevin Cheveldayoff as general manager for the franchise. He takes the job after serving as the Assistant General Manager/Senior Director, Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks below VP/GM Stan Bowman.

Bowman released a statement on the departure of Cheveldayoff.

“Kevin has informed me he has accepted the Executive Vice-President/General Manager position offered to him by True North Sports & Entertainment. While it is never easy to lose someone of his caliber, it is a great opportunity for him and his family. He was a significant part of our front office and he played an integral role in the success of the Blackhawks throughout the last two years. I want to personally thank him for his dedication to our organization and certainly wish him all the best in Winnipeg.”

Cheveldayoff has experience as the head honcho, guiding the Chicago Wolves for 12 seasons, overseeing a team that won four league championships. He joined the Blackhawks at the start of their Stanley Cup season. As a player, he was a tough-nosed defenseman that was drafted by the Islanders but had his career cut way short because of injuries. Perhaps his background of a player could give an indication of the type of hockey he would like his team to play.

Cheveldayoff's stated goal: to make Winnipeg "a contender for years to come."

In Winnipeg, he joins a front office that has Craig Heisinger, who was named Senior Vice President and Director, Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager (is that all?). Before taking the position, Heisinger was the GM for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose for the past nine years.

While they continue to fill the front office and fill the seats, we're all patiently waiting -- some more patiently than others -- to hear the new nickname.

-- Brian Stubits

Category: NHL
Posted on: June 4, 2011 4:23 pm

Winnipeg reaches 13,000 tickets in 17 minutes

Well that didn't take long.

At the news conference to announce the purchase and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, the ownership group detailed a plan to reach 13,000 season-ticket sales to help solidify the deal and prove to the NHL Manitoba was ready to host big-league hockey again.

With some tickets already gone in the presale, there were some 9,000 tickets left to go when the sale went public on Saturday. In just 17 minutes later, the goal was reached, 13,000 season-ticket holders just like that with 7,000 more being placed on a waiting list.

"We would like to take a special moment to thank all of our fans in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Canada for their support over the past week — in particular, the overwhelming response of our fans which has resulted in a successful 'Drive to 13,000' campaign," said Jim Ludlow, president & CEO of True North Sports & Entertainment. "The success of the campaign is a key ingredient to ensuring the sustainability and long-term viability of NHL hockey in this province."

"While I had no doubt the 'Drive to 13,000' would reach its destination, the remarkable speed at which it got there certifies the fans' hunger for NHL hockey and their commitment to True North's initiatives," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Yea, I'd say they're pretty psyched to have the NHL back.

The next thing everybody wants to know is what will the team name be? The ownership group said that wouldn't be announced until the 13,000 mark was reached. The sentimental pick is clearly the Jets, but there are some other good options out there. My personal favorite that I've seen out in the Twittersphere was the Winnipeg Phoenix. So fitting.

-- Brian Stubits

Category: NHL
Posted on: June 2, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:39 pm

Winnipeg franchise will have to wait on a name

Winnipeg’s new NHL franchise reportedly won’t get a name until after the team completes its season ticket drive.

The CBC reports officials at True North Sports and Entertainment, the ownership group that purchased the Atlanta Thrashers, has discussed what to call the franchise, but spokesman Scott Brown said an announcement would take away from season seat sales:

"We want people to stay focused on the process of getting the 13,000 and getting the franchise secured because if we don't get to the 13,000, then the signal that sends to the larger hockey community is not necessarily a positive one," he said.

Ticket-holders and corporate partners of the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose are being given the first chance to buy seats before sales are opened to the general public on Saturday.

Fans wanting the most expensive season tickets will have to commit for five years while those looking for cheaper seats must sign up for a three-year term.
True North aims to reach the 13,000 mark before the NHL Board of Governors meeting on June 21, where the sale of the team could be finalized. As of the latest count on Thursday, 4,170 seats had been sold. 

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: May 31, 2011 6:16 pm

Thrashers Prez: Winning would have changed things

The most recent failure of the NHL in Atlanta went beyond the fact it was a non-traditional hockey market where lawsuits among the team’s ownership group were about as harmful as the exodus of star players like Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk.

“There is no doubt that if we had more success, we would have had a better turnout at the gate,” Thrashers president Don Waddell said in a conference call with reporters hours after the sale of the franchise to a group from Winnipeg was announced on Tuesday. “If we had duplicated (the success) the year after we won the division and went to the playoffs, I thought we were set up to continue to try to build the momentum in the marketplace. But that didn’t happen.”

Waddell’s tenure with the Thrashers extends even before the team’s inaugural 1999-2000 season and he spent all but the last 13 months as the team’s general manager with a couple stints as interim coach. The team only reached the playoffs once (2007) in its existence and never had back-to-back winning seasons.

“When you look back at things, when you win more you are going to get more people excited,” Waddell said.

Hockey in Atlanta never took hold, as was the case three decades when the Flames left town for Calgary. It didn’t help that the infighting among the ownership group, known as Atlanta Spirit, led to a lawsuit didn’t win it much goodwill in Georgia. That lawsuit was settled on December, but a separate suit against an Atlanta law firm filed in January disclosed the team been on the block for five years --- something the Thrashers organization had previously denied.

Waddell said he’d been contacted by about 20-plus groups who expressed interest in purchasing the Thrashers and keep them at Philips Arena, but none had the financial backing that would meet league approval.

“We had a lot of people trying to put groups together and seek investors,” Waddell said. “There were only a handful who had the resources to qualify to buy the franchise. We didn’t have one offer that was even worth talking about.”

The closest the team got to a sale before Tuesday’s deal came down took place in 2009, Waddell said.

“It was difficult to find a buyer who wanted to buy a team when (the Thrashers’ owners) were in a current lawsuit,” Waddell said. “I can tell you two years ago that were close to purchase agreement with a potential buyer. At that time, they got scared away because of the lawsuit. It was something people didn’t want to be a party to. “

Hossa, arguably the biggest star in Thrashers history, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in February 2008 after Atlanta fell out of the playoff picture. The New Jersey Devils acquired the other cog from the Thrashers’ lone playoff team before the 2010 trade deadline.

The Thrashers, one of the youngest teams in hockey, were in the playoff picture for much of this season before they faded. Waddell is proud what he will leave the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose --- or whatever the franchise will be named --- well-stocked, even if he won’t be joining them. His contact with the franchise concludes when sale is approved by the NHL Board of Governors, who will meet in three weeks.

Despite another failed attempt in Atlanta, Waddell said hockey could still work in the market. Maybe.

“I still believe it could work under the right situation,” Waddell said. “The fans we had were very passionate. We just could never reach that population, that extra amount of people, to make it work here.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 6:11 am

It's official: Thrashers on way to Winnipeg

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
Posted on: May 30, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 5:42 pm

Reports: Thrashers move likely announced Tuesday

We might finally be at the end of the Thrashers-to-Winnipeg drama.

According to Sportsnet in Canada, the deal to relocate the franchise will likely be announced on Tuesday, a day before the Stanley Cup Final gets going. If there is no announcement on Tuesday, however, the chances of it being made public during the Finals aren't great. Gary Bettman would have zero interest in any news overshadowing the biggest series of the hockey schedule. But perhaps it could be announced on an off-day. It's not ideal, but then again the possible move will still be hanging over the NHL regardless.

Per TSN's Bob McKenzie, the lawyers representing the group from True North Sports have signed off on the deal, so they're just waiting on the Atlanta lawyers to do the same.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told the Associates Press he couldn't say if the sale could be announced as soon as Tuesday, but "It's certainly possible something will be finalized this week."

Of course, the deal would still have to be approved, but with the way NHL officials have been talking about the Atlanta relocation issue, you have to imagine it would be smooth sailing to acceptance.

All along the people in Atlanta have been hopeful they could keep the Thrashers in town, but it's looked less and less likely by the day. There just hasn't been a bidder that has come forth who was able to offer what True North can.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:42 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 3:25 am

No deal in place yet to sell, move Thrashers

The Thrashers aren’t headed to Winnipeg -- at least just yet.

Multiple sources told CBSSports.com Thursday night a report that a deal is in place to sell and move Atlanta’s NHL franchise to Winnipeg is at best premature. One source with knowledge of the negotiations said talks between Thrashers ownership group, Atlanta Spirit, and Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment have progressed, but not to the point where both sides had an agreement in place.

The Globe and Mail reported that an agreement had been reached by the two sides Thursday. Winnipeg --- which lost the Jets to Phoenix in 1996 --- would again be home to NHL hockey. The newspaper reported that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman “is expected to travel to Winnipeg to make the news official.”

Scott Brown, a spokesman for True North, said in an e-mail that the report "is not accurate."

The Thrashers, however, remain on the block and it doesn’t look like a viable ownership group willing to keep the team in Atlanta has emerged. Atlanta Spirit and True North have been in talks for several days and it looks like the Winnipeg group looks to be the frontrunner.

True North had sought to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes, but Glendale (Ariz.) officials opted to pay the league as much as $25 million to cover the operating costs for the 2011-12 season. The group’s attention then reportedly turned to the Thrashers.

Bettman said in a radio interview Wednesday that he was “not aware” of any imminent deal to sell the Thrashers.

"There has been so much speculation,” Bettman said during the first intermission of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on TEAM 1040-AM on Wednesday night. “How many people in your line of work were reporting the Coyotes were going to Winnipeg? Where is that coming from? It’s made up. It didn’t happen. The minute the Coyotes made it clear it clear they’re staying, we’re on to Atlanta.”

On his weekly radio show Thursday night, The Associated Press reports Bettman reiterated no deal has been made to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg, saying "I can tell you that with certainty."

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:23 pm

Gary Bettman says don't buy into Winnipeg hype

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he is “not aware” of any looming deal that would see the Atlanta Thrashers move to Winnipeg.

“There has been so much speculation,” Bettman said during the first intermission of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals on TEAM 1040-AM on Wednesday night. “How many people in your line of work were reporting the Coyotes were going to Winnipeg? Where is that coming from? It’s made up. It didn’t happen. The minute the Coyotes made it clear it clear they’re staying, we’re on to Atlanta.”

There reports out of Atlanta aren’t figments of our imagination. The Thrashers’ ownership group, Atlanta Spirit, has suffered tumult for several months the parties appear very motivated to sell both the Thrashers and possibly the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. True North, an ownership group based in Winnipeg, has worked with the league for a couple years in attempt to get a team back to that market and reportedly is in talks with Atlanta Spirit of acquiring the Thrashers.

“True North is going about their business and they’re taking a businesslike approach,” Bettman said. “We are pleased with that, but there’s nothing to report. . . . I never say never about anything. There is no deal right now.”

-- A,J. Perez
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com