Tag:Atlanta Thrashers
Posted on: July 18, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: July 18, 2011 2:39 pm

Some Thrashers fans having ticket refund issues

thrashersfansBy: Adam Gretz

There are a number of reasons as to why hockey ultimately failed in Atlanta for a second time.

For one, the team was never a consistent contender, recording just two winning seasons in 11 years, with only one trip to the playoffs (and never winning a postseason game; they were swept in four games in their only appearance). Along with that, just about every star player the team ever had was eventually traded for one reason or another. It's difficult to build a following with a new fan base when the team never wins and struggles to keep its best players.

Those two issues can be traced back to a much larger issue that plagued the organization for much of its existence: ownership. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better even after the team is gone (and, honestly, why would it?).

According to a report from WSBTV in Atlanta over the weekend, some Thrashers fans were having a difficult time getting refunds on their season tickets, which naturally won't be good this upcoming season since the team now calls Winnipeg its home.  Consumer reporter Jim Strickland spoke to one Thrashers fan, Brad Lyons, who was getting "the runaround" in attempting to get his refund.

 From WSBTV:
Strickland discovered gauging the scope of the problem was a hassle too."It's just been one excuse after another. Where's my money at? Where's my refund? It's been well over a month from the time it was guaranteed to be sent back to me," complained fan Brad Lyons. Strickland called Lyons' ticket representative. James Desmond refused comment and hung up the phone. Strickland called back several times and got voicemail from several team officials."I was told, others have had this problem," said Lyons. A second fan told Strickland that he's still waiting for $3,700. Lyons owed less than $200."I don't care. It's my money," he said. Strickland also discovered the team's former owners, Atlanta Spirit LLC, haven't posted an update on the Web for weeks.
The former Thrashers web site links to an article on the Phillips Arena website that informs ticket holders about the potential sale and relocation of the franchise (which has already happened) and that fans can get a complete refund if the Thrashers are not playing the upcoming season in Atlanta (and they're not).

Getting that refund was seemingly easier said than done, as Strickland demonstrated. Shortly after the interview with WSBTV, however, Lyons did receive a phone call from the Thrashers that his check would be available on Monday.

The very fact he had to reach out to the news media to get a refund for games that won't be taking place is more than a little absurd -- and quite a hassle -- and surely adds to the frustration that comes with losing your favorite sports team.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Category: NHL
Posted on: July 10, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:33 pm

Daily Skate: another fresh start for Esposito

By: Adam Gretz

ESPOSITO GETS ANOTHER FRESH START There was a time prior to the 2007 Entry Draft when Angelo Esposito was projected to be one of the top picks (if not the top pick) after putting up monster numbers in the QMJHL while playing on a line next to Alexander Radulov with the Quebec Remparts. By the time draft day came around his stock had fallen (due in part to declining production) to the point where he wasn't selected until late in the first-round by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 20th overall pick. Within a year, Esposito's value continued to fall and he was packaged in a trade to Atlanta, along with Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and a first-round pick, in exchange for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis at the NHL's trade deadline. It was a deal that was supposed to help re-build the Thrashers, but ultimately came up empty. Very empty. Armstrong and Christensen have already left the organization and the first-round pick (Daultan Leveille) has yet to play a pro game. On Saturday, the Jets organization (which was the Thrashers organization until a month ago) officially parted ways with Esposito, sending him to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Kenndal McArdle. Esposito has spent parts of the past three seasons in the AHL, having scored just three goals to go with 14 assists in 70 games.

PANTHERS ACQUIRE TWO OTHERS Along with the Esposito acquisition the Panthers made two other small moves on Saturday, acquiring forward Sergei Shirokov from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Mike Duco. The team also picked up Keith Seabrook from the Calgary Flames for Jordan Henry. Shirokov has appeared in eight NHL games in his career, scoring one goal. Seabrook, 22, spent the 2010-11 season split between the Abbotsford Heat and Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

LUNDIN SIGNS WITH Wild The Minnesota Wild signed free agent defenseman Mike Lundin to a one-year contract on Saturday. He spent the past four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning after being selected in the fourth-round by the team in 2004.

HULSIZER INTERESTED IN Blues? After withdrawing his offer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, Matthew Hulsizer has reportedly set his sights on becoming the owner of the St. Louis Blues. David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail has the story.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: June 23, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 1:56 pm

Noel to take over coaching duties in Winnipeg

The new NHL franchise in Winnipeg still doesn’t have a name, but it now has a coach.

Claude Noel has been tapped to take over the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers, The Winnipeg Free Press and other outlets reported Thursday afternoon.

Noel most recently coached this past seaosn with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, which played at MTS Center. The building will also be home to the city’s new NHL team. He went 43-30 in his lone season with the Moose, who fell in the second round of the playoffs.

Noel, whose NHL career as a player spanned seven games, coached 24 games in the NHL after he took over for Ken Hitchcock, who was fired by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2009-10 season.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:44 pm

NHL approves sale, relocation of Thrashers

Winnipeg cleared the final hurdle to reclaim an NHL franchise on Tuesday as the NHL's board of governors approved the sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers.

North Sports & Entertainment was the only serious bidder for the Thrashers, who had been on the block for a couple years. After the ownership group sold 13,000 season seats in a matter of a few days, the approval by the NHL at a meeting in New York appeared to be just a formality.

“We deeply regret that Atlanta’s ownership was unable to secure local partners after exhausting every option and alternative,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “At the same time, we are delighted that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg and to a fan-base that already is showing so much support for its team. We congratulate Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North on their patience, their preparation and their professionalism, and we look forward to the start of a new era for the franchise.”

As The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore reports, the meeting took place not far from where Atlanta --- which had lost already lost the Flames to Calgary --- was awarded the expension franchise a dozen years ago. 

The official end of the Thrashers came in a hotel conference room at the Westin at Times Square – almost 1,000 miles from the city where the team spent 11 seasons. The vote of the league’s governing body came four days shy of the 14th anniversary of a similar meeting in New York, just 12 blocks away, when Atlanta was awarded an expansion franchise. Atlanta was a shoe-in for one of four new teams, along with Columbus, Minnesota and Nashville, because its bid included solid ownership in Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner, the nation’s largest television market without an NHL team and a new arena. The Atlanta Spirit began looking to sell the Thrashers soon after buying the franchise, part of a purchase from Turner that included the NBA’s Hawks and the operating rights to Philips Arena. Reported losses of $130 million over six years, dwindling attendance and the failure to make the playoffs in 10 of its 11 seasons were major issues. As the search for an owner willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta failed, the Atlanta Spirit opened negotiations with True North. The deal was completed in less than a month after the NHL approved the start of talks.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Thrashers president Don Waddell said. “You know it’s coming and you try to prepare for it but this is the final straw that broke the camel’s back. We have to find the positives and move forward but it’s difficult.”

Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division ---  along with Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington -- next season. The NHL will undergo realignment before the 2012-13 season.

The Winnipeg franchise next must pick a team name and tap a new coach.

The NHL holds the rights to the Jets --- which adorned Winnipeg’s previous NHL franchise before it moved to Arizona and became the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996 --- and there’s been a major push in Manitoba to bring back that name back. new Winnipeg GM Kevin Chevelday is currently in the process of hiring a new coach since Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay will not be retained.

-- A.J. Perez

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl on Twitter

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

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