Thrashers Will Take Flight North To Winnipeg

No local buyers were interested in the Atlanta Thrashers. There wasn’t a group that was willing to purchase the team to keep it in a city that had already lost and NHL franchise years ago. A group to run this team could not be found and an alternative choice had to be made.

After much speculation, True North Sports and Entertainment completed the deal that will move the Thrashers from Atlanta to a city that has not seen NHL since 1996 in Winnipeg. True North will pay $170 million for the team and $60 million for the relocation fee. The relocation fee will be split amongst the other NHL teams, Winnipeg will return to the NHL after 15 years and the city of Atlanta will fall NHL silent once again.

The deal still has to be approved by the NHL board of governors in June but the writing is still on the wall.

After 15 years, fans in Winnipeg will get NHL hockey once again. The city lost the Jets years ago due to a weak Canadian dollar at the time, an arena that was outdated and rising NHL salaries. A new team, the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, moved in to fill the void but many there still felt the pain of seeing the Jets fly to Phoenix to become the Coyotes.

As the Moose gained popularity and a new arena, the 15,000 seat MTS Centre was built, thoughts of bringing an NHL team back to Winnipeg began to surface. Could this city support an NHL franchise? Will there be enough support to bring a team back? Could Winnipeg succeed as an NHL market the second time around?

These were all questions that had been asked since the MTS Centre was built and when the Thrashers hit financial trouble, it became apparent that Winnipeg could support another NHL team.

In the weeks leading up to the sale, Thrashers fans became angry with the NHL and Commissioner Bettman. Even though Bettman claims that he never “likes moving a franchise” and that relocating from Atlanta would be a “last resort”, the deal to send the Thrashers to Manitoba was finalized. Those who supported the Thrashers have publicly stated their angry feelings, their feelings of betrayal and some have vowed never to support the NHL ever again.

With the deal finalized, it will be the second time Atlanta has lost an NHL franchise and the second time Winnipeg has become an NHL city.

 

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~ by jeffrsabo on May 31, 2011.

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