Thankfully for the hockey fans in Winnipeg and unfortunately for the fans in Atlanta it is now a matter of days until the NHL announces that the Atlanta Thrashers will be heading north to the city of Winnipeg immediately.
Now that the situation in Glendale has been settled with the City of Glendale continuing their insanity by agreeing to fund another $25M in losses for 2011-2012 the NHL was finally able to move forward with the sale of the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, now that the Phoenix Coyotes are firmly in place for next season.
With the information I have been receiving from my (admittedly limited) sources, and what we are now seeing in the main stream media it looks as if the sale of the Thrashers to Winnipeg will happen as early as today or tomorrow! But I could see this easily going into next week as the move to Winnipeg will require a majority vote from the Board of Governors to become official. It appears that the total price of the sale for TNSE will be $170M in which the Atlanta Spirit Group will receive $110M and the NHL will receive $60M in a transfer fee that is rumored to be used to help cover the losses of the Coyotes for last year and this year, and potentially into the future.
So why is Atlanta such an easy franchise to move after the NHL has spent years going to the wall with the Phoenix fiasco? It’s a great question and I’ll try and summarize it for you here with the key differences for you…
The NHL owns the Phoenix Coyotes. It does not own the Thrashers.
The City of Glendale built a new building for the NHL. Atlanta did not.
The City of Glendale was willing to fund losses while searching for a owner. Atlanta was not prepared to do so.
The relocation clause of the Atlanta Thrashers has now expired, and no local ownership has been found to purchase the team.
And finally there is speculation (which I believe is true) that the reward to TNSE for their patience in being used as a relocation threat for Phoenix is the Atlanta Thrashers who has proven for the second time that Atlanta is a poor market for hockey.
Now while this is all incredible news for the City of Winnipeg, it is also an incredibly sad day for the true hockey fans in Atlanta, a few of which I have the pleasure to talk to via twitter. They are true hockey fans unfortunately there are not enough of them to support a NHL franchise. Take a minute to think about how you would feel if your team was ripped from you. This is what the fans of the Thrashers will be going through soon.
The Atlanta situation should also serve as a reminder to other teams that you must put butts into the seats wherever your team is located! The Columbus Blue Jackets were reported yesterday to have lost $80M since the lockout ended! If you can’t sell 14,000+ seats at NHL prices you will not survive in this gate driven league. I must also use this line to summarize for all teams in this matter..
WINNING IS NOT A BUSINESS PLAN!!!
Almost half the teams in the NHL miss the playoffs every year. A team cannot plan their fiscal health on making the playoffs or a long post season run to make ends meet. If the market can’t support a team under those circumstances then they probably shouldn’t have a team, or they need an owner who is willing to pay out of his own pocket to cover the losses.
So it’s nearly time to celebrate the arrival of the Manitoba Falcons (my best guess) Winnipeg! I’d suggest packing a hockey stick in the trunk of your car for the inevitable party at Portage and Main! Sounds like a good time for some road hockey to me!
Have a good one!
Follow me on twitter! @shanehoopfer
About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!