Updated: Bettman has a little something to say about latest Thrashers lawsuit

RALEIGH — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman again declined to comment on the specifics of the recently filed litigation involving the Atlanta Spirit, owners of the Thrashers, but said: “There seems to be lots of litigation that goes on with respect to that franchise.”

Bettman spoke at a news conference Saturday from the NHL All-Star game. In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday, Bettman refused comment on the litigation or the claims it included. One of those claims was that the Thrashers have been for sale since shortly after the Atlanta Spirit purchased the team, the Hawks and Philips Arena.

The Spirit filed a $200 million malpractice lawsuit last Friday against an Atlanta law firm used in the buyout of a former partner Steve Belkin, claiming the firm’s negligence cost them millions of dollars and made them “unable to sell or otherwise dispose of the Atlanta Thrashers.”

Said Bettman: “My guess is this is another step in the journey for ownership trying to sort things out if they think they’ve been grieved by the lawyers representing them and will prosecute that case and collect any damages they are entitled to if the court finds in their favor.”

Bettman updated ownership issues in Phoenix, Dallas and Buffalo. He did not address the Thrashers until asked. He also reiterated the NHL’s stance that there are no plans to expand or relocate when asked about the prospects of Canadian cities Winnipeg and Quebec City getting a franchise.

Atlanta Spirit owners have stated publicly that they are looking for investors to replace Belkin. With regard to adding another ownership element to a group that spent nearly six years in court, Bettman said: “The last few years have been taxing on ownership from a financial standpoint in respect to the basketball team, the hockey team and the arena. If people are looking to restructure the economics to bring in more capital it might not be crazy for them to be seeking to add to the wherewithal to deal with those issues.”

Skills competition

Dustin Byfuglien broke the 100-mph mark with both his chances in the hardest-shot portion of the Super Skills competition Saturday night. The Thrashers’ defenseman defeated Columbus’ Rick Nash in his preliminary round with shots of 101.3 and 102.4 mph. However Boston’s Zdeno Charo defeated Nashville’s Shea Weber in the finals of the contest with a record shot of 105.9.

“Mostly I was just trying to break 100,” Byfuglien said. “That was my goal.”

Byfuglien was also a part of the skills-challenge relay. His team finished with the third fastest time, with Byfuglien one of the one-timer shooters.

Other individual winners were: New York Islanders’ Michael Grabner, fastest skater; Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, breakaway challenge; Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, accuracy shooting. Following the Shootout Challenge, Team Staal defeated Team Lidstrom 33-22.

“It was lots of fun,” Byfuglien said. “Any time you get to go out there with all those good guys and get to see what they can showcase and be a part of it, it’s always good.”

Prospect news

According to reports out of Sweden, Thrashers prospect Carl Klingberg, a second-round pick in 2009, will switch teams in the Swedish Elite League. Klingberg will move from Frolunda to Timra, according to the report. Klingberg’s Frolunda coach was quoted as saying Klingberg was unhappy playing for the team.

If the Thrashers choose, Klingberg could be signed to a contract with AHL Chicago following the Swedish Elite season.

40 comments Add your comment


January 29th, 2011
8:00 pm

I wish they would go ahead and sale both franchises. As long as these dummies are in charge there will never be another championship in atlanta


January 29th, 2011
8:02 pm

They continue to make a bad situation worse every year. How does the ASG expect support when they don’t support the franchises themselves. They have absolutely no commitment at all in terms of wanting them to succeed and giving them the tools to do so.

clarke kent

January 29th, 2011
8:29 pm

This is what happens when you get a bunch of lawyers together…kinda like Washington D.C.


January 29th, 2011
8:30 pm

what would a 1000 lawyers chained together on the bottom of the ocean be called? a good start

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Nerf and Mark Johnson , Chris Vivlamore. Chris Vivlamore said: Notes: Bettman has a little something to say about latest Thrashers lawsuit http://bit.ly/f8xSxy [...]


January 29th, 2011
9:38 pm

It is apparent the ASG owners are in over their head. They have no clue as to how to handle HR, Marketing, Sales, Legal, Finance, or Accounting much less about personel on the hard court or ice. What a bunch of idiots.


January 29th, 2011
9:52 pm

Everyone hates the Atlanta Spirit even the players.


January 29th, 2011
10:55 pm

Poster WOW, maybe even the ticket takers and ushers want the ownership removed? Let’s go “Regime Change!” Clap, clap. Clap, clap, clap. Let’s go Regime Change!

Ahh, Commissioner Bettman. At what point can you still wait to assume control of the Atlanta Thrashers? Just in the past week, the AS,LLC has sued K-Mart for failure to deliver quality and quantity of buzzing pony rides in front of their store, Pizza Hut … over what Bruce thought was a ‘pathetic attempt’ at a DOUBLE CHEESE pizza, a renowned Airines … because that curtain is no protection from passengers in Coach. Bruce insists that there be a locking door separating 1st class. And they’re suing those bubblegum machine manufacturers for swallowing quarters and failure to deliver a GUARANTEED prize in every container. Has there ever been a more litigation-happy group?

Before they’re done, they’ll sue Gary Bettmen for not realizing how dysfunctional they were as ownership group when he and the Board of Governors approved their bid for franchise ownership. In short, the $50 million by which the team has been devalued since they assumed control of it … is ultimately the Commissioner’s fault. His LACK of PROPER VETTING resulted in their ownership, and subsequent devaluation. They’ll be seeking damages vs. the League for ‘incompetence.’ For not recognizing THEIR incompetence, as owners.

Sherry Taylor

January 29th, 2011
10:58 pm

Oh, boo hoo! The last few years have been taxing because of your own ineptness! You haven’t once considered the players or the fans. You don’t get sympathy for good reason.

The Red Panty Pirate

January 29th, 2011
11:02 pm

Schultz LOVES to blame all things on the Atlanta Spirit Group. If you’re going to repeatedly bash the Hawks and the Thrashers in the hometown paper, like Jeff Schultz does, then you should at least be required to attend a minimum number of Hawks and Thrashers games per year. How credible is a sport columnist who doesn’t even go to the games?

Hate the ASG? OK. Want to run them out of town like Jeff Schultz? OK….Get ready to drive to Nashville or Charlotte to watch a LIVE NBA or NHL game! Maybe Jeff Schultz can drive one of the tour buses from ATL? This argument is SO OLD that Jeff Schultz starts yet another blog about it and can only get SEVEN comments in the first 2-1/2 hours….[yawn]

Give it a rest Schultz. Go to a Hawks or Thrashers game every once in awhile. We went to last night’s Hawks/Knicks game. It was an announced sellout. If the Hawks leave, there’s quite a few basketball fans who are going to be sorry. We also went to the dismantling of the Falcons by the Packers at the Dome. Maybe Arthur Blank should sell the Falcons since they failed so miserably? It’s obviously the OWNER’S fault, right?

It’s the ASG’s fault that Joe Johnson is always too tired to show up for the 2nd round of the playoffs, right? It’s the ASG’s fault that they coughed up $120 MILLION to keep Joe Johnson in ATL, right? It’s the ASG’s fault that they offered Ilya Kovalchuk $101 MILLION to stay in ATL and he bolted, right? Can we also blame the Braves monumental failures on the ASG? Ask Jeff Schultz….It HAS to be their fault too.

Problem is, there are HUNDREDS of cities in the USA who would LOVE to have an NBA franchise call them home. The same can be said for NHL franchises….Except add in a couple of dozen CANADIAN cities who would kill to have one. And here’s poor ‘ol Jeff Schultz…..Writes a sports column in the ATL paper and he just can’t wait to run the Hawks and Thrashers out of town. All of us REAL FANS had better hope all of his efforts continue to remain futile.

It won’t be any fun driving to another Southern city to watch a live NBA or NHL game. We’ll all look back at “The Good Old Days” when we had the Hawks and Thrashers to go see, with a live game opportunity nearly every night of the week……Until Jeff Schultz ran them both out of town.

With hometown sports columnists like Jeff Schultz, who needs sports columnists from other US and Canadian cities continually trying to pry the Hawks and Thrashers away from ATL? He’s trying to PUSH THEM AWAY as hard and fast as he possibly can…..If he’s successful, then maybe only Mark Bradley will remain as the last AJC sports columnist.

How fitting it would be if Jeff Schultz ran the Hawks and Thrashers out of town…..And along with them, his own pathetic job of continuous criticism of the hometown teams.

Thrashers Need to Move

January 29th, 2011
11:19 pm

Bettman needs to see that “lots of litigation” isn’t good for the team, the (few remaining) fans, or the NHL and should try and force the Thrashers to leave Atlanta and find new owners. And one way to do that is the buy the franchise and sell only when the owner promises to buy and move the team.

Since the Thrashers need to continually stage silly promotions just to get fans to show up, the team leaving Atlanta really shouldn’t have a large negative economic impact on the city.

Hawks Need to Move

January 30th, 2011
12:06 am

The Hawks lose in the playoffs every year. Their few remaining fans or the NBA should try and force the Hawks to leave Atlanta and find new owners. And one way to do that is the buy the franchise and sell only when the owner promises to buy and move the team.

Since the Hawks need to continually stage silly promotions just to get fans to show up, the team leaving Atlanta really shouldn’t have a large negative economic impact on the city.


January 30th, 2011
12:06 am

Silly promotions?????? Force???????

That settles it…… the 14 yr. old Canadian kid has spoken.


Braves Need to Move

January 30th, 2011
12:08 am

The Braves won 14 straight Division Titles and only 1 World Series – how embarrassing! Their few remaining fans or MLB should try and force the Braves to leave Atlanta and find new owners. And one way to do that is the buy the franchise and sell only when the owner promises to buy and move the team.

Since the Braves need to continually stage silly promotions just to get fans to show up, the team leaving Atlanta really shouldn’t have a large negative economic impact on the city.

Falcons Need to Move

January 30th, 2011
12:10 am

The Falcons can’t even win a playoff game when they make the playoffs – how embarrassing! Their few remaining fans or the NFL should try and force the Falcons to leave Atlanta and find new owners. And one way to do that is the buy the franchise and sell only when the owner promises to buy and move the team.

Since the Falcons need to continually stage silly promotions just to get fans to show up, the team leaving Atlanta really shouldn’t have a large negative economic impact on the city.


January 30th, 2011
7:21 am

C-Viv: Just a slight correction: Grabner is an Islander, not a Ranger. I don’t think you meant anything by it, but there is no greater insult you could give to an Islander than that…

thrash head

January 30th, 2011
8:04 am

Hey Red Party Pirate – nice book. You really think anybody reads that much text?

thrash head

January 30th, 2011
8:06 am

How ironic! Bettman has “little to say”. Coming from a little man, with a little brain. I can keep going with the “little” concept all day.

bunga bunga mqn

January 30th, 2011
8:14 am

i realize now why the “writers” at the ajc continually bash the asg: the are experts at dealing with foolish ownership – they work for the ajc.


January 30th, 2011
8:32 am

C’mon gang, get off the ASG issue. Sure they may not be the brightest business bulbs in the drawer, but the key issue is the product on the ice and we are better this year than we have been in past years. We have a better GM and a better coach. Watching the NHL skills challenges, it is apparent that there is a lot of talent spread around the league. And, I don’t see the Red Wings, Philly or Rangers buying the best goalie or loading up on the best scorers. There is real parity in the league. Not sure that someone with deeper pockets than the ASG group would do any better than what we have on the ice. Lawsuits are a part of big business, move on.

Chris Vivlamore

January 30th, 2011
9:32 am

FormerIslesFan: You are correct sir. I fixed it. Can’t believe I did that. Thanks for looking out for me.

Crazy Diamond

January 30th, 2011
10:31 am

We are so screwed.

Iron League 13

January 30th, 2011
11:09 am

Ok, so I know where some people stand on this having addressed it before, but I’m gonna talk hockey equipment. No, I haven’t played in about a decade, nor have I ever used composite sticks, but I’ve noticed something very obvious. THEY HELP INCREASE VELOCITY IN ALL FORMS OF FOREHANDED SHOOTING. It’s so glaringly obvious watching these sticks flex back on the downward motions and whip forward on the release, OB-VI-OUS. I guarantee you that you’d see far less players cracking 100 or more mph LIKE WE USED TO. Players aren’t much bigger than they were 15 years ago, so that’s not it either. They don’t train vastly different either, so 86 that rationale too. It’s the sticks, period. In my opinion Al Iafrate and Al McCinnis would still be amongst the hardest shots if they were fit enough to compete against the current crop using the same compostite sticks and I wonder how much harder they’d shoot than the rest.

Next, skates. Ice Hockey equipment, especially skates has gone the way of the Air Jordan’s, IMO. Somewhere in the last 15 years or so they LEAPED in price and continue to do so. They are made with all kinds of new “improved” materials. Yeah, they’re moe comfy and lighter, but not nearly as durable and I hate to say this, but I don’t see an increase in performance. Between my old leather Tacks and my space age 1052s circa 2000, my performance remained, break-in was better and that’s about it. I did manage to spend about 200 or more than I ever spent on a professional boot and popped eyelets (something I never did before). Anywho, who are the fastest skaters in modern history, Mike Gartner, Sergei Fedorov are the top 2 and both had laps UNDER 14 seconds (no fluke I know Gartner did that twice). That said, what were they skating? That’s rhetorical.

So, my point maybe trivial and inconsequential to many, but I think with all the OVERPRICED space age crap that hits the markets a la Reebok Edge and such all most are getting is a further depleted bank account. Not so much an increase in performance. Depending on if you value a stick that lasts many times longer and costs much less or an addition 3-5 or so mph on your forehanded shots, just sayin’.

Iron League 13

January 30th, 2011
11:14 am

Sorry if that seems off topic. File that under the Buff cracking 100mph bit in the superskills comp and go see how many other guys did the same compaired to a decade or more ago, insane.

Iron League 13

January 30th, 2011
12:34 pm

compared rather, geez

East Point Bob

January 30th, 2011
3:36 pm

Did not like the earrings on Buff for sure, Tacky. The commissioner seems to be unconcerned
with the sitution here, which, frankly amazes me. He should have laid down the law to these known liars once and for all. If they do not get their collective house in order, and I see no way they ever will, the NHL needs to step in. Has the commissioner abandon Atlanta now ? Plus how many of us get sick and tired of these Canada crybabies whining and moaning over needing more Canada teams. They have enough… See a lot of empty seats at Ottawa & Edmonton games, guess Kansas City & Houston would be likely cities to move to. Canada fans do not own the game of hockey, they have no right to the game, it is international, not one country, so get a life Canada fans and mainly
try for once to act like mature adults rather than ranting little crybabies griping all the time about something that you cannot control. Either shut up or go away, Please.
Lastly, does everyone remember Snydel on opening night 2007 ? Standing at center ice telling everyone that “they” were doing everything possible to bring The Stanley Cup to town. Then Hossa left and it’s been worse since. It now pains me to think to that night and how that little nothing person stood there and lied his butt off, I cannot believe the NHL would allow known liars to own a franchise in their league. Come on Mr.Bettman… Do something !

East Point Bob

January 30th, 2011
3:43 pm

the red panty pirate, Please explain how a writer from the local paper will or can run a team out of town ? You can watch on TV to see enough of is a team good or bad, is ownership good or bad.
Mr.Schultz, simply reports on an issue in the sports world and I find his comments 99% point on.
But in all honesty , how can he move a professional sports team ? He has no control, no financial interest and no clout to have a say so in any of that. With a name like yours, I would suggest a trip to Millegeville, to the state mental hospital, where your crazy thoughts can be controled by medication and yoiu cannot hurt yourself and other more informed sports fans !


January 30th, 2011
5:08 pm

…and the “Understatement of the Year” award goes to…

(drum roll)

“There seems to be lots of litigation that goes on with respect to that franchise.” by Mr. Gary Bettman! (polite applause)

Mr. Tony Geinzer

January 30th, 2011
5:26 pm

I hate to be Mr. Spoiler, but can’t the NBA and NHL weed out the Bad Owners via Contraction?

The Red Panty Pirate

January 30th, 2011
7:02 pm

Apparently East Pointy-Head Bob has no idea what kind of impact a headline in the AJC such as:

“Thrashers Blow It With Kovalchuk, As With Everything Else”

has to affect the casual hockey fan in Atlanta, GA. In fact, the MAJORITY of NHL fans in Atlanta, GA who attend Thrashers games live and in person are CASUAL fans, not STH. Do your homework East Pointy-Head Bob….Review Jeff Schultz’s headlines, print stories & blogs for the past year and add up how many of those would STIMULATE a casual hockey fan to get their friends/family together for a trip to Philips to see the Thrashers….Then add up how many would leave the casual hockey fan shaking their head and saying, “Well at least I know we aren’t going to waste our money going to see THAT team play!”

You see East Pointy-Head Bob, tis a society run by an economic engine in which we find ourselves. Professional sports teams in difficult markets already have a limited life expectancy from Day One. The absolute LAST thing a franchise in a precarious position such as this needs is the home town sports columnist continually imprinting in everyone’s minds who picks up and reads the AJC:

“The ASG is BAD….The Thrashers Can’t Do Anything Right…..Bettman Says The Thrashers Ownership Has Problems…..The Thrashers Suck…..Don’t Waste Your Money Going To Philips Arena”

Is it any wonder attendance at Thrashers games is stuck in a year over year annual decline? Is that a clear enough picture for you, East Pointy-Head Bob, of how a local sports columnist can destroy a sports franchise?

Now imagine a sports columnist who continually ENCOURAGES casual fans to attend the local hockey team’s games. A columnist who writes about how EXCITING the latest Thrashers game was….How LOUD the crowd was at Philips Arena. How you’re missing out if you don’t go to Thrashers games. Of course that’s Chris Viv, to some extent. But unfortunately he doesn’t get the front page spread most of the time like Bradley & Schultz.

thrash head: That was Chapter TWO for you…….

why not?

January 30th, 2011
7:22 pm

Bettman needs to step in and slap the hell out of Bruce “Deal with It” Levenson

Zombie Steve

January 30th, 2011
8:18 pm

Bettmann pointed out lots of litigation with the team…..Thank you, Capt. Obvious.

Cliff Fletcher

January 30th, 2011
10:19 pm

Hey “need to move” idiot. You are the only one that needs to “move” around here, you are a waste of space. Please return to the Sports Vent with the other idiots in this town.

Furious George

January 31st, 2011
12:41 am

Allow me to be the voice of reason here. I’m not too concerned about Bettman not saying much on the matter at all. Likely he wants to see what comes of this new round of litigation or when some new potential buyers come around we will hear more. But until then, I firmly believe that Bettman will continue his track record of keeping teams right where they are. Lets look at the bright side. In comparison to say Phoenix, we did not have to go bankruptcy, and we don’t have arena lease issues. Plus, at least we don’t have a parasite like Jim Balsillie breathing down our necks and prematurely selling season tickets packages in Hamilton. As of right now we are’nt going anywhere.

East Point Bob

January 31st, 2011
7:35 am

panty head pirate, you have no idea as to what you are talking about, not a damn thing, you are a little name caller who has likely never been to a game. Just go away and leave the hockey blogs to serious concerned fans and not idiots like yourself… You can be in Milledgeville is only a little over an hour away !


January 31st, 2011
10:38 am

Old Time Hockey

January 31st, 2011
10:55 am

Thrashers Need to Move, you (idiot) make a good point (idiot) and we look forward (idiot) to more of your (idiot) insightful posts…idiot!

Old Time Hockey

January 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

By the way, if you watch any games on the Center Ice Package, you will see that EVERY team does crazy promotions. Definitely not just an Atlanta thing. Bettman is not going to let the #9 TV market in the states move to Winnipeg or Hamilton. Just doesn’t make sense for a sport that is trying to build up it’s television presence. Ratings are bad enough now, could you imagine the impact of an Edmonton vs. Hamilton Stanley cup final? You could probably count the number of american viewers on one hand.


January 31st, 2011
4:48 pm

I agree with most of RED’s comments. Schultz is a D-bag and has nothing good or meaningful to say but he’s definitely not a big enough voice to run anyone out of town. Teams aren’t going anywhere. New ownership? Maybe but they’re here to stay. Find something worth talking about.

Hokie P. Clisters

January 31st, 2011
4:49 pm

It’s starting to get so bad that I can’t even when I talk to my wife, Sue Clisters.