Deal not done to sell and move Thrashers

While negotiations between the Atlanta Spirit and True North Sports and Entertainment continue, no deal has been reached to sell the Thrashers and relocate the team to Winnipeg.

Despite a published report Thursday night saying a deal was done and would be announced Tuesday, officials with the Thrashers, True North and the NHL said no such agreement has been reached.

Several Thrashers officials told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that the report was unfounded. The Winnipeg Free Press reported that a high-ranking True North official denied the report.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, speaking earlier in the day on NHL Live, said no deal has been made to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg– and criticized reports of a possible move. However, he did not rule out relocation unless someone steps forward to own the team here.

“We get reports, speculation, that the team’s gone. And there’s no deal,” Bettman said. “I can tell you that with certainty that there is no deal for this team to move. Am I predicting that there will never be or that there won’t be at some point in time? No, I’m not saying there is or there isn’t.”

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also issued a denial. “The Board has not been asked to consider nor approve any transaction involving the sale and/or possible relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers’ franchise. Any suggestion to the contrary is entirely untrue.”

The Thrashers and True North have been in active negotiations, as reported by the AJC. The team is also searching for a buyer willing to keep the team in Atlanta. However with time running out to find local ownership, a deal with True North could be reached in the near future. A move to relocate the franchise would have to be made soon in order to begin play next season.

Bettman said the NHL always wants to keep a team in its current market but must have an owner to operate it there.

“The decision as to whether or not to move a club doesn’t come out of looking at two markets and saying, ‘This market would be better than that market,’” he said. “We try to keep our clubs where they are. And if it is ultimately determined that a club has to move, generally the reason . . . is because nobody wants to own a team there anymore, nobody wants to fund the losses and [the current owner] can’t find a buyer.”

The Thrashers’ ownership group has said that it faces a “sense of urgency” to shed the team’s operating losses and that if a buyer can’t  be found to keep the team in Atlanta, relocation is a possibility.

The first two callers to Bettman’s show, broadcast on satellite radio and the Internet, were Thrashers fans. The first said Atlanta will support a hockey team if ownership meets the fans halfway by putting a competitive product on the ice.

“I understand and respect that,” Bettman said, “but the key to this may be, in the final analysis, whether or not somebody wants to own the team in Atlanta. In the absence of either the current ownership group continuing to own and operate or somebody stepping forward who wants to buy the club, that becomes the situation that concerns us or any sports league.

“We’ll only leave a market ­- in this case Atlanta, picking up on the caller’s statements – if we have to. And hopefully the current ownership group will figure a way out of this that makes sense for everybody,” he said.

The caller told Bettman that the Thrashers drew strong crowds in their first five seasons and that a fan rally will be held Saturday to show support for the team.

Noting that the Thrashers have ranked near the bottom of the league in attendance the past two seasons, Bettman said: “I understand that there may be dissatisfaction there, but demonstrating your dissatisfaction by not going to games is an interesting strategy. It’s your absolute right. But if it becomes a turnoff for anybody who might want to buy the franchise, the long-term consequences could be severe.

“It will be interesting to see how many people show up at the rally on Saturday,” Bettman said.

He declined to put a deadline on a decision about whether the team will be moved.

“Obviously, as it relates to next season, time is getting short,” he said. “We have to do a schedule. We’re doing a schedule with our broadcast partners; we have to have it done for clubs by the end of June. And it’s not something you can do in 28 or 48 hours.”

- Staff writer Tim Tucker contributed to this report.

381 comments Add your comment

Steve

May 19th, 2011
10:11 pm

Come home to mama Jets

EA

May 19th, 2011
10:15 pm

Bettman called out the boycotters tonight saying that “was an interesting strategy”. He went on to say that sends a very negative sign to a prospective buyer.

OHL

May 19th, 2011
10:15 pm

Bettman said: “I understand that there may be dissatisfaction there, but demonstrating your dissatisfaction by not going to games is an interesting strategy. It’s your absolute right. But if it becomes a turnoff for anybody who might want to buy the franchise, the long-term consequences could be severe.”

I don’t get it, you guys were not going to games on purpose?

sisu

May 19th, 2011
10:17 pm

i guess the odd part is that IF the Thrashers are sold they will not be called Jets and perhaps another 10 year losing streak without playoffs continues…

sisu

May 19th, 2011
10:19 pm

that is correct OHL, that was the stance by some….we hope you get at least Don Waddell and ASG there just for 10 years to understand. Do some research on ASG and see what comes up, mostly law suits and idiotic behavior.

EA

May 19th, 2011
10:20 pm

Bettman also encouraged fans to go to the rally. Whatever that means.

Les Habitants

May 19th, 2011
10:21 pm

BobbyG

May 19th, 2011
10:21 pm

so confusing…..what is real anymore?

HedbergHawerchukSelanne

May 19th, 2011
10:22 pm

Finally appears the chatter is over! Next to Mr Duff, Mr Chipman is the greatest man in the history of Manitoba! Sorry Atlanta, but deep down you know the team belongs in Winnipeg. While we sympathize, we have waited an eternity for past wrongs to be corrected. And after much patience, it seems we are on the cusp of a monumental day on Tuesday! Thank you so much Mr Chipman!!!!

ATLANTA

May 19th, 2011
10:22 pm

WE DON’T LIKE YOU, CHRIS!

Joe Friday

May 19th, 2011
10:23 pm

Dude, the deals done. The reporter works for Thomson’s paper, Thomson is TSNE. It’s done. Bettman already starting with the blame game. The story line is that they’ve been trying to sell the team for years and no one bought, which is bs, no one could buy until the Belkin lawsuit was just recently settled. And now they’re going to blame the fans for not subsidizing this incompetent ownership.

OHL, at a fan meeting a couple years ago, the fans were complaining to one of the owners, Levenson, about how poorly they were running the club, and he called one fan a “smart ass” and told everyone to “deal with it” if they didn’t like it.

The NHL is a Mickey Mouse league and deserves it’s ultimate demise, which will come.

done and done

May 19th, 2011
10:24 pm

I guess Boston, Chicago, NY Islanders, and Washington fans were “interesting” when they spoke with their wallets and refused to show up for crap product on ice. Bettman, you have shown your true colors… and you are as criminal as Boots Baggio, the guy you endorsed, and as criminal as ASG group that gained ownership illegally over David McDavid, and as criminal as the NHL owners were when Tom Cousins refused to dip into the players’ pension plan to cover owner losses.

Here’s hoping the players walk out in 2012 and hockey dies on the vine.

By the way, I just called Directv and cancelled the NHL package for next year. I’m done with your criminal sport.

Tom M

May 19th, 2011
10:26 pm

Hope it’s true but not counting on it, bettman still has to agree.

2mins

May 19th, 2011
10:26 pm

The catch-22 in some markets is “do we support the team no matter what?”. If you support the team and it never wins you feel bad, but if you don’t support the team it might leave.

This though is not the case in Atlanta. With ASG in charge it has made no difference whether the fans supported the team or not…. Long term they were screwed. The owners have never wanted the team.

EA

May 19th, 2011
10:27 pm

Correction–Bettman said it will be interesting to see how many fans show up at the rally on Saturday.

done and done

May 19th, 2011
10:28 pm

Bettman said he would be interested to see how many fans show up Saturday. Sorry boss, your little press release was planned to rain on the Thrasher parade and you will certainly send your media stooges to whoop it up when 5 people who didn’t get the message about the criminality of this whole mess show up.

You can’t wait to spin this. I bet you told Dany Heatley to put his Ferarri through the paces.

EA

May 19th, 2011
10:28 pm

Winnipeg–go find your own message boards. You all are pathetic. Remember what happened in Phoenix. Two days away from the deal and you had egg on your face.

ATLANTA

May 19th, 2011
10:28 pm

I would say “go thrashers” but that’s the opposite of what I want to happen sooo….

STAY THRASHERSSS!!!!

sisu

May 19th, 2011
10:29 pm

I guess some canucks think that any NHL team will do for them, to sya rightfully theirs is silly. Perhaps the Yotes but they will be in Quebec next season. All this comes down to 60 million transfer fee nothing else.

B. Thenet

May 19th, 2011
10:29 pm

Gary Bettman wants his $60 million.

This moron has run the league for over 20 years, and he wants to pretend that fans not showing up for a crap product is some kind of Atlanta invention.

Thrasher fan

May 19th, 2011
10:30 pm

Hawks have 7th highest payroll in league. Thrashers bottom of the league every year. ASG always wanted to run off fans and dump franchise. Renegotiated arena deal to allow thrashers to be sold and relocated.

Tommy Glavine

May 19th, 2011
10:31 pm

Cats out of the bag.

Tommy Glavine

May 19th, 2011
10:31 pm

You need to call Don Waddell and he’ll give you the straight answer.

done and done

May 19th, 2011
10:32 pm

I’m done with anything Philips or Hawks too. A new owner is nothing more than an extension of the A$$ goons if he insisted that the goons get rid of ATLANTA’s team as a condition of purchase.

Pittsburgh had sh^ty attendance too until criminal Bettman managed to get them Crosby and Malkin. WOW. 60 million ….. may you choke on the first $1

done and done

May 19th, 2011
10:36 pm

at least our tax dollars aren’t being used to buy off Gary Bettman. Manitoba, I hear TNSE just asked for their share of the tax teat. Guess the Winnipigs turned out to be no better than the Glendale bunch they were trashing for the same thing.

Steve-o

May 19th, 2011
10:41 pm

Bettman: “I can tell you that with certainty that there is no deal for this team to move.”
————————————
If it turns out that Bettman makes the announcement official in Winnipeg on Tuesday, it will prove that he is a liar of criminal proportions.

EA

May 19th, 2011
10:41 pm

Do you want to know how excited the Thrashers players would be to move to Winnipeg? First to chime in–Anthony Stewart-tweeting “the fat lady has not sung yet, my friend”.

Dudley Do-right

May 19th, 2011
10:41 pm

Canadians have limp wrists.

CANCEL the Cookout/Tailgate - Don't Help NHL

May 19th, 2011
10:42 pm

Based on the news the team is leaving, I suggest you cancel the cookout.
Reschedule it for AFTER the official announcement next week. Do not let them use
your event as “cover” to sell the team. PLEASE do not give them the ammo they want. Bettman’s comments prove he wants to use it as “see, nobody cares in Atlanta”.
I would say that “due to the lack of transparency from the NHL on this pending sale, you have decided to reschedule the event until they show some respect for the fans in Atlanta”. Turn it to OUR advantage and put the bad PR back on them…

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/atlanta-thrashers-moving-to-winnipeg/article2029179/

BCWFLASH

May 19th, 2011
10:43 pm

The National a coast to coast news show which is the Nation’s #1 news show is saying they have a report that the deal to move the Trashers is now finalized but that an official announcement will not take place until tuesday May 24,2011.

G52PIM228

May 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

TNSE finally commented, they said no deal is “done”..

CANCEL the Cookout/Tailgate - Don't Help NHL

May 19th, 2011
10:44 pm

Bettman wants to use SAT EVENT

“It will be interesting to see how many people show up at the rally on Saturday,” Bettman said.

CANCEL IT – Let it be our PR weapon, not theirs. Reschedule it for AFTER the NHL’s official announcement to move the team. Say “we are rescheduling due to the lack of communication from the NHL. We want some transparency in this process.”

RS

May 19th, 2011
10:45 pm

It would be funny if this little stunt messes up the whole deal.

G52PIM228

May 19th, 2011
10:46 pm

How did you losers in Atlanta allow your team go to Loserpeg? TNSE says they are denying but the deal is done. They are doing that because David Thomson owns the Globe and Mail. It would look bad that his paper broke the news.

Big Wally

May 19th, 2011
10:46 pm

Has anyone been honest in this fiasco? ASG = long time liars, Bettman = lying about deal, Waddell = trying to keep team in Atlanta, JB Smith = on buying the team.

Winnipeg City Zoo is now closed

May 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

The squirrel has left the exhibit. Nothing left to see.

Yung JB from Montreal

May 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

I’m canadian, but in no way i want the team here!
I am an ATLANTA Thrashers fan. not a WINNIPEG SH*TF*CKS fan

Please someone do something so they can stay in the A. Please god

BCWFLASH

May 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

Sorry,i meant to type Thrashers in my last post, i really meant no offense by missing the H in their name(Typo), also i meant to say The National is Canada’s #1 News show….I should always reread my post before i hit submit.

OHL

May 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

PoweRForgeD

May 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

lol @ people thinking our government has anything to do with this. I understand though, you’re upset you’re losing your team :(

Don’t hate on Winnipeg, hate on bettman and the ASG. We are just taking advantage of their failures

PoweRForgeD

May 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

Good luck with your failing economy, crime and poverty!!!

Atlanta sports fan

May 19th, 2011
10:49 pm

I’ll be sad if the Thrashers go.

I will be comforted knowing that I won’t be living in Winnipeg. Good luck attracting free agents and retaining players in your arctic backwater.

PoweRForgeD

May 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

My last comment was aimed at atlanta sports fan

Winnipeg Petting Zoo is now closed

May 19th, 2011
10:52 pm

The Moose’s rear end is sore and runs away from the men customers.

Tommy Glavine

May 19th, 2011
10:53 pm

DEAL or No DEAL

Najeh Davenpoop

May 19th, 2011
10:53 pm

So basically in the mind of the NHL commissioner fans should support a sh-tty product regardless of how sh-tty it is. I wonder if he applies this line of thinking to other aspects of his life, by eating at the worst restaurants in town or buying the cars with the lowest consumer reports ratings.

I’m not a hockey fan, but I feel bad for y’all Thrashers fans. Across ATL sports, we deserve better. And as a Hawks fan I’m still stuck with the DASG.

2mins

May 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

The bottom line is money talks .

Keep Hockey in Atlanta

May 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

Good job Globe and Mail you’ve ratcheted up the tension between those in Atlanta and Winnipeg. Is the Globe and Mail even credible or are they more like tabloids?

Joe Friday

May 19th, 2011
10:54 pm

http://www.sportsradio1290.com/

the reporter is on the air right now, confirming the story

2mins

May 19th, 2011
10:55 pm

Sorry Atlanta Sports fan…. But Winnipeg never had problems getting players before. It’s not like the players were killing themselves to play in Atlanta either.