Mason: Ownership not 100 percent behind Thrashers

Chris Mason feels for Thrashers fans. The goaltender – and the rest his teammates – are in the same place.

Limbo.

While the Atlanta Spirit and True North Sports and Entertainment continued negotiations Tuesday on a deal that would sell and relocate the Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba, fans and players wait for official word about the team’s future.

“Everybody is feeling different things,” Mason told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday. “Everybody is in limbo. I keep getting phone calls [about various news reports]. It’s unnerving. You don’t know what’s going on and you can only wait and see how it all plays out. … You’ve got guys sitting here not know what is going on.

“The people getting shafted are the fans. No matter how much they want to keep the team, they don’t have a say in it.”

Mason said despite lagging attendance, he felt support from Thrashers fans.

“I definitely felt the support,” Mason said. “At games and especially when we were out talking to fans at events. You know there are die-hard hockey fans in Atlanta. It’s hard to maintain the interest when you don’t have success, especially from the casual fan. … One trip to the playoffs is not enough. If you win more people will come. In my opinion, that has a lot to do with the numbers.”

Mason, a Red Deer, Alberta native, said he would like to experience playing in a Canadian market, but not at the expense of Atlanta.

Mason said he did not feel Thrashers ownership was 100 percent behind the franchise. He cites how the team responded at the trade deadline as it made a push for the playoffs.

“I don’t think we were given a legitimate chance,” Mason said. “We made a couple of good moves for [Radek Dvorak] and [Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart] at the deadline. But it wasn’t enough. We were such a young team. It’s hard to make the playoffs. We believed we could win but sometimes you need someone who can score an extra goal or two or help on the power play. Our management was hampered by budget. It’s still hard to make the playoffs even if you have the money to spend. When you don’t have it, it’s even harder. You see it every year. Good teams don’t make the playoffs. A couple of more pieces and we could have been in.”

Talks between The Atlanta Spirit and True North continued Tuesday but no deal was reached. Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz told the National Post he expects news soon. “We certainly do believe it’s going to happen very shortly within the next couple of days,” Katz said. “We certainly do believe that.”

The two sides opened negotiations this month after Glendale, Ariz., made a commitment to cover up to $25 million in next season’s losses of the Coyotes, who otherwise likely would have moved to Winnipeg. The Atlanta Spirit has been looking for a buyer or investors for the Thrashers for several years. Co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. said in February that there was a sense of urgency to find a solution for the struggling franchise and that relocation was a possibility.

Meanwhile, Thrashers officials continued business as usual Tuesday with scouting meetings held.

Reed: ‘We will get through it’

Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday while it will hurt to lose the Thrashers, the city of Atlanta will move on.

Speaking to reporters, Reed said: “I think any time we lose a major sports franchise it is tough. It’s going to hurt the city, but we are going to withstand it just fine. We will get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we will be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit.”

Reed said he has tried to help the team find new ownership willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. He has previously stated there would be no public money used in such an effort.

“The Thrashers, as you know, are in an extraordinary position because of the amount of losses that are associated with the team,” Reed said. “So we have not yet seen a path where we can reverse those losses fast enough. If you talk to the Atlanta Spirit ownership, they will share the same thing. It’s not a lack of the city being willing to step up and do something about it. It is a partner with deep enough pockets to be willing to sustain pretty significant losses. We have not yet had any of the individuals in our community who are prepared to take that on. But it has not been for lack of trying, believe you me.”

A plea: Please folks, let’s keep the commenting above board. I have deleted and banned posters for racist and anti-semitic remarks on other blogs. I will do it again to those posters who step over the line. I understand the passion for this issue, but I know you are capable of carrying on civil discussions. Thank you.

174 comments Add your comment

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 24th, 2011
1:58 pm

[...] Journal Constitution:  Chris Mason speaks out on how players didn’t feel ownership was 100% behind team.  We here at IC love how candid Chris Mason is and have enjoyed having him on the show the past [...]

Brayne Varner

May 24th, 2011
1:59 pm

Brayne Varner

May 24th, 2011
2:00 pm

you have made a powerful enemy Puck!

bananahead

May 24th, 2011
2:01 pm

Yeah, right Mayor. After all, we did see you try when you made that public appeal and got the people of Atlanta behind you on… let’s see… what date was that? Hmm… can’t seem to find it…. I know he MUST have said SOMETHING, because he said he was trying, right?

You’re worthless, Mayor. Thanks for nothing.

Me

May 24th, 2011
2:01 pm

“It’s not a lack of the city being willing to step up and do something about it.” That’s not what Glendale Arizona said. That’s not what Pittsburgh said.

ThrasherFan

May 24th, 2011
2:02 pm

If Kasim knew ANYTHING about hockey, I think his opinion would be different.

Tom

May 24th, 2011
2:02 pm

Translating Reed — These cats who are the owners of the Spirit are really connected. I need the Piedmont Driving Club to help me get re-elected so I am not going to mess with them.

Plus, if they still own the Hawks next season I get to go to any game I want…

Just saying

May 24th, 2011
2:03 pm

Couldn’t Reed being saying the same thing about the Hawks? Aren’t they for sale too? I wonder if it has anything to do with the make up of the team?

moriler

May 24th, 2011
2:04 pm

Reed’s such a chump. He might as well have said “I don’t like hockey anyway, so who cares?”

And people wonder why all the northern suburbs are cutting off the feeding tube to Atlanta? Right first try!

Franz Kafka

May 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

Good job being politically correct Mason…that or Thor glared at him for his previously vague comments. We need more of this from our players, limbo or not. The Yote players were vocal about not wanting to go to the frozen dookie pond. Players need to say what’s RIGHT rather than what’s acceptable. Contact with real life will cure everyone, even Winnipegians.

DWTOO

May 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

Might move to the city so I can vote against this worthless sack of cat stuff.

Thrashers27

May 24th, 2011
2:06 pm

Can I get a “DUH5″ on the headline and…

The mayor is an idiot. “Can’t reverse those losses fast enough.” Hey “mayor”, if you knew anything of the situation, you’d understand that the losses are due to the loser owners and if you would get off your lazy butt and stand up for something many of your “constituents” care about we may be able to find a solution and have ownership that cares take over. Glad I didn’t vote for you.

Tom

May 24th, 2011
2:06 pm

I wonder what the economic impact of losing the Thrashers will be to the city of Atlanta. The next time the city steps up and protects an industry or business that will leave the city with a comparable hit to the financial well being of the city can we stand up and call B$ on the mayor?

Brayne Varner

May 24th, 2011
2:06 pm

hey mayor, what about the families of the people who are losing their jobs because the thrashers are leaving? I don’t think they’re going to “withstand it just fine.” Glendale and even Pittsburgh made hockey happen in their respective cities, but your just watching them leave with the rest of us. the only difference is that you can do something about it!

bananahead

May 24th, 2011
2:07 pm

Oh, and by the way, thank you Chris for clarifying something you said earlier. Yes, all NHL players would love to play in front of a sold out crowd every night, and yes, you will get to do that in Winnepeg (at least for a while), but as you said, not at the expense of Atlanta. Thank you also for pointing out where the blame falls… the ownership. It sucks to play in front of small crowds, but I’m sure it sucks more knowing that ownership is creating that condition and that they never planned on improving it.

ATLfan

May 24th, 2011
2:07 pm

How Mayor can give up so quickly? It’s just embarrassing….

Bobby G

May 24th, 2011
2:08 pm

Another reason I will be relocating…

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 24th, 2011
2:09 pm

*drops the gloves*

ATLfan

May 24th, 2011
2:10 pm

Can someone send this forum link to Mayor so he could read what people really think about his statement and himself?

glovesave29

May 24th, 2011
2:14 pm

To the troll on the last blog who does not comprehend average and median…WOW! Really? How can you say how many $$$’s are brought in from a sellout unless you know EXACTLY how many seats are available at EACH price level? To simply take all of the different ticket prices in dollars and divide them by the number of price levels doesn’t work.

On this topic – I feel for Chris. I know he had a miserable season, but this uncertainty has gotta be killing him.

So what sports changes are we to expect soon, Mayor Reed. Are we joining the MLS? Why are you so small minded that we have to “replace” one that is leaving? Why not save that and add a team to the local roster? Be a 5 sports city.

Poot

May 24th, 2011
2:14 pm

I don’t think the mayor could name one player from the Thrashers if asked.

Zombie Steve

May 24th, 2011
2:15 pm

I will not be voting to reelect you, Mr Reed

Steve-o

May 24th, 2011
2:16 pm

Wow, thanks Mayor! It’s nice to see that you’ve been working 24/7 in your attempt to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta…a fanchise that you are already speaking about in the past tense even though no official announcement on the relocation has been made. Umm, could you name one thing you’ve done in your valiant effort to keep the team here?

Brayne Varner

May 24th, 2011
2:16 pm

I bet the sports changes he’s referring to is that the Falcons will be getting a new open air stadium. He’s perfectly willing to help pay for the Falcons but doesn’t care when it comes to the Thrashers.

This Guy Right Here

May 24th, 2011
2:17 pm

Hey Chris Vivlamore: I noticed on Anson Carter’s twitter that his group offered $350 million for the whole package. I know you’ve said all along that the chance of someone buying all 3 entities is a one in a million chance. Is this because you know for a fact that ASG doesn’t want to give up owernship of the Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena? It almost sounds like they’ve been planning on moving the Thrashers all along. Just doesn’t seem right.

Angela: Chris Mason Fan

May 24th, 2011
2:18 pm

CORRECTON:

“…me AND the rest of the Thrashers STH Base are collectively….”

Deport the Mayor

May 24th, 2011
2:18 pm

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 24th, 2011
2:21 pm

Between the Mayor’s comments and the Beckhams considering naming their daughter “Atlanta,” it’s looking like Atlanta really is FINALLY getting a Major League Soccer team!

Please don’t give it a stupid name (like Generals or Legion), and PLEASE market it wisely (unlike the Silverbacks and, yes, Thrashers).

CatThrasher

May 24th, 2011
2:21 pm

Yep time to relocate…if I can find a buyer for my condo…No hockey=no life :*(

david

May 24th, 2011
2:22 pm

If the hawks were going to move he would try to stop them. Sorry, but it’s a typical Atlanta black, white issue

steve brown

May 24th, 2011
2:22 pm

After living and loving in Atlanta I feel for the “Brothers” the Thrashers brought in and their future “Hot” Winnipeg.

glovesave29

May 24th, 2011
2:23 pm

Puck – the Georgia Generals…I had forgotten about them!

If MLS comes to Atlanta…Chiefs is the way to go.

da' boomer

May 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

Mr Reed and the rest of the city council is as useless as the ASG clowns. While the city of Phoenix was able to round up the cash to help keep the Coyotes, our’s does absolutely nothing. And if anyone does not think there are racial factors that drive the ‘lack of action’ they are sadly mistaken. If this were the Hawks old Kasim would be leading the parade…

chris

May 24th, 2011
2:28 pm

If the MLS comes to Georgia, the team will play at KSU.

Sam

May 24th, 2011
2:28 pm

THANK YOU TO CHRIS MASON!!! REALLY APPRCIATE HIM STEPPING UP AND ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE LACK OF FAN SUPPORT IS NOT THE PROBLEM IN ATLANTA.
The fans are just the collateral damage as this deal with kickbacks to Bettman and profits to Levenson drive the process. It’s never been about a “covenant” to ATL’s fans, or any consideration to the team ,or to the staff who will lose their jobs when relocation happens. Money and power.

And thanks Mayor Reed FOR NOTHING. Wonder what his attitude would be if it were the Hawks being relocated?

Sam

May 24th, 2011
2:29 pm

Also heard that Chris Thorburn had said something similar in a TV interview, so thanks to Thorbs, too!

Erf

May 24th, 2011
2:29 pm

Thanks so much for all the help in keeping the team here Kasim Reed, you too Nathan Deal…

way to step up for the team both of you… really… no.. no… really.

*tongue planted firmly in cheek”

Sharon Massey

May 24th, 2011
2:29 pm

It would be nice to hear from Gov Deal on this topic. Maybe he could arrange for some of that state swag that Delta got to “stay in Atlanta”????????? The Atlanta Spirit owns the Thrashers for the same reason the Smith family owned the Falcons-to have a business loss to offset profits from other ventures. Notice that the Falcons did not become anything other than a league joke until the team was sold to an owner who wanted to own a WINNER and then the team became a winning team. It also helps when ownership does not allow team management to “live out a dream” by pretending they can coach. How can NHL think the ownership is serious when they allow the team president to “coach” for a season after firing a Stanley Cup winner 6 games into a season. That’s when I knew we were going to be losing our SECOND NHL team. Tired of the NHL allowing Atlanta a franchise only to move it once it’s got a name for itself to a city that doesn’t have a team. If this team leaves I’m DONE with the NHL & hockey as I’m tired of being treated like I don’t matter

glovesave29

May 24th, 2011
2:30 pm

BV – am I the only person that thinks there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the Georgia Dome? They have kept it up waaaaaay better than Philips. All the Dome needs is the roof removed and do the facade in brick and glass instead of those silly color panels.

Tucker T

May 24th, 2011
2:31 pm

Most of you people are crazy. Reed is right. No city funds should be used to fund the Thrashers and who wants to buy a team that is losing significant money? Maybe if Ted Turner stepped up but besides him who has deep enough pockets to take that on. Not even Blank has that kind of money. It’s a tough economy, even the rich guys are losing money. They are still rich but not willing to take on a huge risk. Don’t make Reed the bad guy here.

Viking

May 24th, 2011
2:31 pm

Reed said: “We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we will be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit.”

I guess he is talking about lost revenue for the city and that “bit” must be tiny for whatever it is compared to an NHL team.

While I personally as an European would welcome soccer and attend a game or two per year if that’s it, but right now I can not imagine what a hockey-less Atlanta will do to my sport interests.

Kovy's Agent

May 24th, 2011
2:36 pm

Total neglect, just total neglect from those in positions of responsibility. What irks me the most, however, is these ASG clowns will still walk away making a bundle after this complete cluster. I think they always knew some desparate Canadian investor group would bail them out at some opportune tme so why spend anymore than absolutely necessary over the years and that’s what happened. The bad guys won and that just doesn’t sit well.

Puck Like A Porn Star

May 24th, 2011
2:37 pm

KSU/Beat Stadium is gorgeous, but it’s too small for MLS. If they did play there, I wouldn’t mind though. Great place to watch a match. I’d still prefer downtown, especially if Artie gets his new stadium near Allen Plaza.

DAVID

May 24th, 2011
2:38 pm

WHAT A TRIP THE SOUTH IS SUPPOSED TO BE AGAINST ALL GOVT HELP BUT MANY CHASTISE THE MAYOR for not givin a bailout to a hockey team that no one wants to see..lol..including the road cities…dispite having the 8th largest market your tv ratings were terrible only 6000 tv sets turned on…so the market size issue is a joke…google it….you dont deserve a hockey team!!! and im not canadian..

Deport TurnerSouth, again

May 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

Please cease with mentioning of Ted as a savior. He forgot the name of the Thrashers during an interview..about the Thrashers.

This Guy Right Here

May 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

DAVID, no one is asking for financial support from the gov’t. We’re only asking the mayor to put some pressure on ASG to actually make an effort to keep the team local.

Thrashers27

May 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

If Carter’s group did offer $350M, I would think that’s a more than fair deal and that Bettman should force ASG into taking it. As a matter of fact, as a penance for their sins against hockey Bettman should be able to force them to pay a new owner $100M just to take the team off of their hands. We all know that ain’t gonna happen, but seriously, $350M is enough. Make the deal, ASG, you freakin’ losers.

glovesave29

May 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

TT – Who asked for city funds to save the team? All someone merely did was point out that Glendale had done that. I love hockey – its the Mayors job to assist in any way to help to keep an asset in the city…but no one has asked for tax dollars to be used. What Glendale is doing is irresponsible to the public good and political suicide.

Thrashers27

May 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

David,

The difference is “expecting” a bailout. I don’t think anyone here “expects” it to happen, we’d just like to hear more concern from the mayor. He is demonstrating that he clearly doesn’t give a “bleep”.