Are you sitting down?
No, I mean it. I want you to be sitting, reclining or in any other way positioned so that, were you to lose conscience or simply become a little woozy, you won’t fall and hurt yourself. Same concern goes for those of you who may be tossing back a glass of orange juice or sipping a warm cup of coffee. I’d just hate for you to ruin a good keyboard or laptop because you spewed your morning beverage all over it and/or yourself after I drop this little info-bomb on you, the good citizens of Thrasherville.
Alrighty-then. Now that you’ve been properly warned and you’re prepared for this… here goes.
It has come to my attention that the Atlanta Thrashers will not…repeat…will NOT be relocating to Winnipeg, Manitoba. They will not be moving there before Friday’s game against the Flyers…not just after the All-Star game…not just after this season is over…not over the summer…not before next season…and not by next New Year’s Eve.
In fact, it is entirely possible that…and I really need you to brace yourselves for this little piece of 411… the Thrashers organ-I-zation are not relocating there or anywhere else, be it north of the border or otherwise, ever.
I know…I know…this must come as a complete and total shock to many of you out there in Thrasherville’s vast blogosphere. For oh-so many years, we’ve been preparing ourselves for the inevitable news of our team’s relocation. We’ve been mentally preparing for the morning in which we’d wake to the dreaded news that the Mayflower trucks had backed up to the practice facility at the Duluth Ice Forum in the middle of the night, packed and loaded up all things Thrashers into there cargo holds and commenced to haul our franchise off to the frozen tundra of Manitoba.
We have shivered in fear of this event, of course, because of all the reports from the Canadian blogosphere that have reported of our team’s imminent relocation for quite some time now. And who can blame those in Thrasherville for taking such opines to heart…I mean, what with all of their quotes from “high-level, credible unnamed sources” and all that. Honestly, it’s pretty impressive what they can crank out from the basements of their mothers’ homes in a pants-optional environment.
But this piece penned by Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press would have us…and the good people of greater Winnipeg…believe that the Mayflower trucks being held close by the Duluth Ice Forum can now be freed up for other duties. The Thrashers are, he explains, going nowhere in the foreseeable future.
Yes, that’s right my friends…a member of that city’s respected press corps has apparently come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, those that oversee the National Hockey League may just be of the frame of mind that the franchise might be better suited to remain in the capital of Georgia instead of uprooting to the capital of Manitoba.
Oh, it does appear to be painful for him to write the observation, and he does take the usual to-be-expected swipe at hockey fans and attendance issues here in Atlanta. But he does say it nonetheless, and for that he deserves a great deal of credit and kudos for doing so while residing in the city of Winnipeg.
Here is the meat and potatoes of Campbell’s write up:
Despite what “hot rumours” or buzz is out there courtesy of television panel discussions or tweets or blogs or columns, Atlanta Spirit doesn’t have a gun to its head nor is it in bankruptcy or up against any other critical deadline.
It has none of the urgency for a hockey solution that was required in Glendale, where the NHL refused to own the team any longer.
Atlanta has an owner/owners. They have resources. They own their arena. The have no external force pressuring their hand. Internally, they may or may not want to divest themselves of hockey but the panic of the Glendale plot is missing completely.
As well, the NHL is not presently interested in another franchise stability saga, especially since it hasn’t put the Coyotes matter legally and completely to bed just yet.
And there’s also that little item that whatever Atlanta Spirit may wish to do, it has the authority to do just about none of it without the collaboration, blessing and royal assent from commissioner Gary Bettman’s New York office.
If Bettman has a divine plan to this effect, he certainly hasn’t shared it with anyone at True North Sports and Entertainment. The folks there have been, shall we say, entertained by the recent buzz and rumours but have assured that not so much as a preliminary conversation about the potential has taken place.
So while Bettman’s deputy Bill Daly may be at-large saying some odd-but-true things about the Atlanta market, arena and fan dedication looking forward, the commissioner is on the record in words and deeds that he will go to all pains to keep franchises where they are and their values up.
As it stands today, none of that adds up to an appearance of the Thrashers in Winnipeg on Friday, by the end of the month, by Easter or even next fall.
Recently, some of our friends who run the cyber-rumor mills up in Canada-land have pointed to recent words spoken by Bill Daly regarding concerns over the Thrashers franchise. They cling to his words like Linus van Pelt does to his blanket as reasons to believe this team will soon make it’s way to town. “He must be sending us all a signal”, they insist. “Start printing the tickets”.
Of course, it could stand to reason that the deputy commish was simply trying to skirt around the question without saying something insensitive like, “Move a franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg? Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha…”
“Wait…what…you’re serious. Have you been smoking moose droppings”?
However, Campbell wraps up his fine piece by addressing the persistence of the Great White North’s Blogmasters, regardless of what the “accuracy meter” shows in the wake of prior predictions. Their prognostications of the Thrashers shuffling off Winnipeg, he feels, are just as far off as when they insisted the Coyotes would be calling their fair city home just after last year’s Winter Olympic Games had concluded.
Of course, when that “deadline” came and went it was then surely to happen by Easter.
And then when that failed to come to fruition, it was September.
And most recently, it was certain to happen by some arbitrary December 31 “deadline”.
Anyway, as Mr. Campbell says…
We are a nation of coaches and general managers, 30 million strong. And some with blogs or websites or other audiences that think we’re smarter than franchise owners and executives.
In recent times, it seems that everyone and anyone paying attention to the NHL question in Winnipeg is looking to book some “I-told-you-so,” moment or prediction to be trotted out for credit when eventually the NHL comes to its senses and comes back to a hockey market.
Truth be told, the “I-told-you-so” theories aren’t worth much when the 2,247 others (equal to the number of days the MTS Centre has been open) haven’t turned out so well.
However, I’m sure those who make up Canada’s vast collection of cyber-“wanna be” journalists will continue to work at a feverish pitch generating tall tales of the impending relocation of [insert name of city with an NHL franchise they feel are unworthy to have such here] to [insert name of Canadian city that “deserves” an NHL team far more than anyone else below the Mason-Dixon line here]. And Campbell’s recent write up probably won’t discourage any who remain devoted in their faith of what the Winnipeg blogosphere continues to preach.
For a prime example of this, I point to the handful of comments posted below the writer’s article.
Again however, I warn you to hold off partaking of your morning beverage until after you do so. Otherwise, you’re likely to snarf hot coffee through your nose trying to hold back an outburst of uncontrollable laughter. And I would hate to feel somehow responsible for any singed nose hairs suffered by you while reading the words of those still beholden to such rumors.