Last year, the Phoenix Coyotes were about two days from moving to Winnipeg. Now, according to several sources, Commissioner Gary Bettman has – for the first time – given True North permission to close a deal with Atlanta Spirit, the owners of the Thrashers. As I wrote last week, I hate the way people in Winnipeg, Atlanta and Phoenix are getting tortured by the relocation rollercoaster. But, it appears as if things are coming to a close in Georgia.
As reported by Hockey Insider Darren Dreger on Monday, Winnipeg-based group True North has been in ongoing discussions with Atlanta Spirit Group – the parent company of the Thrashers – on a potential sale. As of Sunday night, sources have refuted the various claims on social media that the two sides have any Memorandum of Understanding or have agreed to a period of exclusivity to get a deal done.
From The Globe And Mail:
The league has not notified the NHL Players’ Association that a move is imminent. However, those familiar with similar situations in the past say the union is not usually notified until just before a sale and move are announced. Union officials do believe the possibility of a move is growing.
The parties have not entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement nor has a deal been reached. It is not known how long the two sides have been negotiating. However, the fact that talks are underway could mean the Thrashers’ relocation to Manitoba perhaps as soon as next season.
From the Winnipeg Free Press:
The NHL, by virtue of allowing these talks and working on a schedule that includes Winnipeg, is prepared to let relocation to Winnipeg happen. More to the point, commissioner Gary Bettman is OK with it.
From… The Columbus Dispatch?
Already, there is widespread talk of conference realignment. With Winnipeg slotting naturally in the West, which team – Detroit, which has the most political power, Columbus, a natural for the East, or Nashville, a natural for the Southeast Division – will have the good fortune of sliding into Atlanta’s former slot? The winner of the derby gets to slash expenses, ease the rigor of its travel and form, or re-establish, juicy rivalries.
Yup, even Ohio thinks Winnipeg’s getting a team.
I think Winnipeg’s getting a team.