Sunday, February 14, 2010

In Regards to Winnipeg

There's this wild rumor going down about the future of the Thrashers in Atlanta and Winnipeg is concerned. Former Winnipeg Free Press columnist Scott Taylor (not "Scotty Too Hotty" from Too Cool of WWE fame) posted something on the CITI-FM blog about a rumor of a change in regime after the Olympics. Here's what he had to say from his February 12th post (hat tip to Andrew Bucholtz for passing this link along):
"OK, here’s the rumour: Wealthy David Thomson of Toronto, the man who most of the shares of the MTS Centre and True North Sports and Entertainment in Winnipeg, has purchased the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League and will move them to Winnipeg for the 2010-11 season. The Moose will move to Saskatoon. The announcement will be made right after the Olympics. Believe whatever it is you want to believe."
The part at the end is very key, since there has been rampant rumors for a while about the Thrashers and the Winnipeg area. While the Atlanta owners have denied to the utmost about any kind of move, we all know that's like give a coach a "vote of confidence" when talking to the press about him. It's never a good omen.

Now, while Taylor had been solid before quitting due to plagiarism claims, you have to wonder how much smoke this has to it, especially after the first sale this team has been having; couple with the long-known problems of Atlanta Spirit LLC. Of course, there's a lot of factors that have to go into this.

First and foremost, the Board of Governors. They have to not only approve the ownership change, but also approve the move. As many of them have balked at the idea of Jim Balsillie moving a team to Canada, you have to wonder what incentive Thomson will make in order to have this go through. Odds are, the fact he's not Balsillie and having a hostile takeover could be a reasoning for pushing this along, but still. The MTS Centre is a small building and probably wouldn't take in as much revenue as the BoG may like, which could block this deal.

Second, having all nine members in three states of Atlanta Spirit LLC to agree to have this go down. It's almost like there's some who will block it so that outcasted member Steve Belkin won't get his share of any moving fees or whatever. With the other eight tied up in litigation with Belkin, there could be some more in-fighting with the group who would like to get out of this racket and those who want to stay in. The fact they can't be located in one place makes one scratch their head and realize how much more of a circus this is than Tampa Bay.

Finally, this could clear up some issues that happened with the whole Ilya Kovalchuk situation. There were many who reported that a contract caveat that was holding up getting him re-signed was dealing with relocation, so if this were to come true-- guess that this was just a matter of time and the reason why Kovalchuk didn't stay.

We'll have to wait until at least March if this thing is actually going to go down, but it's odd that not many others have picked up on it. If it is blown under the rug, it could be chalked up to the Olympics or just that it wasn't true. Only time will tell, but it's not something you can't really avoid....especially with two weeks of no NHL hockey.

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