June 1, 2011

Sale of Thrashers Complete, Moving to Winnipeg Next Season

By - Brian Harrington

The sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment has been completed, making way for hockey to once again return to Winnipeg after the Jets were sold and moved to Phoenix in 1996. The deal is reportedly worth $170 million, and a $60 million relocation fee that would be split between the rest of the league.

Photo by: Getty Images
Atlanta now has the distinction of being the first team in the NHL's modern era to lose 2 franchises, both to Canada on top of that. The Flames moved to Calgary in 1980 after only 8 seasons, now the Thrashers move to Winnipeg after 12 seasons. Hey, that's progress. I think it's pretty safe to say Atlanta can forget about ever having a hockey team again.

The sale still has to have league approval, which requires a 3/4 majority vote. While moving the team only requires more than 50% majority. With NHL commissioner Gary Bettman highly backing this deal, I'm pretty sure they'll get the votes needed. Bettman was quoted as saying, "We get to be back in a place we wish we hadn't left in 1996. The best way for our fans here in Winnipeg to celebrate the opportunity, is to buy season tickets. To be candid, this isn’t going to work very well unless this building is sold out every night."

And just from a logo standpoint, this is a plus. I never liked the Thrashers logo, it just seemed really dull.

Photo by: NHL Images
Now the Jets logo on the other hand, is just classic NHL. I'm sure they'll update it in some way, but I'm hoping it stays similar to the original.

Photo by: NHL Images
Another interesting side note to all of this is, what happens with realignment? Winnipeg will obviously be moving from the East to the West, while a team like Nashville (which is inexplicably in the West) could get a chance to fill the vacancy. But the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings are the only two Eastern time zone teams in the league, so conventional wisdom says they will have priority.