Breaking News: Atlanta-Winnipeg Deal Done!
TSN is reporting that at 11AM central (noon eastern), True North Sports and Entertainment, along with Gary Bettman, will hold a press conference to announce the death of the Atlanta Thrashers, and the rebirth of the Winnipeg Jets.
It is expected that they will announce the sale of the Thrashers, pending 75% majority approval of the NHL Board of Governors of course, upon their next meeting on June 21st.
The Thrashers are all but officially done, and will not be playing in Atlanta next season. The surprising part of all of this? The new "Jets", or whatever the team ends up being called, will have to play their first games in the Eastern Conference, until the NHL can put forth a plan to re-align the divisions.
The logical moves would be to put them in the Northwest division with the three other Canadian teams in the Western Conference, move the Minnesota Wild to the Central Division, and either the Red Wings, Blue Jackets or Predators to the Southeast division.
But of course, all of that takes planning, and the schedule for next season is probably already made. Switching teams between divisions would complicate things, so the Jets (and the rest of the Southeast and Eastern teams to a lesser extent) will have to make the sacrifice for a year to get this done.
One thing's for sure, this is huge news in the hockey world, and very exciting for any fan of hockey outside of the few in Atlanta.
Many questions will be raised over the next few days and weeks, including who will run the team. Will True North keep Rick Dudley, Craig Ramsay, and all the rest on the staff or will they put their own people in right off the bat? How will the players react to moving North? How will Winnipeg factor into free agency, trading, and the draft?
It's been a while since we've had relocation, especially one with so much public attention. So there will definitely be a lot to talk about over the next little while. Keep an eye on TCL for continued coverage as details are made available.