Thrashers to Winnipeg Deal Imminent?
Conflicting reports on Thursday evening seem to indicate that a deal that would send the financially struggling Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg could be imminent.
The Globe and Mail is reporting that an agreement has been reached between the NHL, current owners Atlanta Spirit LLC, and a group out of Winnipeg called True North Sports and Entertainment that already owns the Manitoba Moose and the MTS Centre that would house the team. The deal would of course move the failing team North immediately.
The Globe speculated that the deal to move the Thrashers had been more or less in place for months, but the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes were also, once again, in play for a period of time delayed the potential deal. As we all know, the Coyotes extended their stay in Glendale by another year recently, after it seemed all but certain that they would be the team moving to Winnipeg. A $25 million payment to the NHL by the city made that possible.
The report by the usually reliable Stephen Brunt was soon denied by TSN, who claims that sources both in Atlanta and Winnipeg denied the report. True North itself was quoted as saying that the Globe was simply wrong.
It could be that someone is playing games here, that the NHL is simply trying to deny the deal until Gary Bettman has had a chance to announce it, as early as next Tuesday. I find it hard to believe that Stephen Brunt would report something as fact if there was even a smidgen of doubt, plus, TSN is usually in the business of playing the role of Buzz Killington in these things, and them denying something usually just means that THEIR sources aren't giving them information. So take all of this for what it's worth.
Considering the Coyotes move was a near certainty a few weeks ago, and that ended up catching everyone by surprise, who knows what could happen. But no matter how hard Bettman and his cronies seem to try and deny them, the Winnipeg matter never seems to go away. It's almost as if it's written in the stars that they will get a team, and no matter how "unfair" it would be to the "fans" in Atlanta or Phoenix or wherever, it would be even more "unfair" to continue to deny a ready and willing fanbase in Canada that will now doubt support their team better than the failures in Atlanta and Phoenix.
This needs to happen, and it needs to happen now. Enough games, enough of trying to keep afloat teams in the south just because of some vision Bettman came up with a decade ago. Winnipeg deserves a hockey team. It's time to give it to them.
More as it develops.