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Done Deal, Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg

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Owner: ‘Sense of urgency' to keep Thrashers from moving

Chris Vivlamore

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“If we are faced with that as the only alternative, that’s what’s going to happen,” Gearon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Tuesday. “I don’t think there is an ability to stomach another $20 million in losses. We just can’t do it.

“The reality is we need fans showing up and we need investors, or a primary investor.”

Full article here

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Owner: ‘Sense of urgency' to keep Thrashers from moving

Chris Vivlamore

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“If we are faced with that as the only alternative, that’s what’s going to happen,” Gearon told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Tuesday. “I don’t think there is an ability to stomach another $20 million in losses. We just can’t do it.

“The reality is we need fans showing up and we need investors, or a primary investor.”

Full article here

welcome quebec or winnipeg!,, seen this writing on the wall for a while unfort!.. wonder how if did sell and move, they would realign?.. hard to any owner in eitehr division wanting to give up proximity to natural rivals to come to south- and can't imagine you have a canada team in south..

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OK, here's what they need. Delta buys the team, builds a rink inside the ATL terminal, adds a $5 entertainment fee to any ticket with a departure/arrival during a game. Boom, captive audience, attendance increase, problem solved. And while they're at it change the unis to Delta colors and logo, would have to be better than the ones they have now. And they can keep the ATL letters.

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And the rebuttal from the fans (or the fan blogger representative) Ice Man

Atlanta Thrashers: Ice Man

Atlanta Spirit, LLC slaps Thrashers fans in the face again

12:06 pm February 16, 2011, by Bill Tiller (Rawhide)

Ya know…it is seriously tough being a Thrashers fan. I mean, here we are celebrating the great news that Dustin Byfuglien has just signed a contract extension to remain with the team for five additional years and then…this info-bomb.

Seriously, couldn’t the Spirit Clowns at least have given us a full 24 hours before dropping this on us?

I guess the mighty revelation last month that he and his fellow partners had lied to us for years wasn’t enough of a slap to our collective faces, eh?

Like so many of you out there, what really frustrates me to no end is that the fans here in Atlanta are not to blame. Contrary to popular belief outside of Thrasherville, Atlanta is home to a great number of die-hard hockey fans and sports fans in general. However, given what this franchise has become since The Great Octocluster purchased them seven years ago…many of those fans have chosen to spend their sports entertainment dollars elsewhere.

So when someone like Michael Gearon makes the comment that whines about fan support and points to where he and his fellow Spiriteers have “put a lot of money in this team”…well, there’s just a lot of us who want to laugh in this guy’s face.

Of course, there are many of you who might use a different word than “laugh”.

What you and your fellow partners have indeed done, Mr. Gearon, has all but destroyed any chance for the NHL to work in this town. It a shame too, because this wasn’t always the case with this team.

Take a look back to the middle part of this decade when the Thrashers…along with the Hawks and Philips Arena…went under the ownership of Spirit Clowns. This was an exciting team to watch, they were on the way up as far as the standings were concerned and home games for the Thrashers was actually an event.

Now…well, the empty seats stand as a testament to just what has been put into this team.

Not surprisingly, this story was released as the team was winging its way westward for a three-game, weeklong road trip. Tomorrow night they’ll play in Phoenix…another team that has been targeted for relocation…then it’s up to Edmonton Saturday afternoon before a matchup in Buffalo next Wednesday.

That leaves quite some time for fans to stew before the next home game on Friday the 25th.

I don’t know about you, but I plan on being there, and I plan to be there for three main reasons.

1. I love NHL hockey and I support the Thrashers here in Atlanta.

2. I want as many people there to show any prospective buyer that there is indeed a market for NHL hockey here. A good one, that is, if there was ownership that had an ounce of passion for the sport and a semi-clue as to what it takes to be an owner. And right now, it appears the best hope for the Thrashers is for someone to understand that and step forward to rescue the franchise from this disaster of an ownership group.

3. I will be there to fully vocalize not only my support for the Thrashers as they host the Florida Panthers, but also to let it be known what I think of this cast of clowns that have run our team straight into the ground….and now threaten to move them right out of town.

Where are you going to be?

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Great reply!.. they really are screwing the thrash fans, and while we can all get fustrated with PK at times, its things like this "spirit group" that makes you realize soemtimes it sure is NOT greener on the other side.. :thumbsup:

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I am pretty sure the NHL would prop the team up like they did with PHO until their financials are in order, Bettman has a track record of being patient in these situations, but this spirit group did themselves no favors today though.

Edited by Ichigo-1

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It wasn't my intention to turn this thread into an attack on the Thrasher fans. I've never been a fan of criticizing another fanbase about attendance because we've had our share of attendance issues in the past ourselves. What if Peter Karmanos came out a couple of years ago and said he was tired of losing money every year (which he was) and demanded the fans either buy tickets and show up or he'll sell to someone who will move the Canes out of NC? I don't how many people would respond too well to that or would even want to invest their hard earned money into a team that's on its way out.

When I read these stories I think how lucky we are to have an owner committed to this area, and a team who's early successes have helped to build and solidify our fanbase. The Thrashers fanbase is made up very similarly to ours and even though their core group isn't huge in numbers, they're just as passionate and die hard about their team as we are. The biggest difference imo is the Canes have had lots of successes and won it all, I guarantee that if the Thrasher's fans had experienced just some of the successes we've been lucky enough to experience, they wouldn't be in this situation right now.

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Well said TSA. I believe a strong rival for us located in Atlanta would be good for us and good for so called "southern hockey". I hope they can work out the problems and stay in Atlanta. We are lucky in Carolina to have an organization who seems to be committed to this hockey team and to North Carolina. Our fan base is now solid and are getting recognition around the league.We don't need to belittle another fan base.

Edited by OBXer

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What you gotta remember about Atlanta is:

1. Like NC, they've had a large number of transplants moving there since the 80's. With that surge comes people who aren't exactly willing to give up their old hometown teams. If all the hockey fans here and there converted fully or partially to the home team, both us and them would sell out every game every year.

2. Aside from the Braves they've had historically bad teams. Now the Falcons and Hawks are starting to turn things around for the better but aside from the Atlanta Dream making the WNBA finals this past fall, they haven't had a pro team make the championship round of their respective sport since 1999. Not to mention if the Braves hadn't won it all in 1995, they would have no championships to speak of.

3. Like Miami (another city that struggles with fandom), Atlanta is a sunbelt city that has a variety of entertainment options and things to do and see. It's one of America's top tourist destinations and entertainment capitals. So sports isn't exactly everyone's top choice of their entertainment dollar.

I see great potential for a big-time rivalry between the Canes and Thrashers in the future. Our fanbase and their fanbase go to each other's arena for games between the two already, and both teams may become playoff contenders for years to come. So I'd hate for them to move.

Edited by captain_jack88

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GETTING WORSE FOR ATLANTA! (per BLOG by Pierre LeBrun: ESPN)

The ownership situation is getting urgent in Atlanta. We were told this weekend that the league is trying mighty hard to find a new owner who's willing to keep the team in Atlanta. The league's sole focus right now is to keep the team in Atlanta and given its ability to find new owners in Tampa, Buffalo and Phoenix, it's not unrealistic to think the league won't be able to pull it off again. However, should a new owner not be found in the next six to eight weeks, we're told the Thrashers could indeed be up for relocation and Winnipeg would very likely be the new home.

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Looks like the inevitable is coming for the Thrashers. The city has said it can't help and the the current ownership group wants out now. Lots of news heating up in Winnipeg and Atlanta:

No Thrashers bailout coming in hard hit Georgia capital

FANS of the Atlanta Thrashers shouldn't hold their breath for a $25-million miracle.

There's a kind of hush...

Atlanta rumour mill won't churn out roaring gossip like Phoenix

Thrashers' ATL Future up in the Air

Spokesman for Mayor Reed acknowledges that financially-troubled team 'may leave' city.

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Its tough for the nhl to lose out on a large market, but in tough times it maybe too tough for a city to bail out a team that has had little to no success. Maybe if they made the playoffs this year it would have been enough.

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I've been to 8 Thrasher games in the last 3 seasons: 6 versus the Canes and 2 versus Buffalo and Toronto respectively. Atlanta lost all 8 of them. This franchise has been hard on its fans is an understatement. The only time they made it to the playoffs they were destroyed by the Rangers in a first round sweep. My boss, a Blues fan from St. Louis (and closet Thrasher backer) talks about that pathetic showing often. I wish it weren't so, but the top level executives for Atlanta have never been any good at acquiring talent. I thought this season would turn all that around, but we all saw the all-to familiar collapse.

It's such a shame because the Thrasher fans are GOOD fans. Every time I attended a game, even when wearing my red and white, I was treated like a guest - with respect and hospitality. Even when we blew their team away, Thrasher fans would joke around and talk hockey with me on the way to the parking lot. I feel so bad for them, it almost ruins the win for me. The truth is that they don't get mad because they expect to lose.

These people deserve a good franchise. They have been so patient and supportive (more support than this joke of an organization would normally garner). It's sad, I really hope they stay and turn this franchise around... except when they play Carolina, of course.

In regards to the realignment of the league, I could see them moving Nashville to the Southeast and adding the new team to the west. That would be an interesting new rivalry.

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nashville to our divison would be another team under the scope quite often

hey hey 4,000 posts :)

Edited by legend-1

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I agree JB, the fans deserve better. It takes a lot for something like this to happen, but it looks likely. What annoys me most is hearing everyone talk about Winnipeg like it's a guaranteed success. Yeah I know economics are different now but still, unless the owners invest in the team the same thing will happen as last time.

There is talk that Detroit has been begging to get into the east for a long time, but so has Columbus, which is the furthest east of the western teams. Nashville seems like the likely choice if for no other reason than geography and minimal division impact. Of course that would mean the Southeast would become much harder to get into the playoffs from, with the Caps and TB seeming to be locks and Nashville close to it.

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I believe that Bettman denied the Trash was moving. Is this akin to giving an embatlelled coach a vote of confidence?

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Canadian press is talking like it is a done deal, for what that's worth...

IF it happens, I don't think it is a given that Nashville would move to the Southeast, although that makes a lot of sense.

There's this constant undercurrent of wanting Detroit back in the East, hooked up again with most of the Orig6 brethren.

In any case, if this does happen, and happens in time for next season (possible), there may not be alignment the first year. Things may be too far along. That could mean a few extra travel trips for the SE teams, and of course, the Jetsers would have the worst of it.

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Atlanta Journal is reporting that negotiations have officially started between the Winnipeg and Atlanta ownership groups.

Information is being released at pretty fast pace now, sounds like they want a deal in place for the upcoming NHL draft if the sale goes through.

How angry will the folks be in Hamilton if this happens? (which it looks like it will)

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One thing has become very clear - the current owners well and truly suck. From what I have read, they basically bought everything from TimeWarner with plans of flipping the hockey team once the lockout was over, assuming they could get more due to the favorable terms for smaller teams. Then one guy wouldn't sell for enough, they all went to court for the next 5 years, etc. Now they just want to dump and get out. Here's a longer summary:

The lawsuit also reveals a pretty spicy meatball: the group had immediately tried to sell the team after completing a deal to grab the Hawks, Thrashers, and the arena rights right after the NHL Lockout in 2004-05, hoping to capitalize on the new labor deal. From the lawsuit:

"Plaintiffs expected that once the new labour agreement was finalized there would be substantial interest from potential buyers and that they would be able to sell the franchise. As plaintiffs anticipated, the value of smaller market franchises increased and potential buyers came forward."

Also, unfortunately for the Atlanta fans, Levenson isn't exactly publicly touting the benefits of owning the team. The damning quote here? When asked about an (seemingly pretty simple) option of just holding onto the team into the coming season while trying to continue to find a legitimate local buyer now that their legal issues with Belkin are settled, Levenson actually laughs:

"That's a scenario we haven't even thought about. [LOL] We just continue to try to find somebody or a group of people who are interested in keeping this team here. We'll do everything we can to make that easy for them. We'll retain a portion of the equity if that's what they want. That's what we've been working on now for a long, long time."

When asked if he wanted to be the owner at this time next year, Levenson didn't even sugar coat it:

"Well, no. I hope we find somebody who can come in and take either a controlling interest, or, if it's of their choosing, own the whole thing. We've been pretty clear about that for a long time."

In other words, the current ownership group isn't interested in finding a solution to keep the team in Atlanta; they're interested in unloading it as quickly as possible.

from a much longer and very thorough article here.

What a bunch of jackasses. These guys make Barrie/Koules look like geniuses. My sympathies to the Thrashers fans.

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