Winnipeg’s mayor says it’s just “a matter of time” before a deal to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg is announced. Sam Katz says the deal to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg “is going to happen.” He says there is an understanding the deal will move forward but nothing is signed, sealed and delivered yet. No one is more anxious to officially learn the fate of the Atlanta Thrashers than members of the team. The players have been given no indication one way or the other where they’ll be playing home games next season, according to goaltender Chris Mason.
“They’re not going to include us in any of the stuff and we shouldn’t be either,” Mason said Friday from his off-season home in Red Deer, Alberta. “We’ll know probably the same time or after everybody else knows, that’s the way it goes. “We’re sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what’s going to happen, too.” Mason has played in six different cities during his professional career and is facing the possibility of moving once again. “That’s one of the very few things that is tough about the job,” said Mason. “I’m fortunate enough to be playing hockey and that’s one of the things that you just have to deal with. It’s happened throughout a hockey player’s career and that’s just the way it goes. We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.” Mason has mixed feeling about relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg. On one hand he feels bad about the fans and team employees that would be left behind in Atlanta but it would also give him a chance to live out a dream. “There’s definitely things that would be really cool about it,” said Mason. “Playing in Canada, for me, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It would be really cool. Just playing in front of a packed house every night would be awesome.”
All of this was started by an article yesterday by The Globe and Mail in Toronto stating the Thrashers’ agreement with True North was done and will be announced in Winnipeg on Tuesday. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and True North Sports and Entertainment quickly denied the report Thursday that a deal has been reached to sell the team to True North, which would relocate the team to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There are still obstacles to overcome, but it looks inevitable this time; hockey is back in Winnipeg and Canadians are celebrating across the country. The Winnipeg Jets, as they should be called, should be soaring again this year after 16 plus years in the waiting.
Until the next puck drops,
So is this it? There is speculation this will be the last game played in Phoenix if Detroit wins tonight. It’s kind of sad if you think about it. Consider all of the people who will be out of a job; all the businesses folding once the Coyotes leave town. It’s not a pretty scenario, but it seems very likely. The same happened 15 years ago when Winnipeg lost the Jets to Phoenix. The fitting saying is “what goes around, comes around”. I’m not saying that it’s right to strip a city of its’ team and leave their workers unemployed, but the city of Phoenix had no business ever having an N.H.L. team. Bettman has exhausted all possibilities to try to keep Phoenix from losing it’s team, but it doesn’t look like there will be a knight in shining armour this time. No-one is going to rescue the Coyotes; it’s time they packed up and left for a hockey starved market waiting to cheer them on. Sure some of the hockey players might prefer to stay in the warm weather of Phoenix, but let’s be real here, why keep a team where they have no support? Why not go to a city which adores you; a city which will have a building near capacity every night. I’m sure the players will enjoy the support they receive in Winnipeg much more than in Phoenix.
There’s a reason no-one has stepped up to make a significant attempt to buy the team and keep them in Phoenix; there’s a reason why the Goldwater Institute denied Hulsizer’s request to allow him to use the city of Glendale to contribute $100 million worth or proceeds from a municipal bond sale to help him buy the team for $170 million. They too see hockey as a failing entity in Phoenix and refuse to risk any city funding to aid in keeping a team there. Considering the rough state of Arizona during this recession, I don’t blame them. If Hulsizer really wanted, or was fully able to buy the team, he wouldn’t ask for any city funding whatsoever. Has he done this? No.
So I’m going out on a limb here and saying the N.H.L. will make it official after the Coyotes are swept away in Phoenix tonight. Where a few fans will be mourning the loss of their Coyotes, many fans in Winnipeg will be rejoicing the rebirth of hockey in Winnipeg. There is no doubt the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, or whatever they call the “new” team there, will receive a heroes welcome the minute they step on the ice and the first N.H.L. game is played there again.
It’s time to give the city of Winnipeg back its’ team which was taken from them so long ago. It’s time for Shane Doan to don a jersey for Winnipeg as he did when he started his career; the last of the Winnipeg Jets he is, so how fitting would it be for him to be the first to bring hockey back to Winnipeg.
Until the next puck drops,
Relocation continues to be a hot topic in the N.H.L. the last few weeks. More specifically surrounding the Phoenix Coyotes and the rumour of the team’s potential move to Winnipeg. The fall out of the deal between Matthew Hulsizer and the city of Glendale is being blamed on the Goldwater group refusing to release bonds of $116 million towards the $170 million deal to keep the coyotes from abandoning the Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes have been losing money since day one when they relocated from Winnipeg in 1996 and it appears it’s only getting worse. Gary Bettman is fighting to the bitter end to come to some kind of agreement to get this deal done. It appears it may never happen and of course the city of Glendale’s major concern is the possibility of several bars, restaurants and jobs around the arena will suffer and weaken an already unstable economic condition there.
Lets say the Coyotes move to Winnipeg next season, well they have buyers already lined up there. There’s a N.H.L. friendly arena which seats about 15,000 which was originally designed for the American Hockey League‘s (A.H.L.) Manitoba Moose, but could easily be converted to a NHL arena when they potentially add a couple thousand more seats. Lets face it Winnipeg is starving for hockey and they should have no problem filling seats night in and night out something they couldn’t do in Phoenix. Phoenix is a much bigger city then Winnipeg however the interest in hockey is far greater in Winnipeg where hockey is religion. It is a Canadian city that absolutely cherishes the game and is equipped with a strong Canadian dollar, a brand new arena and a billionaire investor waiting for the green light to return hockey to Winnipeg. All this was working against Winnipeg nearly 15 years ago when they moved the Jets out to the desert. Now they are prime to land a N.H.L. franchise like the Coyotes.
Gary Bettman has run out of options and time is running out on the Phoenix Coyotes. This team has simply lost far too much money year in year out to ever make this thing work in the desert. I think we all agree that it’s about time Bettman pulls the plug on this franchise that has been a financial burden on the rest of the league. I assure you, they move this team back to Winnipeg and it will be far more successful and profitable then it ever could be in Phoenix. They will have great attendance, which in turn will bring in great revenue, not to mention making the league more money and run a lot healthier. It’s a no brainer Gary Bettman. Personally I think the coyotes have let out there last howl in the dessert! Bring back the Jets!!!
And that’s my two cents,
The rumours continue to swirl around the fact that about a half dozen N.H.L. teams if not more are in red ink when it comes to running their franchises. More specifically in the sun belt, teams like Phoenix, Atlanta, Nashville and Florida to name a few are repeatedly drawing poor attendance and losing tens of millions of dollars a year in running their franchises.
This is a concern that needs to be addressed. N.H.L. commissioner Gary Bettman has on many occasions said he would prefer not to go the direction of relocation and instead try to fix the problem in these struggling markets. The problem is not getting better its only getting worse. The obvious solution, and this is coming from a fan’s point of view, is to move a few teams north of the border where hockey is religion in every corner of the country.
Here are a few scenarios that would make the N.H.L. a more healthy and successful league on a whole:
Phoenix Coyotes -Moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Winnipeg and bringing back the Jets would be a great move. They have a N.H.L. ready arena and an ownership group in place ready to put the deal together. Don’t be surprised if the Coyotes are playing in Winnipeg as early as this fall. I say cheers to that!
Atlanta Thrashers– A second Canadian city that would be a great fit for the cash strapped Thrashers would be to move them to Quebec City and bring back the Quebec Nordiques. Quebec City is in the process of building a new state of the art N.H.L. arena that should be ready by 2015. In the mean time, they could play out of the old Colisée arena. Bottom line here, it is a great market, very profitable and a new arena is on the way. Bring back the Nordiques!
This is where it gets a little difficult, teams like Nashville, Florida and even the New York Islanders are in trouble. The problem is there is only so many strong markets to replace these struggling franchises with and when I say struggling I don’t mean their performance on the ice, I mean poor attendance, out dated arenas and poor revenue. You could move them to other U.S. cities like Kansas City for example where they have a brand new N.H.L. ready arena just sitting there waiting to land a team, however the N.H.L. has been in Kansas City before in the 1970s and failed miserable there. They only lasted two seasons, then called the Kansas City Scouts, before relocating.
So I guess the question is, does the N.H.L. really want to go back to a market that has already failed? The obvious guess is no. Other U.S. markets that have shown interest are Seattle, Houston, Oklahoma City, Cincinnati to name a few. All questionable markets for hockey if you ask any expert. Another potential solution would be to contract a few teams. It’s a 30 team N.H.L. but with so many struggling franchises and so few great markets to go to, maybe contracting a few teams would be a feasible solution.
Which ever way you shake it the N.H.L. more specifically Gary Bettman needs to seriously assess some of these struggling markets and make a move if the N.H.L. wants to be a profitable league once again, something that has truly been lacking since he took over as N.H.L. commissioner some 18 years ago.
It’s about time The Commissioner takes action!
And that’s my two cents,