Report: Atlanta Thrashers could be sold for $110 million

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If a Forbes.com report is accurate, an ownership group might be able to acquire the Atlanta Thrashers for as little as $110 million. Obviously, that’s still a lot of money, but Forbes’ Mike Ozanian explains that there might be a few million reasons why the deal could be a decent gamble.

The No. 1 reason is that the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are responsible for the arena’s bond payments, meaning the Thrashers just play a flat rent. If that doesn’t make sense to you, the simpler way to look at it is that the team could net about $7 million in non-ticket revenue because the Hawks basically run Phillips Arena.

It seems like Ozanian arrived at the $110 million number by the simple math of a deal that would potentially bring the Thrashers to Winnipeg. As we discussed before, True North Entertainment and Sports would likely attempt to relocate the Thrashers if the Coyotes stay in Phoenix. They would reportedly be willing to make that deal for $170 million, with $60 million of that money going to the NHL as part of a relocation fee. Long story short, that would mean that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group would get $110 million from that sale, so it makes sense that they’d take that much from a local group too.

Forbes values the Thrashers at $130 million and that is, indeed, a pretty cushy arena deal. That being said, the team only made one appearance in the playoffs (they were swept in 2007 by the New York Rangers) and have struggled with attendance issues for years. Ozanian said that the team has only been profitable in its first two seasons when Ted Turner served as their owner.

It’s an interesting proposition, though. If the team really is worth $130 million, then maybe a new ownership group could actually make it work in Atlanta after all. The team hasn’t ever been a consistent winner in their time, but new GM Rick Dudley is putting together some interesting pieces for the future.

We’ll just have to wait and see which city will end up cheering those promising young players on, though.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.