Tag: Michael Gearon

Michael Gearon

Video: Thrashers owner Michael Gearon breaks down crying talking about team’s sale and move to Winnipeg


Say what you will about the situation involving the Thrashers sale to True North and moving to Winnipeg, it has an effect on everyone.  For the fans in Winnipeg, they’re ecstatic. For the fans in Atlanta, they’re crushed. For the soon-to-be former owners of the Thrashers, they’ve said they’re disappointed and apologetic for not getting a deal done locally.

Are they sincere about that? Well now you can be the judge.

Thrashers owner Michael Gearon spoke with the media in Atlanta today to express his thoughts and feelings on the situation that will now see the Thrashers move from Atlanta to Winnipeg after 12 seasons in Georgia. The Thrashers made the playoffs just once and since Gearon and business partner Bruce Levenson bought the team as part of the Atlanta Spirit Group in 2004, they’ve been on hard times with making things work in Atlanta ever since.

In his talk to the media, Gearon had to pause numerous times so as to not get busted on camera crying fully for the fate of the team and hockey in Atlanta. Do you believe his feelings though? Given how things have shaken out we’re more than a bit cynical. Judge for yourselves however.

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Thrashers owners tell fans they’re sorry it didn’t work out in Atlanta

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson

While the Thrashers are officially being sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and moved to Winnipeg next season, there’s the other side of the story that’s out there. That part of the story comes from the Thrashers owners in the Atlanta Spirit Group, Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon.

While the press conference was going on in Winnipeg to euphoric cries of joy, Atlanta Spirit was quietly expressing their own version of sadness and dismay at the financial mess they put themselves in and forced their hand into selling to True North.

Levenson and Gearon posted a letter to fans in Atlanta on their website to express what they’re feeling as they sweat out their final days before the NHL Board of Governors meet on June 21st to officially approve the sale. Pardon us if we’re not feeling the sincerity they’re trying to push on the fans.

As many of you know, for some time we have been seeking a buyer for the team or a partner willing to join with us in continuing to fund the team. We hired an investment banking firm to seek out potential investors with the expressed goal of finding someone who would keep the team here in Atlanta. In recent months, we openly indicated a growing urgency to secure assistance in off-setting our operating losses in hopes that our public plea would produce investors who, to that point, had eluded us.

After extensive effort, nobody has come forward. As a result, we had no choice but to explore the investment option presented to us by the NHL in the form of True North Sports and Entertainment.

Their push to find local owners only became public in the last few months and saw the likes of baseball star Tom Glavine and former NHLer Anson Carter come out with hopes of assembling investors together to buy the team. Those plans didn’t work out for any number of reasons be it a lack of suitors willing to part with their money or Atlanta Spirit Group unwilling to see things out.

Levenson and Gearon made this mess and did little if anything to clean it up. Their efforts to help make the Thrashers look as unappealing to other potential buyers in the seven years they owned the team worked out well enough so that they could cut a sweet deal with True North. Everything works out nicely for them, meanwhile the fans get screwed and the city of Atlanta loses their second NHL team in 31 years, a truly unbelievable accomplishment of failure.

Atlanta Spirit Group should be embarrassed with how they handled the Thrashers and for treating the team as a side thought. Instead, they’ll take the money and run while Canada can celebrate the return of a franchise to within their borders. We’re happy for Winnipeg here, don’t get us wrong, but seeing Thrashers fans get shown the door in such a way is low. Perhaps not as low as the Baltimore Colts in the NFL, but this ranks up with one of the uglier ownership fiascoes of modern times.

Who wants to buy the Thrashers? A Hollywood filmmaker has interest

Washington Capitals v Atlanta Thrashers

With Thrashers owner Michael Gearon sounding off yesterday about how the Thrashers are struggling in Atlanta worries sparked almost immediately about who would help out and where they might land if they’re moved. The real side effect of all that may have been to just beat the bushes and shake someone out of hiding. If that was the case, Gearon wins this round.

Filmmaker and Atlanta native Stephen Rollins is apparently interested in purchasing the team.

Rollins is the head of Lightning Pictures. He says he has talked with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Rollins says the Thrashers “want to do something pretty quickly” but his group is cautiously seeking “adequate data” on the team’s finances.

This arrangement sounds similar to the one the the NHL has going with Matthew Hulsizer and the Phoenix Coyotes, a deal that has still yet to be approved and finalized in Arizona.

Rollins isn’t a novice when it comes to hockey as his IMDB profile says he’s got a recent past with the game and even played in Roller Hockey International with the New Jersey Rock ‘n Rollers. Hey, it’s something to run with here.

If Rollins is the guy to save the day for the Thrashers, Gearon’s threats of relocation might be all for naught as you’d have to imagine a guy with an Atlanta background is going to jump in looking to be the local savior. Of course if Rollins is scared off by the financial particulars involved in the deal, we can’t exactly blame him.

Of course, part of the problem in Atlanta just might be because the owners that bought the team were looking to get out and the fans have a hard time buying into a team that the owners aren’t really trying to do anything with. Still, it’s positive to see instant interest in the team. Whether or not Rollins is at all serious remains to be seen but these things can develop fast, look at how quickly things happened with Jeff Vinik with the Lightning. It’s a small glimmer of hope for the Thrashers, but it’s a good thing for now.