Tag: Sam Katz

Boston Bruins v Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Mayor says Jets have “everyone excited”


The Winnipeg Jets might not be killing it in the standings,* but the return of the NHL is producing promising results, as you can see in this article by Kevin McGran.

Such a point might seem painfully obvious until you realize that there was some doubt that there wouldn’t be that big of a bump for the city since they already benefited from packed buildings via the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. (This is Canada, after all.)

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says that there’s been a serious bump in tangible and emotional ways, even if there aren’t many official numbers yet.

“Where we have phenomenal growth is people deciding to live downtown, something we’ve always wanted,” Katz said. “That was happening before, but the Jets continue it. But from my point of view, the greatest benefit that’s hard to measure is the feeling people have being back in the NHL. Everybody is talking about it, everybody is excited.”

Jets coach Claude Noel described relocating from Atlanta to Winnipeg as a “hidden thing” that has taken a toll on some players, but believes that the adjustment period is over.

If you ask a lot of people in Winnipeg, the return of the NHL has made a far-from-hidden impact on the city. Just imagine if the franchise could upgrade the Jets from a bubble contender to a genuine playoff team, then …

* – The negativity regarding their current state seems a little excessive, though, if you ask me. The Jets began January with a four-game road swing, had four of six in Winnipeg and then went on a six-game road trip. Starting in mid-February, the Jets will play eight games in a row at home. If they flub that, then go ahead and beat up on the young team.

Thrashers update: Bettman preaches patience, speculation for announcement continues

NHL in Winnipeg

While Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz seems to share his city’s impatience for the arrival of the Atlanta Thrashers, others are requesting that hockey-starved fans take it easy. Both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger are asking people to calm down a bit about the situation.

Bettman said that “people need to take a deep breath and pause” because the deal isn’t done yet, also claiming that the league would only allow a team to move if there was no alternative. Much like deputy commissioner Bill Daly and other NHL executives, he didn’t deny that the Thrashers might move, either.

To be fair to the citizens of Winnipeg and Manitoba overall, they’ve been waiting about 15 years. Selinger noted that he is “totally excited” about the prospect of Winnipeg getting an NHL team again, but he echoed Bettman’s advice to remain patient.

“We know there is a lot of excitement about it in Manitoba,” he said Wednesday. “We know that we’re very well positioned in terms of the growth of our economy and our ability to support hockey. But we have to put our confidence in Mark Chipman and True North and have the patience to let them do their job.”

As much as those officials want to stamp out excitement, people are still on pins and needles to hear an official announcement. Sure, some celebrated the reports almost a week ago, but many are probably worried about getting burned again.

The uncertainty of the situation is prompting a lot of outlets to throw out their guesses for when an official announcement will be made. Here’s the latest take on when an announcement might take place, via Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

All that is left to be determined, said a source, is when the announcement will be made by the NHL. It will either be done between now and the Stanley Cup final or between the end of the final and the draft. It is expected there will be an extended layoff of several days before the Stanley Cup final begins, which would give the league time to make the announcement of the sale and relocation.

The league is apparently of two minds when it comes to making the announcement. If it does so between the conference finals and Cup final, it would remove the speculation that would hang over the Cup final, but might also be a dominant topic when the league wants the focus to be on the series between the league’s top two teams. But if it waits, it risks having the speculation of the sale hanging over the final.

Naturally, we’ll keep you up to date as this situation progresses. Chances are there might be some more news (or at least a few extra rumors) this week.

Winnipeg mayor says it’s ‘just a matter of time’ before Thrashers deal is completed

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(Need a rundown of some of the stories revolving around the Thrashers’ potential relocation? We have you covered. Click here for last night’s often-denied big report. Read all about Winnipeg hockey fans celebrating the relocation before it was made official. Want to know something disturbing? The Atlanta Spirit group is still selling tickets to Thrashers games. Finally, here are Joe’s five thoughts and your opportunity to vote on what Winnipeg’s name could be.)

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz was adamant that the Atlanta Thrashers would be the more likely target even when all the buzz surrounded the Phoenix Coyotes returning to their original home. Now he’s saying that it’s only a matter of time before that Thrashers deal gets done, although he noted that nothing is official just yet, according to The Canadian Press.

Mayor Sam Katz said the deal to bring an NHL team back to Winnipeg is going to happen. There is an understanding the deal will move forward but nothing is signed, sealed and delivered yet, he said.

Katz said he’s been in touch with Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment, the company negotiating the sale, and has been told there is nothing official — yet.

“I do believe this will happen and it’s long overdue,” Katz said in an interview. “The Jets never should have left here . . . After 15 years, we’ll all be ecstatic to have them back. There is no doubt that the fan base is there. The corporate support is there.”


“This is a very different Winnipeg than it was 15 years ago,” Katz said.

If you believe Katz, we’ll find out if this “different” Winnipeg can support an NHL team the second time around soon enough.

Report: City of Glendale must pay NHL $25M by Monday; Coyotes allegedly lost $36.6M


The 2010-11 season might have left the City of Glendale feeling a bit bloated, but Rebekah L. Sanders of the Arizona Republic reports that they have until Monday to pay the bill. That means they’ll need to pay the NHL the $25 million they promised, although Sanders reports that the Phoenix Coyotes’ actual losses amounted to a whopping $36.6 million in the last eight months dating up to March.

I’ll just let you marinate in that figure for a moment: $36.6 million.

Sanders reports that the city promised taxpayers that they wouldn’t need to foot that $25 million bill since a new owner would take care of it, but the sale is obviously still in limbo.

Some people will jump to the conclusion that the “deadline” is now Monday, but if this twisted saga proves anything, it’s that there aren’t many clear answers to its many questions. The NHL might cut the City of Glendale a break (it is coming off a season of record-breaking projected revenues, after all) by giving them an extension, perhaps.

Who knows at this point, though. Yesterday’s big story was that the Winnipeg city mayor Sam Katz openly doubts that the Coyotes will move to his city because of the threat of a lawsuit. The potential sale of the Atlanta Thrashers also hangs in the balance of this mess, so there are two NHL franchises greatly affected by what shall occur in the next weeks/months.

Every time there seems to be a moment of clarity in this situation, the odds-on favorite scenario flips on its head. For that reason, we won’t forecast a winner; instead, we’ll just keep you up to date as the situation continues to change. Eventually we might even be able to discuss a resolution to the matter.

Winnipeg mayor doubts the Coyotes will move; Thrashers might relocate there instead

Doug Creighton, Peter McCullough

Many people in the hockey world wondered if the Coyotes played their final game in Phoenix when the Detroit Red Wings completed their first round sweep. In fact, the very premise prompted a steady stream of cruel jokes on Twitter.

While relocation is still a legitimate possibility amid the troubling Coyotes sale situation, it doesn’t take an expert to notice that the NHL and City of Glendale are doing the best they can to avoid relocation. Their best efforts might not overcome the threat of a lawsuit by the Goldwater Institute, but the bottom line is that more money might be lost if the Coyotes leave than if they stay.

(That’s a sad sentence, but sometimes sporting reality is pretty depressing.)

There’s at least one rather significant party who thinks that the Coyotes will stay put. That would be Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz, who believes that the hockey-hungry city should look for a different team to bring the NHL back to the ‘Peg. Here are his comments via the Winnipeg Sun.

“Do I believe the Coyotes are coming to Winnipeg? My answer would be no,” Katz said. “I believe the Coyotes will stay in Phoenix. I happen to know some of the commitments that were made when they went there, and there were commitments that, if they were not fulfilled, there could easily be a lawsuit.”

If you believe Katz, then the Coyotes sale faces a lose-lose scenario: a possible lawsuit whether they stay or go. Both the NHL and Goldwater Institute’s people seemed confused by the claims Katz made about the possibility of a lawsuit if the Coyotes relocate, though.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said he didn’t know what commitments Katz might be talking about.

“I can’t say that I know what he is referring to,” Daly said via e-mail Wednesday.

Nick Dranias, constitutional policy director for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a taxpayer watchdog group trying to block the Coyotes’ sale to would-be buyer Matthew Hulsizer, was equally baffled by Katz’s claim.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Dranias said. “If he’s talking about obligations or agreements that were reached before the Hulsizer deal, that would have come out during bankruptcy.”

Even if Katz was incorrect in his claims that a lawsuit would be a possibility, his comments underscore the notion that the Atlanta Thrashers might be a strong Plan B for Winnipeg. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press claims that the Atlanta Spirit ownership group is desperate to sell the Thrashers after failing to do so with a local group for years. (Regardless of former MLB pitcher Tom Glavine’s best efforts, it seems.)

Despite some reasonable possible other cities for relocation (Kansas City’s cushy arena deal comes to mind), Lawless writes that it would be difficult for the Thrashers to relocate to any other market than Winnipeg with such a short window between the sale and the start of the 2011-12 season in October.

In other words, all signs point to Winnipeg being the only relocation option for both the Thrashers and Coyotes. So the Atlanta Spirit must wait and see if the Coyotes remain in Arizona before they can make their move.

Keep in mind all of this talk is based on speculation from unnamed sources, so there might be a few factors that are a bit based on conjecture rather than facts. Either way, the fate of two troubled franchises – not to mention the puck-based future for one former NHL city – hangs in the balance over the next weeks/months, so we’ll keep you informed as this messy picture begins to come into focus.