With the news breaking today that the Atlanta Thrashers ownership is in talks with True North out of Winnipeg to sell the team and eventually move them to Winnipeg, the thought process into the different things that go into that has fired up in a big way.
One of the many things that go into moving a team to a new location is making sure to get them scheduled to the right place. A move from Atlanta to Winnipeg would likely mean a vastly different set of opponents and throwing the balance of the schedule into madness. With the potential of moving the newly landed Winnipeg team into the Western Conference and one team from the Western Conference into the East (possibly Columbus, Detroit, or Nashville) getting a schedule set for any of those situations has to be done soon.
According to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, the NHL is prepared for anything in this potential deal.
Sure, there could be some sticking points and this deal could crater but Atlanta Spirit is a motivated seller and True North is a motivated buyer. No one else is in the room and its down to money and terms.
The NHL, by virtue of allowing these talks and working on a schedule that includes Winnipeg, is prepared to let relocation to Winnipeg happen.
More to the point, commissioner Gary Bettman is OK with it.
Commissioner Bettman is clearly OK with things as he agreed to let the two sides start negotiating a deal. More and more as these stories come out the more and more likely it appears that we’re headed towards the inevitable conclusion of seeing an NHL franchise relocate for the first time since 1996 when the Winnipeg Jets bolted for Arizona.
Obviously there’s a lot of things that can still happen so that the Thrashers stay in Atlanta, but after over six years of trying to find new owners to buy the team from the Atlanta Spirit Group and coming up empty, it appears that the NHL is ready to move on and find solace with Thomson, Mark Chipman and True North in Winnipeg to solve one of their ownership boondoggles.