As we discussed earlier today, the most recent reports indicate that the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Winnipeg could be made official as early as Tuesday. Even if it doesn’t happen then, the consensus is that it is just a matter of time.
It’s easy to make the city of Atlanta itself the scapegoat, but many Thrashers fans blame the Atlanta Spirit ownership group for the team’s failures. The group (which also owns the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and Phillips Arena, where both teams play) has been steeped in lawsuits and lost distressing amounts of money during their time in control.
Jeff Hullinger interviewed Rutherford Seydel, one of the co-owners of the Thrashers and a member of the Atlanta Spirit, who wouldn’t discuss specifics of the negotiations but insisted that the ownership group tried their hardest to make the team work in Atlanta.
RUTHERFORD SEYDEL, Atlanta Spirit Group, LLC: “I can’t really comment on where we stand. I can just say that I’m proud of my partners for working hard to keep the Thrashers and paying a lot of money, all of us, to keep the team in town for longer than anybody else has thus far.
“Unfortunately, there are not enough of us that are passionate at this point in time to keep the team, to replenish what we need to have done.
“We currently are trying and we’ve tried and it’s frustrating and it’s a very heart-felt sorrow that I have at this point.
“Obviously being a fifth-generation Atlantan, being passionate about the team, being part of it, my father-in-law (Ted Turner) being the guy who named the team, it being important to our family, it’s something that would have been, would be great to have as a part of the fabric here in Atlanta.”
As happy as the hockey-starved citizens of Winnipeg will be to potentially receive another NHL team 15 years after the Winnipeg Jets fled town, it’s important to note that there will be plenty of crestfallen fans in Atlanta. If Seydel isn’t just providing lip service, then there might be at least a few members of the Atlanta Spirit who are unhappy about it, too.
Check out footage of his interview in the video below, from NBC 11 Alive News in Atlanta.