On a pleasant mid-May evening when we were all trying to enjoy some exciting playoff hockey, there was a much better match going on amongst the Canadian media regarding the Thrashers and their likely, but probably not maybe just yet move to Winnipeg.
With each passing day the hockey starved people of Winnipeg grow more and more anxious at the prospect of the NHL returning to their fair city, albeit one that could use a few more parks. We don’t know when it will come, but we’re all waiting for that headline that said something like “Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg.”
Say, isn’t that the exact headline on Stephen Brunt’s story in the Globe and Mail tonight? It is!
The large-bellied singers have been warming up for the past few weeks to serenade and send off the Thrashers for their journey north. Little interest has been shown in Atlanta from both local investors and government, with even the great Tom Glavine unable to spark a last ditch movement to keep the Thrashers in Georgia. All that seemingly remained was for True North Sports and Entertainment–the prospective Winnipeg ownership group–to clear any last major hurdles and finalize that deal.
According to Brunt, a few leaps and bounds cleared those hurdles tonight.
Citing unnamed sources, Brunt wrote that the deal is done, and that preparations are being made for a formal announcement this Tuesday. Brunt added that league commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to be present at the press conference to “make the news official.”
But Brunt wasn’t done with his news bombing just yet…
Sources in Winnipeg suggest that the Thrashers had in fact been the primary target of potential owners Mark Chipman and David Thomson all along, and that some months back, the NHL board of governors quietly approved the sale and transfer of the team, pending the negotiation of a purchase agreement between Atlanta Spirit LLC, the Thrashers’ owners, and True North.
This obviously sent the hockey Twitterverse into a frantic buzz for about an hour, putting the structural integrity of the Internet in doubt. Who are we kidding, that buzz is still going strong right now and is equal to my state by mid-afternoon on St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s been some water thrown on the raging inferno thanks to those buzz killers over at TSN.
Now that my neck has healed from its whiplash, let’s take a look at where we’re at with this mess.
We have three well connected and respected members of the hockey media working for two different but highly credible news outlets, and they’re producing conflicting reports. Brunt says all we need to do is wait for some glowing words to be said at a presser next Tuesday before Winnipeg can start making jerseys for the Manitoba Nordiques. Meanwhile, both McKenzie and Dreger issued firm denials on Twitter and during the second intermission of tonight’s Bruins/Lightning game.
So where does all of this leave you, the Canadian hockey fan who wants more Canadian hockey? You can’t handle the truth yet, I guess.
UPDATE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press that “as far as we know, there is nothing done.” He also said the board of governors hasn’t approved anything yet.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Free Press reports a deal could be reached “at any moment” that would be conditional on league approval. However, a True North official directly involved in negotiations said that Brunt’s report is “100 percent untrue,” while spokesman Scott Brown reiterated that a deal isn’t completed at this point.