Atlanta Thrashers on Verge of Relocation
The NHL will likely see one of their franchises relocate in the next few weeks as the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports & Entertainment awaits finalization. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the price has already been agreed upon, with $110 million going to the Atlanta Spirit (current owners) and a $60 million relocation fee to the NHL. Rumors of the possible purchase started in 2009 and the end finally seems to be in sight. The Atlanta Spirit also own the Atlanta Hawks and the Philips Arena where both teams play. The owners have been trying to sell the Thrashers for some time.
Although no destination is confirmed, a likely landing spot for the franchise is Winnipeg, Manitoba. True North had previously attempted to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and relocate them back to Winnipeg, however they will remain in Arizona for at least another year after the city of Glendale committed to helping finance the team for another season. If the Thrashers' move does happen this year, there is already a relatively new arena, the MTS Center (built in 2004) in downtown Winnipeg that is ready to accommodate the team.
Winnipeg is no stranger to the NHL, having played host to the Winnipeg Jets from 1972-1996. The Jets were originally a part of the World Hockey Association, a 12-team league that was established in 1972 and competed with the NHL until their merger in 1979. Facing increasing financial troubles, the team relocated to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes
The Thrashers were an NHL expansion team that began play in 1999. Atlanta previously received an NHL expansion team (Atlanta Flames) in 1972 but the team relocated to Calgary in 1980.