Kukla's Korner Hockey
"I'm glad they went somewhere instead of folding. Watching them now, they're exactly the same team. I feel bad for Winnipeg. They thought it was going to be awesome, but they're the same team."
-Lauren Godinez, a fan of the Atlanta Thrashers on the Winnipeg Jets. More from a feature by Geoff Kirbyson of the Winnipeg Free Press on fans in Atlanta still following 'their' team.
A few Atlanta Thrashers sweaters were tossed on the ice tonight during the Winnipeg/Nashville game.
added 11:33pm, A longer YouTube video has been added below.
from Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
The following are excerpts from interviews and emails regarding how Thrashers fans are coping six months after the announcement that the NHL team was sold and would relocate to Winnipeg:
“We’ve since adopted a coping mechanism consisting of describing Winnipeg as a 19th-century town that is just now gaining access to things like indoor plumbing, electricity and automobiles.”—Krista
“I feel like an entire aspect of my social and personal life is gone. The winter sport I’ve grown to love, I can barely bring myself to watch on TV anymore. The pasttime I enjoyed exposing my friends to and making new friends at disappeared overnight.”—Lauren
These are hockey fans, just like us. Just imagine how you would feel if your home team moved away.
“They should support me, maybe I’m one of the reasons they moved here.”
-Ilya Kovalchuk of the New Jersey Devils, responding to the Winnipeg fans who booed him tonight. More on the Devils from Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger.
from Leon Stafford and Dan Chapman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Kennesaw State University associate professor and sports economist J.C. Bradbury said the decision wasn’t a shock, given the circumstances.
“Hockey is a northern sport,” he said. “It’s hot down there. I don’t think anyone is surprised hockey had trouble, especially because the team has not been great and the ownership situation is not popular with fans.”
City hospitality and business leaders tried to keep a stiff upper lip over the loss….
Greg Rancone, director of marketing for Legacy Property Group, said fans packed the company’s restaurants—Stats, Der Biergarten and Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.
“Hockey fans are very loyal and very consistent,” he said. “We would see the same faces over and over again. And that was over 40 [home] games. That’s pretty formidable.”
Atlanta is losing the Thrashers to a Canadian province that is home to 1.2 million people, or just one-fourth the population of metro Atlanta. Winnipeg, the Cree Indian word for “muddy waters,” boasted an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in 2010.
“I never got a phone call from the Winnipeg people when they apparently bought the team. None of us did. There are always three choices: ‘We want you; we don’t want you or we really don’t know at this point because we don’t have a general manager in place.’ At least then the communication is open and you’ve spoken to the (new owners) and that didn’t happen. It’s disappointing. I think with 40 years in the business you deserve a call from them to let you know where things stand and where they think they are headed.
“The fact that they dragged it out meant there were jobs that were going by the wayside while we were under the assumption that perhaps Winnipeg was interested in bringing our group along. It was a month or more just sitting by the phone waiting for things to happen while you are under obligation not to talk to other teams because of tampering charges….”
Craig Ramsay on the new ownership in Winnipeg. More from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet.
From Chris Vivlamore via Twitter:
Former #Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay will take an assistant’s job with Florida. Official announcement likely tomorrow.
Now then, who will become the first-ever draft choice of the second-ever go-round for the Winnipeg
Whatevers this weekend? And what will they wear on stage?
Oh, and officially, R.I.P., Atlanta Thrashers.
Condolences to those whose career paths have now been drastically altered.
From Chris Vivlamore of the AJC (Tweet):
It’s official. NHL Board of Governors approves sale and relocation of #Thrashers.
Update 3:33pm ET: From TSN—
The NHL is officially returning to Winnipeg. The league’s Board of Governors approved the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment of Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Fifteen years after the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix, the two sides came to an agreement on May 31 and the first step to move the Thrashers North was taken, pending Tuesday’s approval.
The franchise price is $170 million, which includes a relocation fee of $60 million. As determined by the league’s Board of Governors, the relocation fee will be distributed among the other 29 teams.
Statement from Gary Bettman:
“We deeply regret that Atlanta’s ownership was unable to secure local partners after exhausting every option and alternative. At the same time, we are delighted that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg and to a fan-base that already is showing so much support for its team. We congratulate Mark Chipman, David Thomson and True North on their patience, their preparation and their professionalism, and we look forward to the start of a new era for the franchise.”
from Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
On Monday NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in an exclusive interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore, talked about a variety of issues including what went wrong in Atlanta, the city as a hockey market and the relocation fee the league receives as part of the deal.
Q. Why do you think the NHL has failed in Atlanta twice?
A. I don’t know enough about what happened the first time (when the Flames left for Calgary in 1980) to say why it happened twice. I don’t know that the situations were comparable. In this case, the franchise wasn’t economically viable. We are not happy about it. The litmus test is: Does someone want to own the franchise? The Raine Group and current ownership were completely unsuccessful in their efforts to find a local buyer.
Q. What do you think of Atlanta as a hockey market? Does that differ from 1997 when the city was awarded the expansion franchise?
A. We had high hopes in 1997. This is obviously not the result we envisioned or we wouldn’t have come. How we got to this position involves a number of issues and that’s why we find ourselves in the current situation.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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