NHL commissioner Gary Bettman went into fire-fighting mode again today with some cold-water words for those convinced the league has received a finalized deal to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg.
Appearing on Tampa, Fla., radio station WDAE this morning, Bettman was served the Atlanta-Winnipeg question with a little too much certainty for his liking.
"I think you’re being a tad presumptuous on what’s going on in Atlanta," Bettman said. "Nobody’s announced anything and frankly if there is something going on nothing is going to happen until it actually happens, which means it may not happen.
"So I think people need to take a deep breath and pause."
Like it or not, it’s been the commissioner’s consistent message for a long time.
Meanwhile, Mayor Sam Katz told reporters this morning he thinks an NHL announcement could happen before the end of the week.
Katz said wrapping up a deal to bring the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg is a huge undertaking, and needs to be signed, lawyered, and approved by the board of governors. He said the mayor of Atlanta "is basically telling his citizens that the team is leaving."
"I do believe something before the end of the week is likely," Katz said following a city council meeting this morning.
Katz said the city has not been asked to contribute funds toward bringing a team to Winnipeg, noting he thinks it would be "foolish" for government to get involved. He said it will be a private-sector driven initiative, and that the announcement will happen when the deal is done.
"Then we can all go dance in the streets and celebrate the return of the NHL to Winnipeg," Katz said. "I’ll be leading the conga line."