As negotiations continue between the owners of the Atlanta Thrashers and the True North Sports and Entertainment group for a potential purchase and relocation of the NHL franchise, last-minute white-knight local bidders are popping up and being discredited at an escalating rate.
Atlanta Journal Constitution's hockey writer, Chris Vivlamore, was a guest on the Hustler & Lawless radio show Tuesday afternoon and said two local groups allegedly in the running to buy the Thrashers and keep them in Atlanta were not credible.
Most notably, Vivlamore said the long-rumoured deep-pocketed saviour dubbed 'The Balkan' outed today as J.B Smith has been involved in previous sports franchise investment talks and has never been able to prove his financing was in place.
"Smith is not a credible person" to be considered as a candidate to buy the Thrashers, Vivlamore said. "He's previously met with Atlanta Spirit Group (ASG) and when asked to show his financials, he was unable to."
Vivlamore added that Smith's only response to the request was to suggest that his money was "in China."
Smith was allegedly looking to purchase the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and the rights to the Philips Arena - the entire sports asset base held by ASG. But Vivlamore confirmed that a group currently has exclusivity in negotiations for the Hawks and the arena as a pair, excluding the Thrashers in the agreement.
A second group reportedly made an offer for the Thrashers, but Vivlamore clarified that they presented a basic "term sheet" which is a one-page document outlining the terms of a possible sale agreement. Vivlamore said the term sheet did not gain traction with ASG.