Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/4/2011 (1997 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Things may have gone deathly quiet in the desert but the action is getting hot in the Dirty South.
While the NHL continues to work on a sale of the Phoenix Coyotes, fighting a clock that must be close to running out, the talk in Atlanta about the future of the Thrashers is picking up pace, as well as a hint of absurdity.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had only this to say Friday about the progress of sale negotiations in Phoenix.
"No change. Quite certain it won't go on for ever," he said in an email to the Free Press.
There has been a sense of urgency among those working on the deal in Phoenix for some time. The talk in Atlanta is beginning to have that same sound.
ESPN Radio personality John Kincade is pushing a story that says a mysterious buyer, referred to by Kincade as The Balkan, is negotiating with the Atlanta Sprint group to purchase the Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena for a price somewhere in the $400-million area.
"I'm here to tell you there is someone that Atlanta Spirit is talking to right now that is negotiating to buy all three," said Kincade.
"I'm going to embarrass myself a little right now by telling you one of my favourite obsessions in life is the show General Hospital. They had a villain on the show this past year who moved in the shadows and was called The Balkan.
"You never knew who The Balkan was. When this story came down, I became privy, through various interactions with the person who would like to purchase all three entities, and I began to say The Balkan existed. There is a person that exists that is negotiating to buy all three right now. I can tell you that yesterday, extensive negotiations between
The Balkan and the Atlanta Spirit group to purchase all three entities were going on."
Kincade's statements, however, do not pass the test with other members of the Atlanta media.
Veteran Atlanta Journal-Constitution hockey writer Chris Vivlamore told the Free Press he spoke with a Thrashers owner on Friday and was told there has been no progress on a sale and no potential buyer is close to finalizing a deal.
Vivlamore is working on a story that will appear in the Journal-Constitution on Sunday detailing the plight of the Thrashers and their future in Atlanta. Vivlamore's ownership source has not indicated Kincade's mystery man does indeed exist.
Thrashers director of media relations Rob Koch refused to grant the Free Press an interview with ownership or team president Don Waddell.
"The organization is not commenting on speculative situations," wrote Koch.
Kincade says the Thrashers need to be sold, one way or another, by the end of April.
"Atlanta Spirit is extremely desperate," he said. "It's extreme. These guys have hemorrhaged money. There are members of the ownership group that have had stress issues because of this. They are desperate to make a deal. I can also tell you negotiations are hardly preliminary. Anyone who has described it as kicking tires is regretfully misinformed. They have been extensive. They are far down the road," said Kincade.
"My time frame for this is April 30th. How long could the NHL go if they were going to relocate a franchise. I don't think it could be done June 1. I think it has to come to a head before the end of the month."
The Balkan? What's next? For Winnipeggers this has already been a year of "Who shot J.R.?" cliffhanger moments.
Can't take anymore? Sorry to tell you but it's likely -- between the scene in Phoenix and a new set in Atlanta -- we're going to be extras in this soap opera for just a bit longer.
But maybe it all winds up with Winnipeg being the star of its own new series.
Talk about your happy endings.