Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Winnipeg included in NHL's schedule drafts: source

  • Print

So they’re talking.

Good to know. But it remains to be seen if a deal can be done and that’s really the news Winnipeggers are waiting on.

Word is out that True North Sports and Entertainment is in negotiations with Atlanta Spirit to buy and relocate the Atlanta Thrashers for the coming 2011-12 season.

Where those negotiations sit is unknown and to suggest an announcement is close would be rash.

The talks, however, are not preliminary and the Free Press has learned the NHL is working on two schedule drafts for next season — one with Winnipeg and another with Atlanta.

The best news, for Winnipeggers wanting the NHL to return to this city, is the simplicity of these negotiations in terms of the players.

This is about a deal between two groups, True North and Atlanta Spirit. No city council to contend with and no objections from the NHL. Just a bunch of suits haggling over a business transaction.

Sure, there could be some sticking points and this deal could crater but Atlanta Spirit is a motivated seller and True North is a motivated buyer. No one else is in the room and it's down to money and terms.

The NHL, by virtue of allowing these talks and working on a schedule that includes Winnipeg, is prepared to let relocation to Winnipeg happen.

More to the point, commissioner Gary Bettman is OK with it.

Mr. Bettman gets what he wants in the NHL and if you need proof, just have a look at the sideshow in Phoenix. The commissioner wasn’t interested in leaving the desert and he moved heaven and hell to keep the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

The board of governors have Bettman’s back and his blessing on talks between True North and Atlanta Spirit tells the entire story in terms of the governors. They’ve signed off and any needed massaging of league bylaws is an afterthought.

If True North can give Atlanta Spirit what it wants in short order — this deal will be done and approved and Winnipeg will have its Jets or Falcons or Moose or whatever they end up being called by this fall.

But time is an issue.

True North is approaching its internal deadline and while they could stretch things a bit its unlikely they’ll allow this to drag into June. There’s just too much to do and True North will want to get off on their best foot.

Should they land an NHL franchise they’ll want to immediately begin selling tickets and sponsorships, not to mention all the logistical work that remains to be done.

There’s also the matter of a marketplace test still to be conducted. True North chairman Mark Chipman discussed the concept with Free Press reporter Tim Campbell last spring and it’s understood Winnipeggers will be asked to show their willingness to pay NHL prices for NHL hockey before any deal is finalized.

Count on a week for such a test.

Like we said, there’s still lots to do.

But this is closer and a clearer path than Winnipeg has experienced in its bid for the return of the NHL.

Somebody call Monty Hall.

Let’s make a deal.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM CDT: Adds reaction from True North and NHL

5:48 PM: Updates with full writethrough

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart: God Rest Ye Premier Selinger

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gosling stares near water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who should get more playing time in Jets net?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google