Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Atlanta fans take Twitter beatdown

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Fans of the Atlanta Thrashers took a beating on Twitter Wednesday after it was announced a rally was planned for this weekend.

"Will the five of them carpool?" asked jimkeenleyside.

"Wonder if they know they wouldn't need to do this if they went to games," said Max3087.

And TheCockfight wondered if there had been some kind of mistake. "This might be a typo. It says fans (plural)."

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution dismissed J.B. Smith, a.k.a. The Balkan, as nothing more than a pretender in his apparent quest to buy the Thrashers and keep them in Atlanta.

He reported two companies, iSekurity and Equity 11, put out a news release disassociating themselves from him. They also said the Oakland County (Mich.) Circuit Court had a $1.9 million judgment against Smith.

Former Winnipeg Jets coach, Tom Watt, tells George Johnson of the Calgary Herald that Winnipeg is a "great city" to live in.

"Winnipeg is the only other place (besides Toronto) that I ever bought a home. Usually, that's not done by coaches.

My address was 1081 Dorchester, between River Heights and Fort Rouge." He said he "thoroughly enjoyed" his time in Winnipeg and was "disappointed" to leave.

If True North is successful in buying the Thrashers, Watt said he hopes they keep the Jets name. "What else would they call them? You still see fans wearing Jets' sweaters all over the place. There's still that connection there. I hope they get their team."

Hockey Night In Canada's Scott Morrison says the biggest obstacle to the NHL returning to Winnipeg may be the city itself. If and when True North asks Winnipeggers to get off their wallets, they better be prepared to lay their money down, he said.

"Talk is cheap. Buying tickets and suites and sponsor packages isn't," he said. "If the response is underwhelming, then True North could have second thoughts and back away, or the warning flags could make the NHL rethink the sale, regardless of the situation in Atlanta."

-- compiled by Geoff Kirbyson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2011 C3

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