|Thrashers Eric Boulton/Courtesy: Zimbio.com|
The one sideshow that could distract hockey fans from the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Relocation. It's no secret that a couple of the leagues franchises...or at least the people that own them are having troubles.
We've reported at length about the plight of the Phoenix Coyotes and the city of Glendale. The Coyotes are technically without an owner, the NHL has operated the team this season. And the league along with the city feel that a prospective owner is on their doorstep, one Matthew Hulsizer. However, the process of getting Hulsizer on board has drawn a lot of attention and in fact could potentially be part of a lawsuit.
A report today by TSN in Canada and other Canadian outlets is reporting that the issue of relocation to Winnipeg is on. It's just going to be a who, not if. Winnipeg has the money, True North Holdings has proven to have the backing and finances to bring a team to the Great White North. It's just a matter of which team.
While many feel inevitably, Phoenix will be that team, today's story says "Not so fast my friend". In the story, Mayor Sam Katz of Winnipeg says he thinks the city may end up with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Your story from TSN.ca RIGHT HERE
For their part, it is a foregone conclusion the Thrashers are going to be sold. The team owners, the Atlanta Spirit group have been hemorraging money for years. They've not invested heavily in the product, the team has had one playoff appearance in now 12-years.
This is an issue that Brother Jon and I have heavily debated. For my part, I'm of the thought the Coyotes are done in Phoenix. What the city of Glendale has been trying to do is essentially pay Hulsizer to buy the team. And they've been fought every step of the way by the Goldwater institute. While I agree, the team needs to be sold, it doesn't need to be on the back of local taxpayers. Period.
As for the Thrashers, we are both intimately familiar with them and we truly would like to see them stay in Atlanta. I for one, think that is possible. Though the team suffers with poor attendance, part of the reason for that is the poor play. They've proven in the past if the product is good, people will come.
In the big picture, this story doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. It's just repeating many things that have been whispered over the past year or two. Do we believe that one of these two franchises will end up in Winnipeg? Sure, it's possible. Heck, it's probably likely. Which one do we think it will be? Me, I think it will be the Coyotes. We can't imagine how that sale can go through without an owner with money. That and the whole taxpayer subsidy thing. It would be a very, very dangerous precedent and as much as the Bettman would like them to stay where they are, it really doesn't...at least on the surface, seem practical.