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Debunking the ‘Thrashers to Winnipeg’ Rumor

It’s not really even a rumor but Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press — a guy and a paper that I’m sure knows an awful lot about goings on in Georgia — decided to print up a column about the Atlanta Thrashers relocating to Winnipeg. In return, I’ve decided to write up a post about how Tim is just trying to get the juices flowing of the hockey mad folks in Winnipeg tear him a new one. I’d love to see a team come back to Winnipeg but it’s unlikely and heck, it’s even less likely to be the Thrashers. So let’s cut to the chase. My thoughts are in bold and Mr. Campbell if you don’t like it, I’ve only got TWO WORDS FOR YA….

Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION

VIDEO: Chew on this NHL rumour…

Toronto buyers moving Thrashers to Winnipeg

There was more NHL/Winnipeg speculation on Saturday night’s Hockey Night in Canada’sSatellite Hotstove.

On the season’s opening weekend, the captivated nation was told that big money from Toronto has done plenty of work already to buy the Atlanta Thrashers…

Big money from TO? OK, I’ll bite. Did Jim Balsillie give up on his pursuit of the Desert Dogs?

…and move them to Winnipeg.

Well that’s not Big Jim. Everyone knows he is set on Hamilton. So who the hell is dumb enough to do that?

Is it just another episode of wishful thinking or a real indicator of what’s afoot?

The first one. Same story it’s been for the past 15 years.

True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman…

Who the fuck is that?


…wasn’t saying on Sunday, taking his usual tack of the less said the better. There are several known quantities to this ongoing story:

* The NHL has more problems than just the financially drowning Phoenix Coyotes.

No shit. But that has nothing to do with what you’re writing about.

* Chipman, whose company owns Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, has been a consistently keen observer of NHL franchise matters for longer than his arena has been open (2004) and has never denied his interest in some future deal that might bring the NHL back to the city.

And his track record of accomplishing that goal is A-MAZING!


* One of the biggest partners in the True North success story, and certainly its most well-heeled, is Osmington, Inc., the Toronto-based private real estate company of David Thomson, the richest man in Canada and son of the late Ken Thomson.

* Chipman and True North have been to NHL headquarters in New York to address league executives and governors about their new arena, their situation and their interest and they continue to maintain a very quiet but open channel for dialogue with the league’s leadership.

So? Maybe if they’re buying the Thrashers they should be talking to the ownership in Atlanta about buying their asset.

* In this case of Saturday’s HNIC outburst, the Thrashers’ owners, the Spirit group of eight partners, have been embroiled in disputes and legal wrangling for about four years over control of the NHL team, the NBA Hawks and Philips Arena. This summer, a judge tossed out a lawsuit that sent the bickering partners back to the starting blocks over share valuation and how one side or the other could be bought out. It’s thought that the group is far more interested in basketball and could sell the Thrashers, but that’s only speculation.

You just admitted that what you’re writing is complete horseshit. “But that’s only speculation.” Congratulations on backing off your juicy rumor.

* In recent years, hopeful yet emotionally battered Winnipeggers have gotten better at not overreacting to every bit of speculation or mention of their city and the NHL, even when it comes from influential or powerful figures like league commissioner Gary Bettman himself.

Or asshats like yourself.

All of the above considered, the tone of any speculation on Winnipeg seemed to move one grade towards legitimate in the spring…

So considering that you told us this is all a load and to not get our hopes up — now — this time — after 15 fricking years — a team is certifably close to coming back to Winnipeg?

…when, among the court filings and briefs in the Coyotes’ debacle, it was discovered that Bettman wrote in an email earlier this year that the Coyotes, if they were going to be sold and relocated anywhere, ought to be offered up first to Winnipeg.

Oh. AN EMAIL. This should happen by the end of the week for sure.

That seemed to infer the commissioner, so wildly reviled for chasing teams out of Canada in the mid-’90s, would now give his blessing for a repatriation.

Chipman had almost no reaction to that revelation, too, not only because he had no intention of rocking the boat but also because he was steadfastly sticking to his position that the NHL knows where we are.

I wouldn’t be so sure. The NHL offices are located in New York City which is located in America. 99.9% of Americans have never heard of Winnipeg or think it’s some kind of ice cream from Dairy Queen.

Even as the Phoenix mess stumbled from headline to headline to last week’s interim conclusion that Ontario billionaire Jim Balsillie could not buy the bankrupt team and relocate it to Hamilton, the eager return-of-the-Jets type crowd would no doubt urge Chipman to get into the bidding line the NHL will surely seek for Winnipeg’s former team.

But the financial morass in the desert will be more complicated and expensive than most suspect, Chipman said late last week, while hinting he and his group won’t be rushing into the first money pit that comes along. He didn’t say he was done looking, though.

Translation: “We don’t have the money to buy a team that’s in debt up to its eyeballs.”

The group has previously kicked tires in Nashville, and watched with great interest in Phoenix, but both situations are both tainted and inflated by Balsillie’s inept interventions.

YOU’RE LYING TO US!! Jim Balsillie is not responsible for these guys from ‘Peg not having the cajones to make an offer for a team. In fact, the NHL would favor an offer from the Peggers simply because they’re NOT Jim Balsillie.

Maybe they’re kicking tires in Atlanta, too, or maybe not.

You don’t even know if they’re interested in Atlanta?!? Then why the fuck did you write this whole article titled “Toronto Buyers Moving Thrashers to Winnipeg?” So much for investigative journalism.


Chipman won’t say, but you can take this to the bank — he’s only going to look at the possibilities as sound business propositions and if he has any control over it, Winnipeg won’t be dragged into any bidding wars and his group continues to have no desire to make a single public proclamation about what it may or may not do until it’s done.

That should suggest to the wise money that the story is a long way from over.

Or that they’re going to sit on their hands for another five years, not say a word to anyone (including you) about anything and not do a damned thing.

CONCLUSION: You wrote a whole article about this group trying to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg only to conclude that, well, no one really knows if they’re trying to do anything of the sort and the group isn’t saying a word about it. But from all of that non-information we can use reverse psychology and assume that they are actively pursuing the Thrashers. Thanks. Thanks for that.