The Latest on Atlanta and Winnipeg... (+ Bryzgalov Conflict of Interest)
From sources tonight.
It all appears to be in place. From what I am told True North in Winnipeg will meet via conference call with the Atlanta ownership group tomorrow. The call will be conducted by Gary Bettman who reportedly is prepared to allow True North to move the franchise to Winnipeg.
True North is prepared to commit $170 Millon to the deal, 110 of which would go to the Atlanta group with the remaining $60M going to the NHL as a transfer fee...and that may be the only rub here.
Another source told me that Bettman has "promised the Owners the Coyotes will not be a financial burden for the current owners, and the assumption here is the transfer fee from the Atlanta deal will cover the Coyotes money from this past season and the coming season."
However, a few owners aren't exactly thrilled with the fact that the Transfer Fee could be used for the Yotes as opposed to the money going to the teams to split up. Another person close to the Board of Governors said, "the Governors have always looked towards the transfer/expansion teams from Winnipeg, Quebec, and even possibly another team in Toronto as a major asset. The number to transfer another team to Toronto has even been said to be as high as half a billion dollars."
So while I fully expect we will hear Winnipeg has acquired a team and is moving it to Winnipeg in the next 24-48 hours, remember the Governors will have to approve the deal.
So what will the new team in Winnipeg be called?
I was told had the Coyotes moved back True North would have used the Jets name, since the franchise was one the Jets and the NHL owned the rights to the team name Jets.
However, of the Thrashers are the team to go. I am hearing the team would be called either the Manitoba Moose or the Manitoba Falcons. The current resident AHL Manitoba Moose would be moved to Saskatchewan. I have heard the first choice is Saskatoon, but Regina is also being considered. I have not heard that the Saskatoon Blades, a very proud franchise, around since the late 60's would be affected or relocated.
Let me be very clear. It bothers me that Atlanta is moving. I really think the team, given a better lease situation and separated from the Hawks, along with the extra TV money from Comcast could still be profitable. And ever since I went to the All-Star game in Atlanta I have kept in touch with several solid Thrashers fans who are dying tonight.
However, I am torn here because I am absolutely thrilled for the people of Winnipeg, who lost their team despite great support and deserve an NHL franchise in the worst way. They are solid fans and I can only imagine the elation they will feel shortly.
I only wish the NHL would expand to 32 teams and put Expansion Teams in Quebec and Winnipeg.
The Bryzgalov Clutterbuck.
This summer Ilya Bryzgalov is a UFA, and will be highly sought after...especially here in Philadelphia. So you are Ed Snider and you want to sign Ilya, but the Coyotes need their MVP in the worst way. And Ed Snider, as an owner will be paying for Bryzgalov's contract in Phoenix. He will be negotiating against himself...I could see this being a problem...