The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

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    davetherave
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    The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:25 pm

    It's no secret that the Atlanta Thrashers franchise has been in trouble, both off the ice, and on, for some time. The owners are mired in a protracted legal battle and the team's performance, both from a management standpoint and from a player's standpoint has been adversely affected.

    Ironically, the original Atlanta Flames were one of the NHL's most promising expansion franchises, and yet found themselves in financial difficulty, which saw the team moved to Calgary.

    Could a similar fate be in store for the Thrashers?

    Lyle 'Spectors Hockey' Richardson takes a look and offers his view.

    www.spectorshockey.net

    A recent report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution claimed the Thrashers could lose out on revenue sharing money this summer because of their declining attendance.

    The Thrashers are averaging 14,324 this season, their worst in five seasons and they need to match the leagues average revenue growth rate and reach a paid attendance threshold of 14,000 or the average NHL paid attendance, whichever is lower, to receive the full amount of NHL revenue sharing aimed at helping teams in non-traditional hockey markets.

    With GM Don Waddell saying its touch and go to reach the required number its just yet another indicator of how difficult its getting for the current ownership to maintain a franchise in Atlanta.

    Currently theres no talk of the Thrashers being located and NHL headquarters will undoubtedly claim everything will be ok there but this clubs attendance figures have been in the bottom quarter for several years and is currently the second-worst in the league.

    If this trend keeps up it could only be a matter of time until this club either folds or relocates.

    ------


    While Jim Balsillie is supposedly waiting in the wings to buy a team, it must not be forgotten that even in uncertain economic times, there is other big money looking to pick up an NHL franchise.

    One only has to look at the eagerness of Balsillie, the overtures of Kansas City and recently Hartford, the courtship of Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and the queue of suitors for the Montreal Canadiens to get the idea that owning an NHL team is actually a pretty good business decision.

    The NHLPA's Paul Kelly has even suggested the Greater Region of Toronto might get a team...

    But where are the Canadian investors for the other cities--like Quebec? A recent interview between a former Nordiques broadcaster and respected Montreal hockey journalist Yvon Pedneault discussed the possibility of the return of an NHL team there as being 'sooner than one imagines'...

    So what will happen to the Thrashers, and when? Interesting developments ahead...

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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by Guest on Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:14 pm

    Meh. Bettman won't allow the team to leave that market and go to Canada. I'll believe it when I see it.
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:18 pm

    Bettman, contrary to popular misconception, has nothing to do with the decision.

    The owners decide who gets to play with them.

    Bettman is just the mouthpiece for 'The Old Boys Club'.

    Always been that way.

    Bettman gets paid to take the crap so the owners can go about their business.

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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by Guest on Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:30 pm

    Moving the team would require approval from the BOG I believe. Bettman has way more influence than you think. The owners will not endorse such a move if Bettman doesn't want them to. He's much more than a mouchpiece for the owners. After the CBA, he's pretty damn close to prophet status with some of these owners, who if it were not for Bettman's efforts, would have run their teams into the ground.

    Bettman hosts a weekly radio call-in show on XM radio, which I try to catch as often as possible. Everything I've ever heard out of his mouth is that he is 100% committed to the non-traditional markets. He would only endorse moving the team under the most dire of circumstances. Atlanta isn't even close to that yet. They'll need to bleed funds for several more years, and the bottom needs to fall out of that fan base. Even then, there may be legal issues and contracts preventing the team from relocating.

    Also, since Atlanta came in under Bettman's watch, he will fight tooth and nail to keep them there, as it's a blow to his ego if it were to fail. I firmly believe that if even one of those teams in the troubled markets leave, it could open the floodgates for others to do so which is bad for the league as a whole. It just makes the league look even more Mickey Mouse to a largely uninterested American market.
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by davetherave on Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:38 pm

    hemlock wrote:Moving the team would require approval from the BOG I believe. Bettman has way more influence than you think. The owners will not endorse such a move if Bettman doesn't want them to. He's much more than a mouchpiece for the owners. After the CBA, he's pretty damn close to prophet status with some of these owners, who if it were not for Bettman's efforts, would have run their teams into the ground.

    Bettman hosts a weekly radio call-in show on XM radio, which I try to catch as often as possible. Everything I've ever heard out of his mouth is that he is 100% committed to the non-traditional markets. He would only endorse moving the team under the most dire of circumstances. Atlanta isn't even close to that yet. They'll need to bleed funds for several more years, and the bottom needs to fall out of that fan base. Even then, there may be legal issues and contracts preventing the team from relocating.

    Also, since Atlanta came in under Bettman's watch, he will fight tooth and nail to keep them there, as it's a blow to his ego if it were to fail. I firmly believe that if even one of those teams in the troubled markets leave, it could open the floodgates for others to do so which is bad for the league as a whole. It just makes the league look even more Mickey Mouse to a largely uninterested American market.

    Of course Bettman 'delivers the message'...and on the NHL Network (heard on XM Radio and seen on the cable and satellite TV networks), which is basically the propaganda arm for the league.

    I highly recommend you read "Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey" to get a real picture of the massive power of the owners.

    Bettman is very well paid and very visible because that's what he's good at. He earned his spurs working for David Stern at the NBA.

    Don't kid yourself. Bettman isn't the boss. He's the emissary for the bosses. The money men behind the franchises. Remember the golden rule--"He who holds the gold makes the rules."
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by top shelf15 on Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:20 pm

    Hello las vega,s there will be a team there sooner or later i bet on it lol
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by SeawaySensFan on Mon May 11, 2009 2:05 pm

    Here's more on this:
    Group wants to move Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton TheStar.com - Hockey - Group wants to move Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton
    Mayor to discuss second bid next week

    May 09, 2009

    HAMILTON SPECTATOR

    HAMILTON A Vancouver-based hockey group is interested in relocating the financially-troubled Atlanta Thrashers to Hamilton, the Spectator has learned.
    Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is expected to meet with the second hockey group on Monday.
    Eisenberger wouldn't disclose any details of the second group, believed to be led by Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi, or when the meeting would take place.
    But an inside hockey source told the Spectator that Gaglardi is interested in moving the Thrashers to Hamilton, possibly in time for the 2010 season.
    Gaglardi heads River City Hockey Inc., a five-man group including NHL stars Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi, Shane Doan and Darryl Sydor, which purchased the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League in 2007.
    A source confirmed this week that Gaglardi, president of Northland Properties, the parent company of Sandman Hotels, is the key principal in the second hockey group interested in Hamilton. Gaglardi failed in his bid to buy the Vancouver Canucks five years ago.
    Hamilton is suddenly a hot property for people looking at the possibility that some financially troubled NHL teams may be looking to relocate.
    Gaglardi's group is Steeltown's second NHL suitor. There are now rumours of as many as five groups looking at Hamilton and Copps Coliseum for an NHL team.
    City staff are already working on a proposed lease of Copps Coliseum to Waterloo billionaire Jim Balsillie, who hopes to buy and relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to the city for the 2009 season.
    Balsillie, who has made a $212.5 million (U.S.) offer for the bankrupt Coyotes this week, is battling the NHL for control of the franchise. That battle is currently being waged in a Phoenix courtroom.
    Gaglardi has business ties to fellow Vancouver developer Nelson Skalbania, the former owner of the Edmonton Oilers, who was the driving force behind the relocation of the former Atlanta Flames to Calgary. It is unclear whether Skalbania is involved in the possible second relocation of an Atlanta hockey club north of the border.
    One source said the Atlanta move to Hamilton would be temporary, possibly to give the group time to relocate the franchise to a more permanent site following the 2010 season.
    Gaglardi was unavailable for comment yesterday.
    Eisenberger told the Spectator yesterday he expects by Tuesday the city should have a "clear picture" of its NHL strategy. That is one day before a May 13 deadline for sealing a deal to lock up Copps Coliseum requested by Balsillie.
    "By next Tuesday we will have a clearer picture of where we are. We're in the middle of discussions with Mr. Balsillie and his group and I will be meeting with the second group. We need to understand their intentions. It's fair to say I will be talking to that second group," Eisenberger said.
    A well-placed source in the business community, speaking on condition he not be named, said the frenzied climate around NHL hockey, Hamilton, Toronto and Vaughan has made it impossible to separate legitimate bids from possibilities and mere rumours.
    He described five different scenarios that continue to crop up in conversations, though he emphasized there is no way to know how solid some of them are.
    "I don't know what's real and not real," the source said.

    Looks like Balsillie is not the only mean rich guy in Canada. Notice there may be as many as 5 groups looking to ice an NHL team in Hamilton according to this article.
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by davetherave on Tue May 12, 2009 7:03 am

    From SportsIllustrated.com/AP last night:

    Thrashers deny plans to move despite inquiries from investors


    ATLANTA (AP) May 11, 2009-- The Atlanta Thrashers have had "several inquiries" from possible investors, but have not had talks about moving the team.

    One of the team's owners, Washington businessman Bruce Levenson, said Monday "there is no truth to the rumor" the ownership group has been involved in discussions about taking the team out of Atlanta, including with a Vancouver group reportedly interested in relocating the Thrashers to Hamilton, Ontario.

    The Hamilton Spectator reported on Saturday Vancouver developer Tom Gaglardi heads a group interested in moving the Thrashers to Canada. There also are efforts to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.

    Levenson said his Atlanta Spirit LLC ownership group, which also owns the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena, recently hired an agency to "explore inquiries" from possible investors. He said there are ongoing talks but added "none involve moving either team."

    Seven of the owners based in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., want to buy out Steve Belkin, who is based in Boston. The effort led to a long, ongoing legal fight and also prompted a search for new investors, according to Levenson.

    "We have received several such inquiries, some targeted at the purchase of Steve Belkin's interest in the wake of publicity regarding our litigation," Levenson told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

    The unsettled litigation between Belkin and the other owners would make it difficult for the Thrashers to move from Atlanta. Another barrier is the team's commitment to Philips Arena.

    The ownership split began in 2005 over Belkin's objection to the Hawks' decision to trade Boris Diaw, two first-round draft picks and a $4.9 million trade exception to the Phoenix Suns for guard Joe Johnson.

    Court documents associated with the case have revealed the teams have lost nearly $174 million since the 2002-03 seasons, including more than $50 million in the last two years.

    One of the owners, Atlanta-based Michael Gearon Jr., said the ownership group provides a wider financial foundation to help the Hawks and Thrashers survive the recession.

    "The biggest challenge we have is the distraction of Belkin and getting that resolved," Gearon said during the Hawks' first-round playoff series win over Miami. "I think that's probably the biggest issue.

    "We don't have any debt on the team. As much as people critique what's going on in Atlanta, we have no debt," he added. "Most teams in the NBA have debt. That doesn't mean we may not access debt. It just means we have a lot of options when it comes to trying to invest in the product. We've got flexibility. We'll just see what happens."

    Copyright 2009 Associated Press.
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    Re: The End of the Thrashers in Atlanta?

    Post by shabbs on Tue May 12, 2009 7:53 am

    Well, with all these investors that the NHL claims to have in the wings for the Coyotes, surely one of them can save the Thrashers... surely....

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