SBD/May 12, 2011/Franchises

Winnipeg Group Eyes Thrashers After Coyotes' Immediate Future Settled

Source says a deal to sell Thrashers could move quickly
A day after the immediate future of the NHL franchise in Phoenix "was decided, the fate of the one in Atlanta remained uncertain, with a spokesman for Mayor Kasim Reed acknowledging the Thrashers 'may leave' the city," according to Vivlamore & Suggs of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The Coyotes "had been targeted" by True North Sports & Entertainment, which was "interested in purchasing the franchise and moving it to Manitoba." With the Coyotes "staying put, the Winnipeg group likely will turn its sole focus to the Thrashers." The Glendale City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay the NHL $25M to keep the Coyotes in Arizona for another season. Reese McCranie, spokesperson for Reed, said that Atlanta "has not been approached by the NHL about making a financial deal such as Glendale’s." McCranie added that even if approached, the city "would not consider it." McCranie: "The mayor has had robust discussions with business leaders in the metro region (who might) potentially buy or join a team of buyers to keep the Thrashers here. He has gone through extraordinary lengths to ensure that the Thrashers can stay in Atlanta, but at this moment there is not a deal on the table that we can present" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/12). The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION's Chris Vivlamore reported with True North "ready to pay $170 million, $60 million which would go to the NHL as a relocation fee, the door is open." A source said a deal "could move quickly" (, 5/11).

STILL IN LIMBO:'s Scott Burnside cites sources as saying that as part of the NHL's deal with Glendale to keep the Coyotes in the city for another year, the league "will have the right to begin the relocation process as of Dec. 31 if a new owner is not in place." There are some who "believe the city will take advantage of the broader window granted by the council's decision to try to ferret out a new potential owner who will agree to a deal that costs the city less money and hit the restart button on the entire process." Bulls and White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf's name "continues to surface in connection with the team's future, although it's difficult to believe he would be interested in a deal that is significantly different than the one on the table involving Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer." Meanwhile, sources said that Hulsizer will "walk away" if it "looks like the city of Glendale is going to keep him hanging while it tries to find an owner who will kick in more money" (, 5/11).

WINNING ON A BUDGET: In Phoenix, Jim Gintonio notes with the Coyotes "guaranteed at least another year in the Valley," GM Don Maloney "faces the familiar challenge -- if ownership is not settled -- of cobbling together a competitive team under rigid financial constraints." Maloney will "talk with league officials Thursday and said a budget could be in place in a week to 10 days." He said, "By the City Council buying us, at minimum, another year, we can show people that we're a good developing team, a team that can have success on the ice and success bringing fans in the building. I don't think there's anybody sitting here saying, 'We're going to sell 17,000 season tickets in the next week.' We believe in the product and believe if we can put a good team on the ice, we'll get the support we need to be successful" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/12). Maloney said, "The NHL continues to work very, very hard to get a deal in place that keeps us here for a long time. But in the meantime, my job isn't any different than the other 29 managers" ("NHL Live," NHL Network, 5/12).
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