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article imageNHL: Update on Atlanta Thrashers deal with Winnipeg's True North

By Tyler Hunt     May 26, 2011 in Sports
It appears as though fans in Manitoba will have to wait a bit longer for an announcement on the potential sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports & Entertainment in Winnipeg.
The deal was reportedly done last Tuesday, as Stephen Brunt of The Globe and Mail reported, but whether it was due to finer details still being worked out, or that the NHL would like to be in control of when the story breaks, the main point is the deal is not done as of yet. There are ongoing discussions between both sides and all signs point towards relocation and a done deal, but a press conference and official announcement have not been scheduled yet.
The Hockey News reported today that the deal is in fact done, citing a $170 million price tag on the Atlanta hockey club, $60 million of which is a relocation fee. According to Ken Campbell's article, the deal was being held up due to negotiations on how much each side would receive for the deal. Atlanta Spirit group owner Bruce Levenson will now reportedly receive $20 million of the relocation fee in addition to the $110 million for the purchase price of the Thrashers.
Sam Katz, the Mayor of Winnipeg recently told reporters that he hasn't heard anyone at this point say the deal isn't going to happen, and it's just a matter of when the deal will be finalized, and when an announcement is made.
Katz comments echoed those of Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, who spoke with an NBC television affiliate in Atlanta.
"Anytime we lose a major sports franchise, it's tough," Reed told NBC's Channel 11. "It's going to hurt the city, but we'll withstand it and get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that we'll be announcing soon."
At this point, it seems as if the deal is all but signed, with even the Manitoba Moose, who are the AHL affiliate for the Vancouver Canucks, getting prepared for relocation. If an NHL team comes to Manitoba, there will certainly not be room for both the Thrashers and the Moose, so pending the finalization and announcement of the True North deal, the Moose are set to relocate to St. John's, Newfoundland next season.
St. John's has been without an AHL team since the St. John's Maple Leafs, now the Toronto Marlies, moved to Ontario's capital in 2005.
It looks as though talks will continue throughout the weekend, and most are looking to next week for an official announcement of the sale. Only time will tell though, and as history has shown, an announcement for a truly "done deal" could drag on another week or so.
Another factor is the ongoing NHL playoffs, as the Stanley Cup Finals will begin next week, and it is believed that the NHL might want to wait until after the Final to make any announcements.
For fans in Winnipeg, the news can't come any sooner, but all signs point to to the prospect of the Thrashers starting to 2011-12 season in Manitoba.
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