NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Winnipeg "a place we wish we had not left in 1996."
OK then. In any event, the Thrashers are on their way becoming the Winnipeg _______.
True North CEO Mark Chipman said during today's press conference that the team nickname hasn't been decided yet -- pending a majority vote of the Board of Governors to approve the move on June 21. Transfer of ownership from Atlanta Spirit, Ltd., to True North, with a price tag of $170 million plus a $60 million relocation fee to the NHL, requires a 75 percent approval by the Board.
Thrashers president Don Waddell, who was the team's GM for its first decade, will not make the move; True North execs said Thrashers GM Rick Dudley and coach Craig Ramsay are still not certain to move, meaning the team could be starting from scratch with just a couple months before training camp opens.
"The most important thing for any franchise is ownership, and having Mark Chipman and David Thomson is at the top of the list," Bettman said. "But if you think back to 1996, (the MTS Centre) didn't exist, we didn't have the same collective bargaining agreement that we have now and I believe the market from an economic standpoint for Winnipeg and Manitoba is stronger than it was."
Winnipeg is the smallest market among the current NHL cities and the MTS Centre holds only 15,000. "The only way this works is if the building is filled every night," Bettman said more than once during today's press conference.