Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hamilton is off the burner, Winnipeg moves to the front

A casual mention during the Hockey Night in Canada feature The Hot Stove has started the ball rolling it seems for more discussion on whether Winnipeg should return to the NHL.

During the course of the program Al Strachan dropped the hint that there were Toronto business interests working on purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to the Manitoba capital.

If so, they surely must be working under the deepest of covers, most of the media reports collected on Monday outlined how there was no truth to the rumours.

In Atlanta the current ownership called the suggestion a totally false concoction, while in Winnipeg there didn't seem to be much of any hard facts to back up the potential move, just a lot of wishful hoping.
There has been much made of the past animosity among that Thrasher ownership group, so it's not beyond the realm of reason that it could all unwind in the south making the need for an exit strategy something of a priority. And with so many American markets currently it seems under duress, moving to a more stable hockey environment in Canada would make sense (which probably, knowing how the NHL works, means it won't happen)

Current Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman, the current tenant at the MTS Centre had little to say about the discussion, nor if he was involved in any potential franchise acquisition. Though he has had dealings with the Ontario based group in the past and has always been considered the front runner to be the local face of any NHL returnees.

If the Thrashers do make the migration north, it will mark the second time in NHL history that a Canadian city has become the new home for a former Atlanta franchise, the Flames made the first migratory flight back in 1980, a move that seems to have worked out well for the NHL and for Calgary.

However, like their fellow travellers in tantalizing misery in Hamilton, Winnipeg has been down this road many times before, so we suspect that they'll be taking this latest bit of anticipation with more than a few grains of salt.

National Post-- Thrashers deny Winnipeg rumour
Winnipeg Free Press-- Chew on this NHL rumour...
Winnipeg Sun-- Thrashers new Jets?
Winnipeg Sun-- Cautious optimism
CBC Sports-- NHL rumours put Winnipeg back in spotlight
Atlanta Journal Constitution-- Ilya Kovalchuk, and the rest of your Winnipeg Thrashers!

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