NHL's Atlanta Thrashers set to move to Winnipeg
Atlanta Thrashers players celebrate a shootout win over the Ottawa Senators in March.
May 31st, 2011
01:45 PM ET

NHL's Atlanta Thrashers set to move to Winnipeg

[Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET] Atlanta will be losing a National Hockey League team for the second time, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, will be gaining one for the second time.

The new owner of the franchise, True North Sports and Entertainment, announced Tuesday that it has acquired the team from its current owners, Atlanta Spirit.

"I am excited beyond words" to make this announcement, True North CEO Mark Chipman said Tuesday.

The transaction is subject to the approval of the NHL Board of Governors later this month.

The Thrashers will be the second NHL franchise Atlanta has lost to Canada. The Flames moved to Calgary, Alberta, in 1980. Winnipeg lost its previous NHL team, the Jets, to Phoenix in 1996. The team was renamed the Coyotes in Phoenix.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's words that hockey was stronger than ever in Canada sparked loud applause in Winnipeg. And then he said the words many residents of the city have been waiting to hear from the NHL:

"It's nice to be back in Winnipeg after all these years."

That sentiment was echoed by Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.

"NHL - welcome home," he said. "It's great to have you back here where you belong. We've missed you, and we're going to make it work forever."

Bettman also had some words for Thrashers fans. He said the NHL doesn't like to move franchises unless it has to. And just like when the Jets were forced to leave Winnipeg in 1996, sometimes, "we simply don't have a choice."

"To fans in Atlanta, we are not happy about leaving Atlanta," he said. "Please be assured it was not about whether Winnipeg is better than Atlanta."

The Thrashers sent out an e-mail to fans thanking them for their support.

"It's extremely disappointing to all of us that [the sale] became necessary after all other options were exhausted," the e-mail said. "We want to express my gratitude to you, the fans, for the years of dedication to the Atlanta Thrashers.

But in Canada, where hockey is king, fans couldn't be happier.

Many are hoping the move can mean a return chance at cheering for the Jets, with the trending topic #gojetsgo picking up steam with the announcement. However, there has been no indication yet what the team would be named.

Chipman, who was involved with the effort to save the Jets years ago, said there is no doubt the loss affected the psyche of the town. But he is excited to bring the NHL back to the people of Winnipeg

And video around Winnipeg showed massive groups gathering at The Forks and other major areas, cheering, wearing Jets jerseys and chanting "Welcome back, welcome back" and "Go Jets, go."

"It's a fantastic day for the city, and I'm hoping, you know, for decades on, everybody will get to experience the NHL and the economic impact and the wonderful pride that comes with being a city that has the best of the best," Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz told the CBC.

soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. Sanchez

    Now we Flames fans can go back to referring Winnipeg as 'Loserpeg'

    May 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike in the "D"

    Now all the matters is getting the red wings back in the East!!! No more 10:30 PM games.

    May 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      A lot of Western Teams would applaud the wings going east, that's for sure. 🙂

      May 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve s

      I would love to see the wings in the east, we would dominate it. The east is shaking in their boots now!

      May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |

      who is going to buy the columbus bluejackets?

      they SUCK.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Llewdor

    I feel bad for the Thrashers players. Now they have to move to Winnipeg.

    May 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tee

      Lol @ Llewdor....I couldn't agree more. Be prepared for the -35 degree winters!!!

      May 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      You say that like there's something wrong with Winnipeg! Don't forget, a good number of the Thrashers' players come from up here. Keep your Falcons, Hawks and Braves. Go Jets!!!

      May 31, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      Actually Roger, not one of the current Thrashers is even from Manitoba, let alone Winnipeg. Nice try, though.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chief

      Mikey – I believe by "here," he meant Canada.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      Mikey....9 players out of the 26 man roster are from CANADA! It doesnt matter where in canada these boys are from. Whart matters is now they get to move to their home country and play for a city that loves hockey!

      Eric Boulton Halifax, NS, CANADA
      Patrice Cormier Moncton, NB, CANADA
      Evander Kane Vancouver, BC, CANADA
      Andrew Ladd "C" Maple Ridge, BC, CANADA
      Bryan Little Edmonton, AB, CANADA
      Ben Maxwell North Vancouver, BC, CANADA
      Anthony Stewart La Salle, QC, CANADA
      Chris Thorburn Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CANADA
      Chris Mason Red Deer, AB, CANADA

      Welcome home boys!!! GO JETS GO!!!!

      May 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • k

      most hockey guys are used to the cold weather, and I am sure they would rather play in a Hockey Atmosphere then a Southern hot atmosphere

      plus I am sure the millions of dollars they get a year helps them deal with it

      May 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • biz guy

      9 players on their team will probably be happy moving there since their from Canada.
      As for the USA players (9 players also) that has to really suck.
      The rest of the roster is from other countries so they may or may not care.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AIMolina

    Atlanta has a hockey team?

    May 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • David M

      No. They HAD a hockey team!

      May 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harry T.


    May 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marc

    Why does Canada always pick on us...first it was the Flames now the Thrashers.

    May 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chief

      Because you don't support the team.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • SLUMLORD78

      OOOOHHHHH does the baby need a bottle? It won't be the last team canada is going to take from you! HA HA HA

      May 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BBlais

    Happy day for Winnipeg, can't wait for NHL hockey on home ice. GO WINNIPEG

    May 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Harry T.


    May 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • exidy


      May 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles In Ottawa

      touché. Was there for a good bit – not really in to anything but what they have always been in to.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tarmac

    Good for Winnipeg. If ice can't naturally happen in your area, then you shouldn't have a hockey team. Case in point, Tampa Bay shouldn't have hockey.

    May 31, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonny5

      I think any place that wants a hockey team should get one. The more crappy "tin can" american teams for the Canucks to take out the better.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big Whale

    We can never rest until the Whale is back home in Hartford.

    May 31, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chief

      Too many Bruins fans... and you have a minor league team already.

      May 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. doood

    Hockey is where WHITE people get together and slap a BLACK puck around using sticks. .surprised southern states havent done better? hmmm

    May 31, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • John


      May 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • defD

      seems like evander kane and big buff, 2 top tier BLACK players could've done a lot to draw black support in atlanta

      May 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JackInNH

    Remember when the Canadian flag was hung upside down in Atlanta for the World Series? So there...

    May 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Maekchu

    Bettman and the NHL are killing off hockey for the 2nd time in a Top 10 US market. STUPID. This was a failure of the ownership group Atlanta Spirit, not the fans. I'm not sure why the NHL went overboard to rescue hockey in Phoenix (Not a Top 10 TV market) but wouldn't do the same in Atlanta. This stinks of the same corruption we saw when the Sonics were stolen from Seattle and currently with FIFA. Bettman and the NHL should be ashamed. What a sad sad farce for the people of Atlanta that have now had 2 teams stolen from them due to poor ownership and corruption/lack of support from the NHL leaders. Gary Bettman and Sepp Blatter are of the same slimy ilk.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      stolen from atlanta? please.... lack of fan support and ticket buyers are the reason atlanta is losing their team for the 2nd time. lets face it, 40,000 people showed up at portage and main to celebrate a "rumour" of a team returning to winnipeg. in atlanta, 200 people showed up to "save" their team...... i think that says it all!

      May 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NeoSHNIK

    Its stupid how they are allowed to do this kind of thing in NHL. Thrashers are a part of Atlanta's cultural heritage and they are moving it to Canada. Imagine if they moved Falcons or Braves – I am sure people would uprise.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HockeyStinks

    Isn't the NHL in a lockout?

    May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      No, thats NFL football thats locked out.... you say hockey stinks? american football is the most boring game (other than baseball) this planet has ever seen.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      He's probably a basketball fan and, by definition, a moron.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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