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. Ken

    lizng, are you really dumb like that?

    May 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob2Bob

    Ellis is coming to lay some heavy sh!t on us! It will be worth the wait.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Now some city in Canada needs to come get the money losing joke of franchise that is the Coyotes off our hands. Hey Bettman hockey is a regional sport and who would have guessed it would bomb in the desert.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MdawgMike

    Would be great to see an NHL team in Seattle. I'm through with the NBA. Absolutely no inspiration to support another team under Sternpolean's rule. Could get a great rivalry with Vancouver going if that ever happened.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steelerguin

    Most of Atlanta's population doesn't know they have a hockey team. However, if someone tried to move "the Varsity" there would be a riot.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kaye

      Agreed but then again how many remember the Atlanta Flames? Not the first time they have "lost" a team and I am sure in about 20 years they will be doing the same thing again. FYI: I would probably be one of those most upset about losing the Varsity....sigh...I miss the cheese dogs and fried pies!

      May 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marty McFly

      The last time I ate at The Varsity I found a pube in my food.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whaddya have Marty?

      That was me.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clean up your act

      You should have brushed your teeth before you left the house Marty.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hockey is boring

      Most of Atlanta doesn't CARE if they have a hockey team. If someone suggested that they move the Varsity there wouldn't be a riot. There are already 6 Varsities in the greater Atlanta Athens area. When the need arises, another one springs up.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ken

    David Stern would rook his own grandmother! He shafted Buffalo of its NBA franchise in 1978.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob2Bob

    Big Ellis is coming to lay some new heavy sh!t on us! Wait till Ellis gets here!

    May 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HRPufnstuf

    Atlanta didn't have a hockey team, just a name. And they didn't have any fans. GOOD RIDDANCE!

    May 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      go root for your Winnebago's. don't forget to stop and pick up some tim horton's for your mom.

      May 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ellis-From Panama

    Me eat big chorizo. Me like burito.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      you need to go back to Panama Canal

      May 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ken

    Thrashers moving is one more way to keep Canadians out of our country. How do you spot a Canadian in the U.S.? They are wearing colored socks with their shorts and sandles and they usually have funny haircuts.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Canadian look like an American, stop insulting to Canadian people, Canadian is not a Terrorist or Islam or Third World. Canada was best economy in the world.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Toronto is a beautiful city than Atlanta! Toronto look more future city than NYC/Chicago/Los Angeles! I think you are so selfish to insult every country, so your father is a hitler? One Day, United States of America and Canada will not exist? become One Nation Earth? United State of North America? United Federation of Earth? Life going on! and STOP be selfish and think about yourself all the time, you don't know how to love anyone

      May 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • U.R. Delusional

      Take your meds Mikey boy.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • poorfolk

      its funny cause its true.

      May 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Shamrock6

    Thank God. It's about time. Atlanta doesn't deserve a hockey team. No one in Jaw-ja cares about hockey anyway. Take the great sport back north where it belongs. Let the hillbillies have basebawl and footbawl.....yeehaw.

    May 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      good day aye! ever notice canadians mooching off of Americans?

      May 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Canadians mooching off Americans? Our dollar is of equal value to the USD and we have 10 times less the population. Give your head a shake.

      June 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kaye

    Again? Gee, never saw that coming...can anyone say "Atlanta Flames"?

    May 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. vinny

    Not sure why they thought this was a good city to put a hockey team in the first place. the NHL is the most mismanaged league in sports

    May 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. itsamemario

    oh and mikey the preference of one sport over another has nothing to do with intelligence or anything like that, its based on what entertains the individual. however your statements is a very strong indicator of your intellect (or lack thereof)..

    May 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marcus

      Just as your poor grammar is an indicator of your intellect (or lack thereof).

      May 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glith

    I never heard of Winnepeg

    May 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I think it's called Winterpeg since they have two seasons there, Winter and July.

      May 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tallulah13

    I hope that they change the name to Jets. I always liked it when the Winnipeg Jets and the San Jose Sharks played: It was the West Side Story rivalry.

    May 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Into show tunes are we? You sure you watch hockey?

      May 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
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