It’s official: the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg.
True North Sports and Entertainment, the Canadian group that has been negotiating to buy the team since mid-May, made formal announcement of the move at news conference in Winnipeg at 12:20 p.m.
“Sometimes, we simply don’t have a choice,” [Commissioner Gary Bettman] said.
The Thrashers owners, Atlanta Spirit, negotiated the sale of the Thrashers to True North since mid-May. The Thrashers’ owners have said in court documents that the team has lost $130 million since 2005.
Sh**, and I just learned what a “Thrasher” was. Fun fact: Atlanta is the only U.S. city to lose a sports franchise to Canada, and they’ve done it twice. The first time was when the Flames left for Calgary in 1980. The Thrashers have been in Atlanta since the league expanded in 1999, and spent most of their time adding black players to the team to try and and get hockey over in urban Georgia. Steven Godfrey of SB Nation has a great retrospective on that little storyline coming to an end, and hopefully they’ll continue to put together the team with a racial bias and make their mascot a big affable flag-waving white guy.
No word yet on whether or not the move will rebrand the team the “Jets,” the franchise that left Winnipeg for Phoenix to become the Coyotes in 1996, but anything else would seem anticlimactic. Think of Cleveland getting their football team back and calling them the “RiverDogs” instead of the Browns.