In a never-ending effort to jerk Winnipeg Jets fans around, Phoenix and Atlanta are vying for the position of the next to move northward - depending on what editorial you read and in what newspaper it appears in. Atlanta's getting some folks sniffing around the franchise and kicking the tires, thanks to the appealing situation of the fact that if Philips Arena and the Hawks are purchased with the Thrashers, the new owners don't have to worry about messy leases and issues with the city, and can also get a good stake in concerts and special events at the arena that bring in a ton of cash.
Unfortunately, the Phoenix Coyotes don't have that luxury. What once looked like a solid situation with their new potential owner Matthew Hulsizer is now starting to look less clear - the bond ownership situation regarding the arena isn't working out as planned. From analysis of the situation by TSN's Bob McKenzie:
The league is working overtime to overcome some issues with the sale of bonds that is critical to the transaction. It might work out. It might not. If it does, the sale is likely to proceed. If it doesn't, there are still some things the vested parties - Hulsizer, Glendale and the NHL - could do to salvage the transaction but there are no guarantees either. Time would appear to be a factor.
Winnipeg, of course, is ready, willing and waiting for the NHL. It has an owner and an arena and all have already done their due diligence on the Coyotes from a year ago and it wouldn't take a lot to update that scenario.
But if Phoenix should not turn out to be a viable option, perhaps Atlanta will.
The Thrashers' current owners want out. That's no secret. But they are obliged by NHL by-laws to sell to local interests that, so far, have not materialized. But that's a dynamic that could still change.
The point is, Atlanta hasn't gone through the reality of "the team might leave," scenario that generates momentum in the market to find a way to keep it there.
Maybe that happens. Maybe it doesn't. Too early to say.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
Quite so. McKenzie is not a tabloid journalist. He isn't going to stir up unfounded speculation like some columnists who live out pipe dreams by making the Coyotes and the Stars suit up in their retro Jets and Northstars uniforms on NHL11. He has a valid point about the questions... the same ones around the Phoenix mess are popping up around the Atlanta ownership issues. The questions, though, are being dredged up by Canadian and northern US media outlets. Journalists have ignored in-depth reporting like what Phil Foley has done for the Examiner where he laid out point by point reasons as to why a move isn't coming any time soon. Does this mean that a move will never come? No one knows that. But honestly, to drum up rumors in columns - and for something by a usually outstanding hockey journalist, McKenzie's column lacks any substance - without at least a quick glance at reporters and writers who have done research, well, this seems irresponsible.
Personally, I have always been in favor of Winnipeg (and Quebec City, for that matter) being first in line to get a team should the NHL expand again once the economy goes through an uptick. I miss having franchises in those cities, and I've always felt that a team almost belonged there. When you start stalking other cities' teams, though, to claim as your own, that makes sympathy wane for the fact that you lost your own team wane. Why in the world Winnipeg would ever want to wish the same heartache that they went through on fans of another team is beyond me.
I'm starting to empathize with Travis Hair and the gang over at Five for Howling. In solidarity with our oft-rumored to be moving Western Conference brethren, might I suggest supporting them in the Stanley Cup playoffs should they make it and Atlanta not?