It's always impressive to me when a commissioner, head of a company, or someone else in a position of power gives the green light to information that could be deemed damaging. But when you have a group of hockey-mad people who apparently don't care by what means they get a team, and another smaller group of fans that no one will recognize exists, why not release that info? It's not like anyone'll care, anyway.
TNSE's chairman Mark Chipman held a press conference yesterday in which he told the story of how the Thrashers came to Winnipeg. Chipman wasn't going to read the speech he did yesterday - one that included all of the details - until he got an e-mail from Gary Bettman giving him the green light to. What followed is something that should make any fan of the integrity of the game upset.
The Phoenix Coyotes were within a scant ten minutes of returning to the city, when Glendale ponied up $25 million to keep them there for at least one more season. Bettman couldn't ignore that money, so he basically all but promised the team to his friend Chipman. In a summary of the presser in the Winnipeg Free Press, there are enough details to shed some light on the situation.
Chipman is an extremely intelligent businessman and went about this in 100% the right way - make friends with the commissioner, be proper in your business dealings, and be patient. It's the league - the league who promised Chipman he'd get his team, and the league who offered the Thrashers up to them on a plate after Phoenix fell through.
Chipman said this regarding his dealings with the Coyotes, and presumably the Thrashers:
"It was on the basis that the NHL was going to do everything possible to find a solution in Glendale. We were asked to act as a back-up plan. We willingly agreed to do so knowing that, if nothing else, we would become intimately acquainted with the process and gain a further level of trust and respect with the league."
As more and more news leaks out about the fraternization going on between TNSE and the league, is it any wonder that it only took a few months to get the Thrashers out of town? Does it shock people that none of the local buyers were treated with any seriousness - and why none have been vetted by the press past what the Atlanta Spirit Group have said?
After all, in Chipman's own words:
"[We were] uplifted by the fact the league had taken us so seriously and, as a consequence, had indicated it would just be a matter of time before we would actually acquire a team."
When all is said and done, and the move is complete, don't be shocked if more information leaks about the league and Atlanta Spirit's possible improper handling of this move. As it stands right now, be thankful that at least Mark Chipman is being honest in what is going on. This franchise deserves an owner more like that than ASG. It's just a shame that one like Chipman couldn't keep the team here.
Check back with SB Nation Atlanta's frequently updated Thrashers sale StoryStream for the latest updates. For discussion, join Bird Watchers Anonymous, SB Nation's Atlanta Thrashers community or Behind The Net, our Winnipeg NHL community. For more hockey, visit SB Nation's NHL hub.