Relax Atlanta Thrashers fans.
You won’t hear much if any news about your beloved hockey team today. It’s Victoria Day in Canada. Yes folks – Victoria as in Queen Victoria of England. This holiday up there celebrates her birthday and the birthday of the reigning British monarch (Queen Elizabeth II).
Unlike the United States, which fought a war to distance themselves from British royalty, Canada’s break from the Brits was a little more amiable. Canadians still recognize the Queen of England as their ceremonial sovereign leader. So today’s a day like our Presidents Day – but then again kind of not – as Queen Elizabeth II technically has power in Canada. It’s still a Constitutional monarchy, but she doesn’t use that power.
But that makes for a good point. For as much as Thrashers’ fans and those in Winnipeg have tried to influence the debate on whether Atlanta’s hockey team will head north of the border to start next year, there’s only so much you can do.
Thrashers fans, your passion has been incredible. Some in Canada may derisively jeer that only 200 or 300 or 400 people showed up at the tailgate on Saturday, but it wasn’t like you had a year or so to organize like they did when the Jets bolted from Winnipeg. You had three or four days to set something up.
And Peggers, while we can debate the merits of whether hockey would work in your metropolitan area of 750,000 or so from an economic perspective (and trust me, there are some even in Winnipeg who think it won’t work), there is no doubt that you guys love the game there, too.
That is what it is really about. There is passion from both sides. Unfortunately, there ultimately has to be a winner and a loser. There are only a finite number of teams. Heck I’d give both Atlanta and Winnipeg a team. However, with many of franchises in the NHL having reported financial difficulties, expansion isn’t coming anytime soon.
So it’s come down to this.
As far as actual news goes, there’s been very little over the weekend. That makes sense.
Yes the parties still talked and inched closer to what appears to be an agreement to ship the Thrashers out of town. But banks are closed, people (yes, even reporters, lawyers and bankers) are off enjoying the weekend with their families. Unless there’s an actual crisis, the process conducting and completing business generally grinds to a halt.
There have been some rumblings that one of the items the Atlanta Spirit needs is a bank letter from the True North folks, which they may not be able to get until Tuesday. Others, like NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly suggest that the media reports about this sale are wrong on all accounts.
Tuesday is the day if you believe Canada’s flagship Globe and Mail that you will see a bow wrapped around this deal and a second Atlanta hockey team will start its journey to Canada. But even the Globe and Mail has backed away from that a little bit.
Thrashers fans, it is entirely possible that a deal gets consummated on Tuesday.
However, as I write this just slightly after 9 a.m. on a Monday morning here in suburban Atlanta, I can say that a deal hasn’t been concluded yet. Despite stray tweets to the contrary, the employees at the Atlanta Spirit that focus on the Thrashers have not been told they are out of a job yet. That, of course could change.
The Thrashers organization is continuing to press along like things are business as usual for the team here in Atlanta. They held a private skate for big-money season ticket holders on Sunday at the Duluth Ice Forum. They had their annual Select-A-Seat event on Saturday. Players continue to make public appearances at local BrandsMart USA stores around town.
That will likely continue to happen even if there is a proposed deal to ship the team out of town.
Note I say proposed deal. Remember, that even if there’s a deal, it still has to be approved by the Board of Governors. They are not scheduled to meet until June 21.
Reports say that if Atlanta is bought by True North Sports and Entertainment to be shipped to Winnipeg, the governors will take two votes that day. The first is to allow the change in ownership, which will must pass by a 3/4 vote. The second is to allow move to Canada. That will take a simple majority of governors.
Even If this deal is said to be done, it is not officially done until the Board of Governors says it’s done. It is remotely possible (Peggers — note I used the word remotely there) that the governors could nix the deal and keep the team here or that a new buyer could emerge to keep the team in Atlanta between now and June 21.
It is safe to say that even if there’s a deal in place, there’s still a ton of work to do before all the ink is dry on the paperwork and moving vans make the trek north to Canada.
Things may clear up a bit this week or they may not.
I know that brings little comfort, but it just is what it is at this point.
It is something that no one other than the ultra-rich folks negotiating really has any control over, especially when there truly is animosity between some of the Atlanta Spirit owners and the league.
If I know one thing about ultra-rich people, they don’t make a lot of sense a lot of the time.
That’s another thing that most Canadians and Americans can agree on, too.
Enjoy your day off in Canada while the rest of us in the States are hard at work. I am jealous. Don’t worry, we get even here in the States with Memorial Day next week.
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