SUN Hockey Pool

NHL press conference likely delayed

The NHL and True North Sports and Entertainment are denying a published report a deal is done to...

The NHL and True North Sports and Entertainment are denying a published report a deal is done to move the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg. Seen here is Thrashers player Dustin Byfuglien. (QMI Agency)

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 4:05 AM ET

It looks like the full-on celebration for the return of the NHL to Winnipeg will have to wait for another day — or several.

With the Vancouver Canucks set to try and close out the San Jose Sharks and reach the Stanley Cup final, it appears any press conference that may have been scheduled for Tuesday to announce the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers is on hold.

While the denials that a deal is done persist, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Monday morning the final group seeking to keep the Atlanta Thrashers in Georgia is “probably, but not completely out of the picture.”

One of the reasons the deal between the Atlanta Spirit and True North couldn’t be completed on Monday was that the banks weren’t open on Victoria Day in Canada and there have been reports that some additional documentation is required before the sale can be finalized.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to when an announcement might finally be made.

Many believe the NHL would prefer to wait until the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are complete, to avoid taking the focus off the on-ice product.

For those wondering, Game 7 (if necessary) in the Boston Bruins/Tampa Bay Lightning series would go Friday, while the deciding game in the Canucks/Sharks series (if it goes the distance) is slated for Saturday.

Another reason the announcement may not be made Tuesday is that there’s a Kid Rock concert at the MTS Centre, the most likely venue for an official press conference.

Bill Daly, the deputy commissioner of the NHL, said in an e-mail there was nothing he could say as it pertains to our request for an update on the status of the transaction but “it’s safe to say there will be no press conference (Tuesday).”

There has also been a lot of talk about the potential for True North launching a season ticket drive that could require a three-year commitment.

It may yet take place after the sale is complete, though it’s not required under NHL by-laws.

“There is nothing in the constitution or any other applicable league rules that requires a season ticket drive as a prerequisite to relocation,” said Daly.


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