Obsession in perspective

Hockey fans Ken Savage (left) and Mike Bailey cheer at 4Play Sports Bar during a Bring Back the...

Hockey fans Ken Savage (left) and Mike Bailey cheer at 4Play Sports Bar during a Bring Back the Jets rally in Winnipeg, Man., April 2, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:43 AM ET

It’s definitely pins and needles time.

Waiting to see when it will happen. Wondering if it actually will happen. And wondering what’ll happen, when it happens.

No, I’m not talking about the return of the NHL to Winnipeg.

I’m talking about the flood.

Since I’m immersed in the former most of my working life these days, I decided I needed a taste of the latter, last weekend.

Talk about a dose of reality.

While tossing sandbags near the shores of Lake Manitoba, not once was I asked about the Atlanta Thrashers or Phoenix Coyotes.

Not once did the subject of ticket prices come up. Or the possible name of the team. Nobody mentioned Glendale city council, Gary Bettman or the Balkan.

These people have bigger fish to fry.

Their potential losses may be measured in the tens of thousands of dollars rather than tens of millions, but you can’t put a price tag on the sweat equity and emotional investment they’ve poured into homes and cottages threatened by the rising water.

And it gave me a little perspective. Reminded me, again, how over-the-top all this obsessing over the NHL really is, the following of the daily ups and downs, first of the three-ring circus in Phoenix, now of the clown show getting into full gear in Atlanta.

In case you missed it, the mysterious Balkan, a potential Thrashers buyer who’d been hiding in the shadows, identifying himself only to a certain Atlanta radio host, came out of the closet, Tuesday.

A venture capitalist (doesn’t that mean they get rich by spending other people’s money?), J.B. Smith reportedly wants to buy all three entities owned by the Atlanta Spirit: the Thrashers, the NBA’s Hawks and Phillips Arena.

How seriously anybody is taking him is another thing. One Spirit owner said as recently as last Thursday the effort to save the Thrashers in Atlanta is no further ahead than it was two months ago.

Topping that, another story suggested a rapper and a movie producer were going to save the team.

Then there was the USA Today yarn, which suggested a group had submitted a term sheet, spelling out a potential offer to purchase the Thrashers, but that this group was well behind Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment in the process.

No surprise there. True North has been leading this marathon of hope since the start.

You’ve got to wonder, though, if Mark Chipman expected a race course fraught with this many ridiculous distractions.

Seems to me there was one potentially significant development, Tuesday: word the Atlanta Spirit has granted a potential buyer exclusive negotiating rights for the sale of the NBA team and operating rights to Phillips Arena.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says outgoing baseball owner John Moores (San Diego Padres) wants control of those two entities, but no part of the Thrashers.

What does it all mean?

That Winnipeg’s True North, while perhaps not enjoying exclusivity, remains the main, and maybe only, player in the game to buy the NHL club.

Nobody in Atlanta seems to be stepping up, despite dire media reports that the team could be sequestered to Canada.

“At this time there are no further developments,” Thrashers president Don Waddell told the Journal-Constitution.

So no news is good news, I guess, at least on that front.

And on the flood front.

If you find yourself getting all wound up about the wait for the NHL, here’s the perfect therapy: put on your rubber boots and go toss a few sandbags.

It might do you some good.


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