Thrashers fans are also scheduled to hold a rally in downtown Atlanta on Saturday, but it appears to be too little, too late.
“We’re going to go have a good time and hang out with our hockey family,” Lisa Lewis, president of the Thrashers fan club, told The Associated Press. “If it’s our last time, well, at least we get that chance.”
Manitoba hockey fans reacted with glee to Thursday night’s news, as a couple of hundred flocked o Winnipeg’s famous Portage and Main intersection to play road hockey and chant “Go Jets Go!” for several hours.
It’s not known what Winnipeg’s NHL team will be called, but it appears the overwhelming favourite is to bring back the Jets, who left the city for Phoenix in 1996.
The Thrashers players appear to still be in the dark about the situation, but at least one member of the team saw some positives in a move north of the border.
“There’s definitely things that would be really cool about it,” goaltender Chris Mason told The Canadian Press. “Playing in Canada, for me, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It would be really cool.
“Just playing in front of a packed house every night would be awesome.”
It’s not known which division Winnipeg’s team would play in, although there is speculation they would stay in the Southeast Division for one year with the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. The Thrashers, who spent 12 seasons in Atlanta, played in the Southeast.
Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Rick Bowness spent time with the Jets as both a player and a coach. He believes players won’t have a problem with the Manitoba capital.
“Players are treated so well there,” Bowness told ESPN.com. “There is only one player in all the years of the Jets that I can ever remember complaining about being there. Every player who ever went there loved it, loved the way they were treated, loved the community.
“The community really made you feel part of it. Players will enjoy playing there.”
It’s likely the purchase agreement will be conditional upon True North selling enough season tickets to ensure they will get the financial support they need to run an NHL franchise.
True North chairman Mark Chipman said as much in this telling statement during an interview with the Sun in January 2005.
“That’ll be a very interesting exercise to go through,” Chipman said at the time. “If everything else lined itself up … you could probably put it to the community and find out pretty quick whether or not that would fly.”
Meet your Thrashers
PLAYER — 2011-12 CONTRACT STATUS
Nik Antropov – $4,050,000
Evander Kane — $3,100,000
Bryan Little — $2,400,000
Andrew Ladd — Restricted free agent
Blake Wheeler — Restricted free agent
Radek Dvorak — Restricted free agent
Alex Burmistrov — $1,500,000
Jim Slater — $1,000,000
Rob Schremp — Restricted free agent
Chris Thorburn — $875,000
Eric Boulton — Unrestricted free agent
Anthony Stewart — Restricted free agent
Dustin Byfuglien — $5,200,000
Ron Hainsey — $450,000,000 (NTC)
Tobias Enstrom — $3,750,000
Johnny Oduya — $3,500,000
Zach Bogosian — Restricted free agent
Mark Stuart — $1,700,000
Chris Mason — $1,850,000
Ondrej Pavelec — $1,150,000