May 29, 2011
Former Moose goalie wishes it had worked in Atlanta
All was quiet on the Atlanta-to-Winnipeg front on Sunday, although a player who played pro hockey in both cities offered up his two cents on the matter.
New Jersey Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg, who has played for the Atlanta Thrashers and Manitoba Moose, wants to see hockey thrive in the Deep South, although he is resigned to the notion the Thrashers are leaving.
“It’s sad for the city,” Hedberg told The Record (N.J.). “I believe this city can support a team and support it in a good way. Obviously, it’s been some chaotic years pretty much from Day 1 with ownership not being on the same page, and I think that has hurt the franchise quite a bit.
“But I also have played in Winnipeg, and I know the people up there, how much they love their hockey. So if (the Thrashers move to Winnipeg) that would be a very exciting place for a team to play again.”
Even though Hedberg now plays for the Devils, he continues to live in Atlanta with his wife and children, and has been following the saga closely.
“There’s no doubt this could be a good hockey city, but it needs to be done the right way,” he told the newspaper.
Atlanta Spirit, which owns the Thrashers, is in negotiations with Winnipeg’s True North Sports and Entertainment about the purchase and relocation of the team to the Manitoba capital.
Michael Gearon, a member of the Atlanta Spirit group, said on Thursday the deal with True North was 80% complete. No news is expected until Tuesday at the earliest since Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S. and lawyers for both sides are still working on the final details.
A report out of Atlanta over the weekend indicated a new player, who was interested in keeping the Thrashers in the Georgia capital, was in the mix, but it was still in the preliminary stages and time is running out.
Even if True North and Atlanta Spirit finalize a deal, a new buyer could come forward and keep the Thrashers where they are if they can complete the purchase before the NHL board of governors votes on the True North situation in mid-June.