Thrashers sale just a matter of time

Winnipeg fans are sure to have something to cheer about very soon. In fact, Paul Friesen guarantees...

Winnipeg fans are sure to have something to cheer about very soon. In fact, Paul Friesen guarantees it. He'll eat his column at Portage and Main if it doesn't happen. (SHAUN BEST/Reuters)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:24 PM ET

Todayís the day.

No, really.

Unless itís tomorrow. Or the day after.

Next week at the latest.

For those of you twisting in the wind over the return of the NHL, take a cue from Mother Nature and chill out already.

It doesnít matter when it happens, as long as it happens.

And Iím certain itís going to happen. Probably this week.

On Monday, True North Sports and Entertainment told the media to be ready for a news conference as early as Tuesday morning.

Some people jumped all over that and assumed Tuesday morning was set in stone.

It wasnít.

But it still could be.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said itís ďcertainly possible something could be finalized this week.Ē

Tuesday would make the most sense from the leagueís standpoint, in that the Stanley Cup Final begins Wednesday. It wouldnít be smart business to usurp the opening of your championship series with news of a franchise relocation.

If both sides, True North and the Atlanta Spirit, signed off on the deal Monday night, we should hear about it, Tuesday.

If itís not Tuesday, look for Thursday, an off day in the Vancouver-Boston series.

Either way, Iím betting commissioner Gary Bettman will be standing at a podium near you before too long, welcoming the Winnipeg Whatevers and front man Mark Chipman of True North back into his exclusive club.

With a seat around the table for David Thomson, Chipmanís billionaire partner, of course.

Itíll be a conditional sale, still requiring the stamp of approval from the NHLís board of governors. For that, weíll have to wait until June 21, when the governors next meet.

Iím told there will not be a special meeting called for this.

Iím also told getting the 75% approval required for Chipman and Thomson as owners wonít be an issue (see above, under ďbillionaire partnerĒ).

Relocating a franchise requires a simple majority, and people in the know say that shouldnít be a problem, either.

After all, not a single governor has expressed concern about returning to Winnipeg, right?

Besides, itís not like they have much choice. Itís either relocation or contraction.

Thereís a clause allowing an Atlanta-based buyer to save the Thrashers right up until that governors meeting, June 21.

But at this point, thatís highly unlikely.

The latest comments from a member of the Atlanta ownership group make it clear, again, thereís no white knight on the horizon in Georgia.

ďUnfortunately, there are not enough of us that are passionate at this point in time to keep the team, to replenish what we need to have done,Ē Rutherford Seydel told Atlanta TVís 11Alive News. ďWe currently are trying and weíve tried and itís frustrating and itís a very heartfelt sorrow that I have at this point.Ē

Seydel is one of the few Atlanta Spirit owners actually feeling bad about it. Heís a longtime Atlanta resident whose father-in-law (Ted Turner) named the team.

His partners, locked in lawsuits over the years and losing at least $20 million per season, are obviously unloading this team as fast as they can.

But these things take time.

This hasnít been talked about very much, but the two sides have also been negotiating the futures, and possible buyouts, of the Thrashers front office, including president Don Waddell, GM Rick Dudley and head coach Craig Ramsay.

Thereís no guarantee any of those will be heading north.

But Iím willing to guarantee the team is.

If not, Iíll eat this column at Portage and Main.

So there. You can relax.

And wait.

After 15 years, whatís another day or two?


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