Thrashers moving to Winnipeg

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ATLANTA - First, the Flames. Now, the Thrashers.

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A maintenance worker locks a gate inside Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Thrashers. The team was sold Tuesday and will be relocated to Winnipeg.   David Goldman/Associated Press
David Goldman/Associated Press
A maintenance worker locks a gate inside Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Thrashers. The team was sold Tuesday and will be relocated to Winnipeg.

The struggling NHL franchise was sold Tuesday to a group that will move it to Winnipeg next season, making Atlanta the first city in the league's modern era to lose two teams.

The Flames left for Calgary in 1980. The Thrashers are following them to Canada three decades later.

"I want to thank all the Thrashers fans that supported us in Atlanta for my two years there. Very unfortunate there will be no NHL hockey," tweeted Evander Kane, one of the team's most promising young players. "I will miss the great people and city of Atlanta."

True North Sports and Entertainment announced the deal during a news conference at Winnipeg's MTS Centre, the 15,015-seat arena where the team will play. The news sparked a raucous celebration in Manitoba's largest city, which is rejoining the league after losing the Jets to Phoenix in 1996.

The new team could also be known as the Jets, though a decision on the name has not been reached.

"It's nice to be back in Winnipeg after all these years," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who attended the True North news conference.

In Atlanta, there was little reaction other than a tearful news conference held by co-owner Michael Gearon. He said the group that controls the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena did all it could to find someone who would help keep the financially ailing team in the city.

No one made a serious offer.

"I've been focused on trying to avoid this day," said Gearon, who was glassy eyed and broke down several times as he met with a small group of media at Philips Arena. "I spent time with possible investors going back four years ago, because I was concerned this day would come. I made a desperate plea in February. Unfortunately, that didn't lead to any real prospects. To be sitting here today is just awful for me."

The Thrashers made only one playoff appearance in 11 seasons and never won a postseason game.

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bdouglas
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bdouglas 05/31/11 - 12:41 pm
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I hear the bells tolling for

I hear the bells tolling for Augusta in another 2 years, tops...

fatboyhog
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fatboyhog 05/31/11 - 12:48 pm
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Yep...

Yep...

BamaMan
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BamaMan 05/31/11 - 12:50 pm
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Maybe the South isn't the

Maybe the South isn't the place for a hockey team

justthefacts
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justthefacts 05/31/11 - 01:27 pm
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Maybe the South needs an

Maybe the South needs an owner group interested in putting out a quality product.

corgimom
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corgimom 05/31/11 - 07:27 pm
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You mean, the bells tolling

You mean, the bells tolling AGAIN...

fiscallyresponsible
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fiscallyresponsible 05/31/11 - 07:52 pm
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I went to a few games over

I went to a few games over the years having lived in Atlanta a while back. They were exciting but not worth the money & the hassle of going downtown. Just not a Southern thing for sure.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 05/31/11 - 07:57 pm
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Baloney. With all due respect

Baloney. With all due respect of course.

BobM
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BobM 06/01/11 - 03:30 am
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Hockey was the 4th sport in

Hockey was the 4th sport in Atlanta and very few cities can support four major teams.

Hoser
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Hoser 06/01/11 - 02:46 pm
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J-E-T-S...JETS! JETS! JETS!

J-E-T-S...JETS! JETS! JETS! If Atlanta can't support the Thrashers, my Canadian friends will gladly take 'em! I attended a dozen of their games, had a blast, but always rooted for whoever the Thrashers played. I'll just take my dollar to Nashville to see the Predators.

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