Well-placed rumors have it that a group in Winnipeg is in the final stretches of sealing a deal to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers NHL franchise and relocate the team to Winnipeg. Here in Atlanta there’s great lament about possibly becoming the only U.S. city to lose two pro hockey teams to Canadian venues — the first being the loss in 1980 of the Atlanta Flames to Calgary. An official announcement may come as early as today.
Reasons abound for why Atlanta would find itself in the position of losing a pro team, with local columnists trotting out the lack of fan support as the number one reason, although many die-hard hockey fans beg to differ and attribute the move to mismanagement of the team by the current owners. Although the view that management shortcomings are to blame may have some legs to it, fan support is an issue in a city like Atlanta, where there are simply too many competing professional sports teams, which ends up diluting the focus of local sports fans rallying behind either a single or just a few teams.
Reports suggest that Winnipeggers are ecstatic about the impending move. Even so, Winnipeg will have its own challenges making a go of this opportunity given that the city lost the Winnipeg Jets franchise about 15 years ago following financial issues then and ultimately leading to the relocation of that NHL team to Phoenix. Well, we’ll know soon enough how this game of musical chairs will continue.