What was interesting about Friday’s late-breaking report by Stephen Brunt of a deal between the owners of the Atlanta Thrashers and True North Sports & Entertainment was less the news of a possible deal to bring hockey back to Winnipeg (the story of True North’s – and particularly part-owner David Thomson’s – interest in buying the Thrashers was first reported by Al Strachan on HNIC back in 2009), and more the mini-controversy that immediately followed the report.
While Brunt’s report claimed sources had confirmed a deal was finalized, TSN followed with a report of their own claiming their sources suggested a deal was definitely in the works but stressed that nothing was finalized. What’s interesting about this are the connections at play: The highly-respected Brunt writes for the Globe & Mail, whose Chairman is none other than David Thomson … a fact not lost on the many joyously quoting said report. TSN, on the other hand, was using sources tied to the NHL, which as a matter of policy (and legal protection) will not confirm any deals until everything is signed, sealed and delivered.
The NHL took the somewhat interesting position of neither confirming nor denying the existence of a deal to move the Thrashers to Winnipeg. Commissioner Gary Bettman, ever the master of the art of avoiding painting oneself in a corner, had this to say: “I can tell you that with certainty that there is no deal for this team Â to move. Am I predicting that there will never be or that there won’t be Â at some point in time? No, I’m not saying there is or there isn’t.â€
True North, for the record, issued a hasty denial that a deal was in place.
Whether a finalized deal is in place, as Brunt claims, or the fine print is still being hammered out, as TSN is suggesting, is ultimately no more than a quick (and fascinating) study in semantics. One way or another, the winds in Atlanta appear to be blowing the direction of Winnipeg — and have been for some time. The general sentiment among fans and members of the media alike is that it’s only a matter of when an announcement confirming relocation will be made.
Early indications point to a time prior to the Stanley Cup Final, perhaps as early as Tuesday of the coming week. But with clear and verifiable details seeming lost under a murky sea of conflicting reports, even that remains far from a guarantee at this point in time.
Onto your mashup with Greg:
Bruins take 2-1 series lead after shutting out the Lightning last night.
Puck Daddy tracks down the anonymous breast flasher.
Other Hockey Links:
Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail reports that a deal has been finalized between the current Thrashers ownership group and True North Sports and Entertainment to sell the team and relocate to Winnipeg.
True North denies that any agreement is in place to purchase the Thrashers.
Chicago locks up its starting goaltender for another three seasons.
The Edmonton Oilers and the city of Edmonton have reached an agreement on the funding of a new arena.
There are numerous candidates in line to compete for five vacant NHL coaching gigs.
A good read from Puckin Eh on several intriguing first round prospects.
Memorial Cup Links:
The host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors open up the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup tonight against QMJHL champion Saint John’s Sea Dogs. Jesse Blacker and the OHL-leading Owen Sound Attack play their first game of the tournament on Saturday at 7:00 pm versus the Kootenay Ice.
Sizing up the contenders for major junior’s most prestigious trophy.