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Bettman splashes cold water on Winnipeg

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08:24 AM ET 05.26 | Gary Bettman has pulled on the reins of the runaway speculation of a move from Atlanta. Appearing on Tampa, Fla., radio station WDAE Wednesday morning, Bettman was served the Atlanta-Winnipeg question with a little too much certainty for his liking. "I think you're being a tad presumptuous on what's going on in Atlanta," Bettman said. "Nobody's announced anything and frankly if there is something going on nothing is going to happen until it actually happens, which means it may not happen. So I think people need to take a deep breath and pause." Like it or not, it's been the commissioner's consistent message for a long time. Meanwhile, Mayor Sam Katz told reporters this morning he thinks an NHL announcement could happen before the end of the week.

Winnipeg Free Press

Dustin Byfuglien, Getty Images Dustin Byfuglien, Getty Images
May 26, 2011  08:40 AM ET

And the award for the thread picture of the month goes to.... Dustin Byfuglien.

May 26, 2011  08:45 AM ET

I've read a ton of comments about how Atlanta is a lousy sports city, the traffic sux, & one hockey franchise has already left. How many of you have even been to Atlanta? I've lived here for 22 years, and it is true that pro sports don't do as well as college sports. College football is king here. But the Hawks, Falcons & Braves all draw pretty well with good marketing & winning teams, which the Thrashers never had.

Tom Cousins sold the Flames in 1980 to finance his real estate ventures. And it is true that the traffic is terrible here, but lousy traffic doesn't stop anyone from living in NYC, LA, or Chicago. The NHL has succeeded in such "non-traditional" markets as Carolina, Nashville & Tampa. Why not Atlanta? There are plenty of transplants here who are great hockey fans. We're being hung out to dry by the Buttgoblin to save this misguided investment in Phoenix. And we're not happy about it!

May 26, 2011  08:51 AM ET

Atlanta's record is 0-2 with NHL franchises. I don't "root" for any city to lose a team. But, if you don't have ownership that can afford to compete and you don't have a product that can draw fans consistently then you don't have a franchise. Phoenix is going to lose that team as well unless the NHL has a freakish desire to lose money in ever greater amounts every year OR the taxpayers are willing to be consistently fleeced.

May 26, 2011  09:09 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

I've read a ton of comments about how Atlanta is a lousy sports city, the traffic sux, & one hockey franchise has already left. How many of you have even been to Atlanta? I've lived here for 22 years, and it is true that pro sports don't do as well as college sports. College football is king here. But the Hawks, Falcons & Braves all draw pretty well with good marketing & winning teams, which the Thrashers never had. Tom Cousins sold the Flames in 1980 to finance his real estate ventures. And it is true that the traffic is terrible here, but lousy traffic doesn't stop anyone from living in NYC, LA, or Chicago. The NHL has succeeded in such "non-traditional" markets as Carolina, Nashville & Tampa. Why not Atlanta? There are plenty of transplants here who are great hockey fans. We're being hung out to dry by the Buttgoblin to save this misguided investment in Phoenix. And we're not happy about it!

No one is going to the games! The team is losing money! If you can't fill the seats, the team should move somewhere else. As a Canadian I'd love to see Winnipeg get a team - how about the Seattle rumors? I wonder if that would work.

May 26, 2011  09:09 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

We're being hung out to dry by the Buttgoblin to save this misguided investment in Phoenix. And we're not happy about it!

Yes you are and yes he is and I don't blame you.

May 26, 2011  09:10 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

- how about the Seattle rumors? I wonder if that would work.

Sounds like a terrible name for a hockey team bub.

May 26, 2011  09:12 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

And the award for the thread picture of the month goes to.... Dustin Byfuglien.

and May isn't even over yet...

May 26, 2011  09:14 AM ET

talk about wounded pride - geez, if Buttramm would have been captain of the Titanic he could kept it afloat for at least a year with the all hot air that comes out of his mouth, alone.

May 26, 2011  09:15 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Atlanta's record is 0-2 with NHL franchises. I don't "root" for any city to lose a team. But, if you don't have ownership that can afford to compete and you don't have a product that can draw fans consistently then you don't have a franchise. Phoenix is going to lose that team as well unless the NHL has a freakish desire to lose money in ever greater amounts every year OR the taxpayers are willing to be consistently fleeced.

They're gone, if they can't find someone to pony up the $110 million, or so, to keep them in Atlanta.

May 26, 2011  09:19 AM ET

How many NHL teams are moving, planning on moving, or could be moving?

May 26, 2011  09:22 AM ET

The Winnipeg Jets averaged a little over 11,000 per game their final season in Canada, or to put it another way, about 3,000 fewer than the Thrashers this past season. If you like, I can direct you to the 1996 video where Bettman declares that Winnipeg isn't financially viable, and this is the reason for the move to Phoenix. Gary Bettman and the NHL have never found stable owners for its Atlanta franchises and as a result, it will once again abandon the 8th largest TV market in favor of a city the size of Macon, GA

May 26, 2011  09:22 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

How many NHL teams are moving, planning on moving, or could be moving?

right now one, but if it were up to me it'd be 4, TODAY. That would be a start. Put hockey where it's wanted and the sport could be just as big as basketball.

May 26, 2011  09:23 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

How many NHL teams are moving, planning on moving, or could be moving?

I can't keep track anymore.

May 26, 2011  09:26 AM ET

Well, I live in Atlanta and the traffic is bad. The reason why is because there's so many people moving here every year from other cities! And it's so transient that it's really difficult for a franchise to take hold. I mean, everyone is from somewhere else and they root for their home team.

But the best Atlanta team is the Braves. The reason why is because most Braves fans aren't living in Atlanta, but surrounding cities and states. It's Braves country from Charlotte through Louisiana.

Second is the Falcons, but there's no real draw anymore. You had tha "Dirty Birds" and then Mike Vick. The Falcons needs to win a playoff game with this crew before they can get a following.

And the Hawks needs new ownership. And a big name. They're young, though. They have some time to improve and gel.

The Thrashers? I'm not a hockey fan, but I went to a few of their games and it was a lot of fun and more exciting than any other game in Atlanta. But here's the problem: They can't pay their stars and when the stars leave, you're left picking up the pieces. If the Thrashers could have afforded to keep some continuity, the fan base wouldn't be so skittish. The ASG is exhibit A of exactly how to lose your fan-base, run your organization to the ground and get your team packing to Winnipeg. Or Halifax. Or Thunder Bay, for goodness sake!

May 26, 2011  09:36 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Well, I live in Atlanta and the traffic is bad. The reason why is because there's so many people moving here every year from other cities!

could also be that you all live in burbs spread out too far, and that you have no population density, which means that you all pile in your clunkers to drive EVERYWHERE. Christ, you guys drive to go to your neighbors.

May 26, 2011  09:43 AM ET

If Atlanta can work with better ownership, and I am not saying they can or can't, then why isn't any local investor putting up the money for them?

May 26, 2011  09:51 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

I've read a ton of comments about how Atlanta is a lousy sports city, the traffic sux, & one hockey franchise has already left. How many of you have even been to Atlanta? I've lived here for 22 years, and it is true that pro sports don't do as well as college sports. College football is king here. But the Hawks, Falcons & Braves all draw pretty well with good marketing & winning teams, which the Thrashers never had. Tom Cousins sold the Flames in 1980 to finance his real estate ventures. And it is true that the traffic is terrible here, but lousy traffic doesn't stop anyone from living in NYC, LA, or Chicago. The NHL has succeeded in such "non-traditional" markets as Carolina, Nashville & Tampa. Why not Atlanta? There are plenty of transplants here who are great hockey fans. We're being hung out to dry by the Buttgoblin to save this misguided investment in Phoenix. And we're not happy about it!

I've visited Atlanta several times over the years. My strongest impression of Atlanta is that it is a city still in search of an identity.

May 26, 2011  09:52 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

The Winnipeg Jets averaged a little over 11,000 per game their final season in Canada, or to put it another way, about 3,000 fewer than the Thrashers this past season. If you like, I can direct you to the 1996 video where Bettman declares that Winnipeg isn't financially viable, and this is the reason for the move to Phoenix. Gary Bettman and the NHL have never found stable owners for its Atlanta franchises and as a result, it will once again abandon the 8th largest TV market in favor of a city the size of Macon, GA

Repeat after me everyone: The economy of Canada and the exchange rate back in the 90's were the causes of the financial difficulties at the time. Things have changed since then for the better as far as Canada is concerned.

May 26, 2011  10:00 AM ET

Why can't this guy just admit having some of these franchises was a bad idea and just move them so his business can start making money again? The Troll is unbelievable....just move or contract teams....

 
May 26, 2011  10:09 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

I've read a ton of comments about how Atlanta is a lousy sports city, the traffic sux, & one hockey franchise has already left. How many of you have even been to Atlanta? I've lived here for 22 years, and it is true that pro sports don't do as well as college sports. College football is king here. But the Hawks, Falcons & Braves all draw pretty well with good marketing & winning teams, which the Thrashers never had. Tom Cousins sold the Flames in 1980 to finance his real estate ventures. And it is true that the traffic is terrible here, but lousy traffic doesn't stop anyone from living in NYC, LA, or Chicago. The NHL has succeeded in such "non-traditional" markets as Carolina, Nashville & Tampa. Why not Atlanta? There are plenty of transplants here who are great hockey fans. We're being hung out to dry by the Buttgoblin to save this misguided investment in Phoenix. And we're not happy about it!

Never spent time in Atlanta, just passed through, so I have avoided passing judgement on the city as a "sports town" or not. But I think its safe to say its not a hockey town.

I wouldn't call what is happening in Carolina, Nashville or Tampa "succeeding" based on this year's sample size. Nashville is on ownership group #3 and spends essentially the Cap minimum. Carolina is looking for more money/new owners. Tampa was just sold last year after a disastrous 5 or so years under the previous dummies. You may as well say Columbus is succeeding by only losing $25 million this season.

And why not Atlanta? That's what they said 10 yrs ago...what we see today is why not Atlanta. If you need great marketing, a star, the money to keep all the stars, and a consistent winning team just to get people to show ANY interest in your organization, you won't succeed.

Winnipeg may be the size of Macon, Ga, but there are more hockey fans there than in Atlanta. Toronto is the 5th largest market in all of North America - I don't see NASCAR opening races up here. So Talladega should be mocked for hosting NASCAR when Toronto is a larger overall market?

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