May 31, 2011, 1:56 PM EDT
While the Thrashers are officially being sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and moved to Winnipeg next season, there’s the other side of the story that’s out there. That part of the story comes from the Thrashers owners in the Atlanta Spirit Group, Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon.
While the press conference was going on in Winnipeg to euphoric cries of joy, Atlanta Spirit was quietly expressing their own version of sadness and dismay at the financial mess they put themselves in and forced their hand into selling to True North.
Levenson and Gearon posted a letter to fans in Atlanta on their website to express what they’re feeling as they sweat out their final days before the NHL Board of Governors meet on June 21st to officially approve the sale. Pardon us if we’re not feeling the sincerity they’re trying to push on the fans.
As many of you know, for some time we have been seeking a buyer for the team or a partner willing to join with us in continuing to fund the team. We hired an investment banking firm to seek out potential investors with the expressed goal of finding someone who would keep the team here in Atlanta. In recent months, we openly indicated a growing urgency to secure assistance in off-setting our operating losses in hopes that our public plea would produce investors who, to that point, had eluded us.
After extensive effort, nobody has come forward. As a result, we had no choice but to explore the investment option presented to us by the NHL in the form of True North Sports and Entertainment.
Their push to find local owners only became public in the last few months and saw the likes of baseball star Tom Glavine and former NHLer Anson Carter come out with hopes of assembling investors together to buy the team. Those plans didn’t work out for any number of reasons be it a lack of suitors willing to part with their money or Atlanta Spirit Group unwilling to see things out.
Levenson and Gearon made this mess and did little if anything to clean it up. Their efforts to help make the Thrashers look as unappealing to other potential buyers in the seven years they owned the team worked out well enough so that they could cut a sweet deal with True North. Everything works out nicely for them, meanwhile the fans get screwed and the city of Atlanta loses their second NHL team in 31 years, a truly unbelievable accomplishment of failure.
Atlanta Spirit Group should be embarrassed with how they handled the Thrashers and for treating the team as a side thought. Instead, they’ll take the money and run while Canada can celebrate the return of a franchise to within their borders. We’re happy for Winnipeg here, don’t get us wrong, but seeing Thrashers fans get shown the door in such a way is low. Perhaps not as low as the Baltimore Colts in the NFL, but this ranks up with one of the uglier ownership fiascoes of modern times.
- Two years after winning the Cup, the Kings’ ‘mix’ comes into question 21
- Duck drama: Selanne to sit as healthy scratch in Game 4 13
- MacKinnon, Johnson and Palat named Calder Trophy finalists 10
- Sharks beat Kings in OT, take 3-0 stranglehold on series 40
- Rangers chase Emery, top Flyers for 2-1 series lead 56
- Bruins dominate Red Wings, take 2-1 series lead 48
- And then there were 15: Lightning eliminated 86
- WATCH LIVE: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (Game 3) 2
- Bettman says shootouts are staying, gives salary cap estimate 40
- Video: Yeo asked if Cooke told to ‘target’ Avs, does not like question 64
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (127)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)