VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The NHL will return to Winnipeg next season, 15 years after shaky economics and the lack of a local owner led to the sale of the Jets and the team's move from the frigid prairie city to Phoenix.
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and will play in Winnipeg's MTS Arena next season under a name still to be determined. The reported price was $170 million. The transaction must be approved by the league's board of governors June 21, but that's expected to be a formality.
Realigning the NHL's divisions is also expected to be discussed by the governors, but it's unclear whether that will happen for next season. Atlanta, which entered the NHL as an expansion team for the 1999-2000 season, played in the Southeast Division. The NHL usually announces its schedule in June for the season.
In a statement posted on the Thrashers' website, Atlanta Spirit executives Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon said they had tried to find buyers who would keep the team in Atlanta, but "nobody has come forward."
Stanley Cup Finals. Daniel Sedin scratched his red playoff beard, thinking back on a decade of struggle and setbacks before the Vancouver Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals against Boston.
Across the hallway, his identical twin rubbed his identical beard exactly the same way.
Henrik Sedin was considering a more pressing problem, however. Now that the Swedish superstars are finally close enough to touch the Stanley Cup, how do they get it away from hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara and the bruising Bruins?
One championship drought will end for one long-suffering hockey-loving city after Vancouver faces Boston, starting Wednesday night.
The Bruins have lost five straight trips to the Finals, while the Canucks have never won it all.