NHL Returns to Winnipeg Through USD170m Thrashers Takeover

June 1, 2011

The Canadian city of Winnipeg will welcome back National Hockey League (NHL) action after True North Sports and Entertainment (TNSE) completed a takeover of the Atlanta Thrashers franchise yesterday, May 31.

The TNSE group, chaired by Mark Chipman, announced that the acquisition of the franchise from Atlanta Spirit LLC would see the team relocated to the Manitoba capital. The revelation sees a return of NHL in Winnipeg after the Winnipeg Jets, having been in the NHL for 17 years, ran out of funding and were forced to relocate to Phoenix to become the Coyotes in 1996.

The transaction still has to be ratified by the NHL’s board of governors, but Chipman admitted to The Canadian Press: “I’m excited beyond words.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman added: “We get to be back in a place we wish we hadn’t left in 1996. It’s clear that times have changed for Winnipeg as an NHL market and this is a wonderful time to add a club to Canada. Hockey in Canada has never been stronger.”

The sale price is reportedly around US$170m, with almost a third of the total being handed to the NHL as a relocation fee. The new Winnipeg-based team will be based at the 15,000-seat MTS Centre, which is owned and operated by True North.