The potential relocation of a sports team can often be traumatic experience for a community. However, the sports fans of Atlanta, Georgia are a pretty fickle bunch and they do not have a great passion for hockey. We learned that in 1980 when the Atlanta Flames were moved to Calgary, and now we are learning it again as it looks like the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg.
This is far from official, but it has been a rumor for weeks now, and Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail says the move is done. Gary Bettman is reportedly set to head to Winnipeg next Tuesday and make the move official. For now we can applaud the fact that one of the southern NHL teams that has struggled is moving to place where the citizens are crazy for hockey.
Winnipeg and Atlanta could not be more different. Atlanta is a big American city where the sports fans have been known to not have great passion for all its teams all of the time. Winnipeg is a small Canadian city where the bet is they can make up for a small market with a great enthusiasm for the sport of hockey.
Of course both cities have lost NHL franchises in the past. We could effectively blame both of Atlanta’s losses on bad ownership and poor management. Winnipeg on the other hand lost its franchise to Phoenix because of a then weak Canadian dollar. Now that the Canadian dollar is worth more than its American counter part hockey can once again return to the great white north.