With the NHL Regular Season finishing up this past weekend, things are about to heat up on and off the ice.
Despite plenty of rumoured optimism for fans of the Phoenix Coyotes and Atlanta Thrashers, there appears to be no imminent deals to save the two NHL franchises. With the Thrashers eliminated from the playoffs, and the general consensus being that the Thrashers are the team that True North Sports Entertainment (TNSE) had originally sought to purchase, one would think that a deal could be completed and announced any day now.
But with the Coyotes still owned by the NHL, and the prospect of relocation to Winnipeg still being used as leverage to get a deal completed between the City of Glendale and Chicago businessman Matt Hulsizer, it appears that we’re going to have to wait for the Coyotes saga to be concluded, one way or another.
This means that the Coyotes are still in play for TNSE. But at this point, with rumours swirling that the next Winnipeg NHL franchise won’t be named the “Jets” (or even have Winnipeg in their name), if the NHL are forced to sell the Coyotes to TNSE, Mark Chipman and company will have a sticky situation on their hands; Would they stick with their original plans for their ‘fresh start,’ or would they go with what the majority of hockey fans would want and revive the Winnipeg Jets name?
With both the Coyotes and the TNSE owned Manitoba Moose franchise in the playoffs, we’re likely going to have to wait until both teams are done their respective playoff runs. Up to this point, TNSE has been very respectful throughout the process, and I couldn’t imagine that they would do anything that would create a distraction for the Moose players and coaching staff.
And so we continue to wait. Just like last season, the Coyotes drew the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. If history is bound to repeat itself, it could be the second time that the Red Wings have knocked the storied franchise not only out of the playoffs, country as well.
And if Hulsizer finds a way to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, all signs point to a fresh start with the Thrashers franchise moving up to the ‘Peg.