The conference is now over. If you want to get every single bit of detail, scroll to the bottom of this post and work your way up.
If you want the quick hits of what you need to know, here you go.
1:02 p.m.: Mark Chipman was asked about where things stand in hockey operations.
“We have got a lot of work to do,” he said.
1 p.m.: Bettman and Chipman were asked about the stress they’re putting on the season ticket sales.
“It’s an objective that we jointly feel is necessary and is achievable,” Chipman said, stressing that it’s not an NHL mandate by any means.
Kudos to the reporter for asking the question, because this announcement was as much a ticket sales seminar as it was an announcement about an NHL franchise moving to Winnipeg.
12:55 p.m.: Bettman was asked about cities like Quebec City, and how this could be perceived as a sign of hope.
“I get extremely unhappy and cranky” when expectations are raised and they shouldn’t be raised.
He referenced the Coyotes rumors, as it affected the locker room in Phoenix and prematurely raised expectations in Winnipeg.
“Atlanta moving is unique to Atlanta,” Bettman says. “We will continue to resist moving franchises.”
12:52 p.m.: Gary Bettman says he hates speculation. No kidding, Gar-Bear.
12:50 p.m.: Mark Chipman says a name for the team has not been chosen yet.
True North has been “singularly focused” on purchasing the team, and naming the team is now one of the first orders of business.
So, fans, buy season tickets to NHL Franchise X!
12:47 p.m.: We still don’t have a team name … unless they’re sticking with Manitoba Moose. I don’t think that’s the case. Expect a clarification now.
12:45 p.m.: The Thrashers released a statement on their site from Bruce Levenson and Michael Gearon.
“It’s extremely disappointing to all of us that it became necessary after all other options were exhausted. We want to express my gratitude to you, the fans, for the years of dedication you have offered to the Atlanta Thrashers. … 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.”
12:43 p.m.: Ludlow is really detailing the ticket pages here. When they said “nitty-gritty,” they weren’t bluffing.
You can get all this info on Driveto13.com. True North will guarantee that tickets won’t rise by more than 3 percent during your five-year agreement.
12:41 p.m.: Here are the average ticket prices.
Overall — $82
Lower bowl — $105
Upper bowl — $54
The compare to other Canadian teams’ prices.
12:39 p.m.: Tickets range from $39 to $129.
Ludlow just used a bunch of famous NHL players to sell these tickets. None were on the Thrashers. Interesting?
12:38 p.m.: Not to be too much of a nit-picker here, but shouldn’t they have bought Driveto13,000.com? I mean, they’ll sell 13 season tickets no problem.
12:37 p.m.: Tickets go on sale … Wednesday, June 1 for advanced season ticket holders. Tickets go on sale to the general public Saturday, June 4 at 12 p.m.
More information at Driveto13.com.
12:36 p.m.: Ludlow notes that the Manitoba Moose were leaders in the AHL in revenue and fan support. It’s all “provided True North with a confident base to move forward.”
They always understood at True North that they’d consider making a move to purchase an NHL team if the right opportunity arose.
And now, he’s trying to sell 13,000 season tickets with a “Drive to 13,000” campaign. People are going to buy these tickets. Are they really worried about this?
12:35 p.m.: Here comes some “nitty-gritty,” from True North president Jim Ludlow.
He calls the day “emotional” and “surreal” and admits to “being a little choked.”
Jim Ludlow has one of the best accents in North America. Inarguable. Fact.
12:33 p.m.: Selinger now pumps the “buy season tickets” line. Something tells me that it won’t be a problem.
12:30 p.m.: Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba, is at the podium, and he’s pumped that the NHL is back in Winnipeg. He quotes Wayne Gretzky: “You shouldn’t go where the puck is; you should skate where the puck will be.”
He said Chipman did just that — he went to where the NHL should be.
12:29 p.m.: Bettman: “We get to be back in a place we wish we hadn’t left in 1996.”
He then says fans should buy 13,000 season tickets to send a message to the board of governors. Smooth salesmanship, Gary.
12:28 p.m.: Bettman says it’ll be different this time because hockey is stronger than ever in Canada, it’s a different market than when the Jets left. “Our prospects remain extraordinarily bright.”
12:28 p.m.: Bettman made it clear that the league doesn’t like to move franchises, and it’s sorry to leave Atlanta.
12:26 p.m.: Bettman says Chipman has been trying to acquire a team, while Atlanta’s ownership has been trying to sell the team.
Bettman also says the deal was not completed at 4:30 a.m. It’s not subject to the approval of the NHL’s board of governors, which will meet in June.
12:25 p.m.: Gary Bettman is at the podium.
“It’s nice to be back in Winnipeg after all these years.”
12:22 p.m.: Chipman says the city will have to pass certain approvals.
“I have no reservation in this community’s ability to do so,” he said.
12:22 p.m.: Purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers announced.
“In a sense … our city has received the call we’ve long been waiting for.”
12:21 p.m.: Chipman is detailing how much work went into this. Essentially, since the Jets left, Winnipeg has been working to get a team back. Chipman appears to be taking great personal pride in this announcement.
12:19 p.m.: Chipman says the Jets’ departure in the ’90s hurt the city’s psyche. He then credits the Manitoba Moose for keeping hockey alive.
12:18 p.m.: Chipman sounds like Ed Norton. In case you were wondering.
12:18 p.m.: Mark Chipman, chairman of the board for True North, is at the podium.
12:17 p.m.: Scott Brown of True North: “Goal is to bring best entertainment the world has to offer to this province.”
12:16 p.m.: Conference is beginning!
12:15 p.m.: With the announcement getting closer and closer, here’s a look at the madness:
12:13 p.m.: Rosset now reports that Main and Portgage Streets are closed in Winnipeg. Think they’re anticipating some celebrations on the streets?
12:10 p.m.: Mitch Rosset of Global Winnipeg reports that Gary Bettman has arrived. There’s a good sized crowd gathered, as you can see here.
12:09 p.m.: Good tweet from Johnathan Talentino: “Winnipeg’s waited 15 years. What’s another 15 minutes… :p”
12:03 p.m.: Just like everything else in life, this baby’s starting late.
12 p.m.: We’re just about ready to get this thing going.
Any guesses on team names?
10 a.m.: It’s a day that the few thousand die-hard hockey fans in Atlanta will hate, but it’s one that the hundreds of thousands of puckheads in Winnipeg will celebrate. The Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg.
That’s at least what is expected to be announced at 12 p.m. ET. True North Sports and Entertainment has called for a news conference at noon, and we’ll be providing updates throughout the entire announcement.
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