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Things just keep getting worse for the Thrashers

Kevin C. Cox/2011 Getty Images

As always, we issue our standard caution that Winnipeg fans should not get their hopes too high, but things just keep getting worse with the Atlanta Thrashers.

A couple of days ago, one of the Thrashers' lead owners, Michael Gearon, said he and his partners need to find a new investor or investors with lots of cash to keep the team in Atlanta. Naturally, once his words were seen in black and white, Gearon backed off the next day, saying he does not want the team to move.

Now comes word from Jeff Schultz, a columnist with the Atlanta Journal-Consitution who is as plugged into the local ownership situation as anyone, that one more tie keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta is broken.

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In a Thursday blog, Schultz reveals the Thrashers changed their tune on the naming rights deal on Philips Arena. The owners always claimed the deal, which is for 20 years and $182-million (all currency U.S.), gave Philips Electronics the right to pull out if either the Thrashers or the NBA's Atlanta Hawks moved. Now, Atlanta Spirit president Don Waddell says if the Thrashers leave for Winnipeg or anywhere else, all that happens is the payout to the owners is reduced.

This, combined with the fact this fall marks the end of the seven-year period the owners promised in their consent agreement with the NHL they would not try to move the Thrashers, means there is little keeping the team in the south.

Schultz does a good job laying this mess at the feet of the rightful culprits, the owners, and admits the chances are growing that an NHL team will leave Atlanta for the second time.

Meanwhile, another failing NHL team seems to be slowly getting its house in order at the expense of the taxpayers in the suburban Phoenix city of Glendale. The Glendale schnooks politicians agreed to deposit $10-million into a bank account that incoming owner Matthew Hulsizer can hit if the city misses any payments to him under the lease for Arena.

Earlier this week, Glendale council voted 4-3 to approve some changes in the lease that will allow the sale to move along. The sale of more than $100-million in municipal bonds that will finance Hulsizer's deal is expected to begin next week.

For the record, the only Glendale councillors who had the sense to oppose this fiscal madness were Norma Alvarez, Joyce Clark and Phil Lieberman.

Rebekah L. Sanders has the whole sordid tale on She also has a link to a story about the bond issue and its risks if you cannot get enough of this stuff.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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