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NHL's Thrashers to move from Atlanta to Winnipeg

Thrashers_640 The NHL will return to Winnipeg next season, 15 years after shaky economics and the lack of a local owner led to the sale of the Jets and the team’s move from the frigid prairie city to Phoenix.

Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Tuesday the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and will play in Winnipeg’s MTS Arena next season under a name still to be determined. The reported price was $170 million. The transaction must be approved by the league’s board of governors on June 21 but that’s expected to be a formality.

Realigning the NHL’s divisions also is expected to be discussed by the governors but it’s unclear whether that will happen for next season. Atlanta, which entered the NHL as an expansion team for the 1999-2000 season, played in the Southeast division. The NHL usually announces its schedule in June for the upcoming season.

“We get to be back in a place we wish we hadn’t left in 1996,” Bettman said at a news conference held in Winnipeg and televised throughout Canada.

“We don’t like to move franchises. Sometimes we have no choice.”

Fans in Winnipeg partied on downtown streets, where they watched the news conference on massive TV screens.

More later at latimes.com/sports.

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-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, center, holds a mock Stanley Cup trophy as hockey supporters rally in Winnipeg, Manitoba, following the announcement that the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to the city. Credit: David Lipnowski / Associated Press / The Canadian Press

 
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