Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Atlanta Spirit, the group which owns the Atlanta Thrashers as well as the Hawks and Philips Arena, has entered into talks with True North Sports and Entertainment about selling the franchise.
The Journal Constitution reported on Monday that a person close to the NHL's sale process revealed that talks with TNS most likely means the Thrashers would relocate to Winnipeg.
While both sides have not entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement, and a deal has not been reached, the fact that talks are underway may suggest the uprooting of the franchise might happen as soon as next season, according to the paper.
Neither Thrashers general manager Don Waddell, nor True North spokespersons offered comment on the matter. Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson neither confirmed nor denied the possible identities of potential new owners.
However, the paper also revealed that a meeting occurred Monday between Thrashers team officials and a buyer who is willing to keep the team in Atlanta.
National Hockey League by-laws require that any team seeking to relocate, must submit a written application to the league office by January 1 of the year preceding the one in which the move is to occur. One exception to the rule would be that, if a majority of the teams consent, the league can accept a later filing date.
That means the Thrashers can conceivably move prior to this coming season, or for the 2012-13 campaign.
Winnipeg hosted the Jets in the NHL from 1979 through 1996, before the franchise relocated to Phoenix.
Another wrinkle to the situation came from the Winnipeg Free Press, which also reported on Monday that the league is working on two separate schedule drafts for next season -- one with Atlanta and one with Winnipeg.
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