ATLANTA -- A spokesman for the mayor of Atlanta acknowledged on Wednesday the NHL's Thrashers 'may leave' the city and become candidates for relocation.
Reese McCranie said the mayor's office has been made aware of the financial troubles of the Atlanta Spirit Group, owners of the Thrashers, the NBA's Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, and have been working on a resolution to keep the 12-year-old hockey club in Atlanta.
"We are aware that the ownership of the Thrashers is having difficulty and they may leave," McCranie told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Wednesday. "The mayor has had robust discussions with business leaders in the metro region [who might] potentially buy or join a team of buyers to keep the Thrashers here. He has gone through extraordinary lengths to ensure that the Thrashers can stay in Atlanta, but at this moment, there is not a deal on the table that we can present."
On Monday night, the city of Glendale, Ariz. approved a $25 million payment to the NHL -- covering any season-ending financial losses involving the Phoenix Coyotes for the 2011-12 campaign (the league purchased the club in bankruptcy court before the 2009-10 season). Prior to that initiative, the Coyotes were believed to be candidates for relocation ... possibly to Winnipeg, Manitoba, which ironically lost the same franchise (then the Jets) to relocation after the 1996 season. But with Phoenix's problems seemingly on the backburner for one more season, the hockey world has turned its attention to Atlanta and the plight of the Thrashers.
In February, Atlanta Spirit Group part-owner Michael Gearon Jr. came forward to address a "sense of urgency" involving a potential Thrashers sale. On Wednesday, part-owner Bruce Levenson offered a non-committal response to the AJC.
"We are continuing to seek solutions for the Thrashers," Levenson said. "I will not comment on any speculation."
In 11 seasons (excluding the 2004-05 lockout) in Atlanta -- the city's second go-round with the NHL (Flames, 1972-80) -- the Thrashers have had one postseason appearance and zero playoff wins.