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For now, Thrashers remain in Atlanta

Commissioner Gary Bettman denied a sale that would move the Thrashers to Winnipeg has been completed. Thursday, Toronto's Mail and Globe reported an agreement was done and would be announced Tuesday.

"I can tell you that with certainty that there is no deal for this team to move," Bettman said. "Am I predicting that there will never be or that there won't be at some point in time? No."

Bettman added the league will consider moving a team only when there is no owner willing to keep it in its current city.

True North Sports and Entertainment, which is in talks to buy the Thrashers, said the report is "not true."

Atlanta Spirit has tried to find a buyer to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta for two years, and local governments have shown no interest in financially helping the team. The Thrashers are still planning an event for season-ticket holders Saturday. And fans are planning a rally before it.

"It will be interesting to see how many people show up at the rally," Bettman said.

An announcement would end several months of speculation that the Thrashers or Coyotes, the league's other financially troubled team, would move to Winnipeg. The city lost its team, called the Jets, to Phoenix in 1996. Since then, a new arena has been built.

The league owns the Coyotes. And the Glendale, Ariz., City Council voted to pay it $25 million to run the city-owned arena, keeping the team in place for at least one more season.

The Thrashers would be the second team to leave Atlanta. The Flames moved to Calgary before the 1980-81 season.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that if the move goes through, Winnipeg would play in the Northwest Division. The Wild would move from the Northwest to the Central, and the Blue Jackets would replace Atlanta in the Southeast. Nashville would stay in the Central because it is in the Central time zone. Columbus being in the Eastern time zone eases travel and TV issues.

Blackhawks: Goalie Corey Crawford, 26, agreed to a three-year extension. Financial terms were not disclosed. This season, his 33 wins led rookies.

Oilers: The team and city of Edmonton reached a deal to finance a $450 million arena. The city will provide $125 million and the Oilers $100 million, and $125 million will come from a user-paid facility fee. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel said the sides will approach the provincial and federal governments for the remaining $100 million.

Canucks: Wing Mikael Samuelsson will have surgery for a torn adductor tendon and sports hernia. He has not played since Game 5 of the West semifinals.

For now, Thrashers remain in Atlanta 05/19/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2011 1:15am]
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