ATLANTA — The Thrashers' sale and move to Winnipeg is still not official, but Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed talked Tuesday as if losing the team is inevitable.
"I think any time we lose a major sports franchise, it is tough," Reed said.
"It is going to hurt the city, but we will withstand it just fine, and we will get through it. We have a lot of positive things going on in the sports franchise space that I think we'll be announcing pretty soon that will offset it a bit."
This would not be the first time longtime Atlanta hockey fans have suffered the pain of losing a team to Canada. Atlanta lost its first NHL team in 1980 when the Flames moved to Calgary.
Reed said the city was willing to work to keep the Thrashers but had no success in its search for a buyer to keep the team in Atlanta. Reed's office has joined the Thrashers' ownership group, Atlanta Spirit, in the search.
"I've been working very hard to be as helpful as I can, but the Thrashers, as you know, are in an extraordinary position because of the amount of the (financial) losses associated with the team," Reed said. "We have not yet seen a path where we can reverse those losses fast enough."
The Thrashers' owners are in talks with True North Sports and Entertainment, which would relocate the team to Winnipeg. Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz told the National Post in Canada on Tuesday he expects the sale to be final this week.
Atlanta Spirit says the team has lost more than $150 million since 2005.
True North reportedly is willing to pay $110 million for the team and another $60 million to the league as a relocation fee.
Salary cap: The cap will go up next season, possibly to between $60.5 million and $63.5 million, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the annual conference of the Sports Lawyers Association. The cap, based on hockey-related revenue, was $59.4 million this season. It has gone up each year since the current collective agreement went into effect for the 2005-06 season. The league is expecting to post record revenue of close to $3 billion this season, Daly told the weekend gathering in Washington, in comments reported by the Montreal Gazette. That would be an increase of more than $200 million from the previous season.
Hall of Famer Mikita has cancer: Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita will be treated for Stage 1 oral cancer, the team said. His prognosis is excellent, said his doctor, Richard Borrowdale of Chicago's Loyola Medical Center. Mikita, who turned 71 Friday, led the league in scoring four times and was a two-time winner of the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in playing 22 seasons with Chicago. The Sokolce, Czechoslovakia, native retired during the 1979-80 season and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983.