Talks continue in possible sale of Thrashers

Talks are ongoing with three groups interested in purchasing the Thrashers franchise and keeping it in Atlanta, team president Don Waddell said on Thursday. The discussions primarily have been held with two entities, but Waddell said he didn't want to eliminate the third party yet.

The groups have shown interest in the purchase of the Thrashers -- and not in becoming additional investors in the Atlanta Spirit, which also owns the Hawks and Philips Arena, Waddell said. He has dealt directly with three entities, two groups and an individual, and two are from Atlanta.

“There is not much new to report, but talks continue,” Waddell said.

Two other groups have also expressed interest in purchasing the Thrashers, Hawks and Philips Arena from the Atlanta Spirit, as previously reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One has held meetings with officials from the NBA and the NHL. However, Waddell said he has had no direct dealings with a group interested in purchasing all three properties.

At least five non-disclosure agreements, the first step in a purchase, have been procured by the Raine Group, a New York-based banking firm hired by the Atlanta Spirit to seek a buyer or additional investors for all or part of the three properties.

Last month, Atlanta Spirit co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. told the AJC there was a sense of urgency to find a buyer or additional investors to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. The franchise has lost $130 million over the past five years, court documents show.

Reversal of fortune

Chris Mason is frustrated by what could have been for the Thrashers this season. The goaltender looks back at where the team stood in December and to see it playing for its playoff life in March is hard to fathom.

On Dec. 20, the Thrashers were 19-11-5 and their 43 points led the Southeast Division and left them third in the Eastern Conference. Entering Thursday night’s game they were tied for 11th in the conference – on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

“For me, when I look at our team, you can see that we are right there,” Mason said. “It’s something where we had that hot stretch. We were playing unbelievable. We were cutting teams off in the neutral zone. We were choking them off so they would have to dump pucks and we would just get in back and be on offense. After that streak, we got away from those things. We ended up having a big slump that put us in the position we are right now.”

The slump was a 30-game stretch with only seven wins.

“The frustrating thing is I don’t think we stuck to the game plan the whole season,” Mason said.


Head coach Craig Ramsay turned 60 on Thursday. … Former Thrashers first-round pick Braydon Coburn is a plus-13 for the Flyers this season and has missed just one game. … The Thrashers have more than 40 shots in six of the past 11 games. … Players wore green St. Patrick's Day jersey's during warm-up. The jerseys were autographed by the players and auctioned with the proceeds going to the Thrashers Foundation.