The Thrashers' logo disappeared from Atlanta's Philips Arena soon after the move to Winnipeg was approved.
Photo: Jason Getz/AJC
Photo: Jason Getz/AJC

On this day: The Thrashers leave Atlanta

The Thrashers played their final game in Atlanta on April 10, 2011.

Almost two months later, on May 31, 2011, the announcement came. It was what every fan wanted and hated. 

The Good: After years on infighting, the Thrashers’ ownership group -- the Atlanta Spirit, a partnership between nine businessmen from Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Boston -- had managed to find a buyer.

History of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers

The Bad: The Thrashers would be forced to move in the sale.

The Thrashers had strong attendance in the early years of the franchise and during its one trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, a lone postseason in 11 seasons.

Kari Lehtonen. Ilya Kovalchuk. Marian Hossa. They all became household names playing in Atlanta.

Now the ailing team would play in a new city, Winnipeg -- Manitoba's largest city, which had lost its own NHL franchise to Phoenix in 1996.

Efforts to sell the Thrashers locally were hampered by the dispute within the ownership group. A settlement had been reached months earlier to buy out Boston-based  co-owner Steve Belkin, who had a long-standing beef with the group over the signing of Hawks star Joe Johnson. (The Atlanta Spirit also owned the Hawks.)

True North stepped in with a deal worth $170 million, including a $60 million relocation fee.

“Our objective was always to find a solution to keep the team in Atlanta, and we spent a considerable amount of time, effort and resources trying to do so,” Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson said at the time. “This is not the outcome we wanted and it's extremely disappointing that a buyer or significant investor did not come forward that would enable us to keep the team in Atlanta.”

The Atlanta Spirit ownership sold the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment, making Atlanta the first city in the NHL’s modern era to lose two teams.

On June 21, the NHL’s board approved the sale and the move. The Thrashers would become the Jets, and Canada would gain its second NHL franchise directly from Atlanta. The Atlanta Flames were an NHL franchise from 1972 to 1980, when they became the Calgary Flames.

Since moving to Winnipeg, the Jets have been maligned with little success and money woes.

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