As anticipated, True North Sports & Entertainment announced today in a press conference that they have purchased the Atlanta Thrashers and are moving them north of the border to Winnipeg, Manitoba. This was easily the most anti-climactic announcement of the year, as the media have been reporting this as a done deal for weeks. However, there were a number of other, more interesting announcements that have gone severely under-reported. I am shocked at how little attention these announcements are receiving. In my mind, these are the real stories from the press conference:
- After announcing the acquisition of the Atlanta Thrashers in a bored monotone, Mark Chipman excitedly outlined his plan to purchase the LA Clippers and move them to Winnipeg. Planned team name: the Jets.
- As a cost-cutting measure, the team won’t be using a private plane, charter jet, or any flight at all, choosing to instead bus to every game, including all of their intra-Division games in Florida.
- Chipman repeatedly referred to “hockey fans across Canada,” declaring that this was clearly “the most excited they would be all week,” while Vancouver media members stared, dumbfounded.
- Eschewing both the Jets and Moose names and logos, the new team will be named the Manitoba Roughriders.
- Chipman announced the intention of acquiring and icing a team entirely composed of former Winnipeg Jets players. After being pulled aside by a frazzled young woman with a clipboard, he returned to the podium: “I have just been informed that all of those players are very, very old and there are not enough of them to form even one line. I was not aware of this.”
- Gary Bettman, clearly working from a pre-written speech, constantly referred to the previous team as the “Phoen-I-mean-Atlanta Coyotes. Um, Thrashers.” Every time.
- Halfway through the press conference, after announcing a sponsorship deal with Blackberry, Mark Chipman began laughing maniacally before removing his rubber mask to reveal the cackling face of Jim Balsillie.
- Footage of the press conference was intercut with footage of Teemu Selanne eating breakfast shot through a window. He did not seem to be aware he was being filmed.
- Much was made of Gary Bettman being applauded as he came to the podium, but Winnipeggers were reportedly informed that he was Dale Hawerchuk and that “he’s really let himself go.”
- Shortly after announcing season ticket prices, though they swore it was completely unrelated, True North announced they would be opening an apparently completely legal “Kidney Pawn Shop” next door to the MTS Centre.
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