Winnipeg mayor doubts Coyotes' return; Thrashers on deck? Staff

4/28/2011 12:46:23 AM

While speculation grows over the possibility of the NHL moving back to Winnipeg, the city's mayor is not convinced that it will be the Phoenix Coyotes returning.

"Do I believe the Coyotes are coming to Winnipeg - my answer would be no," mayor Sam Katz said on Wednesday. "I don't believe that. I believe the Coyotes will stay in Phoenix and they will do everything they can, because I happen to know some of the commitments that were made when they went there. And there were commitments that - if they were not fulfilled - there could easily be a lawsuit. So I think you have to start looking at some of the other potential franchises."

While the NHL, the City of Glendale and Matt Hulsizer's focus remains on keeping the Coyotes in Arizona, the future of the Atlanta Thrashers also hangs in the balance and sources say Atlanta is waiting for the league to determine the fate of the Coyotes.

According to sources, if a deal is made to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, there's a chance the Thrashers will move quickly into negotiations with True North to move the team to Winnipeg. A source close to the situation added that when it comes to relocation, there simply isn't anywhere else to go.

There are also questions as to whether Thrashers ownership and True North could work out an agreement, but the possibility is not being ruled out.

If the NHL is unsuccessful in closing the deal and the Hulsizer sale crumbles, the Coyotes become the likely target for Winnipeg while the league's attention will shift to the Thrashers and an effort to keep the team in Atlanta.

League sources say the negotiations to close the sale in Glendale are ongoing and that no decision has been reached yet, while all involved are hopeful a resolution can be reached no later than next week.