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May 31, 2011: The NHL Returns To Winnipeg

Where were you nine years ago today?

After months (years) of rumors, doubt and speculation, it was made official by Mark Chipman of True North Sports and Entertainment on May 31, 2011.

“Today, on behalf of my family, our partner David Thompson, and out entire organization, I am excited beyond words to announce our purchase of the Atlanta Thrashers. In a sense, I guess you can say that True North, our city, and our province has received the call we’ve long since been waiting for.”

Chipman in the press conference to announce the purchase of the Thrashers with the intent of moving them to Winnipeg revealed somewhat how the announcement was many years in the making, almost dating back to 1995 when the original Jets were moved to Arizona. Other groups and businessmen made loud and rather brash statements about moving US based teams back into Canada that ultimately made the NHL shy away. Chipman and TNSE’s process from the start was quiet and understated. Persistent, but not so much so as to turn off those who had doubts or questions about the return of the league to Manitoba.

The press conference itself really didn’t contain much in the way of information for fans beyond the fact that there was a sale and an upcoming ticket drive in which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated needed to see a complete buy-in from Winnipeg hockey fans before the league was to approve the sale and relocation a month later.

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None of that seemed to matter as fans took to the streets to celebrate the NHL’s return to Manitoba, while others started to hit up websites and books to start getting familiar with the players that would be coming north from Atlanta.