After weeks of denial by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials, True North Sports and Entertainment announced a conditional purchase of the financially strapped Atlanta Thrashers. Lawyers worked through the night on deal, with the final piece put in place Tuesday morning. Bettman told reporters at a news conference in Winnipeg that he took a conference call with the principles at 4:30 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday.
True North, headed by billionaire David Thomson and Mark Chipman, negotiated with the Atlanta Spirit Group to buy the Thrashers, who reportedly lost more than $300 million since 2005. Thomson is Canada’s richest man and chairman of the news and information company Thomson Reuters. Chipman’s family owns auto dealerships and real estate in Manitoba, and Chipman is governor of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and former chairman of the executive committee of the AHL Board of Governors.