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Friday's notes: Can Winnipeg really support the Thrashers long-term?

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As if the Conference Finals weren't interesting enough, the hockey world is abuzz this morning over last night's report by Stephen Brunt of the Globe & Mail that the Thrashers-to-Winnipeg relocation is "done", and will be announced on Tuesday. Given the number of denials which came within moments of that report, however, does that mean things are really any more certain than they were previously?

For my $0.02 (and I won't even charge you that much), I can't help but feel bad for the hockey fans in Atlanta, who were ill-served by incompetent ownership and management. Atlanta has a reputation as a lousy sports town, and that certainly doesn't work in their favor here, but you hate to see hockey taken away from anybody. As for Winnipeg? I have no doubt that they'll sell out every game for a while given the excitement over the NHL's return, but there are serious, reasonable doubts as to whether it can support a team long-term, with just under 700,000 people in the metropolitan area (by comparison, Edmonton is about 40% larger at 1 million). Nashville, has over 1.6 million, and is growing rapidly.

If the Thrashers continue playing like, well, the Thrashers... what will hockey in Winnipeg look like in 5 years? I wish them all the best, but it just seems like there's no safety net there.

Follow after the jump for more on that story, responses to The Hockey News columnist who cracked on Nashville yesterday, a look at the head coaching market which currently has 5 open jobs around the league, and a whole lot more...

Nashville Predators News

The View from 111: Ken Campbell- A Symbol of a Bigger Problem
Mark winds up and takes a well considered whack at the small-minded champion of the "hockey only belongs in traditional markets" mindset, which remains a hindrance to the growth of the game.

Paul McCann - Clueless Ken
Paul takes Ken Campbell out to the woodshed for his lame swipe at Nashville yesterday.

Preds On The Glass: POTG Friday Headlines, News, and Morning Links
Buddy's bounty of links includes handy tips for that next job interview.

Paul McCann - Done Deal or Media Manipulation?
Paul sees last night's Winnipeg story as an effort to impact the events on the ground, rather than report on them.

Top 15 moments of the 2010-11 Preds season: #14 | Section 303
Next up... celebrating Nick Spaling.

The Key to the Nashville Predators Off-season Signings, Part 1 - The Predatorial
Kris looks at the guys who spent most or all of the season in Milwaukee, and are on expiring contracts. I don't see how the Linus Klasen situation is "almost identical to" Radulov's, though. Klasen fulfilled his contract, which is a pretty significant difference.

Around the NHL

Tim Thomas and Bruins shutout Lightning 2-0 in Game 3 - Stanley Cup of Chowder
Boston has successfully rebounded from that Game 1 loss to assume a 2-1 series lead.

Canucks At Sharks Game 3 Preview: Face The Thing That Should Not Be - Nucks Misconduct
San Jose pretty much faces a must-win situation tonight, as they host the Canucks while trailing their series 2-0.

They’re partying in Winnipeg and holding out hope in Atlanta - Puck Daddy
Here's a look at the scene in the 'Peg last night as hockey fans spilled into the streets. 

More on NHL Exchange Rates and Expansion - Behind The Net
Gabe does a nice job demonstrating just how large a role the US-Canadian exchange rate has played in the current environment. This leads to questions about the long-term viability of Winnipeg as an NHL market, if these trends were to reverse 5-10 years down the road.

Quebec arena backers endure more hurdles - The Globe and Mail
While momentum is building to bring NHL hockey back to Winnipeg, things aren't going so smoothly in Quebec City.

Down Goes Brown: Rating the NHL's relocation candidates
By the far the most insightful analysis you'll see regarding which other cities remain hopeful for the NHL.

Granlund to stay in Finland next season; 'Hitch' added to vast coaching list; Aeros Preview | StarTribune.com
Minnesota is lining up three pretty good coaching candidates in Ken Hitchcock, Michel Terrien, and Craig MacTavish.

KuklasKorner : The Malik Report : McCrimmon out, Boughner in for the Red Wings?
Interesting speculation here, that Bob Boughner may join the Red Wings as an assistant after leaving Columbus. 

Is Dallas the most coveted destination of five open NHL coaching jobs? - The Dallas Morning News
Stars? Wild? Panthers? Senators? Devils? Which do you think is the most interesting opportunity for a new head coach?

On Frozen Blog › A State of the Nation That Comes Up Small
Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis addressed fans yesterday via the team's website, but there's no satisfying folks who expected a deeper playoff run this season.

Freddy Modin retires - Raw Charge
The winger with the booming slapper hangs up his skates, after having played 15 years in the NHL.

I think therefore I am - a hockey player - Burnaby Now
For Mike Santorelli, last summer's trade from Nashville to Florida gave him a 2nd chance at becoming an NHL regular, and he's taking advantage of it.

Bank forecloses on house of former Kings star Luc Robitaille - latimes.com
Count Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille among the victims of Boots Del Biaggio's scams.

Nikolay Zherdev story now has conflicting reports (of course it does) - Broad Street Hockey
Another report on the Zherdev incident comes from the perspective of Sgt. Schultz.

TRUE VALUE: EVGENI NABOKOV What to do with the NYI’s best and healthiest goalie? · islanderspointblank.com
The New York Islanders have an apparent trade asset in Evgeni Nabokov, who never reported to the team after being claimed on waivers. That means the contract he signed runs over into next year at a measly $570,000. Just think, if he had showed up for work, he could probably get multiples of that on the free agent market this summer.

Nostalgia: Belive in the Russian Five - Winging It In Motown
A look back at the most dominant 5-man unit I've ever seen in the NHL (and yes, that includes the 80's Oilers with Gretzky, Kurri, etc.). It's too bad this writer doesn't know how to spell Sergei Fedorov, though.