Hey, Winnipeg: Thrashers Nearly 'Elite'

Hey, Winnipeg: Thrashers Nearly 'Elite'

Should the Atlanta Thrashers be transferred as expected, Winnipeg hockey fans will be getting in on the ground floor of a good thing, according to the club’s general manager.

“This team is a lot closer to elite status than anybody might imagine,” Rick Dudley said Monday, as Atlanta lawyers dealt with the final documents on the Memorial Day holiday in the United States, and rumours swirled that only the NHL rubber stamp remained in the way of franchise relocation.

Dudley’s optimism might come as a surprise, as the Thrashers finished 12th in the NHL’s Eastern Conference last season. However, Atlanta was one of the league’s surprise teams in the first half of the season, staying in playoff contention until a disastrous free-fall in the second half.

“There are only a couple pieces [left to acquire] and I think they are available. ... This is an interesting team because it’s capable of so much,” said Dudley, whose off-season shopping list includes a scorer and an elite defenceman.

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