Three Strikes

By Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 2, 2011

OAKLAND, CA—The Atlanta Thrashers will be moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for the 2011-12 season. With the sword of Damocles oh, I mean the word of National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman stated ‘this city better support their new team or the league will move them again without hesitation’.

The NHL Board of Governors will vote on the relocation the last week in June. The Manitoba Moose currently play in Winnipeg as an American Hockey League minor league franchise.

The National Hockey League have permitted True North Sports and Entertainment Company to buy the hockey franchise and return NHL hockey to the city that still feels the heartache of losing the Winnipeg Jets 15 years ago. The Phoenix desert received the Winnipeg Jets and became the Coyotes. The City of Winnipeg will get the joy of watching the new Goal Brothers Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Anthony Stewart, and Johnny Oduya as they skate for the Canadian team now. The Thrashers still need a solid goalie to propel then to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

This will be the 2nd time that the city of Atlanta has lost a hockey team. The Atlanta Flames, born in 1968 with the leagues first expansion. They became the Calgary Flames in 1980. The Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989. Many hard core hockey fans remember the red bearded Lanny King McDonald sliding across the ice on his knees in victory after the last period of the Stanley Cup Finals. This was one of the best moves in the NHL because it matched them with their natural providence rival the Edmonton Oilers.

The Winnipeg Jet fans started the tradition of the “White Out”. Jet fans wore white shirts at home games. This was very intimidating for opposing teams, other franchises followed suit with their own white outs. The Calgary Flames changed it just a bit by using a “C of Red” when all Flames fans wore red shirts or jerseys at the Saddle Dome.

The past few years’ fans of the National Basketball Association followed their hockey brethren wearing the colors of their home team heroes.

After months of intense negotiations in Atlanta, the feisty Blue Birds will be flying north to the city of Winnipeg. The city will gain another hockey team. Maybe they will stay in town this time.

There should be an unwritten law that if a city loses two teams in the same sport that city should not be allowed to obtain another team. Washington D.C. already violated this unwritten law with their third baseball team, the Washington Nationals, a team they should not have.

Washington lost the first Senators to the twin cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul in 1960 (The Minnesota Twins). They lost the 2nd Washington Senator baseball team to Arlington, Texas were they became the Texas Rangers in 1971. Number 31, Commissioner Bud Selig in his great wisdom moved the struggling Montreal Expos south to Washington, D.C. The Expos had no business moving from that small quaint Jarry Park to the cavernous Olympic Stadium.

The City of San Diego should be on the list because they have lost three basketball teams. The San Diego Rockets became the Houston Rockets (1967-1971). The Buffalo Braves with Ernie DiGregorio, Elmore Smith, Randy Smith, and Bob McAdoo moved from Northern New York to the Southern California town of San Diego to become the Clippers 1978-1984. This team packed there bags again and headed north to Los Angeles in the 1984-85 season. The Clippers used the same building as the Los Ang. Lakers, the Great Western Forum. Both the Lakers and Clippers now occupy the New Staples Center which opened in 1999.

Less we forget the American Basketball Association, San Diego Conquistadors who folded when the American Basketball Association merged with the NBA in 1976-77.

The City of St. Louis lost the American Basketball Association; Spirits of St. Louis did not survive the merger in 1976 and the National Basketball Association St. Louis Hawks who moved to Atlanta. Many Hawk fans are still wondering what it would have been like to witness the basketball skills of Dominique Wilkins or Spud Web

The City Of Los Angeles, the City of Angels did not support three football teams. The National Football League Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis in 1994 and the American Football League Raiders moved back to Oakland that same year. The mean lean and nasty Raiders lost their glory and charm in Los Angeles they became Hollywood. The players of the Black and Silver wanted to be in the movies, in commercials, and not on the football field. The Raiders lost that hard hat mentally, lost that meanest, lost the working man’s ethic when they left Oakland. It is 2011 and the Oakland Raiders are still looking for that Pride and Poise. Still looking for that Commitment to Excellence which was lost in Los Angeles.

We cannot forget their first American Football League’s team, the powder blue and gold Los Angeles Chargers in 1960 who moved to San Diego in 1961. The Chargers would become the early powerhouse of the Western Conference. They won the title in 1963 and went to the AFL title game four times and the Super Bowl.

Don’t laugh New Yorkers; this list includes the Big Apple losing two baseball teams. Remember the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers who moved to the west coast in the late 1950′s. Baseball wanted to make amends for losing both teams the same summer by creating the clowns of baseball the New York Metropolitans a.k.a. Mets in 1960 with the colors of their lost teams the Dodgers (blue) and Giants (orange). The Mets would shed their image winning two World Series in 1969 and 1986 then became the powerhouse of the eastern division in the 1980′s with Lenny Dykstra, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and Howard Johnson.

These Mets never lived up to the potential with four National League Titles and five Eastern Division Titles. No matter how good they were they always lived in the shadow of their Cross town rival, The New York Yankees.

Remember 2000 Subway Series when the Yankees took care of business beating the Mets four games to one. This solidified the big brother image already established.

Now owner Fred Wilpon has to navigate the legal nightmare of the Bernie Maddof ponzi scandal the past two years. Many Met season ticket owners are in a multi million dollar lawsuit with Wilpon. Baseball minds are now wondering if the Mets will be the third baseball team to move out of the Big Apple after building the new Citi Field Park.

So these are the cities that have let two teams in the same sport go elsewhere.

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Copyrighted 2011@ Gary Norris Gray- Gray Leopard Prod.