Rollins interested in buying Thrashers

Los Angeles-based filmmaker and Atlanta native Stephen Rollins

says he is gathering information for a possible bid to buy the

Atlanta Thrashers.

Rollins denied reports he already has made an offer for the

team.

Rollins told The Associated Press on Wednesday in a telephone

interview he has talked with Bruce Levenson, one of the team’s

owners.

He laughed when asked if his only interest would be as a

majority owner.

“You better believe it,” Rollins said. “I live, breathe, eat,

sleep hockey, especially Thrashers hockey.”

Rollins, 39, is the head of Lightning Pictures who had his start

as a writer, director and producer while growing up in Atlanta. He

said he became a hockey fan after a player from the old NHL Atlanta

Flames gave his mother a hockey stick “and said when I was big

enough to play with it to give it to me. I started skating when I

was about 6 or 7.”

Rollins became a devoted fan of the minor league Atlanta Knights

and said he took a lead role in a group which in 1996 gathered

35,000 signatures in support of the NHL awarding an expansion

franchise to Atlanta. That franchise became the Thrashers.

He said he has remained a long-distance fan of the Thrashers. He

said he wears his Thrashers jersey to work on game days.

“I would like to own a team and if it presented itself to be

Atlanta I would be more than ecstatic because of my hometown and

everything I went through to help try to bring a franchise there to

begin with,” Rollins said.

Owners of the Thrashers and NBA Atlanta Hawks have sought new

investors for a year.

“We are currently talking to a number of people or groups who

have expressed an interest in partial or significant stakes in one

or both teams,” Levenson said last week.

Levenson did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages

Wednesday night.

“We are only allowed to talk to folks about buying the Atlanta

Thrashers in Atlanta,” Levenson said last week, adding that was

the mandate from the NHL.

Rollins said he has been troubled by rumors the team could move

to Canada. He said he would have a marketing plan to bring more

fans to Philips Arena.

“I think if you get out into the community and start promoting

the team and start having the hockey activities you once did, I

really think this thing could be turned around,” Rollins said.

“You could wake a sleeping giant very fast. That’s my hope for

the Atlanta franchise, no matter who’s owning it.”

Rollins did not put a timetable on his current process of

“looking at the numbers.”

“I can say that my interest is definitely there if the situation

presents itself properly,” he said. “If it does, if I could be a

part of that, then nothing would make me happier. I find it hard to

find anyone who wants to see the NHL and the Thrashers thrive in

Atlanta more than myself.”

The Thrashers, who played their inaugural season in 1999-2000,

were swept by the New York Rangers in 2007 in the team’s only

playoff appearance.

John Anderson was fired as coach and Don Waddell was moved from

general manager to team president in a major shakeup after the

Thrashers missed this year’s playoffs. Rick Dudley was promoted to

general manager. The team has not hired a new coach.