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
Rollins denied reports he already has made an offer for the
Rollins told The Associated Press on Wednesday in a telephone
interview he has talked with Bruce Levenson, one of the team’s
He laughed when asked if his only interest would be as a
“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
“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
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.