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NHL pulls plug on fan boards; Stewart and Schremp not tendered by Winnipeg

First NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman broke his so-called "covenant with fans" by hastily moving the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg. Now his league will silence fan dissent on NHL.com.
First NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman broke his so-called "covenant with fans" by hastily moving the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg. Now his league will silence fan dissent on NHL.com.
(Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

First the NHL breaks their “covenant with fans” and moves the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg after a five month search for owners. Now, the league is looking to take away the fan’s voice, too.

The National Hockey League is shutting down the league-run NHL Fans community when the league’s calendar year comes to a close on June 30.

In a tersely worded, but politically correct message, where the NHL uses words like “discontinuing” rather than shutting down or stifling free speech, the league reminds fans to save “all photos and videos uploaded to their profile.”

Those profiles go away on June 30th as well.

Also going poof in the night will be the NHL’s message boards, a sparsely moderated group of league-run boards that had over 21 million page views in just over two years of operation.

As a result, there were many posts critical of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the officiating, the Atlanta sale and other hot topics of the hockey.

The league says that team message board sites will “remain unaffected.” That is – if you still have a team. Folks in Atlanta lost their official team website moments after the Board of Governors officially approved the sale of the Thrashers to Winnipeg.

That team is now the Winnipeg Jets.

It is unknown if the shutdown of the league’s message board will simply be an evolution of the platform elsewhere. The emergence of Facebook and Twitter has revolutionized how commentary and information are disseminated world-wide.

The NHL’s message boards boasted over 115,000 unique members, over 12,500 posts spanning almost 2,000 topics in just over two years of operation on topics from trades and free agency to the NHL Winter Classic and everything in between.

Privately-run hfboards.com is expected to pick up some of the slack in the absence of a league-sanctioned voice. That very active community has 25,000 fewer members, but almost 32.5 million posts.

While in the grand scheme of things, the most likely answer as to why the NHL is shutting down their boards may be lack of interest or just a business decision, the bottom line is that there is one less outlet for fans to vent their frustrations. There’s no winner in that situation: neither the league nor its fans.

Not restricted anymore: New management, new direction. Atlanta’s former hockey team parted ways with a pair of former Thrashers.

Restricted free agents Anthony Stewart and Rob Schremp were not extended qualifying offers ahead of the league’s deadline. The duo of former Thrashers will become unrestricted free agents.

The Jets did extend qualifying offers to regulars Zach Bogosian, Andrew Ladd, Ben Maxwell and Blake Wheeler. Minor league vets Brett Festerling, Arturs Kulda, Riley Holzapfel and Spencer Machacek were also extended.

The NHL’s unrestricted free agency period opens on Canada Day, July 1.

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