Frustrated Incorporated; Saving the Thrashers

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[Photo via nhlhockeyarenas.com]

As a native St. Louisan it may come as a surprise to others, or may be hard to wrap their brains around it, but I have every intention to do what I can to keep the Atlanta Thrashers in Atlanta. Yeah, think about that for a few minutes – I’m sure you’ll still be confused as to why, especially as a Blues fan, I’d want them around. I’ll list a few reasons as to why and include ways for you to be proactive in keeping them in Atlanta, and how to be a Thrashers advocate without being a diehard Thrashers fan – because it’s all about the game and love of/for hockey.

I’ve seen friends, neighbors and the like move throughout the course of my life, and like to think that I can’t possibly be the only one. Upon saying goodbye to these people who have moved I’ve found that a good portion of them have been moved to Atlanta – typically for business or family members jobs moving them, promoting them – things of an economic and work nature. Now, not every one of these people have been huge hockey fans or even knew what the sport really was, however, those that did know either rooted for their hometown Blues from nearly 600 miles away, or grew to adapt with the Thrashers who were founded in 1999.

Upon the Thrasher’s foundation 11 years ago the phrase “Hockey doesn’t work in the South” was abound, floating everywhere, and is still uttered today despite the inflation of USA Hockey’s Southeast membership from 4,000 members to over 60,000 since the expansion of the NHL to the Southeast (obviously including the Thrashers). The Thrashers aren’t stupid, either, as they know they didn’t have a “hockey town mentality” and aimed their marketing campaign to all walks of life, to get butts in seats, to please their consumer – and many times they made it work. One of the Thrasher’s bigger names, who came to them via Stanley Cup winners Chicago Blackhawks, Dustin Byfuglien recently signed an extension with the Thrashers and has said that he enjoys the trust placed in him by the Thrashers organization, who has given him the chance to realize his potential as a leader for the team. [More after the jump...]

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Tags: Atlanta Thrashers Chicago Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien Mayor Kasim Reed NHL Southeast USA Hockey

  • Pingback: On Atlanta’s Potential Move To Winnipeg « The College Hockey Blog | A NCAA Hockey blog with the latest news in College Hockey

  • Pegger1-1

    Get the facts straight. Atlanta has had two chances now. Winnipeg lost out because of an aging arena, a sellout owner and a 60 cent Canadian Dollar. Columbus and Phoenix are failing. Some markets don’t care about hockey. Put the teams where people do care. 60,000? Whoop de do. Hockey Manitoba has 30,000 players with 1/8 the population.

  • Eric

    Thank you from Atlanta. We’re not where we are from lack of passion but lack of leadership among the local wealthy. All my respect to Winnipeg but you’re not getting our team.

    • jetsrback

      yes we are getting your team dont worry we will get them to the playoffs

      • Ryan

        They played decent this season, moving them to a different city doesn’t automatically give them a playoff spot…

        Sheesh, use some logic will you…

        • http://didthethrashersmovetowinnipegyet.com/ Me

          Agreed. All other things staying constant, moving them to Winnipeg would actually make their record worse, since they’ll be racking up all of those sky miles.

          The Thrashers had a horrible record this past season when playing on consecutive days (which, for some reason, happened more to the Thrashers than any other team, but I digress). Traveling from the ‘Peg to the southeast for a ton of road games will mean more games on back to back games, and therefore, more losses.

  • Jennifer Metzler

    I understand, that’s all fine and dandy. But many of the Winnipeg fans are being rude, classless and ignorant while I’m just sharing my opinion and reporting on it. I’m sorry you disagree, but there’s no need to come off with an attitude. It makes you look bad in an already ugly situation.

    • Ryan

      I agree, making purely ignorant and “my city is better than yours” pissing contest comments keeps making Winnipeg look less and less suitable each day. No matter what side of the argument you are on there has to be respect, and this article showed that.

      Those in support of Coyotes/Thrashers are in a losing battle with Jets fans in terms of logic. You can’t beat their one-sided stupidity.

  • Grant

    Let’s look at this, shall we? The Winnipeg fans have given their reasons why they lost the Jets in the Jets in the first place. Fair enough. Now explain the infrastructure differences that make you a better candidate this time?

    As far as I understand, all the Thrashers have suffered from is a chronic lack of leadership from it’s owners. Atlanta was in the top 10 for viewing figures last season, their fanbase is one of the most fanatical I’ve met and the building blocks are there already.

    A committed owner could have that club on it’s feet within a season or two IMO. If Winnipeg are that desperate, why haven’t they pushed for expansion?

  • SonOfBlueland

    thank you so much st louis! im from atlanta and just got into hockey this year. all the teams in the NHL supporting us is a big deal. we want our thrashers and know with the RIGHT ownership, obviously not ASG, then we can do great things here. we need help wherever we can get it. but thank you! KEEP OUR THRASHERS!

  • B. Realistic

    The situation is completely different in Winnipeg today as opposed to 1996. A new arena that is one of the busiest in north america and generates a steady flow of revenue, stable owners in place with deep pockets, one of Canada’s most diverse and stable economies which was not affected by the recession, population and commercial growth, etc. Thats makes Winnipeg a better candidate now. Face it guys, you had your chance to support the team and did not. The franchise has lost 130 million already at the pace of over 20 million a year. This is the SECOND time Atlanta has failed to support a hockey team. Support your Hawks, Braves, and Falcons. Leave the hockey to hockey loving hotbeds.

    • SonOfBlueland

      you are special my friend. no, its not our fault. look at the history. our attendance matches our winning and losing records, just like some of the better teams. so dont put this on the fans. its the owners.

    • ReallyPeggs

      You do realize Atlanta Flames were a playoff team (6 out of the first 8 seasons) and was voted the best arena atmosphere by the players when they were around right? We were sold because of Tom Cousins’s failing real estate business (due to the recession that occurred in the late 70s) and he had to sale it to have more financial stability.

  • B. Realistic

    If ifs and buts were candies and nuts my friend. The 1970′s were a long time ago. The city of Atlanta has failed in its support of the thrashers, its as simple as that. You can blame the owners all you want but guess what, if you people would have filled the building night after night we wouldnt be talking about this. Its not that hard to figure out.

  • Brett U

    If we had filled all of the seats for every game, ASG would still have found a way to lose money. They are an incompetent bunch that has spent a ton of cash suing each other. How much money do you think they stole from the Thrashers to help fund the Hawks, the only team they wanted in the first place?

  • http://didthethrashersmovetowinnipegyet.com/ Me

    Jennifer, thank you for the support and well written article. The amount of support this city has received from the rest of the league has been great. By the way, I went to a Blues game in St. Louis a few years ago, and was impressed with the arena and everyone I met at the game and in the city. Midwestern hospitality rivals or perhaps exceeds southern hospitality.

    I’m not, however, hospitable to trolls blaming the failure of the Atlanta Spirit Group on the fans, particularly when they bring attendance numbers into the conversation. I’m sure you’ve had plenty of practice with the Coyotes situation, but the same arguments do not apply to the Thrashers.

    I assure you the sale of the Thrashers is not the fans fault, and it’s not about attendance. It is the owners. This situation is about owners not caring about the fans, and only seeking to flip the franchise for a profit. And that should concern you, no matter what team you are a fan of. Isn’t that the same thing Jets fans were screaming bloody murder about 15 short years ago?

    Fact: if the MTS Centre sells out 100% of the seats to every home game in Winnipeg, they’d be ~23rd in the NHL attendance. That’s 2K more than the Thrashers had in 2010-2011.

    Fact: Atlanta is the #8 TV market in the NHL. ATL’s metro population is more than 7 times the size of WPG’s metro population. Population may not play a big part in sell outs at a (smaller than regulation) arena. Population size certainly does play a part, however, in TV and advertising revenue. Atlanta is a sleeping giant of a hockey market. Winnipeg is a small city with a low ceiling when it comes to television revenue. Do you think Gary Bettman is thinking about this, after that giant TV deal they just signed? The NHL already lost ESPN in the states. They can’t afford to lose another TV contract.

    Moving the Thrashers to Winnipeg would be a short term gain for the NHL (because of the $60 mil relocation fee), but it will definitely be a long term loss for the entire league.

    • B. Realistic

      Glad you people are still delusional and prefer to place blame on the owners rather than your fair weather fans. To believe that having a half empty arena night after night is the owners fault and in no way affected the move of your franchise it not only delusional but idiotic. Grab a clue. Enjoy watching Winnipeg’s team next year :)