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The End Of Hockey In Atlanta

from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

This is how it ends: With the weasel of a commissioner not stepping foot in the city, with another season passing without a playoff game, with a lying ownership group maintaining it did all it could to save a franchise that in reality it spent most of seven years wrecking.

Atlanta has lost an NHL expansion team to a Canadian outpost for the second time. The Thrashers are going to Winnipeg just like the Flames went to Calgary in 1980.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: winnipeg

Comments

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

They will be discussing this decision one day at business schools, right after the sections on Charles Ponzi and Enron.

This made me burst out laughing. Calm down, dude. Atlanta isn’t a hockey town. If it was, the seats in the building would have been occupied.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 05/31/11 at 03:29 PM ET

Primis's avatar

This made me burst out laughing. Calm down, dude. Atlanta isn’t a hockey town. If it was, the seats in the building would have been occupied.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John’s, NL, CA on 05/31/11 at 01:29 PM ET

Much like the Coyotes and Bluejackets… how will we ever know what attendance could do if the team could make the post-season even semi-regularly and win a series every now and again?

Attendance suffers mightily when the team on-ice stinks.  Look at Chicago a few years ago—attendance numbers weren’t pretty.

You get a window of a few years.. but then you need to win something.  Anything.  If you can’t, the fans stay away.  End of story.  ATL had a complete bust of a #1 pick (Stefan)... but they traded away 3 other key picks (Kovie, Heatley, and Lehtonen).... they got Hossa then traded him away… you can’t build a franchise into anything when you’re trading away your team’s best player ever single year.

Posted by Primis on 05/31/11 at 03:35 PM ET

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If its such a great hockey market, why wasnt anyone else willing to buy the team?

Posted by Joe from Columbus on 05/31/11 at 03:38 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

FACT !!! Atlanta is a horrible sports city Atlanta is a Transient City in other words A Lot of people move to Atlanta from elsewhere & have other allegiances

Posted by Evilpens on 05/31/11 at 03:55 PM ET

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Steve from Strowbridge: Fans refused to give money to ownership that didn’t care about actually having a successful team. If fans of northern teams (example: Chicago during the last several years of Bill Wirtz’s reign, the Islanders, Boston for quite a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s) get a pass for this from yokels like you, then you damn well better give a pass to their southern brothers. Otherwise, F U.

Joe from Columbus:  Somebody else WAS willing to buy the team—Atlanta Spirit Group just didn’t want a team in the Philips Arena that wasn’t owned by them.

Posted by AcidQueen from Raleigh, NC on 05/31/11 at 04:19 PM ET

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If its such a great hockey market, why wasnt anyone else willing to buy the team?

Nobody bought the Thrashers because with the hawks and the arena being packaged together for a potential buyer in the future, the Thrashers would have to pay rent in a building drawing 11,000 (in tickets distributed) 41 times a year.

The market would have done better had it had something to cheer for. One playoff appearance, no playoff wins, and extremely mediocre teams centered on star players who didn’t want to stay there sealed the team’s fate. Oh, and the bozo owners in ASG. What a bunch of morons.

Posted by tj77 from USA on 05/31/11 at 04:20 PM ET

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If its such a great hockey market, why wasnt anyone else willing to buy the team?

Posted by Joe from Columbus on 05/31/11 at 01:38 PM ET

When Atlanta Spirit purchased the Hawks, Thrashers, and Philips Arena, their plan was to sell off the Thrashers to an owner interested in hockey shortly thereafter. Unfortunately a disagreement within the group on a potential Hawks trade involving Joe Johnson started legal proceedings to buy out Steve Belkin and his 30% share. That process resulted in numerous lawsuits, which tied the buy out process up until December of last year. Mid December of 2010 was the first time that Atlanta Spirit had a clear title to Philips Arena/Hawks/Thrashers since the Belkin buy out started.

Atlanta Spirit wanted to get rid of hockey from Philips Arena so they could stage more big dollar concerts. They felt that the hockey team was getting in the way of potential tour dates. They sandbagged any potential negotiations by entering into a shady exclusivity agreement with ex-Padres owner Moores about his interest of buying Philips Arena and the Atlanta Hawks. This agreement stopped any parties interested in buying all 3 (Philips, Thrashers, Hawks) from being able to get a foot in the door. The exclusivity period on the Philips Arena/Hawks sale has ended and Atlanta Spirit will likely not sell the arena or the Hawks and they’ll get their concert tours now.

Of the groups that were interested in buying just the Thrashers, Atlanta Spirit wrote off some eligible groups without ever getting past the “feeling out” stages of negotiation and the others quickly realized that the lease terms that Atlanta Spirit were offering to any new Thrashers owner(s) were extremely unfavorable. A sold out building wouldn’t have been able to off set the lease terms that were being offered.

Atlanta Spirit is solely responsible for the relocation of the Thrashers. Don’t kid yourselves. A winning Thrashers team showed that it could draw crowds. Unfortunately, the owners purposely ran payroll near the floor and ran the team into the ground.

As for this:

This made me burst out laughing. Calm down, dude. Atlanta isn’t a hockey town. If it was, the seats in the building would have been occupied.

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John’s, NL, CA on 05/31/11 at 01:29 PM ET

the Thrashers outdrew the Boston Bruins in ‘06-‘07 and ‘07-‘08. Get over yourself.

Posted by blankspace6 from Atlanta on 05/31/11 at 04:25 PM ET

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A stick tap to all of the hockey fans in Atlanta. No matter how bad a “market” is, there are surely die hard fans that are getting gut punched by having a team pulled out from under them.  On the bright side guess for some people having no team is still better than having the Pirates.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 05/31/11 at 04:49 PM ET

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The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks also own the building they play in so it doesn’t matter how bad attendance is….they aren’t going anywhere. If you don’t own the building you will never survive especially in hockey. Not sure why ASG would sell off their teams individually. They are worth more combined with the arena. An arena with no tenants is worth….probably nothing.

Posted by kevin from boston on 05/31/11 at 11:34 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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