Believe it or Not, Atlanta Needs the Thrashers

Believe it or Not, Atlanta Needs the Thrashers - Atlanta claims to be a big time sports town. The Braves, Falcons and Hawks are perennial playoff contenders. It's a city that hosts major sports events and does it real well.

The Atlanta Thrashers played their 902nd game in franchise history and possibly their last in Atlanta on Sunday as they were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 at Philips Arena.

The owners of the Thrashers, The Atlanta Spirit Group LLC have said they are looking for investors to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, but deciphering the code that means they are trying to sell the team.

Atlanta already lost one NHL team, the Flames back in the 1980s and should they lose the Thrashers, that would mean the end of hockey in Atlanta. How can a city that has played host to the Olympics, is in the rotation for Final Fours and has hosted two Super Bowls lose a professional sport that is both exciting and popular?

The answer is three-fold and unfortunately, it may be too late to keep the team in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Spirit Group

The owners of the Thrashers, The Atlanta Spirit Group have made no bones about the fact that they don't want to be in the hockey business. How does that make Atlanta hockey fans feel? It makes me feel like I don't want to buy a ticket. Would you want to eat in a restaurant where the chef doesn't want to prepare your food properly? The Atlanta Spirit Group claims that they have lost more than $150 million since 2005. Maybe it's because of the lousy product they've put out on the ice.

Don Waddell as GM

The Thrashers have missed the playoffs 10 times in their 11-year history, the one constant is Don Waddell, the Thrashers' general manager since 1999 and now executive. Not only is he responsible for making bad draft picks; anyone want to remember Patrik Stefan, and horrible trades, he now is the mouthpiece for the ownership group that we all want to see go away. Waddell claims there is no deal imminent, but Atlanta media members including John Kincade, who also is on ESPN Radio, says a buyer is there and he wants the Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. Why won't Waddell acknowledge the existence of a buyer? Probably because it would mean the end of his reign in Atlanta.

The fans are disgusted

Annually the Thrashers are one of the most poorly supported teams in professional sports. Ranking 28th in attendance for the 2010-11 season and having Philips Arena filled to just 71.7 percent of capacity this season means something is seriously wrong. Hockey is my favorite sport to watch in person and many others feel that way as well. In short, the Atlanta hockey fan-base has had it.

I don't want be a cheerleader and start a campaign to save hockey in Atlanta, but it's a shame it has got to this point. Believe it or not Atlanta needs the Thrashers and the NHL needs this team in the South. NHL teams in Atlanta, Nashville, Carolina and Tampa need to tough it out, find a way for it to work, grow their fan-bases and play hockey!

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