Now, it looks like the rumors are true.
True North, an Atlanta Spirit-type group in Winnipeg, is in talks to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers from the Atlanta Spirit Group (I say they are similar in that they are both groups — there is no way True North would care for their fans as little as Atlanta Spirit has) before the summer is over. This would move the Thrashers to Winnipeg, and pro hockey out of Atlanta for the second time.
And it will be the last time, because there is no way the NHL will ever give this town another chance.
So as we watched this saga play out, we saw a town lock in on our franchise (as well as the Phoenix bunch, but the NHL came to their aid and saved them from relocation), and they appear ready to take our team away. And what can we do about the alleged purchase?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Money is big in this town, but it isn’t that big. Billionaires who are big-time sports fans aren’t exactly sitting at every street-corner coffee shop on Sunday mornings, looking for a sports franchise to buy. Arthur Blank can’t own every team in this city, and I wouldn’t want to see him try, because I like the passion he puts into winning a championship as owner of the Falcons.
But now, the city will take a step down in the sports scene. We are no longer one of those coveted towns that is home to all four major pro sports teams. We’re down to three, but luckily for us, all three are fielding above-average products right now.
The Atlanta Spirit tried to fool the fans into thinking they cared about the Thrashers, but they didn’t. They bought the Thrashers as a package deal so they could get the Hawks, and it showed that they only cared about one as time went on (even though they didn’t seem to care for the Hawks much at times, either).
While there is apparently a group that is interested in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta, it appears the talks are not progressing and the move to Winnipeg is becoming almost imminent.
And boy does that suck for the fans that have loved this team for over a decade, even though they’ve only made the playoffs one time and have never won a single playoff game in their existence.
The empty arena may have made it look like the city didn’t care for the Thrashers, but in reality, they just didn’t care for the Atlanta Spirit. The fan base was quite large, but they chose to watch the games at home or in bars, as opposed to being gouged at Philips Arena while being shown a mediocre product. That’s not being a bad fan — it’s being a smart one.
This also sucks for the employees of the Thrashers, and there are plenty of them, too. There may be a few positions that will be transferred to Winnipeg for those who are willing to relocate and become Canadian citizens, but i doubt there will be much opportunity for that. So by not caring about the Thrashers, the Spirit lost millions of dollars, forcing them to sell the team and put hundreds of people out of jobs.
Now, we wait for the official word as Thrashers fans. Meanwhile, the NHL draws up two separate schedules: one for the Atlanta Thrashers and another for the Winnipeg Thrashers.
You can throw out the former schedule, fellas, because you’ll only need the latter.