Crosby or not Pittsburgh is a great hockey city and would have survived without him
Atlanta I'm not sure, just don't see it working down there. They had one of the most spectacular players in the league in Kovalchuk and people didn't seem to care
They had one of the most spectacular failures in management/ownership which caused people who cared to stop caring. There would be no thread if that wasn't the case because the Thrashers would still be in Atlanta and would be doing very well.
Having a player like Crosby would be good for attendances and would likely help financially but there's only so much he could bring - depends how bad the financial situation was. Pittsburgh would still exist as we'd have Fleury and Malkin.
They would possibly have Jordan Staal still too. Or maybe at that draft, they would have went another direction and picked Toews or Backstrom. The possibilities are endless.
Pittsburgh was closer to folding than most people realize. If Lemieux hadn't stood up they'd likely be gone. Lucky for the Penguins he did and he commanded a lot of respect among league owners and officials.
If there was ever a time to manipulate the draft, that was it, Crosby was a franchise saving talent.
The Pens were never close to folding, Mario pulled a scam with the bogus KC arena deal. He got his new arena.
Mario got the team from the absurd deal Howard Baldwin gave him when he retired. He pretty much tuned his back on the Pens until they couldn't pay the bills. It was pretty much Mario and Baldwin that put the Pens in a bind.
Mario took ownership because he had no choice. The Pens got lucky that he brought in some good people over the years.