It is fueled in large part by a very credible (non-speculative source) in NHL deputy Commissioner Bill Daly who continues to spew his threatening message regarding the future of hockey in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be merely a conspiracy theory fueled by the Canadian Media, but instead a real problem for Hockey fans in Atlanta.
The Latest from Pierre Lebrun:
moriler: Pierre, when will someone in the American media tell the real story about the Thrashers -- how ownership cares first and foremost about basketball, put an inferior product on the ice for nearly 10 years due to indifference, and only at the start of this season realized that they'll only draw fans if they make an effort to win games. The game against the Devils drew 17,000-plus -- not from fans who wanted to see Kovalchuk (they didn't show up when he was there on those horrible losing teams), but from fans who are starting to realize that this team is what good hockey looks like, and the team is actually worth coming to see now. Years of obvious owner indifference led directly to fan indifference, as it has in so many other cities (NY Isles, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Chicago, even Detroit pre-Yzerman -- remember the Dead Wings?) -- and yet, because we happen to be in the Sun Belt, everyone clamors for our move despite there having been no actual effort made by ownership to allow hockey to succeed. Even this year we have barely made it to the salary cap floor -- and the fans know it. But this team rolled the dice on chemistry and got boxcars.
I understand that the Canadian media will never give the Sun Belt teams a fair shake, because the constant rumors of relocation are what sells in their world. But I do wish that the major American outlets would step up: Thrashers attendance has been directly due to consistent ownership indifference. It takes time to overcome that.
My take: One thing is clear my friend, it should be worrisome to any Thrashers fan to continually see NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly quoted in various media reports warning Atlanta about the future. While Daly has been very clear in saying the NHL's priority is to keep the team in Atlanta, he also has hinted at the repercussions of the market place not supporting the team. People in Atlanta should not ignore those hints. The league rarely takes that stance with any of its teams. This is a fun and exciting team to watch, they're battling Washington for the division lead and yet the club is 28th in attendance. Not good enough. Traditionally, the Thrashers have had better crowds in the second half. Hopefully that’s the case again.
Daly comments on it because he gets asked about it...he gets asked about it because canadian media has decided we are there next "target"
its a big circle, random people deciding to ask questions about a specific team somehow turn into "rumors"
It's not the mere fact that he makes comments about the Thrashers. Instead, it's the actual words that come out of his mouth when assessing the situation, from the NHL's Commissioner's office, about the future of hockey in Atlanta.
When asked about the market potential of the city of Atlanta, Daly made the following reply:
Quote: ďI would acknowledge that Atlanta historically has been a difficult sports market, and I canít exactly put my finger on it as to why thatís been the case. You make good points when you point to the fact that the Atlanta Braves make the playoffs 13 consecutive years in baseball, where it is a little more difficult to make the playoffs. And they are having difficulty selling out their home playoff games, which, you would think in most markets is unheard of. So, Atlanta has proven to be a very difficult market.Ē
ďAgain, it might be a situation where the building location isnít ideal in that market, and if it was built in a different location within the Atlanta Metropolitan location, it might be drawing better. But those are all issues that are important issues, obviously the building is not moving. Weíre going to have to look at the long term prospects of that franchise, and if the determination is made that it canít make it there, and canít be successful there, then something will have to be done.Ē
You can listen to the interview here:
yes its a serious issue, fans that say it isnt have their heads in the sand.
at least since Daly made those comments (like a month ago), the marketing department has stepped up their game (Thrash arrest, 'Wake Up Atlanta', White & Mcann at the game, local press) and MOST improtantly, the team has respnded on the ice.
If they continue to win, the crowds will grow..and hopefully former fans will put their grudges aside and start returning to Philips. (aka get over yourselves..bottom line, you like NHL hockey, come to the rink)
I wasn't really paying too close attention (since it wasn't my team), but did the same thing happen with the Coyotes? I know that the Canadian media had similar rumors, but did anyone from the NHL actually comment about it?
Since that is all worked out, it would be interesting to see how similar the discussions were.
Frankly, I don't think the NHL cares how much money the owners are losing. They don't make any noise about Wang hemorrhaging millions on Long Island.
I fear what's going on here is that Daly is playing the bad cop for Levenson. Unlike Wang, Atlanta Spirit can't keep writing checks. They need to fish or cut bait. They aren't going to find local investors in this economy. So either they have to turn it around themselves in Atlanta, or sell the team to someone who would move it. It would be suicide for Levenson to say that publicly, which is why Daly gets to do the dirty work instead.
The problem is mgt stuck with Waddell and his crappy drafts for far too long. The team has never been good enough to convert most transplants from their childhood allegiances. Even if they turn it around now, will enough new fans come on board to support the higher payroll it's going to take to keep this team together?
Personally, I think a playoff series win THIS YEAR, is the absolute minimum needed. And even that may not be enough.
personally, I think that our best chance is Gary Bettman staying on as league commissioner as long as it takes for the attendance to grow and take hold. He seems to be the only one interested in seeing the Thrashers make it.
1. We fans have to take charge. It's up to us to make sure this team makes money. I fear that if this team leaves, we're done for good. So many people have the wrong perception of what happened with the Flames. Really, this is our first shot at NHL hockey. The Flames were never meant to or supposed to be. This is the first time we've had NHL hockey because someone really wanted it. we cannot let someone take that away from us.
2. Former season ticket holders who are mad at Waddell need to get over it. This team is honestly trying now, and Waddell got better at his job....Shoot, Waddell isn't the GM anymore... Seriously...Get over it, or we lose NHL hockey alltogether!
What would be great, is if Turner stepped back in and took over. Now would be the perfect time for him to do so.
Don't think that's really feasible right now, but everyone should be able to admit it'd be damn effective.
Captain Outrageous has no intentions of returning to the world of sport ownership. He's probably given his son and his son in law advice and that's going to be about it. He's not going to invest his money in another sports team; if so, he would have made a play already. He spends most of his time on his plantation in Florida.
What we really need is for the Dickey Family to step up and make a deal with Atlanta Spirit. They're the only locals I can see as potential new owners of the teams. I doubt Arthur Blank has any interest in the Hawks and Thrashers. I'm guessing the Dickeys and Blank are awaiting to see when Liberty Media will be putting the Braves up for sale (Liberty Media has to hold on to the Brave for a certain amount of time for tax reasons [5 years, if I remember correctly], and that time is nearly up and people expect them to put the club up for sale.
Short of one of us winning Mega Millions, it's going to have to be someone with the cash to make it happen.
I have a feeling that the Belkin situation is what is holding up any possible new investors.
And that's the thing....I don't see how the team could be sold or moved as long as the ownership situation is still being litigated. typically in a situation like this, all assets of the business are frozen by the courts and there is no disposition allowed. It's my day job to deal with crap like this.
the only way the team could be sold at this point is for both sides to agree to a sale with a third party, file a Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice, and then sell the team. These are guys that probably don't agree that the sky is blue though, so i don't see that happening.
As much as I hate to admit, I get the reality of the situation. Have for quite a while actually, but yay for denial! Kept me from getting too depressed about it.
And honestly we don't have a clue what the league or the owners have said to ASG about the situation, how good or bad it really is for keeping the team here. The media is going to take anything said and put it in a context that draws readers; that's what they do.
Still, it definitely seems like they told ASG to get their **** together. Which I don't have a problem with, somebody needed to tell them.
The fan in me gets that the owners and the team and the fans have to step up and improve, or we're in trouble. But the businessman side of me is having a hard time buying that (even with a decade of mis-management against the team) it's in the works to up and move the team in a relatively short span of time.
Only if the owners really want to sell can is see this as being feasible.
It's reasonable to say that the Thrashers help the bottom line of the group's holdings, even if they don't make money per se. Breaking the arena's argreement by losing a tenant would be one of several hits to their wallet if the Thrashers moved. Could they make up all this cash in the sale of the team?
Or maybe it's more of losing less money if the Thrashers stayed. No real clue how they do the accounting between the Hawks, Thrashers and Philips Arena; and what the exact impact would be of losing one of the teams.
I'm sure the NHL can put a crapload of pressure on the owners, maybe even to the point of selling the team. But unless I'm missing something, the league would be in a bad situation if they tried to force them to sell the team.
Despite all that, I realize that the owners have to push to get the word out and be more dedicated to the team. And us fans have to respond to that. Losing usually means lack of support in most sports and cities, and is understood by the various leagues. Winning and lack of support means it's time to call UHaul.
I'm not going to fret too much about it until I hear something very concrete about relocation. There are a bunch of steps between our situation now and relocation, and some of them can be time consuming or blocked or fall apart.
The NHL can be a bit shady in how they handle situations like this too; not shady as in illegal, but shady as in nobody really knows what the hell they are doing/trying to accomplish.
If ASG really wants to keep the team, we just need to keep supporting them, trying to get others to support them, kick the owners in the junk a time or two if they slack off too much. That's about all we can do really.
People fail to look at it this way as well..... yes, thrashers lose money. hawks break even. Philips Arena makes a CRAPTON of money. Every business uses certain things as writeoffs. The Thrashers and Hawks guarantee revenue on certain dates the arena otherwise wouldn't have anything going. Whatever they lose is counterbalanced by the gobs of money being turned by Philips Arena.
The up north fans just don't seem to grasp that concept.