If you take a look outside, you’ll see the sun shining and the sky a brilliant shade of blue. We here in north Georgia and in other areas of the south are enjoying some very fine weather, even though it’s just a tease of what awaits us this spring.
However, there is also a dark, menacing cloud that remains camped above Thrasherville. It’s been there since the turn of the New Years and has cast a shadow of misery over hockey fans throughout the city.
Obviously, some of this stems from the current slide that the Thrashers have been on for the better part of a month and a half now…one that has seen them play to a 6-12-5 record since the 20th of December last year. However, Thrashers fans are quite used to the feeling that normally accompanies watching the team fall off the edge of the playoff table ‘round about this time of year. It’s almost a routine in these parts…a time honored ritual that serves as a rite of passage. You can’t really be a Thrashers fan, it seems, unless you’ve suffered through this kind of slump come mid-to-late winter.
But this particular cloud is much darker than those in years past. This one brings with it an additional spirit of gloom and despair that even the most longsuffering and emotionally scarred Thrashers fan is accustomed.
This year’s cloud that blankets the sky comes with the recent revelation that those who own the team, the group that make up the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, have for some time been trying to sell off the Thrashers. This particular piece of 411 came in the form of yet another lawsuit entered into by the Spirit Boys and contradicts the countless denials put forth by Bruce Levenson, the Spirit Boys and their mouthpiece Don Waddell.
Now for most of us, this little info-bomb dropped on Thrasherville a few weeks back came less as a surprise and more of an insult. For six years we’ve suspected that this bunch have looked upon the Thrashers as their unwanted stepchild and were less-than-caring for their well-being. But to have our suspicions confirmed in such a cold, callus fashion…reading for ourselves the legal filings that stated how they wished to “dispose” of the team…came as yet another slap to the face for the paying customers.
Here’s the latest, as reported by AJC Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore:
“Atlanta Spirit co-owner Michael Gearon said there is now a “sense of urgency” to find additional investors or a buyer willing to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. If the ownership group does not get additional financial help in the near future the franchise could be sold and moved to another city.”
(Update: AJC sports blogger Mark Bradley just filed his reaction to the story.)
I guess this is just another thing we are supposed to “deal with”, eh Bruce?
As stated above, fans in Thrasherville are also “dealing with” this team making its annual March From The Playoffs. Even though this team has shown a certain degree of improvement this season, they are clearly in need of some help if they’re to make a serious run. Help that comes by way of a trade to shore up the roster.
Unfortunately, these same fans also understand that any such deal may increase payroll over the last several weeks of the season. And given how the franchise has conducted its business, right at the league minimum for the last few years, it’s understandable why many doubt ownership would authorize any such increase in spending.
Also, this is the time of year that season ticket holders are beginning to receive their invitations to renew once again. While I’m certain that each and everyone of them are tickled pink blue that they’ve once again been considered worthy of such an invite, I’m confident that more than a handful of them are considering whether or not this team is still a viable choice for their entertainment dollar.
Oh, it’s not that the hockey market here is not what some had thought it’d be a decade and a half ago when the league returned to this area…quite the contrary, in fact. Atlanta is home to a great number of hard-core hockey fans that love the sport and enjoy it live and in person. But the fans here are now “dealing with” the fact that the same people who have lied to their faces are now sticking their hands out and asking for more of their money.
That’s putting the nice folks in the ticket office at quite a disadvantage, if you ask me.
In light of this…and I’ll speak directly to Mr. Levenson…you and/or any other member of the AS, LLC need to join forces with Waddell and hold one of the other time-honored traditions in Thrasherville, the always much-anticipated, highly entertaining, informative and spirited Town Hall Meeting.
This needs to be done and done soon, because quite frankly Brucie… you got some ‘splainin’ to do.
Yes, Levenson and the boys owe these fans an explanation…an accounting of just what they intend for the team that they love and support so much.
In that meeting, Bruce…or whichever one of the Spiriteers possess the wherewithal to do so…should look these people square in the eye and explain why they have repeatedly misled them about their intention to “dispose” of this team. After all, it’s one thing to lie to a person…multiple times…but it’s quite another to insult their intelligence by remaining silent as if no one ever noticed.
Also, Bruce needs to outline to those assembled whether or not he thinks additional help is needed to seriously make a postseason drive…or whether or not he feels the roster is good enough to do the job in it’s current condition.
That is, of course, if he actually cares enough to formulate any such opinion.
Oh sure, sure. To do this right now would place Bruce in quite an uncomfortable spot as he would undoubtedly have to endure the verbal slings and arrows that would be lobbed his way. I’m sure even he understands that there are some mighty peeved residents of Thrasherville. But an owner with any ounce of integrity…any sense of honor and decency…any shred of common courtesy for those forking over good money on tickets…would do so given the circumstances.
Meeting face to face with Thrashers fans is the one and only way he and the Spirit Boys can even come close to regaining any of the credibility needed to once more ask these fine people to pony up the funds required to remain members in good standing of the Thrashers Season Ticket Holders Club. And that’s a club which, as a direct result of the current ownership group’s influence, is becoming more and more exclusive by the day.
Certainly no one expects any of them to delve in depth as to the issues surrounding this current round of legal action. Everyone understands that when a case is pending it’s wise for all parties to say as little as possible. But what the good people of Thrasherville should expect is a certain level of intestinal and testicular fortitude to be shown by their team’s ownership group…especially in regards to their commitment level to the team they continue asking you to commit money towards.
To date, such fortitude has been sorely lacking. But now would be as good a time as any for these guys to start showing some.