Atlanta Spirit, LLC slaps Thrashers fans in the face again

Ya know…it is seriously tough being a Thrashers fan. I mean, here we are celebrating the great news that Dustin Byfuglien has just signed a contract extension to remain with the team for five additional years and then…this info-bomb.

Seriously, couldn’t the Spirit Clowns at least have given us a full 24 hours before dropping this on us?

I guess the mighty revelation last month that he and his fellow partners had lied to us for years wasn’t enough of a slap to our collective faces, eh?

Like so many of you out there, what really frustrates me to no end is that the fans here in Atlanta are not to blame. Contrary to popular belief outside of Thrasherville, Atlanta is home to a great number of die-hard hockey fans and sports fans in general. However, given what this franchise has become since The Great Octocluster purchased them seven years ago…many of those fans have chosen to spend their sports entertainment dollars elsewhere.

So when someone like Michael Gearon makes the comment that whines about fan support and points to where he and his fellow Spiriteers have “put a lot of money in this team”…well, there’s just a lot of us who want to laugh in this guy’s face.

Of course, there are many of you who might use a different word than “laugh”.

What you and your fellow partners have indeed done, Mr. Gearon, has all but destroyed any chance for the NHL to work in this town. It a shame too, because this wasn’t always the case with this team.

Take a look back to the middle part of this decade when the Thrashers…along with the Hawks and Philips Arena…went under the ownership of Spirit Clowns. This was an exciting team to watch, they were on the way up as far as the standings were concerned and home games for the Thrashers was actually an event.

Now…well, the empty seats stand as a testament to just what has been put into this team.

Not surprisingly, this story was released as the team was winging its way westward for a three-game, weeklong road trip. Tomorrow night they’ll play in Phoenix…another team that has been targeted for relocation…then it’s up to Edmonton Saturday afternoon before a matchup in Buffalo next Wednesday.

That leaves quite some time for fans to stew before the next home game on Friday the 25th.

I don’t know about you, but I plan on being there, and I plan to be there for three main reasons.

1. I love NHL hockey and I support the Thrashers here in Atlanta.

2. I want as many people there to show any prospective buyer that there is indeed a market for NHL hockey here. A good one, that is, if there was ownership that had an ounce of passion for the sport and a semi-clue as to what it takes to be an owner. And right now, it appears the best hope for the Thrashers is for someone to understand that and step forward to rescue the franchise from this disaster of an ownership group.

3. I will be there to fully vocalize not only my support for the Thrashers as they host the Florida Panthers, but also to let it be known what I think of this cast of clowns that have run our team straight into the ground….and now threaten to move them right out of town.

Where are you going to be?

281 comments Add your comment

Acer

February 16th, 2011
12:13 pm

It’s funny how a guy like Sage was trashed, yesterday. His skepticism around the Big Buff may prove to be valid.

Eon Rodeo

February 16th, 2011
12:19 pm

I’ll be there because I love watching NHL hockey. It will be a sad, sad day if the Thrashers leave because I don’t think you’ll ever see the NHL in Atlanta again.

Joe Friday

February 16th, 2011
12:20 pm

There must be a deal already in place to move them at the end of this year and this is Gearon saying “last chance before they’re going, going gone . . .” Gearon’s comment of not willing to stomach another $20m loss, means just that, they’re losing $20m per year and they must have an offer on the table to move the team to another city at the end of this year.

Just. Damn.

I was very fearful after hearing Bill Daly’s comments last fall, now held in the light of this context, it’s apparent this club is gone and the NHL is not going to stop it. And after looking at the TV numbers for the NHL in this town, who can blame the NHL?

What are the odds the new owners are the ones that directed the new contract for Buf? I’d say 80/20.

What’s the over/under on the date the sale gets announced? I’ll put it at April 11th at 10am.

This all comes down to Don Waddell’s inability to build a club and driving the once solid fan base away.

Just. Damn.

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:22 pm

I think another hockey night with my son sounds fun. I smell a late birthday present. I think S.O.S posters might be fitting if televised.

Next friday it is

February 16th, 2011
12:24 pm

Can we chant Arthur Blank?….

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:26 pm

Joe, I’m with you. I commented on the fact that Buff and his agent must’ve seen something promising and it’s looking a little clearer. New owners, and a chance to lead a team in a likely traditional market with lot’s of coverage….his stocks are rising . My head’s not 100% on this theory, but my gut is.

Spud Webb

February 16th, 2011
12:28 pm

Gary B, YOU’RE ON THE CLOCK…anyone got any GOOD ideas for a protest or something on this crap? At the next home game? Tough to do I realize, but Browns fans (god bless the poor souls) did a walkout a few years ago in like the 2nd quarter. Anyone?? Next home game??

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:29 pm

If the Thrashers leave they should do away with Conferences and Divisions altogether. Let’s face it oddnumbered Div. and Conf. look bad, are pointless and unfair. You can still keep the damned playoff structure based on the top 16, the schecdule can be similar and the All-Star experiment worked too. Eff it.

I don’t want this team to go, but just sayin’.

Jack

February 16th, 2011
12:29 pm

Last time I checked. Winning and attendence come hand and hand. No winning= no fans in stands. Their are some poeple like myself that will support the team no matter what, but the owners need to step up and spend money then they may receive an ROI. Owners have no right to blame the fans, Gearon and good balls need to do their job and then we will do ours. Don’t move the team because you can’t do your job.

Now Thrashers win tomorrow. :)

DWTOO

February 16th, 2011
12:30 pm

What am I going to do? Check the Gladiators schedule! At one point I would have surprised if the team moved, now, I’ll be amazed if they stay. Hopefully, it will happen quickly and somewhat painlessly and before next year.

Funny thing is what I’ll miss are the good people I’ve met thru attending the games, tailgates, and fellow bloggers.

Rone

February 16th, 2011
12:31 pm

Arthur Blank must be the savior.

Either Blank buys the team, or we need to win the cup this year.

The latter may not even keep the team here.

Nate

February 16th, 2011
12:31 pm

I’ve been to over ten games this season as a non-season ticket holder. I really couldn’t afford that, but I wanted to do my part to fill the arena. I even brought groups twice. I’m done. I can’t afford it anymore and I have no desire to pony up for a team that decided to tank the month of January. If the NHL allows the team to move, so be it. I’ll make a trip in the fall and a trip in the spring to Raleigh or Nashville to get my fix.

Caring for birds

February 16th, 2011
12:31 pm

I’m not doing a walkout because that looks bad to the players, this is about the ownership.

Hockey Biltong

February 16th, 2011
12:32 pm

Well said Rawhide.

DWTOO

February 16th, 2011
12:32 pm

J/F – think you’re being a little hard on Waddell. While not a hockey genuis don’t think he ever had the ownership support to do anything else.

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:32 pm

Well, if it’s Manitoba then Nashville can join the SE, and do a switcheroo…anywho, I digress

Steve

February 16th, 2011
12:33 pm

David McDavid

Joe Friday

February 16th, 2011
12:33 pm

“If the Thrashers were to be sold and moved, the Atlanta Spirit would lose a pro-rated portion of the $10 million annual naming rights fee to Philips Arena as the team would no longer occupy the arena.”

Nice to finally see that our pipedream of the naming rights keeping them here was just that, a pipedream.

The reason they filed that lawsuit is because they already know the amount of value they lost because there’s already a deal in place to move them and they’ve agreed to a dollar amount. And they see the lower buyout value they’re getting and they know the pro-rated portion of the Philips naming rights they’re losing by moving them. They’re going after the law firm to recover those losses, it’s why they didn’t care about the bridge they burned with the fans by announcing that lawsuit last month, they don’t need that bridge when they’re gone.

The NHL isn’t going to keep them here because we’re a “top 8 TV market” because the facts are we’re not a top 8 TV market for hockey.

The only hope we have is some white knight to ride in during the next 6 weeks to buy the club and keep them here in Atlanta. Bettman’s not going to do anything, that’s apparent from Bill Daly’s comments last fall, and his hands are tied up with Phoenix already.

What are the odds we have the white knight come in to save the day? 10%? My hope now is that they use the Gladiators as a new AHL affiliate for the Thrashers, at least we’d still get hockey.

Just. Damn.

Cliff Fletcher

February 16th, 2011
12:34 pm

question for sage////

did you state in your last posting that you are from buffalo?

Thomas Magnum

February 16th, 2011
12:36 pm

Someone should organize something that shows how much we care about the team and hate this ownership group simultaneously. Anyone got an idea?

Joe Friday

February 16th, 2011
12:36 pm

“J/F – think you’re being a little hard on Waddell. While not a hockey genuis don’t think he ever had the ownership support to do anything else.”

Nope. If Dudley was GM from day 1, we’d have a solid club and a solid fan base, look what he did this year with less money and less support than Waddell had. It was his ineptitude that drove this thing down the porta potty . . .

Stan Drulia

February 16th, 2011
12:37 pm

It does seem very odd that Buff signed the day before all this broke. I think it is very likely that all decisions have already been made, or are in the final stages, and that us fans – like always – will be the last to know. I need a drink.

This Gets Old!

February 16th, 2011
12:37 pm

Gotta go with Joe on this one. I believe too, that the team already has a deal memo already written. Here is MG acting again as if he’s forgotten more hockey than we, combined can ever know. All of the rumors on the internet, which we have tried to dispel are almost certainly true and we look like Georgia rubes picking our banjos. How dare the fans ask for a playoff spot in a league where half of the teams make the playoffs? Fan support has little to do with it. They wanted to sell from day one. Why the “H” did they put up such a fantastic fight with David McDavid to get the team when they didn’t want the “d’md” team initially? They’re the worst ownership in the league and if the NHL lets them steal the team from the city then who wants them?

Dear Thomas Magnum

February 16th, 2011
12:38 pm

Selling out next friday and chanting “Arthur Blank” continuously?

Mooseberg

February 16th, 2011
12:38 pm

Is there anyway we can get an article posted in the AJC that states the fan view of this, then it would get to a national stage and now just in these blogs. Rawhide, anyone at the AJC willing to write the fans side of this story?

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:41 pm

I gotta go soon, but I’m definitely gonna start attending Glads games m ore often…gotta support a pro team that’s here one way or another.

On the bright side, between Philips and Gwinnett arena our odds of having an ECHL or AHL team from here on out look good. We all know that entertaining hockey does fine here, it has for the last 20 years.

Naysayers of my local hockey market opinion, spare me. It’s already proven.

Joe McGrath

February 16th, 2011
12:41 pm

At this point, it’s all on the players. If they can produce the wins needed to make play-offs, then someone might step up and put some cash down on this trainwreck. However, if they don’t compete, they’re goners. I hope now that the games aren’t so scrunched the players have some time to get out and about around Atlanta in this lovely February weather, maybe play a round of golf and eat some good barbecue. Maybe they will come to realize how good it is that there is virtually NO PRESSURE from Atlanta media or fans. Maybe then they’ll realize playing here’s a whole lot better than shoveling snow off the driveway while they repeatedly answer text messages from pissed-off fans and “engaging” press before driving out to Timmy Hortons.

Sage of Bluesland

February 16th, 2011
12:42 pm

Rawhide: “Where are you going to be?”

At home, of course. Not another dollar of mine goes into Don Waddell’s pocket. Not another dollar of mine goes into this ownership’s undeserving pocket.

Simple. End-of.

(No, my hockey-tutor was from Buffalo–and loves the sport like no other….)

Iron League 13

February 16th, 2011
12:42 pm

Mooseberg, I’m with you. I just stated the same thing on the last blog.

RAWHIDE, CVIVS…LET’S DO THIS!!! WE’RE IN!!!

Eileen

February 16th, 2011
12:46 pm

Buff said yesterday “if we win, we will stay”.

Alan R.

February 16th, 2011
12:47 pm

Where are you going to be?

Bill… straight up, I’d be there if I had a way home. C-Tran doesn’t run anymore, and I’m not going to pay $50 for a cab ride from the airport just to support my love of hockey. I love hockey, but I can’t afford cab rides from every home game.

Red Light

February 16th, 2011
12:49 pm

Tampa Bay had ownership-viability issues and they endured. Nashville had ownership-viability issues and they endured. Carolina has been seeking investors since last summer too. I’m sure Florida has bled money too. The gloom is not misplaced but like World Be Free already stated, this is nothing new. Dallas has problems. Columbus has problems. The Isles have problems. Phoenix has problems and I’m sure Edmonton and Ottawa aren’t exactly swimming in the Black Sea either.

Bettman and his cronies fully know all the issues with all markets. They know one of the few things that can help each market individually is national television revenues. Those are being negotiated right now, but without a decent US TV package, the NHL as we know it is in danger of future viability because local sponsorship revenues have dried up like HookyBob’s posts. Canadian TV supports the NHL with a lot of money, VERSUS/NBC (the only suitor at the time has a revenue share model). That won’t work this time.

Subsidizing the incompetence or washing your hands of this team is a personal matter, but it’s time to face reality. This ownership group has failed Atlanta. The hockey operations department failed Atlanta for 11, if not all of its 12 years. After the 2006-07 season, with an average attendance of 16,229 that year and 15,824 the next, the team went cheap and got rid of Hossa and Dupuis when it was 29-30-4, just four points behind the Caps who went on to win the division that season.

That was the beginning of the end, if it is indeed, the tragic end. But, while some of you may be thinking where there is smoke, there is fire, what gives you the slightest indication that the Seven Dwarfs would know anything about finding a “whole” buyer now, when they haven’t been able to find one investor?

C

February 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

This is a sad sad situation. Love NHL hockey at it’s highest level, but we have been forced to watch minor league players and not intrested stars for the last 10 years. And now ownership has called us out for being bad fans? Unreal.

Cliff Fletcher

February 16th, 2011
12:53 pm

sage///

thanks for the clarification on buffalo

Puzzled

February 16th, 2011
12:54 pm

I’m puzzled.

Earlier this year, when I’d mention the Thrashers moving, I’d get blasted by some know-it-all like I’m some ignorant who doesn’t understand NHL economics, ASG highly restrictive contract to stay in Atlanta for 99 years, and the whole Philips Arena/2 Teams dynamic that was apparently making it impossible to move.

No matter what, I am an ignorant. I’m just puzzled on top of it all, now. And I’m a Thrashers fan. Talk about being screwed.

Zoomo

February 16th, 2011
12:55 pm

Thanks for the realistic perspective, RL.

Sage of Bluesland

February 16th, 2011
12:56 pm

…Oh well, at least Joe-Bob-Friday’s waffling-duration is getting much shorter (time-wise). That was all of one day, eh?

It’s funny how some can finally see! The curtain has been pulled back, finally, on this abomination of an ownership group.

Not another dollar should go into their undeserving pocket. Maybe Don Waddell and his stench will finally be gone from this city? Only about 10 years too late on that score…

Hoof Arted

February 16th, 2011
1:02 pm

F-you, Gearon. You, levenson, Waddell and the rest of you retards completely screw the pooch as owners and GM. Now you have the gall to insult us for all the empty seats that are YOUR fault?

You absolute bas+ard!

Thomas Magnum

February 16th, 2011
1:03 pm

I think selling out next game and a chant that involves how much the Atlanta Spirit sucks is a good place to start.

Thrash Max

February 16th, 2011
1:04 pm

To keep these owners happy and get them to stay in town, the city needs to come up with a bunch of money fast—they are losing money and will not stay here unless the city gives them at least $50 million to make up for some of the losses. The city can just raise taxes on hotels, restaurants, tickets, etc. to pay for it. It will be worth it—they better hurry before these owners get mad and sell the team and leave town.

Adam

February 16th, 2011
1:06 pm

I’ve been thinking about a way to organ-I-ze something to show the NHL the way we feel and how we could support an NHL team that was run correctly. This is what I’ve come up with:

How about we sellout a game and the following game we boycott & protest in front of the bulb in a back to back home stand. Given the time & schedule constrains involved the games could be the last 2 home games in March or April. In the process of organ-I-zing this we also need to setup an online petition with a goal of 50,000 at the bare minimum. I’d like to see at least 100,000 though.

Remember the league has to approve the new owner and any potential move. If we could pull this off I think it would tell the league & the world that there is in fact a lot of UNHAPPY hockey fans in Atlanta and that we were never the problem.

Abigail

February 16th, 2011
1:08 pm

Maybe if they dropped some ticket prices, people wouldn’t think they had to pay and arm and a leg to watch some hockey. Maybe if they had more events to create a stronger fan-base, they wouldn’t have to move at all. I, personally, would be willing to move wherever my Thrashers go. Lower ticket prices, create more events, and the players will be more amped up and want to make their fans proud. There is no enthusiasm in the stands and that must make the game harder to play. When I get the chance to go, I cheer like a mad-woman to the disdain of my neighbors. If more people acted like they wanted to be there, the Thrashers would play like they wanted to win and make us proud. I’ve just gotten hooked on our Thrashers, I don’t want to see them go so far away–taking our Stanley Cup chances with them. We’ve got a good team full of young, energetic players who want to succeed. Give us a little longer to tame that energy and turn it into success.

To Thrashers Staff

February 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

To Thrashers Sales/Marketing (that includes the broadcast guys) Staff:

Feel sorry for you. You need to keep your game face on despite all the crap sent your way. Horrible team, horrible ownership, team on the verge of moving, yet, you are expected to put the smile on and act like it’s generally all good and we’ll get through it. You know better. But the job has to be done. Get on the spin zone and spin the un-spin-able. Over and over. Again and again.

Truly, we feel sorry for you.

Red Light

February 16th, 2011
1:11 pm

And lastly, there has not been one time when I bought a ticket to a National Hockey League game, Thrashers or otherwise, that I ever cared in whose pocket the money I used to purchase my ticket eventually resided. Maybe I am just a blind consumer, but if Quentin Tarrantino (only as an example not a resounding endorsement of his movies) was losing his butt on a movie he produced, did that make the movie any less entertaining?

If everyone realized, like Sage, how incompetent all of the above were and no changes were forthcoming until now, many of us would have missed more than 300 live NHL hockey games (assuming we all didn’t attend every single game).

Now, that would have been a real tragedy, at least for me personally!

Tall

February 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

Gentlemen:

Red Light’s comments above are a prelude to the fact that the NHL’s business model doesn’t work and needs major surgery. Before the strike, a hedge fund manager wanted to consolidate and buy the entire league for $3 billion. It’s too bad that offer isn’t around anymore. Anyone interested in an NHL or NBA franchise these days?

The league needs to trim back the regular schedule to 60 games. Years ago, the regular season started in November and ended in March. Twelve games a month. Three rounds of playoffs ended by Mother’s Day. That’s enough. I have neither the interest nor the money to watch hockey for eight months of the year. I wonder if the owners do?

Get out of town

February 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

who cares? the team, owners and management is a joke–a laughingstock. That’s why they call atlanta loserville.

Joe Friday

February 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

“what gives you the slightest indication that the Seven Dwarfs would know anything about finding a “whole” buyer now, when they haven’t been able to find one investor?”

That’s the point, they haven’t been able to find a local buyer or local investor. Buyers who would move the team? No problemo, and it’s obvious from Daly’s comments last year that the NHL won’t stand in the way and if you connect the dots here, it’s pretty clear that the price has already been settled upon which is why they’re going after the attorneys for the loss to cover what they could have sold the club for years ago, if they weren’t tied up in litigation with Belkin.

Say goodnight, Gracie.

Midfield

February 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

I’m not sure how to interprete this shreek from Gearon. It’s obvious by now that SAG have been trying to dump the team at least since 2005-2006. It’s also obvious that ASG are incompetent, so much so that they can even sell the team, let alone run it. Gearon “secretly” – via Russian media – offered it to the Russians about a year ago (what a tool!). Now, he is putting out a hysterical ultimatum about moving the team out. I think, had he had a buyer, even an out-of-town buyer, he would keep quiet until the deal is announced. Perhaps, I’m wrong. Brendan and Co, what do you think? And, yes, it’s time for Bettman to say something of substance already.

Blueland Buddha

February 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

Who the freak cares about Don Waddell at this time???? This is all about ownership. I could care less about anyone else in this organization. I will be there next Friday to show my support for hockey in Atlanta, and for the transition to local ownership as soon as humanly possible. When that happens, we wont have to worry about Don Waddell any more.

timthebrave

February 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

The ASG has lied to us for years and wonder why we aren’t supporting them? We should ask them why we should support them when they don’t and they own the fu*** team… They pee on us constantly and get mad when we aren’t enjoying our “shower”…Lying piece of sh**. F U Sprit Group