On Friday night February 25th, 2011 the Atlanta Thrashers will host the Florida Panthers in a Southeast Conference showdown. The scheduled start time for the game is the same as it is for all Friday home games in Atlanta and exactly one week from the posting of this blog, 7:30pm.
If you are a fan of the Thrashers…if you’re a fan of NHL hockey and support the league remaining in this city…. if you have been sickened by what the team’s current ownership has allowed this franchise to become…if you are mad as hell about what you’ve learned recently… then you need to be there.
In saying that, I’m looking at all of you out there in the blogosphere…all of you who frequent this online hockey forum as well as the one hosted by AJC Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore. And that’s quite a lot of individuals, so I’m told.
I’m looking at those fans who normally make it to just a handful of games each season. I’m even looking at those who may make it to but one. If that’s the case…make next Friday that one.
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I’m also looking at those of you who make it to almost each and every home game as well. Those would include season ticket holders, be it full or partial…my good friends up in The Nasty Nest… the fine people of The Smirkin’ Chicken…all those who frequent the Thrashers Message Boards…the boys at the The Blueland Chronicle as well as the many others who host their own independent Thrashers blogs…and last but certainly not least, the well over 800-member strong Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club.
Yes…I’m looking at all of you.
If you have the physical and financial means to do so…next Friday night, be there!
THEY POINTED THE FINGER AT YOU SO GIVE THEM ONE BACK
As you already know by now, just a few days ago Atlanta Spirit co-owner Michael Gearon pointed his finger at you, the fans of Atlanta Thrashers hockey. He pointed the finger at you citing your lack of attendance as one of the main reasons he and his fellow Atlanta Spirit partners may be forced to consider offers from those who may seek to relocate this franchise elsewhere. He did so just after we were given the good news of Dustin Byfuglien re-signing and just before the team went on a 3 game, week and a half long road trip.
Next Friday will be the first game played back at Philips Arena after he and his cohorts kicked us square in the teeth, gut…and other regions just south of there. As such, it will be the first time you can let Mr. Gearon and the rest of this cluster-flop of an ownership group know just what you think of them since this news story broke. In essence, this will be the first chance you get to shake your finger…whichever one you choose to display…right back at them all.
Really, this is the only way to let the Sucknificant Seven hear from you… seeing how none of them seem to possess the testicular fortitude to stand before you in a town hall meeting forum and answer your questions directly. Team President Don Waddell may at some time do so…say what you want about him but he’s at least been willing to show up and take the heat in person. However, don’t hold your collective breaths waiting for Gearon, Levenson or any other of the co-owners to man up and do so any time soon.
No, they won’t be there…but you should be.
FILL UP PHILIPS AND BE IN FULL VOICE
Yes, Philips Arena needs to be packed next Friday night…packed to the rafters. It should be filled with fans who are not only there to root for the hometown ice combatants, but also with fans who are willing to scream, chant and/or otherwise make it clear to the NHL world that it is not they who have cause this mess to proceed to this point. But rather, this is the direct result of what the owners have done to this organization since it purchased it seven years ago.
And I’m telling you folks…thousands of empty seats will not carry that message for you.
Also by packing out and rocking out Philips Arena Friday night, you can send a message to any would-be investor that this is what the place was like before the Great Octocluster ran it into the ground. And it could be like that again.
You not only need to be there for the game, but you need to show up well before the scheduled puck-drop time. You need to be outside of the arena and inside CNN Center with your signs displaying not only your love and support for the team, but also your feelings for this band of knuckleheads who have all but killed off this franchise.
I’m also guessing there will be a few members of the media there, both of the local and out-of-town variety. Given the events of this past week, I’m sure someone will want to gauge the mood of the fans here. So, you need to avail yourself to any reporter and any news cameraman there to express your thoughts to not only the NHL community around the North American continent, but the sports community in general as well. You need to have your faces in their cameras and your voices should set their audio equipment ablaze.
Now, I’m not saying to be offensive or vulgar in your demeanor…but do be loud, do be clear and do be passionate.
But most of all…do be there!
BOYCOTT THE BOYCOTT
To those of you out there who still hold to the belief that some sort of “boycott” is the best course of action, allow me say two things to you.
1. With all due respect for you opinion, you’re dead wrong.
2. Regardless of No. 1, there is still a way for you to help the cause…assuming, that is, if you are truly a fan of the team and support NHL hockey in Atlanta.
Simply join the rest of us before the game in front of Philips Arena and in CNN Center. Be there to voice your distain for the current ownership group to the media. Then, when the rest of us head in to watch the game, you can head into Taco Mac to watch it while enjoying some wings and an adult beverage or two.
If you simply do that, it will not put one single dollar into the pockets of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC.
Maybe none of this will matter a hill of beans to those who make up the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, (Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt). Certainly if they have shown such distain for you over the course of the last several years, it’s not hard to think they won’t really give a damn now.
But one thing is for sure. If hockey fans across this great land of ours tune into NHL On The Fly next Friday night to watch highlights from around the league, and they see a vast sea of empty blue seats on a night it really, really mattered for fans to be there…then all that will do is feed right into the false stereotypes that the Atlanta market is not suited for the sport at this level.
It will also serve as more ammunition for Gearon, Levenson and the rest of the biggest abomination to ever own a professional sports franchise to use when trying to convince Gary Bettman that they have little choice but to consider selling to someone intent on relocating the franchise away from Atlanta. And you don’t want to help supply them with that ammunition, do you? No…I didn’t think so.
Friday night…February 25, 2011…Philips Arena…be there!