Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Thrashers’

Atlanta sports: So lousy we can’t even top the misery index

"Our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

"Oh, yeah? Well, our one team is better than all four of yours!" (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Not long ago, this correspondent was moved to bemoan the forlorn fortunes of our local pro teams – 149 completed seasons, one championship. Now comes Forbes magazine to make like Smokey Robinson and second the emotion, and I do mean second it.

Forbes rates the nation’s most miserable sports cities, and Atlanta — that’s us, people! — is No. 2!

And who, you’re asking, would be ahead/behind us? Seattle would. And why? Writes Tom Van Riper:

The loss of its NBA club was just enough to nudge Seattle past Atlanta, a city with one sports title in 153 cumulative seasons, to the top of the misery list. Atlanta’s postseason misery is legendary, led by the Braves’ failure to take home a world championship in 13 of 14 playoff appearances from 1991 to 2004.

You might have noticed that Mr. Van Riper’s second sentence above contains an error. The Braves won 14 consecutive division titles over …

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Hello/goodbye? Byfuglien stays, but the Thrashers could leave

That wouldn't be a wave of farewell, would it? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

You make the call: A salute to fans or a gesture of farewell? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

On Tuesday we witnessed that rarity: A big-time hockey player who actually wants to stay a Thrasher. Unlike Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk, Dustin Byfuglien was willing to re-up with the local hockey club. But now we ask: How much longer will the local hockey club be local?

The Thrashers’ corporate brother is having a a lousy year at the box office: The Hawks are 24th among 30 NBA teams in average attendance, down nearly 2,000 paying customers a game over last season. And still that beats the Thrashers, who until lately were positioned to make the playoffs for only the second time in their existence; they’re 28th in the 30-team NHL in attendance.

As if on cue, co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. told esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore on Tuesday night that the Thrashers could indeed sold and moved if the Spirit doesn’t find additional investors/cash soon. “A sense of urgency,” was Gearon’s …

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GM Rick Dudley on his Thrashers: ‘I think we’re for real’

Andrew Ladd: One of many transplanted Chicagoans. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Andrew Ladd: One of many transplanted Chicagoans. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Thrashers slipped out of first place in the NHL Southeast this week. (They play Boston tonight, so this is subject again to change.) What’s significant is that the Thrashers were in first place this deep into a season. What’s also significant is that Rick Dudley, the first-year general manager, believes the best still awaits his club.

“If you’re asking for a philosophic outlook,” Dudley said this week, “I think it’s fair to expect us to play well the rest of the way. People around the league are coming up and saying, ‘You guys are for real,’ and I think we are. We should be nothing but better in time.”

Dudley was Don Waddell’s deputy last season, and the chief reason the Thrashers dumped coach John Anderson this spring was the belief  they had enough talent on hand, Ilya Kovalchuk’s forced departure notwithstanding, to have made the playoffs.  (They missed by five points.) Dudley was promoted …

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Do the Thrashers really have the NHL’s worst fans?

Each of the ladies seated behind John Anderson has her own blog. (AJC photo by Jessica McGowan)

Each of the ladies seated behind John Anderson has a blog. (AJC photo by Jessica McGowan)

I guess I see it differently. When I go to a Thrashers game and see 5,000 empty seats, my first thought isn’t, “Why don’t more people come to these games?” It is, on the contrary: “Why do so many people come to these games?”

Let’s face it: In a decade of operation, the Thrashers haven’t given their constituency much. They’ve committed the two glaring sins of professional sports: They took too long to build something and then couldn’t sustain it. They’ve had two winning seasons. They’ve made the playoffs once (and were swept in Round 1).

I mention this because it has come to my attention that Derek Felska has, on the blog Most Valuable Network, decided the Thrashers have the worst fan base in the NHL. I present his “justification” in its entirety:

“I am going to share a little story with you which will might explain why the Atlanta Thrashers are deserving of being called the league’s worst …

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Thrashers’ Waddell aims to sway an audience of one

It’s an odd task. Don Waddell is making moves with the goal of improving his hockey club, which ordinarily would be a general manager’s highest priority. But this GM has something more in mind:

He’s trying to impress Ilya Kovalchuk.

The best player in Thrashers history is scheduled to become a free agent next summer. He has given indications he’d like to stay here, but his desire is conditional: The Thrashers must first get better. “I know for sure we need some more players,” Kovalchuk told reporters after the final game of last season, and that’s where Waddell comes in.

Known as the Teflon Don in some circles for his ability to avoid blame — and to stick like Krazy Glue to his GM’s chair — Waddell has had an impressive fortnight. The Thrashers appeared to do well in the NHL draft, picking a power forward in Round 1 who might soon be with the big club. (Waddell to Evander Kane on draft night: “You’re going to look good next to Ilya Kovalchuk.”)

And then, scarcely having …

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