The Hitting Zone

The NHL just makes it up as they go along, why can't we?

200 Whole Fans Rally In Atlanta

Thrashers fans focus their anger on a Go Jets Go Banner

The Thrashers have an annual “Select-A-Seat” event for their season ticker holders.  The event was held again this year despite heavy rumors and some confirmations regarding the team’s upcoming relocation to Winnipeg.  Two hundred fans came together to voice their opinion on the pending move and how they feel about the Atlanta Spirit Group who currently, technically, still owns the Thrashers and the NBA Atlanta Hawks.   I’ll repeat that.  Two hundred fans gathered.

This was an event for season ticket holders.  Sure I get that recent events and rumors have likely led to a decline in interest or desire to be around the thing that is ripping the heart out of hockey in Atlanta but all you could muster was two hundred fans?  No wonder you can’t fill an arena.

Look I am not one to judge too harshly.  The Penguins came close to moving and I was living overseas (part of that time) as a member of the Air Force at the time but it still really hurt reading about and hearing from my friends back home how the team was going to move.  It hurt me and bothered me enough coming that close that I would have done anything within my power to demonstrate my commitment to my team.  The fact that only 200 people gave enough of a crap in Atlanta (which is a big damn city) to come down to Phillips Arena and let anyone who cares know how they felt about the pending move speaks volumes to me about exactly why this team should move and why the Sunbelt movement in the NHL is over.  People down south in general… don’t do hockey.  Sure there are successful-ish franchises in Dallas and Tampa Bay, San Jose, and Anaheim but the Coyotes, Thrashers, & Panthers are examples of why the risk is not worth the reward to the NHL down south.

But back to Atlanta…  The 200 fans raised signs and voiced their anger at the Thrashers’ owners. The burned a “Go Jets Go” banner if effigy.  One poor fan was molested by Harry the Hawk (mascot of the NBA Hawks) which is a pretty terrible irony in and of itself.  In the end if 200 fans were all that cared to come down to “rally” I think everyone has their answer right there.

When I first did a write-up on the news that Winnipeg was going to receive the Thrashers my brother commented on it via Facebook:

As an Atlantan, I’m a little sad for the hardcore fans here. Unfortunately, there are less than 5000 of them, and that does not demand an NHL franchise. Our arena is top notch, but there is room for an AHL team to develop and do well here. Until then people are going to have to drive to Gwinnett to see the Gladiators, which is a pretty low level of hockey from what I gather.

The ECHL Gladiators are about to become the new hockey outlet for anyone down there who wants a team to watch.  Yes it is a serious downgrade in quality but Gwinnett was very quick last Friday to remind fans via Twitter that they are not affiliated with the Atlanta Spirit owning group directly and that they were not going anywhere.   The bigger point my brother makes living there as a sports fan is that it is just not an NHL hockey market.  Not enough people care.

That was evidenced fully by the poor turnout for a season ticket turned to save our team rally. Two hundred fans just can’t save a team on their own.

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Written by ozman51

May 22, 2011 at 12:54 PM

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