"Fire the General Manager", "I will not watch another game", "I will never go to a game ever again" and so forth.
This team has never been out of the bottom five in tickets sold, the TV ratings for the team have always been among the lowest in the NHL and the GM has never been able to spend even remotely close to the salary cap.
Yet, here comes the kicking and screaming.
Has Atlanta ever had top tier talent? Yes. Kovalchuk, Hossa, Savard and Heatley just to mention a few. Has Atlanta tried to build around their top players? You could answer "yes" to that question as well, since they have certainly tried to for nearly a decade with Kovalchuk.
From the recently signed Antropov and Afinogenov, to the not so long acquistions of Hossa and Savard, Kovalchuk has certainly played with some other very talented teammates. Recently, the Thrashers have even tried to build around him defensively, with an all around defensive group.
Comparing their top offensive all-stars to a team such as Toronto's and easily Toronto has only had Mats Sundin (in top tier talent) to name over the last six years and never did they try to give him a proper set up man, or build around him.
Yet, he had the heart to stay with the team and the city cheered for him. They still sold out every game knowing in the back of their minds ( especially in recent years), that they had no real shot at making the playoffs.
Mats Sundin, played in every situation, quite often on the penalty kill and always playing a strong defensive game to go with his offence. In his last contract with the Leafs, he chose to take a pay-cut to stay with his team.
Sundin did as much as he could to will his team to win and he even chose to go down with the ship. That, my friends, is a true leader and captain.
Ilya Kovalchuk is not cut from the same cloth. He stated "I love the city and want to stay here", yet balked when he was offered the highest NHL contract offer ever.
Does that make any sense?
Kovalchuk was never a team guy and only pretended this season, being a contract year.
So Atlanta, please don't feel sorry for Kovy and please cheer on your team.
They have many great assets and are still capable of many things.
So go to the games, watch the games at home, cheer on your Thrashers and things will get better.
If not, you will lose your beloved Thrashers like you did your Flames, to a city who really wants a team, and will cheer for them through thick and thin.
P.S. Atlanta receives in the Kovalchuk trade:
- Bergfors (a 2005, 1st RD pick) who is already playing well in his first NHL season, who will be a 30 goal scorer, or better in his career
- Oduya (A top 4 Dman) who is in the prime of his career and can make smart passes out of the zone and rarely makes an error.
- Cormier (a 2008, 2nd RD pick) who is known for being overly aggressive from the World Juniors, though recently went overboard. He was captain of his team and should be a strong all-around player and quite possibly a good two-way physical center
- and a 1st RD pick
P.P.S. As an FYI, trading a player who is a UFA at the end of the year, and does not want to sign with the team, never gives them a chance to receive equal value.