Atlanta Thrashers Make Moves On and Off the Ice To Stay Out of Winnipeg

Warren ShawCorrespondent IIMarch 2, 2011

The Atlanta Thrashers are fighting for a playoff spot
The Atlanta Thrashers are fighting for a playoff spotKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Thrashers have had quite a season so far.

They started out surprising everyone in the hockey universe by winning hockey games. Then, as some had forecast, the bottom seemed to fall out in the second half.

Despite the leadership of Rick Dudley, Craig Ramsay, captain Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom, the team has dropped like a proverbial rock in the standings and sadly appear to again be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.

The Thrashers ownership group has publicly acknowledged that the team cannot continue to sustain the types of losses they have incurred in the last several years.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) has published figures showing the team losing $181 million. 

Addressing the on-ice side of the business, general manager Rick Dudley has made second-half moves that accomplish two things: further reduce the team’s payroll, and also shrewdly adding younger players with unrealized potential and less lucrative contracts.

The team has wanted to unload forward Niclas Bergfors for some time and could afford to lose Brent Sopel, Fredrik Modin and little-used Nigel Dawes and Boris Valibak.

The loss of forward Rich Peverley is harder to accept based on his contract and contribution, but sometimes it is necessary to give to get.

After all, it allowed the Thrashers to package defenseman Valibak who despite huge potential ended up a wasted high draft choice who would never have made the NHL squad.

The additions of Mark Stuart, Radek Dvorak, Rob Schremp, Ben Maxwell and Blake Wheeler strengthens the Thrashers roster, at least on paper. 

Collectively, the team is stronger.

Off the ice, the Atlanta Spirit LLC are rumored to be negotiating with two groups that want to purchase the team and leave it in Atlanta.

The rumors were verified by AJC hockey beat writer Chris Vivlamore.

It is still too early to say exactly what will happen with the Thrashers this season. With the season winding down and the trade deadline passed, it is a surety that the Atlanta Thrashers will remain entertaining to the end.