Atlanta Thrashers: 7 Examples Winnipeg Will Not Want to Duplicate

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Atlanta Thrashers: 7 Examples Winnipeg Will Not Want to Duplicate
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Winnipeg already has an established fan base

The second attempt to create a successful NHL hockey franchise in Atlanta is officially over.

In the coming weeks you will likely read and hear about several theories as to why the efforts of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC failed miserably.

It should be pointed out that the two relocated teams; the Atlanta Flames and Thrashers did not leave town for the same reason.

The Flames were sold because of finances, not fan disinterest. During the Atlanta Flames run, the city would not at the time entertain building a larger capacity arena than the Omni.

When the Flames were skating in Atlanta with stars like Tom Lysiak, Eric Vail, Willie Plett and Dan Bouchard the stands were never empty. The team ultimately was sold because of the owners’ real estate losses and no television contract revenue to help finance the team.

The Flames took their act to Calgary, Alberta to a larger stadium and also started to see frequent visits to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Since departing Atlanta the Calgary Flames have even won the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Living in Atlanta and personally experiencing the negligence and malfeasance of the Thrashers leaves me heartbroken for the youthful fans and hockey enthusiasts that such an upheaval will effect for a long time to come.

Scribes and pundits have already identified such failings as poor draft selections, dismal community outreach and the absence of synergy in the Atlanta Spirit group as just a few of the Thrashers' shortcomings.

It is of course very easy to point fingers now that the sale of the team is official, but truthfully the Thrashers were guilty of all of those allegations and more.

The Atlanta Thrashers did not look particularly bad on paper in the draft department but on closer examination it was one of the major issues that helped destroy their long-term prospects of creating a viable franchise in Georgia.

Many expansion franchises like the New York IslandersBuffalo SabresTampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators built their teams into playoff contenders by drafting the right combination of skill and role players.

A good GM is painfully aware that a team must be built through draft choices, astute trades and free agent signings.

The Thrashers drafted Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley who both became stars, but upon closer examination the Thrashers could have made much different draft selections that were available to them in their time in Atlanta.

There is little doubt that if the Thrashers' current management team was in place just two years earlier, the team would still be in Atlanta and likely would have earned a playoff berth.

Consider all the payroll and attitude issues that Dudley and Ramsay had to deal with prior to the start of the 2010 campaign and then contemplate the undisclosed budget constraints and rumors players and management had to deal with on an almost daily basis.

Now stop and consider that they still barely missed a playoff spot.

Dudley did all of this while trimming the payroll down to one of the lowest in the NHL which will greatly benefit the Winnipeg team.

By comparison Ilya Kovalchuk alone cost New Jersey almost a fifth of the Thrashers total payroll.

Unfortunately, Rick Dudley will not continue as the GM when the team moves to Manitoba.  

The True North Entertainment group president, Mark Chipman said the Winnipeg team sold 13,000 season tickets already.

Atlanta's trash may be Winnipeg's treasure.

Atlanta's trash may be Winnipeg's treasure. 

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