Unfortunately, it looks like the inevitable is about to happen, and Atlanta is losing the Thrashers and they're going to Winnipeg. While there will be bitterness, anger, rage, etc. there are a few things to keep in mind as to who to be mad at, who to not be mad at, and who is truly going to suffer because of this.
First of all, you'll want someone to blame. Well the blame in this case falls on ASG who let the Thrashers' house fall into disrepair until the organization became completely dysfunctional. Yes you can blame them. They let the team flounder under the misguided and muddled path it's been on since...well, since ASG took over. They bought the Thrashers, Hawks and the arena and immediately wanted to sell off the Thrashers to a local owner. But in this day and age, unless the hockey team has a sweetheart deal from an arena that's non-profit (municipally owned) or has a stake in the arena, an NHL team is going to lose money. They knew there would be no buyers. They were looking to sell off the team long before today, but their internal legal troubles prevented them from doing so.
The managment of the team deserves a share of the blame too, but if there is no accountability, there is no responsibility, and Waddell had no accountability to ASG, since they never took him to task for the quality of the team on the ice. Either they didn't notice, or they didn't care. I'm sure ASG and Waddell wanted to win, but the Thrashers never really had much success on the ice.
As for the title of what to do now. The goal of everyone here at BWA needs to be getting the NHL back to Altanta as soon as possible. What you all can do is this:
- Be as supportive as you can of getting ASG out of the Atlanta sports business. If their intention is to sell the arena and the Hawks, then help them out. Admittedly it means going to Hawks games and being enthusiastic, but if there is a new owner in town, then it is very possible they might be interested in bringing the NHL back to ATL.
- Make Gwinnett the top franchise in attendance in the ECHL. Go to their games, get them sold out every night. Yeah, it's minor league hockey, but it's still hockey, and if Gwinnett can have 100% attendance every night, that will get noticed. Heck, they might even move half a dozen games to Philips Arena.
- Keep the Thrashers name alive. Make sure the fan club stays active, keep reminding folks about the Thrashers, and especially, keep this blog going. Don't let the name die...
- Road Trips. When Winnipeg plays in Nashville, Carolina, heck even Tampa, get there, and cheer them on. I know you want to see the Winnipeg ownership fail, but the guys in the uniforms, no matter where they play, are your players.
When the Minnesota Northstars became the Dallas Stars, the NHL was still experimenting with neutral site games during the regular season, and two Dallas games were scheduled and played at the old Met Center in Minnesota. Those were the two most attended neutral site games, and the Stars were cheered as if they never left. The guys who play for Winnipeg are the same guys who played in Atlanta. Cheer them on.
Most important, as much as you're hurting being fans, remember the folks who are going to suffer the most from this. All of a sudden there are 40+ fewer events at Philips Arena, so now the nearby restaurants, eateries, bars, etc. will take a hit, plus there will be 40+ fewer nights that the folks who work at the arena will be working, all with a cut in their pay. They're going to be hurt most of all.
Don't be mad at the True North folks. They wanted a team and they found a willing seller in ASG. Blame them. Don't be mad at the NHL... it's not up the other owners to find someone to own the team in Atlanta, especially at a severe disadvantage economically, and it's not up to the commissioner either.
Keep your heads up. Hold them high, and be proud to be Thrasher fans.