Michael Gearon Jr. spoke with Scott Trubey of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. While the bulk of the interview focused on the Hawks, there was some Thrashers talk.
The combined losses for the Hawks and Thrashers were expected to fall in between $10-20 million with no mention of the profit that Philips Arena probably turns. I suspect that the Thrashers side is responsible for most of that net loss on the two franchises. Ticket sales were obviously down and the Hawks put on a good show all season and made the playoffs for a second year.
He also mentioned that both teams have zero debt which is a big deal these days as banks are much less inclined to re-finance highly leveraged financial entities. In contrast, check out Phoenix, Dallas and Montreal for examples of teams have trouble getting loans or paying a lot in interest on those loans. Yes, the Thrashers have an operational loss but they also are not spening $7-8 million a year in interest payments.
The big Thrashers quote came last:
Gearon said ownership has been deserving of some of the criticism it has received for the Thrashers. The team is committed to re-signing its star left wing, Ilya Kovalchuk, as well as finding a dominant center and finding immediate-impact players in the upcoming draft, he said.
It is an interesting statement but also terribley unclear. For example, I would be interested to know which criticism he considers legitimate. The Thrashers have received many critiques over the last two years. I'm also unsure what he means by "finding a dominant center"--does that mean "dominant physicially" or "dominant in the faceoff circle" or dominant in terms of scoring? There are so many ways to interpret that statement I'm not sure what to make of it. The one thing I can say is that dominant centers in the NHL are a scarce commodity--something that will either be expensive to sign or require something tangible going the other way in a trade.