Thrashers in “Panic Mode”?
February 19, 2011 Leave a comment
Now, it is very possible the Thrashers could be on their way out as well. Owner Michael Gearon Jr. stated that the team is looking for additional investors, but hasn’t put a timetable on finding partners to help solidify the teams finances. Such a decision could determine if the team is forced to move out of town or stay in Atlanta (ESPN News Link).
Gearon and other team owners have said that since 2005, the team has lost around $130 million, and that the current ownership group as it stands cannot survive another season in which the team loses $20 million.
In response to the possibility to Atlanta potentially losing their second NHL team in as many tries, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was non-committal in his comments. While he stated that he wants the team to remain in Atlanta, he mentioned that if the bleak financial situation doesn’t improve, the Thrashers will become a situation “ultimately will have to be dealt with”.
The Thrashers began play in the NHL in 1997, 17 years after the Flames left Atlanta for Calgary. Since their induction into the league, the team has struggled to generate significant buzz in the Atlanta area. They’ve qualified for the playoffs only once in their young franchise history, and have never won a playoff series. In our talks with Jason Kirk of SBNation Atlanta, many Atlanta fans were skeptical of the Thrashers from the get go due to the ownership group that owns the NBA’s Hawks also owns the Thrashers. Kirk said, for better or for worse, the fans never bought into the notion of the Thrashers because they struggled to accept the ownership of the Hawks. Where one team struggles, he said, it seemed to carry over to the other Atlanta franchise.