Ben's Sports Take: An Appropriate End for the Thrashers


Handfuls of Thrashers fans gathered at Stats sports bar on Friday afternoon to mourn the loss of yet another NHL franchise here in Atlanta.

'790 the Zone' hosted a Wake Ceremony for the seldom relevant franchise complete with a hearse carrying the team mascot and a bagpiper pumping out Amazing Grace over the crowd of a dozen or so fans in attendance.

But for a franchise that left town mainly due to its inability to attract an audience, what else did we expect for its sendoff?

You can blame whomever you want to for the loss of the Thrashers—the ownership group, the NHL commissioner, the city itself—but what ultimately drove this team out of town was a lack of support.

Sure, they weren't the most productive team and the ownership was downright conniving, but there have been numerous stretches of ineptitude by other Atlanta franchises that didn't end up costing them their zip code.

From 1970-81, the Braves posted a winning percentage of .457 (856-1019) and failed to finish higher than third in their division.

The Falcons missed the playoffs for the first 12 years of their existence and posted a cumulative record of 57-107.

And I know you all remember the Hawks' run from 1999-2007 where they averaged less than 28 wins per season and never cracked the top four in the division standings. (For the record: the Hawks went 218-438 (.332) over those eight seasons)

As other Atlanta sportswriters have suggested, sports fans here aren't lousy, they're just "discerning". They choose not to support a lousy product and shouldn't be blamed for their refusal to attend sporting events.

I wonder why the city of Chicago—perhaps the best sports city in the country—has continued to support a baseball team (the Cubs) that hasn't won a championship in over 100 years? I guess they're just stupid, or they have a significant amount of expendable income.

The lack of support for the Thrashers sport of hockey in Atlanta is what did the team in and the sparse crowd that gathered to say their final goodbyes is a lasting testament to why this city will never be considered a great an average sports town, but at least we have the most discerning fans.

So discerning, in fact, that we'll sacrifice an entire franchise before we even think about attending a game.


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