I’ve been saying it for several seasons. In fact, most of the Atlanta fan base said it: The Thrashers (now Jets) are not built to make it to or even past the first round of the NHL playoffs. They are the same team with a new name. But for some odd reason, people in Winnipeg bought the dog and pony show that Atlanta Spirit Group was selling. That, Atlanta simply wasn’t a hockey market. Not that ASG built a team doomed to fail –because they never wanted the Thrashers to begin with. Not that they were a package deal with the Hawks -and to ASG, they were the unwanted step-child of Ted Turner and Time Warner.
For those Winnipeg fans that ridiculed us and told us we didn’t deserve our team, I write this post for you. Why? Because you were lied to and you believed it. You didn’t see that we had sellout games. You didn’t see that our owners told us to “deal with it” when season ticket holders accused them of purposely not icing a playoff caliber team. You just wanted an NHL team and you were happy to buy into the propaganda and judge us to help that happen. You were even willing to lock into three years of paying triple what we paid to watch the same team. Well, as the saying goes –be careful what you wish for.
Atlanta fans stopped going to games when it became all too clear that by week 9 of each season, the product on the ice wasn’t quality. The ticket prices rose, yet the caliber of the team did not. ASG paid well below the salary cap each season and still claimed they were losing money. We in Atlanta know that was a total lie (I’d love to see an audit of the Hawk’s finances, I mean money laundering). But you didn’t know that.
You didn’t know that our arena was literally falling apart (Thrash used to surf on the back of broken seats down aisles), because ASG didn’t spend the money for upkeep. You didn’t know that ASG didn’t employ a full-time PR/marketing staff (minus Ben) and instead used interns for PR and marketing -which was very limited. You didn’t know that we fired the only coach that took us to the playoffs -he was a scapegoat for the team doing poorly. You didn’t know that ASG didn’t pay for a goalie coach (something that all but two NHL teams now have) You didn’t know that ASG recruited and lost many stars that wanted to be paid what they deserved. Kovalchuk and Hossa were just two of the many we depended on and lost.
The Thrashers didn’t lose because we were or weren’t going to games. They lost when we were packing people in. They lost because young talent can’t be the backbone of a playoff team and ASG wasn’t willing to pay for NHL tried and true talent to come to Atlanta.
So, to lay this to rest once and for all, I have the undeniable proof that the Jets are still the Thrashers and that you too were duped. I’m saying this because I want Jets fans to demand more from True North’s ownership. I want them to hold them accountable in the way Atlanta tried and failed to do with ASG. Our owners were aloof and untouchable, but yours are not. So without further ado, I give you A Tale of Eight Weeks and Beyond:
2007 -2008 (The Thrashers)
2008 – 2009 (The Thrashers)
2009 – 2010 (The Thrashers)
2010 – 2011 (The Thrashers)
2011 – 2012 (The New Jets)
Do you get it now, Winnipeg? We loved our team -but it’s like loving the dog that lives next door, whose owner doesn’t give a shit about their health or wellness. The dog is sweet, but you know it has mange and fleas -so you start keeping your distance. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It means you’re helpless to watch them have a slow decline and death, because you’re not the one calling the shots. And one day you don’t see the dog anymore because the owner “sent it to the farm.” Yeah. You’re the farm and the Thrashers (New Jets) are still covered in fleas and suffering from mange. I suggest you demand the new owners get them the help they need -before you too can’t stand to watch them decline anymore. And at the price of your tickets, that will happen pretty quickly. Yes, it’s all just a little bit history repeating.