Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tally Sings It

WTF Happened In Atlanta

Well it’s official. My beloved team is gone. Words can’t express how destroyed I am. If you are a Thrashers fan, you know what is going on and what lead up to this. For those that stop by that aren’t Thrashers fans, I thought I do a FAQ about exactly what the fuck happened in Atlanta.

How did the Thrashers come to be in Atlanta.
On June 25, 1997 the NHL awarded the City of Atlanta an expansion franchise to begin play in 1999-2000. On February 16, 1998 "Atlanta Thrashers" was announced as official team name. The team was named after the State Bird of Georgia, the Brown Thrasher. On October. 2, 1999 the Thrashers opened their 1999-2000 Inaugural Season before a sold-out crowd of 18, 545 at Philips Arena with a 4-1 loss to New Jersey.

Who owned Atlanta?
Former AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., founder, "Ted" Turner, owned the team. Who wouldn't want to get your product going with Ted Turner in one of the largest media markets in the country? On March 31, 2004 announcement of the sale of the Thrashers, along with the NBA’s Hawks and operating rights to Philips Arena, to Atlanta Spirit, LLC from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. The eight partners who comprise the group are Steve Belkin, Michael Gearon, Jr., Bruce Levenson, Ed Peskowitz, J. Rutherford Seydel, Todd Foreman, J. Michael Gearon, Sr., Bud Seretean, and Beau Turner. These nine businessmen are divided into three groups, each headquartered in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Boston, and each group shares equal voting power within the group.
Although Ted Turner is not a part of this group, there are many connections to him: Beau Turner is the youngest son of Ted Turner. J. Rutherford Seydel is a son-in-law of Ted Turner. Michael Gearon Sr. was the general manager 1977–79), president (1977–1986) and chairman of the board (1986–2004) of the Atlanta Hawks under Turner's ownership. Bud Seretean is also a former president and general manager of the Hawks (1975–77) and a former board member of Turner Broadcasting System.

How did they run them?
Almost immediately they began bickering and fighting amongst themselves. Come on, 9 people can't order pizza, let alone run a company. This is the biggest bunch of whiney, entitled, litigious bunch of assholes around. The first big fight started with on the Hawks side of things. In the summer of 2005, the Atlanta Hawks traded with the Phoenix Suns to obtain shooting guard Joe Johnson for Boris Diaw and two protected future first-round picks. While this trade met with the approval of the majority of the ownership group, Steve Belkin, who held a controlling vote as the Hawks Governor within the group, rejected it. So they tried to kick Belkin out which resulted in a multi-year court battle. The Spirit has always been accused of caring more about basketball than hockey. While the owners were busy fighting over toys like toddlers, they were also lying to fans. We were assured that the owners did not want to sell the Thrashers. We were told the Thrashers were staying put. It was only revealed to fans through legal documents that the Spirit wanted to sell. After five years of legal battles, on December 23, 2010, the group led by Gearon and Levenson announced they had bought out Belkin's ownership share in Atlanta Spirit. Two months later Michael Gearon held the infamous interview were he spoke of a “sense of urgency” regarding investors for the Thrashers.
Once that lawsuit was done, the Spirit decided they really missed being in litigation and decided to sue their attorneys for malpractice to the tune of $200M. They claimed that the contract written by King & Spalding LLP, was flawed and prevented the sale" of the Thrashers for six years. Atlanta Spirit contends the contract drafted in August '05 for the buyout of Belkin, made the ownership group "unable to sell or otherwise dispose of" the Thrashers, which it first aimed to do after the '04-05 NHL lockout. The lawsuit claims that King & Spalding's contract "caused the buyout process to 'quickly break down into chaos,
So basically, these douchebags got the team from Papa Ted in 2004, planned to sell it a year later, then started fighting and couldn’t. They lied to the fans the whole time. They ran a bare bones ship and not investing any money in the team, yet want to blame the fans.
Some descriptions of the Spirit:

AJC Blogger Bill Tiller:
" Atlanta fans should not be "terribly shocked to learn that one of … if not THE … most dysfunctional collection of businessmen ever to own a sports franchise actually dared to speak untruths to their paying population."

AJC writer Jeff Schultz:
They told you they cared. They lied. ... They told you not to pay attention to any of those rumors of the Thrashers being for sale, although they eventually admitted begrudgingly that, yes, they were looking for 'investors.' They lied." Now the owners "can't figure out how they’ve burned so many bridges in this town why fans still feel too angry or worn down to show up for a pretty decent team." Schultz: "If Atlanta loses its second NHL franchise, it won’t be because the sport failed here. It will be because ownership and management failed"

If there isn't enough fan support in Atlanta, why should a team stay there?
Atlanta as a sports town sucks. We are a transplant city, nobody is “from” here. We also have a ton of choices on where to spend our disposable income. You have your hard core hockey fans, like me, but most are fair weather fans. To get those fair weather fans in, you have to win. It’s been established that the Spirit did nothing to put a winning team on the ice. They did no marketing. They did nothing to bring in new fans and did all they could to burn bridges and piss off old fans. We’ve averaged roughly between 13K and 15K. With the shit that the Spirit put on the ice, I’m surprised we had THAT many people show up. If you are going to have 13K hard core people show up through thick and thin, imagine what we could get there if we had an ownership that cared about us as much as they did the basketball team…an ownership that wasn’t trying to cut corners. I don’t have to imagine, I was at the playoff games. I remember. I remember the fans, the noise, the support. It was awesome. It could have been again.

The Spirit have been trying to sell the team for years.
Because of the litigation, that is impossible. They might have WANTED to sell the team, but in reality it was a legal impossibility for them to be trying to sell. So, that means they were looking for buyers for a whopping 3 months.

They Spirit is trying to find local investors, but nobody wants to buy the Thrashers.
Bullshit. Nobody wants to deal with the Spirit. We have had our share of kooks and rumors. The Balkan, Lil John, Stephen Rollins all turned out to be disappointments. There were several buyers who were legit. Unfortunately they wanted to purchase all three (Hawks, Thrashers and Phillips Arena). The Spirit were not interested. The Atlanta Spirit does not want hockey in the arena. They were not interested in selling just the Thrasher to a local buyer. Even if they were, who wants to deal with the Spirit when it comes to leases?

Why isn't Gary Bettman and the League fighting as hard for Atlanta as they did Pheonix?

That’s the magic question. Gary Bettman has been asked by the media as well as fans on his call-in radio show on XM “Are we going to see the same aggressive fight to keep hockey in Atlanta that we saw in Phoenix.” Gary dances around the issue by talking about how it’s different in Phoenix because they own them. They have a bigger presence because they own the team and need to be in on the day to day running of the team. No shit, Gary. We get that. What we want to know is whether or not you would go to the extremes for us that you did for Phoenix. We have our answer. Bettman didn't "fight hard" to stay in Atlanta, that is HORSE SHIT.

Who is the True north and why do they want the team?
True North Sports and Entertainment own the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and operate the MTS Centre. The MTS Centre is where the Manitoba Moose play and where our Thrashers, with their new name, will play next season. Why do they want the team? Because they are fucking Canada! I don’t blame them for wanting it one bit. Winnipeg has been NHL hungry for years since the league took the Jets. Not only will investing in an NHL team be a sound financial decision for the TNSE, but they will be heroes! TSNE were originally circling around Phoenix, but when the city of Glendale voted to give the NHL $25M to secure the Coyotes for another in which to find owners, TSNE turned it’s attention to us.

Congratulations to Winnipeg, I know you’ve been dying for an NHL team since the Jets left. I know you will take good care of my boys. I don’t fault the city or TNSE at all. I lay the blame squarely where it belongs, at the feet of the Atlanta Spirit LLC and Gary Bettman. Taking a team (for the second time) from the 8th largest media market and putting it in Winnipeg does not GROW the sport. People in the Peg already know how awesome hockey is. The sport was growing here. More rinks were going up, more kids were playing hockey. I honestly don’t know how that will continue with the Thrashers gone.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Don't Call It A Rally...

We grilled and drank beers (Channeling some LL Cool J)

Rumors have been swirling all week about the Thrashers leaving for Winnipeg. At times, we hear there are moving trucks backing up to the arena, other times no deal is done. It's been a week of misery. For a final kick in the ass, the Atlanta Spirit(less) Group thought it would be a good idea to move forward with "Select-A-Seat." This is an annual event where you come down, look at your seat and possibly upgrade or move. It was cruel. More about that later.

Faithful Thrashers fan, Jimmy decided that if the Thrashers were leaving, he wanted one more tailgate in the Gulch. He decided to spread the word on Wednesday and this Saturday we got together for what was possibly the last time. Me and Shauna headed down town ready for friends, tears and beer.

There was lots of news coverage. All of the local news plus a Canadian station was there. The AJC was there, too. They took this picture and put it in the paper. Too bad it's in the morning when the event started. Way to make us look bad. How do I know this is at the beginning of the event? That arrow is pointing to my car. We got there about 12:15, then went to the arena for Select A Seat. My car has no signs on it yet, so it was taken before I returned at 1:00.

Me and Shauna at Select A Seat.

Well at least they haven't sold all of the hockey boards for scrap yet. It was very sad to see it like this and to know this might be (probably is) the last time I'll be in here.

While Shauna was talking to her rep I went in sat in my favorite seat from 2 season ago. There are so many good memories from these seats with my friends Randy and Kerry.

I wonder what they will do with all of the Thrashers stuff they have all over the building. I would be glad to take this off of their hands.

Shauna got a beer and I got a piece of pizza. I took a look at the 2008 All Star mural for the last time.

After beer, pizza and memories we headed back to the sweltering heat. It was 93+ degrees and absolutely miserable. I thought this guy was homeless at first, but he turned out not to be. He had a bit of a heat stroke and the paramedics had to come. He came back later and left in his own car. Now THAT is passion!

Everyone is getting there areas set up with tents, signs and grills.

More signs.

I didn't have a tent, so I put my signs on Selma (my car).

Then I discovered something funny, my buddy Mike and I have the exact same car! So I decorated his as well. I love the "I'm Eager to forget Ben" sign.

I also walked around with my Winnipeg sign.

More signs. I love the "Owning a Hockey Team is Not a Hobby" and of course the one with baby goalie Ben on it.

As Shauna and I are socializing, we notice a sign of a different kind. YES, that is what you think it is. Atlanta sports troll, JK Sockey, placed a "Go Jets Go" sign by the rally. The next thing I know me, Shauna and 2 others are hauling ass over to take care of it.

We get to the top and Shauna goes all She-Ra on that bitch.

Shauna and her trophy.

Heatmeiser knows what to do with it. FIRE!

Before they sat it on fire, someone wiped their ass with it.

Burn baby, burn!

You can watch a video of the event here. Right After Shauna tears it down, you can see me and my Fuck Winnipeg sign for 1/2 a second. Then later in they video you see me in my Johnny Oduya shirt.

After the fun burning shit, the tail gate went back to a more relaxed atmosphere. There was a table where you could sign petitions going to some of the big companies in Atlanta asking for help.

I bummed my way into someone's tent before I died from a heat stroke. As we were chatting, we all heard a familiar drum. It was Thrash!!! (Picture is Josh Scott's)

This was the only time I almost teared up. Thrash was hugging people and you could tell that he recognized a lot of us and was hugging tight. It was like he was saying good bye.

One cool thing about my new camera is it has video. I tried to get some video and it looks like I'm having a seizure. I also thought it would work for me to turn the camera. FAIL! Here is a little bit of Thrash's final "Let's Go Thrashers."

Allie in the coolest shirt EVER!

Walking billboard guy.

I didn't want to bring my big camera to the rally. I'm glad I didn't. It was so hot and miserable, I couldn't imagine dragging that thing around. I used my new birthday present, my Olympus Tough camera. It's waterproof, freeze proof and drop proof. Unfortunately it's not idiot proof and I'm still getting used to such a small camera. Oh and did I mention it was hot and bright?

Fortunately others weren't wussies and did carry their good cameras. Thanks to Josh Scott for these awesome pictures!

I love this sign. It shows what a family affair hockey is here.

Heat getting interviewed by Canadian media.

Kids (large and small) playing street hockey.

Great shot of the city line.

More little victims. Hockey is growing here!

How bad ass is this bike??

Another of my favorite signs.

A great rally shot of everyone with our beloved Thrash.

It's easy to whip up several hundred people to storm the streets and rally for a team when it's 50 degrees, let's see Winnipeg do this in the 93 degree heat with a million% humidity!
The tail gate was a success. We burned shit and someone went to the hospital. That's how we roll!

Though it was good to get together again with my hockey family, it was very sad. I've met so many wonderful people through hockey, going to games is truly like going to a family reunion.

Friday, May 20, 2011

So What's Going To Happen To This Blog

I have no idea. I've enjoyed doing this blog so much. I've enjoyed meeting people at the arena who follow this blog. It's one of the many heartbreaks that come with the Thrashers leaving. I thought I would convert it to a Preds/Gladiators blog, but now I don't know. What scares me most is I feel like I want a break from hockey. I've never felt that before.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Come To The Thrashers Rally...That's Not Really A Rally

Pretty much all hockey fans are aware of the dire straits that Atlanta has found itself in. Thanks to our dipshit owners, there is a very high probability that we will not have a team next season.

Ever since the decision in Phoenix for the city to fund the team for another year came down, Atlanta has been in the crosshairs (moreso than usual) of Winnipeg. This week has been unbearable for the fans and has honestly been comletely miserable. Nobody likes to feel helpless. We emailed the mayor, the chamber of commerce, various news stations, Gary Bettman, Bill Daley and any hockey tv/radio show we could think of. We called in radio stations and I personally spent 2 hours on hold (1 hour per week) recently trying to get on the line for Gary Bettman's radio show.

A rally is out of the question. Anything that is less than Winnipeg's save the Jets would be viewed as a failure. And let's face it, we can't get thousands and thousands of people, helicopters, news reporters and business men out for anything like they did.

Season ticket holders have been invited to the annual "Select A Seat" event where you go and talk to the rep about your seat and maybe moving or upgrading. You can sit in the seat before you buy it. That's how this whole mess started.

This is Jimmy. He and a bunch of folks known as "The Nasty Nest" like to hang out before the weekend games and tail gate. Even Thrash occasionally stops by.

The parking area below Phillips Arena known as "The Gulch" becomes home to a pregame party. Hot dogs, hamburgers, street hockey and other good times ensue. And of course there is beer.

The Nest will take it on the road, too.

Beer Pong knows no limits as they prove in Raleigh.

Nashville's blizzard was no problem, they built a fire!

So Jimmy got to thinking that he wanted one last hurrah with his tail gating buddies. That is how this got started. Then the media got wind of it. Now it's a full blown rally with Canadian media wanting video and pictures. As one Peg Hole said on the Rally's facebook page "Atlanta ia approx 9 times bigger than winnipeg. Winnipeg had 35,000 at there rally so anything less then 315,000 fans will look bad."

So drag your ass out to the Gulch this Saturday. Bring friends. Bring signs. Bring beer and food. Don't look at it as a rally, think of it as one last big party!


WHERE: The Gulch parking lot

WHEN: Saturday, May 21 about 12ish to 4ish

WHY: Why not? What can it hurt? It's an excuse to possibly one last time support the team

* Event will be rescheduled in case the world ends

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some REALLY Interesting Info

Relocation's Littlest Victims

Indeed Mrs. Lovejoy, won't someone please think of the children!

It goes without saying that all of the Blueland faithful are despondent over losing their hockey team. How do you explain it to your kids?

How hard will it be to look into that little face and explain why she won't be able to go to see her heroes any more?

That she won't be able to see her friends and have a good time at the arena any more?

As in all aspects of life, the children are our future. And the future for hockey around Atlanta is looking bright and the Thrashers have played a huge part in that.

If you have been to a Thrashers' practice up in Duluth you know the place is PACKED with baby hockey players. This trend is one that has grown across the south east. According to this post on "United States of Hockey," the expansion of the NHL has had a huge affect on the south east:

Since the first wave of Southeast expansion in 1991-92, USA Hockey has seen an
increase in membership in the Southeast district of 33,089 members. That is
up from 6,718 prior to that time period. That is a 492.5% increase. Those
numbers do not even include the 2010-11 season, in which USA Hockey
registered more players under the age of eight than ever before.

you can read the rest of the post here: http://unitedstatesofhockey.com/2011/05/17/relocations-ripple-effect/

Hockey is an important part of our community and is touching more and more lives. Playing hockey is a great way for kids to keep active, make friends, learn to be a team player and be a leader.

The Thrashers are a part of our community off of the ice, too. They live here, they work here and they like it here. In addition to donating their money and time to raise money for LOCAL charities, they make that special effort to connect with fans, especially those in need. Here is Dalton, a young boy recovering from cancer. The team made special efforts to meet him, give him all kinds of goodies and send him to a game. It's something he will never forget.

Canadians may find it hard to believe, but there ARE fans here, lots of them. We love our Thrashers hockey and we start them young!

When kids grow up being exposed to hockey and playing hockey, they become fans.

Going to games is something they will enjoy with their parents and then bring into adult hood.

That is how hockey grows and cities become "hockey cities."

Hockey is growing in Atlanta. If the Thrashers leave, that will slow down hockey development in this city in a huge way. Look in that little face and tell him he can't have his hockey, Bettman!

In a sad twist of irony, this arrived yesterday. I bought it for my soon-to-be-born nephew, Bradley. I guess the joke is on me.


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