The Thrashers Leave for Winnipeg

An open letter to the city in the Great White North
Dear Winnipeggers,
Congrats! You got yourselves a hockey team—again. Kind of wish it wasn’t ours. But here we are.
While there are many good and devoted fans who are distraught we’re losing the Thrashers, for most of us their departure is like seeing our mother sell one of our old Transformers at a garage sale: We remember the good times we used to have, we want to hold on to it, and then we realize we haven’t really cared about it for years.
That said, we did learn a few things while the NHL was here. And while it’s the height of presumption for a Southern city to offer a Canadian one lessons in hockey etiquette, hear us out. Plus, one of us has put a hockey team in the playoffs within the last decade—I don’t recall it either, but evidently it’s true—and one of us hasn’t.
First, the name. Rumor is you won’t be using the old “Jets” moniker, so choose a mascot worth rallying behind. “Thrash” may rhyme with “slash,” but who wants to brawl with a songbird? Much less one nobody’s ever heard of, even if it is the state bird. They might as well have chosen the gopher tortoise, Georgia’s official reptile.
Brown thrashers sing during mating season but basically vanish the rest of the year. Likewise, we almost never saw hockey players out in the community, conducting camps, meeting with fans, throwing love to season-ticket holders. Make sure the Manitoba Gray Owls, or whatever you wind up calling them, provide some face time.
Most importantly, don’t let anybody—not your team owners, not the NHL, not the media—tell you it’s your obligation to attend a terrible team’s games. Voting with your wallet is not the same thing as apathy. Don’t be bullied or shamed into supporting a substandard product. Thrashers owners tried everything to fill the seats at Philips Arena—kiss cams, ticket deals, marketing to black Atlanta—but they seemed to forget the simplest fact of all: What fills an arena is a winning team.
And when you do win a Stanley Cup, how about bringing it down here for a little celebration? We could pack one of the rooms at the Varsity, easy.


Jay Busbee
An Atlanta sportswriter

Photograph by TimothyJ, of Flickr