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2019-2020 NHL Thread

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26 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

That's also because Atlanta Spirit ran the team into the dirt for years.

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They've gone from getting league welfare to paying into it since moving to Winnipeg.

 

26 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

The Thrashers could easily have succeeded had they not fallen into ASG's grubby little paws

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26 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

Had they become what Nashville is now

An insufferable blight on the sport?

 

26 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

I get that there weren't an insane amount of fans visible, but honestly, the only reason the NHL kept Arizona over Atlanta was one had a city bending over backwards to keep them, the other had an ownership group literally doing everything in their power to poison pill the team to any prospective buyers. That's really the only reason the Thrashers moved and the Coyotes didn't, even speaking as a fan of the latter.

As you can tell by the ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹs? "If things were different they'd be different" isn't compelling to me. If things were different the original Jets and Nordiques wouldn't have left in the first place. If things were different the Coyotes would have been a box office hit day one instead of going on twenty-four+ years of not drawing a profit.

 

Fact is that ASG was never a problem in the NHL's eyes. The NHL wanted teams in major American sunbelt cities to leverage better tv deals for themselves in the US. They knew they had Canada locked up. That's why they felt comfortable jettisoning the Nords and Jets- still plenty of Canadian markets left to keep that gravy train going. The US was where the uphill battle was, and the NHL both wanted more tv money and to increase the league's prestige. Having "footprints" in large sunbelt cities helped both causes.

That's where their interest ended though. Sure, the NHL would have loved it if one of these teams went on a Cup run but it was hardly a necessity. They just needed the franchises in place. They didn't care if they were run on shoestring budgets. They didn't care if community outreach and marketing was small to non-existent. They didn't care if these front offices actually tried so long as they spent to the salary floor (that's right, we're not so far removed when a sunbelt team almost failing to spend to the salary floor was a problem).

 

Had ASG agreed to keep the Thrashers around as a date filler while continuing to run them like the red headed step child of Atlanta? The NHL wouldn't have done a damn thing. That was enough for them.

The problem was that they couldn't find buyers for the Coyotes and TNSE was right there. The league wouldn't be willing to admit defeat and send the Coyotes back, but it almost happened because there was no other option.

Then ASG just admits that it doesn't care about the Thrashers, doesn't want them in the arena, and will sell the team to whoever. That allows the NHL to save face by wrangling more money out of Glendale while shifting TNSE's focus to the Thrashers. The league would prefer to be in both the Phoenix metro area and Atlanta for the above-mentioned reasons but ASG stopped doing the single thing the NHL wanted from them- allowing NHL hockey to technically exist. So they sort of had to cave to TNSE. Meanwhile they got to keep the Coyotes were they were.

 

You keep going on about ASG being the true villain here, but my point is the NHL's only problem with them was that they stopped wanting to own a NHL team. They would have been content to let ASG run the Thrashers like a clown show for as long as they wanted. The only problem was they no longer wanted to. 

 

The NHL's desire to not be in Winnipeg was evident by the press conference where they announced the sale and move. Where Bettman threatened to take the team away from Winnipeg again at the very press conference he announced the relocation. He would have rather had the Thrashers toiling in red ink and irrelevancy just so he could say the NHL had a team in Atlanta then have a team in Winnipeg printing money.

Of course the TNSE group has ingratiated itself to the NHL's power movers, in part because the team makes money in its small Canadian prairie home. And also because they happen to be owned by one of the richest men in North America who could probably buy and sell half the league in an afternoon if he felt so inclined.

 

tl;dr? The Jets are financially viable, the Thrashers weren't, let's stop romanticizing failed sunbelt teams that never accomplished anything.

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Even Nashville was teetering on the edge in 2007 and would have been bound for Waterloo or Hamilton had the league not thrown a fit about it. I don't know how they suddenly became The Model Organization the way they did, considering it was Poile and Trotz from day one and their years of Pretty Good I Guess from 2003-2011 never stirred a love affair in the city. Then they started wearing yellow at home, Shea Weber punched Henrik Zetterberg in the head, and suddenly they were the greatest thing that ever happened to sports. Probably would have been advantageous for the NHL to have had all that happen in Atlanta instead of Nashville and just not bothered with the two small southeastern markets but it didn't. Ah well.

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Oh and I forgot, one of the worst things about the Hurricanes being good again is the rehabilitation of Don Waddell, who was Dixieland Bob Pulford in terms of being the incompetent babysitter for uninterested-to-malevolent ownership and who had just as much a role in the Thrashers' failure as AOL pretending to buy Time Warner or dumb businessmen arguing about Joe Johnson. Here's a guy was so worthless that when True North bought the team, I don't think they issued a press release announcing his firing, everyone just took it on faith that they'd move the office furniture up north but still leave him. He should have been, like Pulford, out of hockey forever. Now he's a genius because Bryan Bickell had undiagnosed multiple sclerosis and so the Hurricanes got a free Teuvo Teravainen. Man, whatever.

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I think there’s a little bit of revisionist history from hockey fans my age about the Thrashers, who would have been 15 or so (give or take a few years) when they moved.

 

It’s the only relocation of an NHL team during our lifetimes (or at least the only one we were old enough to register it), so I think that definitely plays into it too.

 

Yeah sure, they were in a bad situation with Atlanta Spirit, but I don’t know how viable Atlanta would have been and still remains to be.

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41 minutes ago, monkeypower said:

Yeah sure, they were in a bad situation with Atlanta Spirit, but I don’t know how viable Atlanta would have been and still remains to be.

And that's part of the problem; it's hard to gauge how viable a southern market really is if what teams it gets are complete dumpster heaps.
 

Remember, Nashville and Carolina also used to be full of rumors about relocating to a different market (remember Balsillie and the Hamilton Predators saga) while they sucked, but now that they've got ownership and staff that are committed to making a fun atmosphere and a winning team culture, those markets have shown plenty of support for the Preds and Canes once the organization stopped being run into the ground. Arizona finally seems to be trending in that direction again after years of miserable ownership and horrible teams, as well.

 

Atlanta had one team that was decent but only won two playoff games in their entire existence before being sold off and moved to pay the owner's other debts and a second team that was a cavalcade of horrific mismanagement that had all of three seasons over .500 and never even won one of the 4 playoff games that they managed to play in their entire franchise history.

 

Somehow, I don't think either of those would be very enticing to casual fans, especially when you're deep in the middle of football country. Part of the problem with the Thrashers was, like with many southern teams at that time, the team both sucked on the ice and had all the marketing presence of a wet tissue paper because ASG never bothered to give them more than a shoestring budget. Had they had an actual budget to build a competetive franchise and weren't basically locked out of their own arena by the end, there's plenty of reason to suspect that it'd be Phoenix, not Atlanta, that gets sold to TNSE and goes to Winnipeg.

 

The Thrashers' tale is more a cautionary story of how terrible management kills franchises than a condemnation of the Atlanta market, in my eyes.

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8 hours ago, Ridleylash said:

The Thrashers' tale is more a cautionary story of how terrible management kills franchises than a condemnation of the Atlanta market, in my eyes.

 

12 hours ago, IceCap said:

let's stop romanticizing failed sunbelt teams that never accomplished anything.

 

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14 hours ago, Ridleylash said:

than a condemnation of the Atlanta market, in my eyes

I also want to point out the double standard at work here. People here wrote off Winnipeg as no longer viable because the Jets 1.0 moved. People still insist Hartford can't work because the Whalers left. And you have your idiots here or there that question whether Quebec City is viable or not "because they couldn't keep the Nordiques." 

 

Yet Atlanta can lose two NHL teams and some people are going "I don't know if this means we can write off Atlanta entirely." And Phoenix/Glendale/Arizona has been given chance after chance that Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Hartford never would have gotten. 

 

Seems to me like if you're a small market where it snows you get shafted but if you're a large market where it's sunny you're given infinite chances. Even if the Thrashers-to-Jets move proves the former locations make better NHL markets than the latter ones do. 

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4 minutes ago, IceCap said:

I also want to point out the double standard at work here. People here wrote off Winnipeg as no longer viable because the Jets 1.0 moved. People still insist Hartford can't work because the Whalers left. And you have your idiots here or there that question whether Quebec City is viable or not "because they couldn't keep the Nordiques." 

 

Yet Atlanta can lose two NHL teams and some people are going "I don't know if this means we can write off Atlanta entirely." And Phoenix/Glendale/Arizona has been given chance after chance that Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Hartford never would have gotten. 

 

Seems to me like if you're a small market where it snows you get shafted but if you're a large market where it's sunny you're given infinite chances. Even if the Thrashers-to-Jets move proves the former locations make better NHL markets than the latter ones do. 


I mean, for what it's worth I'm on all of those "return here!" bandwagons - The new Jets have been a success, and I do think Hartford, Quebec City and yes, even Atlanta, could work given a fair shot.¬†ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ¬†

Just because I want to I'll break it down: attendance was never really the problem for Winnipeg pre-1996 and Quebec; sure, they both have small totals across the board, but their sheer consistency over the years tells me that both of those teams sold out their old, undersized barns on a regular basis - the fact that they were stuck in old, undersized barns was precisely their problem. With Winnipeg that's been rectified and the new team's done gangbusters (even despite what's still a pretty small arena), and with Quebec it's also been solved yet the NHL doesn't want to return there, for... some reason. 

Hartford's a bit trickier. Looking at raw attendance numbers they had a lot harder of a time filling their small, old arena even during their good years; but it's been noted before that they have a wider TV market than one would originally assume from what's a pretty small city, and I'd say between that and having the most dedicated cult following in hockey (perhaps even all of North American sports) a potential Whalers 2.0 would do just fine in a new arena.

Given the renovations done to State Farm Arena to make it basketball-only and the lack of another suitable arena in the area (the other main reason the Thrashers moved), speculating about a new Atlanta NHL team is pretty much a non-starter for the forseeable future, so really all we can do is play what-if games. What if Atlanta Spirit didn't evict the team? What if they weren't too busy squabbling with each other to actually pay attention to the Thrashers? What if Time Warner didn't sell the franchise at all? (Hell, what if the single worst merger in American business history doesn't occur? We'd still have WCW and the Thrashers, I bet!) What if Dany Heatley didn't kill a teammate & force the breakup of one of the most promising cores in all of hockey? The Thrashers never averaged a sellout yet actually still drew better than all of the other relocated teams I mentioned! If they still had an NHL-sized arena, yes, they'd absolutely deserve a third shot at a team with actually-competent ownership running things, in my opinion.

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38 minutes ago, IceCap said:

I also want to point out the double standard at work here. People here wrote off Winnipeg as no longer viable because the Jets 1.0 moved. People still insist Hartford can't work because the Whalers left. And you have your idiots here or there that question whether Quebec City is viable or not "because they couldn't keep the Nordiques." 

 

Yet Atlanta can lose two NHL teams and some people are going "I don't know if this means we can write off Atlanta entirely." And Phoenix/Glendale/Arizona has been given chance after chance that Winnipeg, Quebec City, and Hartford never would have gotten. 

 

Seems to me like if you're a small market where it snows you get shafted but if you're a large market where it's sunny you're given infinite chances. Even if the Thrashers-to-Jets move proves the former locations make better NHL markets than the latter ones do. 

People who say it was the market for Winnipeg and Québec miss that the main problem for both wasn't a lack of viability fanbase-wise, it was a crippling economic dive in a league with no caps on player salaries and no method of sharing revenue between franchises. Both could absolutely support teams, Québec was in the 14-15,000 range pretty much their entire history and the Jets never dropped below 12,000 until their final year. The issue wasn't so much the markets themselves as it was the lack of league assistance for small-market teams in general.

 

And technically, the current Jets do still lose money if they don't make a deep playoff run; it's just that their owner now has such insanely deep pockets and gets so much revenue from the arena and the surrounding properties that it's basically nothing in comparison, especially in a league with revenue sharing and a salary cap which helps ease that kind of pressure; two things Shenkarow and Aubut didn't have.

 

Had revenue sharing and the salary cap been introduced in 1995 like the owners wanted, who knows how the picture changes with regards to Québec and Winnipeg. I have an inkling Hartford would still be in trouble, since the relocation there wasn't economically-driven, but rather Karmanos-driven; but for Québec and Winnipeg, I wonder how revenue sharing and the salary cap could've changed their fortunes.

 

It's interesting to think about just how much the NHL's history potentially changes if the cap and revenue sharing are introduced earlier, though; if Winnipeg 1.0 stays around because of revenue sharing and the cap, does Arizona then get an expansion team? And without the convenient option of punting the Thrashers to Winnipeg, what happens to that franchise? Houston wasn't on the table then, so do we get the Kansas City Thrashers?

 

  

8 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

with Quebec it's also been solved yet the NHL doesn't want to return there, for... some reason.

Divisional balance was the main issue. Vegas made more sense at the time because it was a Western Conference team. Same with Seattle; they wanted both conferences to be at an even number of teams. Québec wouldn't have solved that conference imbalance, it would've added to it, which was exactly what the NHL was trying not to do.

 

With the conferences balanced, I think they'll look back into QC if another Western market pops up with an owner and NHL-standard building all in place. That's why I think they keep referring to the QC bid as "deferred", not "rejected"; deferral explicitly implies putting something off until a later date instead of a rejection.

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4 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

I mean, for what it's worth I'm on all of those "return here!" bandwagons - The new Jets have been a success, and I do think Hartford, Quebec City and yes, even Atlanta, could work given a fair shot.¬†ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ¬†

My point is that Atlanta seems to be getting a far more gracious assessment from this community compared to Winnipeg when I showed up. There are still active posters who rolled their eyes back circa 2006 at the idea that the league would ever entertain a return to Winnipeg. 

And again, Atlanta's lost two teams. But we seem ready to say "yeah it could still work!" 

 

It is, as I said, a double standard. Despite the hard evidence proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Winnipeg > Atlanta as far as being a NHL market goes. 

 

7 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

What if

If things were different they'd be different. What if the NHL didn't force the Jets and Nords south as quickly as possible? 

 

8 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

The Thrashers never averaged a sellout yet actually still drew better than all of the other relocated teams I mentioned!

And yet the team is far more financially viable in Winnipeg. 

 

7 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

And technically, the current Jets do still lose money if they don't make a deep playoff run

And technically the Blackhawks "lose" money too. I'm not interested in playing the "well actually" game but it's the internet so whatever. 

 

7 minutes ago, Ridleylash said:

People who say it was the market for Winnipeg and Québec miss that the main problem

My point is that Atlanta (and other sunbelt markets like the Phoenix Metro Area) have gotten passes, second chances after second chances, and benefits of the doubt that Winnipeg, QC, and Hartford were never, and in some cases still aren't, afforded. 

 

I don't care about "what if's." I'm talking how even twice failed markets like Atlanta get the rosy "oh what we've lost" laments when many people were ready to burry Winnipeg forever until TNSE forced the issue. 

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1 minute ago, IceCap said:

If things were different they'd be different. What if the NHL didn't force the Jets and Nords south as quickly as possible? 

Then Patrick Roy would've been a St. Louis Blue? :P

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2 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:

Then Patrick Roy would've been a St. Louis Blue? :P

Just consider it though. How many times has the NHL come through to give an impassioned plea to Glendale or moved heaven and earth to find a sucker an investor to keep the Coyotes around? 

 

Meanwhile they were practically helping the Jets and Nords pack for their relocations. 

 

 There are a variety of factors that went into all of those scenarios, but at the end of the day? The league's return to Winnipeg proved that smaller cold weather markets could be viable in ways mostly disinterested sunbelt locales simple could never be. 

 

And given the amount of arguments I've had on this message board over the years with people who insisted Winnipeg couldn't work "because they lost the Jets"? Yeah, I'm not inclined to give Atlanta too much of a break after losing two teams. 

 They had bad owners? So what? The Leafs were owned by a penny pinching cheapskate for over a decade. And yeah not every NHL market can be Toronto, but that doesn't mean we have to excuse failures like Atlanta either. 

Especially not when Winnipeg got a far rawer deal when they lost their team. 

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10 minutes ago, IceCap said:

Just consider it though. How many times has the NHL come through to give an impassioned plea to Glendale or moved heaven and earth to find a sucker an investor to keep the Coyotes around? 

 

Meanwhile they were practically helping the Jets and Nords pack for their relocations. 

 

 There are a variety of factors that went into all of those scenarios, but at the end of the day? The league's return to Winnipeg proved that smaller cold weather markets could be viable in ways mostly disinterested sunbelt locales simple could never be. 

 

And given the amount of arguments I've had on this message board over the years with people who insisted Winnipeg couldn't work "because they lost the Jets"? Yeah, I'm not inclined to give Atlanta too much of a break after losing two teams. 

 They had bad owners? So what? The Leafs were owned by a penny pinching cheapskate for over a decade. And yeah not every NHL market can be Toronto, but that doesn't mean we have to excuse failures like Atlanta either. 

Especially not when Winnipeg got a far rawer deal when they lost their team. 


I mean, they also say Quebec can't work "because they lost the Nordiques", which is itself a pretty flimsy argument that ignores most of why the Nordiques moved in the first place. Yeah, two is more than one in Atlanta's case, but that argument for Atlanta convinces me about as much as it does for the other cities. Past results don't guarantee future results.

But I do get it, absolutely; I've been here a long while, I remember most of what you're talking about* - I'm just saying that one can indeed support small markets like Quebec & Hartford and bigger markets like Atlanta getting teams back, because I do. 

* - I'm a bit sad BigMac12 got himself banned before the Jets returned, because the meltdown he would've probably had at that news would have been amazing. Goldmine worthy, maybe.

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Atlanta gets a Marty Jannetty-an amount of chances as an NHL market. But, much like Jannetty, serious screw-ups keep happening. The "what if" game is fun and all, but in the end, Atlanta as a hockey market just had fundamental problems with demographics, marketability, and place within the sports landscape of the region. They were an upstart competing with the more-established Hawks, Falcons, Braves, and arguably UGA/GT athletics. Atlanta United doing as well as they have is likely due to both MLS novelty and the immediate success of the team (unlike the Thrashers).

 

Tampa Bay did it right, once they got rid of Yakuza ownership. Nashville came around to doing it better. Carolina isn't beyond saving. Atlanta? Much like Jannetty and long-term sobriety, it just isn't happening.

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13 minutes ago, SFGiants58 said:

Atlanta United doing as well as they have is likely due to both MLS novelty and the immediate success of the team (unlike the Thrashers).

Soccer has also managed to catch fire in the niche sports crowd in a way the NHL just never has in the US. 

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31 minutes ago, SFGiants58 said:

Atlanta gets a Marty Jannetty-an amount of chances as an NHL market. But, much like Jannetty, serious screw-ups keep happening. The "what if" game is fun and all, but in the end, Atlanta as a hockey market just had fundamental problems with demographics, marketability, and place within the sports landscape of the region. They were an upstart competing with the more-established Hawks, Falcons, Braves, and arguably UGA/GT athletics. Atlanta United doing as well as they have is likely due to both MLS novelty and the immediate success of the team (unlike the Thrashers).

Ok, this is a good argument. I do still think a new team could still make it work in the hands of competent management and not, say, Don Waddell, but that's not gonna happen for the forseeable future, at least until we start talking about replacing State Farm Arena; if even then. 
 

31 minutes ago, SFGiants58 said:

Tampa Bay did it right, once they got rid of Yakuza ownership.

Even before Kokusai Green crumbled the Lightning were a solid draw - yeah, they had help playing out of a baseball stadium with a larger capacity than most for 3 seasons, but they don't set pre-Heritage/Winter Classic/Stadium Series regular season & playoff attendance records if people aren't interested in the team and the game.

In fact, I've never gone over this here, but one of my favourite stats about the Bolts' time at the ThunderDome: 
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In their 3 seasons playing at what is now called Tropicana Field...
fLpTw1A.png
...the Lightning had higher average numbers than the Rays get, generally. In fact in their 22 seasons of play the Rays have had a higher average attendance than the Bolts' worst-attended season at the same stadium just 7* times.
(off-topic sidenote but this is why I don't think it's just bad park location causing the Rays' woes: 25 years ago more people had no problem coming to the same dingy, far-away stadium to watch some hockey! Why don't they wanna come watch baseball?)

* - 6 seasons, actually, but I'll be nice and give 2011 to them; they were off by 1 average fan per game!

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On 6/4/2020 at 8:03 PM, mcj882000 said:

(off-topic sidenote but this is why I don't think it's just bad park location causing the Rays' woes: 25 years ago more people had no problem coming to the same dingy, far-away stadium to watch some hockey! Why don't they wanna come watch baseball?)

 

This ain't wrong per se, and I'm not saying watching hockey in a dingy warehouse is good, but it affects the overall experience much less than watching baseball in said dingy warehouse.

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1 minute ago, waltere said:

 

This ain't wrong per se, and I'm not saying watching hockey in a dingy warehouse is good, but it affects the overall experience much less than watching baseball in said dingy warehouse.


No, you're absolutely right; I've even joked before that Tropicana Field worked better as a hockey arena than it does as a baseball stadium because of exactly what you described. The drab dinginess doesn't show up as much when the house lights are turned down, and obviously the catwalks can't possibly affect play either.

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4 minutes ago, mcj882000 said:


No, you're absolutely right; I've even joked before that Tropicana Field worked better as a hockey arena than it does as a baseball stadium because of exactly what you described. The drab dinginess doesn't show up as much when the house lights are turned down, and obviously the catwalks can't possibly affect play either.

 

Yeah I was just about to come in and do an edit saying that this was indeed your point.

The problem isn't just that the park is in a bad location, it's also that the park itself sucks!

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I have never truly enjoyed a visit to Tropicana Field. Worst park in the Majors and it's not even close. 

 

Back on topic- The NHL totally considers Atlanta with a "renovated for just basketball" arena more viable than Quebec City. Which is part of the problem. 

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