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Hurricanes now in competition with Predators to recruit abandoned Thrashers fans

Sep 10, 2011, 10:27 PM EDT

Thrashers Fans Rally To Keep Team In Atlanta Getty Images

With the Atlanta Thrashers now gone from the deep south of the United States and making their home in Winnipeg, there are a host of fans in Atlanta and around Georgia that are now left without a local team to root for. Go ahead, make jokes about how Thrashers fans are just a figment of Gary Bettman’s imagination, but they’re real and now they’re hockey fans without a pro hockey team, a problem the Nashville Predators have already started to try and cash in on by offering enticing ticket packages for former Thrashers fans.

Now the Predators are going to potentially have some serious competition from another southern team to try and keep Thrashers fans in the mix in the NHL.

Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer shares news that the Carolina Hurricanes are thinking about making their move into the Atlanta market by showing up there next preseason to play a game and win over fans of their former division rivals. The one guy that knows all about how that works is current Hurricanes forward and now former Thrashers forward Anthony Stewart as he’s seen how great some of the Atlanta fans were up close and personal.

“There’s some passionate fans there,” said new Hurricanes forward Anthony Stewart, who played for the Thrashers last season. “I’m on Twitter pretty much every day, and they seem passionate about that. I’ve heard some fans say that their next team is going to be Tampa or Nashville or Carolina. It’s definitely worth it.”

Making the competition a bit stiffer to win those fans over, as DeCock mentions, the Predators and Hurricanes each getting about 40 games on Atlanta cable TV outlet SportSouth. While the Atlanta Spirit Group didn’t do much of anything to help Thrashers fans fall in love with the team by treating it like a poorly run bodega rather than a sports franchise capable of making money, both the Predators and Hurricanes are more than happy to court those jilted by the loss of their team.

Sure it might seem like vultures swarming over a carcass in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a good move to keep those fans that did love hockey entertained and winning over more fans in the deep south is never a bad thing. The one catch here in this competition between the two teams is proximity. Nashville is about a four hour drive from Atlanta whereas Raleigh is about a six to seven hour drive if you can fight off Atlanta traffic without a problem. Having the games on TV is a great thing because, let’s face it, hockey fans no matter where they are want to see it. Getting those fans to come out to a game at some point might be a bit tougher thanks to those tough commutes.

Still, it’s nice to see at least two other teams do something for Thrashers fans that their own team never felt compelled to do in the first place: Care.

  1. sharksfan754 - Sep 11, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    The irony here is that the thrashers failed due to lack of hockey interest and now the hurricanes really think they can get people from ATL to drive for six hours when they wouldn’t drive to the games in ATL. I know they’re probably a few hockey fans in ATL but let’s be real

  2. chc4 - Sep 11, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Thrashers didn’t fail due to lack of interest. Go back in time and look at attendance and TV ratings in the first 5-7 years of their existence. Then look again after Atlanta Spirit bought the team.

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 11, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      Do you have a link showing their numbers when it comes to attendance and TV ratings?

    • sharksfan754 - Sep 11, 2011 at 6:36 PM

      1) The Thrasers were bought after only 4 seasons by Atlanta Spirit Group, before the start of the 2003-04 season.
      2) The Thrasers attendance is as follows (with pts earned)
      (1999-00)- 17,206 39pts
      (2000-01)- 15,263 60pts (third worst attendance in league, ANA, CAR)
      (2001-02)- 13,368 49pts (third worst only to PHX and ANA)
      (2002-03)- 13,476 74pts (third worst, NASH, PHX, by a couple hundred)
      Those were the numbers under initial owner Time Warner, Now for Atlanta Spirit Group
      (2003-04)- 15,121 78pts (seventh worst, ANA, CAR, CHI, NASH, NJD, NYI)
      (2005-06)- 15,550 90pts (eighth worst, ANA, CHI, NASH, NJD, NYI, STL, WASH)
      (2006-07)- 16,299 **97 pts (only playoff birth)** (20th in attendance)
      (2007-08)- 15.824 76pts (21st in attendance)
      (2008-09)- 14,626 76pts (2nd worst, NYI)
      (2009-10)- 13,607 83pts (2nd worst PHX)
      (2010-11)- 13,469 80pts (3rd worst PHX NYI)

      source: http://www.andrewsstarspage.com/index.php/site/comments/nhl_average_attendance_since_1989_90/118-2008-09

      So they’ve been in the bottom third of the league in every season but their first, they’ve been in the bottom 3 five times, twice BEFORE Atlanta spirit group purchased them. I didn’t find the tv ratings. I don’t know what you call it when fans don’t show up to games, I call it a lack of interest, whether that’s because the team has been subpar is another argument.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 12, 2011 at 9:34 AM

        That’s what I figured. I mean ATL is more of a football/basketball city. It’s gotta be rough for the hockey diehards but that’s reality. I would assume that they would just become WPJ fans. It would only make sense.

  3. sal1117 - Mar 28, 2012 at 12:29 AM

    I grew up in Charlotte in the 60’s and went to a lot of Checkers games in the Eastern Hockey League. When we moved to Atlanta in 1969, my father and I would drive to Charlotte on Friday & Saturday night games and get back to Dunwoody around 3am, we loved it !

    Hockey WOULD make it in Atlanta, IF we had a commited owner, not lying losers like Atlanta STUPID Group. Go back and look at the expansion years, Atlanta set records for attendence, which still stand, beating even San Jose.

    Hockey can thrive in Atlanta, but a GOOD SOLID owner is needed and not to mention, an
    arena on the north side of town on I-285, sellout after sellout would be THE story,
    and Atlanta Hockey HATERS like e.j.HACK and Peabrain mcguire would be left speechless !

    Thrilled to see Nashville & Carolina aupporting the NHL in Atlanta, heck maybe a couple regular season games each season, one by each team would be interesting !!!!!

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