(updated below with very exciting traitor footage!)
Every now and then, you stumble across something---a moment, a symbol---that perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of being a Thrashers fan, in all its stepping-on-a-rake/pratfall/slipping on a cat/Three Stooges slapping splendor.
This morning while traversing the deserts of Midtown ATL USA on my trusty camel Feisal, I noticed a ginormous billboard advertising tonight's Thrashers-Devils game. The lone hockey player in the ad was not a Thrasher but a Devil. Ilya Kovalchuk. In a Devils uniform.
Many people, probably most people, at the game tonight will boo our former Czar mercilessly, and it's understandable that they would do that. Understandable but stupid. Kovalchuk makes a convenient target for over-the-top hatred, but it's a sad peasant mentality that leads people to focus their anger about something or other (like a hockey team that consistently misses the playoffs, if that's what gets you riled) on one highly visible scapegoat and ignore the less visible architects of their misery. The ones who actually hire people and allocate money and set goals for the organization. Big Shooter states this pretty forcefully here. Do read.
All that said, it will be interesting to watch Kovalchuk play against us and see all the patented Kovy moves from the other side of the telescope. Will he score? Will he lose the puck at the blue line? Will he get into a fight with Jimmy Slater? Will he get first star of the game? It ought to be a riot, a slightly depressing one, but a riot nonetheless.
And hey, what about those Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya types? How will they play against their former team? Heeengh?
As Rawhide points out in today's edition of the Internet AJC, the Thrashers could be eliminated from playoff contention tonight if they lose in regulation and the Flyers at least push their game against Toronto into overtime. It could be a spooky time for anyone still holding on to the more extravagant forms of wishful thinking.
I predict the Thrashers manage to win tonight. But if tonight is indeed our death game, I can only hope we'll go out to the strains of this devil mariachi band.
UPDATE: The traitor speaks!
The gall! He even claims to be "very exciting."