Like so many Thrashers fans, I've become totally caught up in the overly hysterical and dramatic commentary that's come from the Twitter feeds of so many reporters (and non-reporters) in the last few days regarding the state of the team in Atlanta. In the day of rampant information sharing and social networking, it can be easy to get carried away with the truths, non-truths, and, in some cases, personal attacks on your intelligence and your general way of life. With this many emotions involved in a situation that people from all parts of the US, Canada, and abroad seem to have a vested interest in, it's difficult to have a rational conversation.
The bottom line is that, if you're reading this, chances are you've done your part to see this team stay in Atlanta. You've devoted your dollars, your time, and a part of your soul to seeing this team succeed in Atlanta. You've preached the gospel of how great it is to witness hockey at its highest level in person to as many people as you possibly can. With the news that ASG is looking to sell and is likely to sell to True North, we all feel let down and a sense of abandonment. It's only natural. We all feel betrayed, and it's not like the Atlanta Spirit ever seemed to put as many dollars, as much time, and as much of themselves into this team as we did.
But in the almost inevitable aftermath of the Thrashers, I guess I'm asking for the Thrashers community to continue to be just that. A community.
If we truly want to see the sport of hockey take hold here in Atlanta and the rest of Georgia and other parts of the Southeast, the responsibly falls not on the checkbooks and business practices of men and women who aren't ourselves. It will continue to fall on those of us who have seen all the good that can come from hockey, and the lessons that can be learned from the game and applied to our lives. I've never been a part of as passionate a group of people as I was at Thrashers games, and it was in the echoing halls of Blueland that I felt home. As much as the team drove me nuts at times, I've learned a great deal from Thrashers fans. Most of it hardly pertaining to hockey, but more to life itself. You know, the kind of stuff you see on a "Hockey Night in Canada" segment that ends with the dramatic slow-motion shot of an individual that overcomes and rises up and whatnot.
I don't know if there's any kind of "official" hockey fan club in Atlanta that doesn't pertain solely to the Thrashers, and I'm too weary from Googling false hopes pertaining to the Thrashers at the moment to see if that's the case. But the overwhelming message to take away from this situation is that despite The World's Worst Owners Ever, a Commissioner who used to "care," the jibes of fans in a city that I'll never travel to, and the "media" North of the Border, is that you do care. You absolutely give a damn, and you're not ok with this. So instead of sitting back and cursing other mens' actions, we should stand up and do something about this.
Instead of taking part in the Atlanta tradition of bitching about our sporting past, we should use this awful scenario to build on the future. I'm not a man of means (at least not yet), so lord knows I won't be building any ice rinks anytime soon. But maybe you are, or you know somebody who is. It doesn't cost $110 million to change your community. It just takes a few people with a common goal to get out there and make things better than they used to be. In our case, there's more than few people...there's a few thousand.
When the dust settles from this entire hullabaloo, I implore all of you who have or are having children to have them play hockey. Let the kids learn the lessons from a young age that so many of us had to learn in our 20s or 30s because we didn't have the chance to play the game as children. There's not many rinks, but there's some, and some's a hell of a lot better than none. There's also garbage cans in your driveway that can be used as goals, and there's kids down your block that would be interested.
They said if we wanted to keep the Thrashers at all, it would almost have to be a "grassroots" movement. It may well be too late for the Thrashers, but formally organizing ourselves as a collective would sure be a good way to start building a hockey foundation in Georgia for the future. The more of us who take the overwhelming negatives of this situation and somehow convert it to a positive, the better.