For what seems like the 10th time this summer, Atlanta Spirit denies selling the Thrashers & Hawks

Hot on the heels of the Thrashers to Winnipeg rumor of a while back comes the newest refutable rumor in the never ending saga that is the Atlanta Spirit.  This time, though, the rumor comes from a slightly more reputible source than a Winnipeg radio show.  The New York Post reported a few days ago that the Spirit were looking to sell everything – the Hawks, the Thrashers, Philips, the whole shebang.  Local sports talk radio station 680 the Fan picked the news up to be broadcast.  Almost in record time, the Atlanta Spirit issued another press release reiterating that the franchise is not for sale – I’m starting to become convinced that they just have a form letter that they ask a secretary to print out and mail to newspapers and the like.  For more in-depth analysis of how the Post rumor could or could not be legit, please to go to the Blueland Chronicle, who were the only site that mentioned this issue for a few days.  I would have, but I really tend to tune the “ZOMG THRASHERS ARE MOVING!!11!!” rumors out, and I was still recovering from writing 4 separate articles on the Halak trade for 4 different sites.

But I marinaded on this for a while, and good bud PCS (he of the weekend links on St. Louis Game Time) asked me my opinion on this TSN article detailing the refuting of the rumors – kudos to TSN for finding a photo with a full Philips, BTW.  Anywho, I’m sure he wanted a brief response.  Instead he got a bit more… which is after the jump.

I’ve actually hit the point that I wish that Atlanta Spirit’d sell the whole package.  I’m beyond tired of hearing these rumors every 2 seconds, and I’m pretty sure that they mostly spring from the fact that Atlanta Spirit is such a huge and dysfunctional organization.  A sale to a smaller ownership group who is stable would be much preferable, but in this economic climate it’s going to be hard to pull off.


Atlanta Spirit lost $20 million on the Hawks and $30 million on the Thrashers last year mostly due to massive mismanagement. Yes, the Hawks stumbled in the playoffs, but they had a solid season, and yet attendance was lacking. The Thrashers were much improved this year and had marketable players, and few came except for the first and last games, and those 2 games when Pittsburgh were here.

They have a reputation of being stingy when it comes to payroll – Dudley’s going to have a heck of a time getting the flexibility to spend that he had in Tampa Bay and Florida (and to a lesser degree, Chicago). He wants a top 6 guy during the free agent frenzy? Good luck in getting the Spirit to authorize any money for them. The only player they’ve ever said “throw money at him!” was Kovalchuk, and that was because they felt he was their only marketable asset. No, he was just the only one that they ever bothered to market.  The sudden appearance of Kane, Bogosian, Enstrom, Little, and Antropov all over Philips after the Olympic Break was a testament to that.

We need someone in here to run the team(s) correctly.  It’s difficult for Spirit to do so, not only because of the instability shown by the Belkin ordeal but also because each member of the group is in a different city.  They’re not sure how exactly to pull off turning the franchises’ futures around, because they’re preoccupied. We have owners who couldn’t find a marketing department that was smart enough to plaster Evander Kane’s mug everywhere around the city after he was drafted.  The only player they marketed was Ilya Kovalchuk, which won’t get too much interest in the team sport that hockey is.  “The Hockey Way?” What does that even mean?  We had a great in-arena video crew this year.  They couldn’t’ve been given some advertising dough to get a good TV spot or two?

Bettman mentioned the Spirit signing a no movement clause for the franchise for either 10 or 15 years – get someone who can run the franchise without outside distractions, reset the franchise’s direction, and keep it here in Atlanta.  This isn’t a knock on Bruce Levinson or any member of the group in particular, but this team needs commitment.


About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.