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The playoff run by the Winnipeg Jets has ripped the bandages off some old wounds in their former home.
Hockey fans in Atlanta – yes [url=http://www.buccaneerscheapstore.com/vita-vea-jersey-cheap]Cheap Vita Vea Jersey[/url] , they actually exist – are still bitter about the way they lost the Thrashers seven years ago , a move that deprived this city of a team for the second time and probably any chance of ever again being a member of the NHL club.
In the A-T-L, a popular refrain of the postseason seems to be A-B-T-J.
Anybody But The Jets.
”I won’t support the Jets,” former Thrashers fan Fred Johnson wrote in an email. ”In fact, I’d like to see their fans suffer for a lot longer like we did.”
Instead of suffering, the Jets and their fans are thriving . Winnipeg reached the Western Conference final against the Vegas Golden Knights – a sort of double-whammy for Atlantans, who have seen what their former team could have been while getting a tantalizing glimpse of what a well-run expansion franchise can do its very first season.
Founded in 1999, the Thrashers managed just 14 wins and 39 points in their debut year, which remains the worst full-schedule total in almost a quarter-century. The Golden Knights piled up 51 wins and 109 points, captured a division title and were just two wins away from playing for the Stanley Cup going into Game 4 of their series against the Jets on Friday night.
”It’s not hard to feel like just yesterday Atlanta was an expansion team,” said another Thrashers fan, Tiffany Burns. ”I couldn’t have imagined how surreal it would have been to be a part of something so successful so quick.”
In contrast to the Golden Knights, the Thrashers never really had a chance in Atlanta, doomed by a bickering group of owners who spent more time suing each other than caring about what was happening on the ice, clueless management and inept coaching [url=http://www.seahawkscheapstore.com/rashaad-penny-jersey-cheap]Rashaad Penny Seahawks Jersey[/url] , and a roster perennially low on talent.
The lone highlight came in 2007, when the team captured the Southeast Division title and finally made the playoffs for the first (and only) time.
The euphoria didn’t last long.
The Thrashers were swept in four straight games by the New York Rangers. Atlanta began the following season with six consecutive losses, leading to the firing of coach Bob Hartley, and the dismantling of the franchise commenced a few months later.
In what became an all-too-familiar scenario, the frugal Thrashers dealt away Marian Hossa rather than lose him as a free agent – one of many horrible deals engineered by general manager Don Waddell, who somehow kept his job throughout the Thrashers’ entire existence without ever really demonstrating that he knew what he was doing.
Anyone remember Angelo Esposito, a supposed top prospect who was acquired in the Hossa deal?
The Thrashers always seemed to operate under a dark cloud, most tragically exhibited in 2003 when star player Dany Heatley lost control of his Ferrari on a narrow Atlanta street, struck a wall at high speed and killed teammate Dan Snyder . Heatley recovered but was never the same, eventually requesting a trade so he could get a fresh start elsewhere.
The Thrashers soon followed Heatley’s lead. In 2011, after a proposed move of the bankrupt Phoenix franchise to Winnipeg fell apart, the NHL quickly engineered a deal to send Atlanta’s team north in place of the Coyotes , collecting a hefty relocation fee and ridding themselves of another troublesome franchise.
While it’s impossible to deny that the team has been more embraced by hockey-mad Winnipeg than it ever was in Atlanta, this city’s fans have long gotten a bum rap that goes all the way back to its first NHL team.
Yes, the Flames lasted only eight years in Atlanta before moving to Calgary in 1980. But they averaged more than 10 [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/josh-allen-jersey]Josh Allen Jersey[/url] ,000 fans every season (not a sure thing in those days) and outdrew the NBA’s Hawks every year but their last. That franchise was largely doomed by the economics of the late 1970s.
For the Thrashers, it was a similar story.
They averaged more than 17,000 in their debut season despite putting one of the worst teams in modern NHL history on the ice. But the franchise was essentially doomed when it was sold to a group known as Atlanta Spirit (what a malicious example of false advertising that was).
The new owners wanted only the Hawks and Phillips Arena. Almost immediately, they began trying to pawn off the Thrashers. Not surprisingly, no one was interested in acquiring a team that would have to rent an arena from an increasingly dysfunctional group. As the losses mounted, reportedly in the range of $130 million, Atlanta Spirit began looking for another way out. When the Winnipeg offer came along, there was no real attempt to keep the team in Atlanta.
Through all the turmoil, the Thrashers never ranked at the bottom of the NHL in attendance. In fact, the average from their gloomy final year would have beaten out three teams this season.
Many Thrashers fans are still upset about being ridiculed for a perceived lack of support after the team moved. And unlike the Flames, who retained their name and some sense of their Atlanta history after moving to Calgary (and were largely cheered by their former fans for winning the Stanley Cup in 1989), the Jets made a clean break with their past.
Johnson, the former Thrashers fan, recalls the vitriol when the move was announced. He said some Jets fans who trolled the Thrashers’ message boards belittled Thrashers fans as ”worthless” and said the team would now win the Stanley Cup in Winnipeg because that’s where ”real fans” were.
”They had no idea about the dysfunctional management,” When New York Knicks president Steve Mills and the basketball operations department studied their roster and the players available to them in the NBA draft [url=http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/odell-beckham-jr-jersey]Odell Beckham Jr Giants Jersey[/url] , they came to the same conclusions.
The Knicks lacked talent, and needed a player with the flexibility to play in multiple spots.
Kevin Knox checked off those boxes. And so the decision-makers were comfortable using the ninth pick Thursday night on the 18-year-old forward.
”We were set,” Mills said at the team’s training facility. He called Knox a ”perfect fit for how we want to play.”
Knox played one season at Kentucky, where he led the Wildcats in scoring at 15.8 points per game and 3-pointers with 57. Mills said the Knicks held ”two or three different conversations” with John Calipari, Knox’s coach at Kentucky.
The Knicks ”did our research,” Mills said. ”(We) did our due diligence.”
Knox shared the SEC’s Freshman of the Year award with Alabama guard Collin Sexton, who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was also an AP Honorable Mention on the All-America team.
At 6-foot-9 and 215 pounds, Knox shot .445 from the field, and .341 from 3-point range.
”He fits what we’re going to be about,” Knicks GM Scott Perry said. ”He’s long, he’s athletic, he can play multiple positions, we think he has tremendous upside. He’s coming from a program in Kentucky that’s produced a lot of great pros.
”We thought Kevin was an excellent fit for what we’re trying to get done here.”
New York is coming off a 29-53 season as it tries to rebuild. The franchise’s cornerstone piece, Kristaps Porzingis [url=http://www.sanfrancisco49ersteamonline.com/reuben-foster-jersey]Reuben Foster Jersey Youth[/url] , the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in February and it isn’t known if he will play this season.
New York has only nine players under contract, after reserve center Kyle O’Quinn opted out of the last year of his $4.3 million contract Wednesday, although starting center Enes Kanter could opt out of his $18.6 million contract on June 29. Joakim Noah, who was banished from the team following an incident with then-coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice in Denver, is still under contract and is slated to earn $18.53 million next season.
While it is unlikely that the Knicks will be a playoff team next spring, Perry pushed back against the notion that the selection of Knox over Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. was a symbolic waiving of the white flag on the 2018-19 season.
”There’s a lot of talented young people in this draft,” Perry said of Knox, who is the youngest player the Knicks have drafted since Michael Sweetney in 2003. ”We just thought Kevin separated himself for us.”
The Knicks’ youth movement continued in the second round as the team used the 36th overall pick on Mitchell Robinson. The 20-year old is listed at 6-11 and 225 pounds, but did not play college basketball despite having committed to Western Kentucky University.
As a senior at Chalmette High School in Chalmette, Louisiana, Robinson averaged 19.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 7.9 blocks. He played in the 2017 McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games, which are showcases for the pre-eminent high school players in the country.
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