|Home Arena||Philips Arena|
|Colors||Atlanta Midnight Blue, Thrasher Ice Blue, Georgia Bronze, Capitol Copper, Peachtree Gold and White
WCNN (680 AM)
|Owner(s)||Atlanta Spirit, LLC|
|General Manager||Rick Dudley|
|Head Coach||Craig Ramsay|
|Minor League Affiliates||Chicago Wolves (AHL)|
Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL)
|Division Championships||1 (2006–07)|
The Atlanta Thrashers were a professional ice hockey team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are members of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). Since the team's inception, their home games have been played at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta. The Thrashers have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs once in their ten seasons in the NHL, during the 2006–07 season.
The nickname "Thrashers", after Georgia's state bird, the brown thrasher, was selected from a fan poll. "Thrashers" had actually been runner-up to "Flames" for Atlanta's first NHL team and Philips Arena, the Thrashers' new home, was built on the site of the former Omni, which had been home to the Flames. By coincidence, the first encampment (circa 1839) which would later become Atlanta was called Thrasherville, and a historical marker of this is located just down from the arena in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
The newly-formed Thrashers selected Patrik Štefan with the first overall selection and Luke Sellars with their thirtieth overall pick (second pick of the second round) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. However, the entire 1999 NHL Entry Draft was a major disappointment for the Thrashers, as only one of their eleven draft picks (Garnet Exelby, selected in the eighth round, 217th overall) continues to play in the NHL as of 2009. Their first two picks (Štefan and Sellars) were called two of the biggest disappointments in draft history; NHL.com listed Štefan as the worst first overall pick of all-time and Sellars as the worst thirtieth overall pick in NHL history. This was a major surprise as not only was Štefan hyped by the media to be a franchise player, but Thrashers GM Don Waddell was considered by hockey experts as a man with excellent scouting ability.
The Thrashers played their first game on October 2, 1999, losing 4–1 to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the New Jersey Devils. Captain Kelly Buchberger scored the franchise's first goal in the loss. The team went on to finish their first season in last place with a record of 14 wins, 61 losses and 7 ties for a total of 39 points. The team ended up with the number 2 pick in the next draft, which brought better results for the team. With the second overall pick they chose Dany Heatley, who went on to become one of the Thrashers best players until he was traded to the Ottawa Senators on August 23, 2005, for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries.
The Early Years (2003-2006)
On September 21, 2003, the team was sold to a group of Atlanta Spirit, LLC by Time Warner, along with the National Basketball Association's Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta Spirit consists of Bruce Levenson, Ed Pestkowitz, Rutherford Seydel, Beau Turner, Michael Gearon, Sr., Michael Gearon, Jr., Felix Riccio and Steve Belkin.
That same month brought tragedy as just eight days later, star forward Dany Heatley crashed his Ferrari in a one-car accident that seriously injured him (broken jaw and arm, sprained wrist, torn ACL and MCL) and severely injured Thrashers center Dan Snyder, who died five days later due to infection stemming from the accident. The Thrashers dedicated their 2003–04 NHL season in Snyder's memory. Heatley's blood alcohol content was far below the legal limit, but his combination of speeding (he was driving an estimated 80 miles per hour) and recklessness led to criminal charges (eventually settled with three years' probation and a penalty of community service).
Thrashers players wore black patches with Snyder's number, 37, on their jerseys. At the end of the season, Heatley requested a trade for personal reasons. Heatley was traded to Ottawa in a move that brought Marian Hossa, a four-time 30 goal scorer at the time of the trade, to Atlanta.
Led by captain Shawn McEachern, the Thrashers jumped quickly out of the gate with some notable highlights. Ilya Kovalchuk scored eight goals in the first seven games, including two hat tricks, one in a 7–2 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks and another in a come-from-behind victory against the Nashville Predators. Those comeback victories became a recurring sight throughout the season, including shocking upsets against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, and the Ottawa Senators, as well as wins from games against the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Islanders.
Eleven games into the season, the Thrashers were alone in first place atop both the Southeast Division the NHL. Although they continued to play well, they could not keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the eventual Stanley Cup champions, or other teams in the league. The absence of Heatley and a lack of depth started to appear. Boxing Day 2003 marked both a bright and dark day for the Thrash. On that day, Heatley skated for the first time since his car accident with Snyder, but it also marked the last win for the Thrashers before an extended losing streak. From December 28 to February 11 the Thrashers went a dismal 1–17–3. However, fans were entertained regardless of the team's struggles. Kovalchuk became only the second Thrashers' player to score in the NHL All-Star Game (after Heatley).
While the Thrashers' playoff hopes were done for the year, they still played on and ended up finishing second in the Southeast Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference, only a handful of wins away from the playoffs. Kovalchuk ended up tying for the league lead in goals (41) with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen started his NHL career with four wins in four starts, including one shutout.
Before the start of the 2005–06 season, the Thrashers picked up many veteran players in the hopes of making the playoffs. They signed Mike Dunham, Peter Bondra, Bobby Holik, Jaroslav Modry, and Scott Mellanby. They traded Dany Heatley on August 23, 2005, to the Ottawa Senators, in a blockbuster deal for forward Marian Hossa and defenseman Greg de Vries.
The 2005–06 season saw the Thrashers win a club-record 41 games, even with numerous goaltending injuries. Only a few minutes into the first game of the season, Lehtonen pulled his groin, an injury that would keep him out for a good portion of the season. Veteran backup Mike Dunham, an experienced number-one net minder, stepped in, but also promptly injured himself only a few games later; this left only prospects Michael Garnett and Adam Berkhoel to mind the nets. Journeyman goalie Steve Shields was signed, but he too was injured within ten games. On April 6, Lehtonen was run into by Tampa Bay's Chris Dingman, injuring him yet again. The remainder of the season was left to Dunham. Garnett was injured in a game against the Washington Capitals. Dunham, who had started the game but was relieved by the young rookie after poor play, was forced back into action in the third period.
First Taste of Success (2006–07 season)
The Atlanta Thrashers 2006–07 season began with the highest expectations in franchise history, even with the offseason loss of their second leading scorer, Marc Savard to the Boston Bruins. Veteran center, Steve Rucchin, Niko Kapanen, and Jon Sim were acquired in hopes help fill the Savard loss. With NHL superstars Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk and a healthy goaltender, Kari Lehtonen, the Thrashers clinched the first playoff berth and won the Southeast Division claiming the #3 seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. However, they were eliminated from the playoffs on April 18, being swept by the New York Rangers in four straight games in the Quarterfinals.
Just months after reaching the playoffs for the first time, the Thrashers started off 0–6. Consequently, the Thrashers fired coach Bob Hartley on October 17, 2007, he was replaced on an interim basis by the general manager Don Waddell. The Thrashers ended the season with only 76 points, finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference.
January 27, 2008, The NHL All-Star Game was played for the first time in Philips Arena matching the Eastern Conference All-Stars vs. the Western Conference All-Stars with the East winning 8–7 on former Thrasher Marc Savard scoring the game winner late in the third period. Savard spurned Atlanta for a 2–year deal with Boston after the 2005–06 season but was cheered on by the crowd the entire night. The game was originally scheduled for the 2004–05 season but due to the lockout, 2008 was the next available date.
On June 20, 2008, John Anderson was named as the fourth head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. In his first season, the Thrashers matched their 2007-08 season with 76 points, while finishing 13th in the Eastern Confrence. On November 3, 2008, during the 2008-09 season, a Maryland court began proceedings on February 17, to decide the fate of the Thrashers' ownership. A dispute between Steve Belkin and his seven fellow owners dated back to 2005. Belkin claimed the other owners breached their contract, giving him the right to buy them out at cost, while his counterparts said they should be able to buy out Belkin's 30% stake.
In the final year of his contract, Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers could not come to an agreement on an extension. Thrashers general manager Don Waddell reportedly offered 12-year, $101 million and seven-year, $70 million contracts, both of which Kovalchuk turned down. Rather than potentially losing him to free agency in the off-season, Kovalchuk was traded on February 4, 2010, to the New Jersey Devils. Atlanta received defenceman Johnny Oduya, rookie forward Niclas Bergfors and junior prospect Patrice Cormier, and a first round selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Kovalchuk and defenceman Anssi Salmela; the teams also traded second round selections in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Thrashers finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, with 83 points.
A Change in Direction
On April 14th, 2010, 3 days after the finish of the 2009-10 season and after 2 unsuccessful attempts at making the playoffs, Coach John Anderson's contract was not renewed. His coaching staff also did not receive contract renewals. Former General Manager Don Waddell was promoted to President of Hockey Operations, Rick Dudley former Assistant GM was promoted to General Manager. This marked the first GM change in Atlanta Thrashers history.
Dudley made his first trade as General Manager on June 23, 2010. It was a major trade, a nine-player trade (including picks) with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Thrashers receive Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel and Akim Aliu for Marty Reasoner, Joseph Crabb, Jeremy Morin, the Thrashers' 1st-round pick (#24 overall) in 2010 and the Thrashers 2nd-round pick (#54 overall) in 2010. Later, the Thrashers also traded for Blackhawk Andrew Ladd, while sending prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy, and a draft pick to Chicago. The Blackhawks, 2010 Stanley Cup champions, found it necessary to trade players for prospects and picks as they were in difficulty with the salary cap.
The next day, the team named Craig Ramsay as the new head coach. Ramsay, who had been an assistant coach for the Boston Bruins for the previous three seasons, had played with Dudley with the Buffalo Sabres during his playing career. In the following weeks the Thrashers hired an Associate coach, John Torchetti, and a Assistant coach, Mike Stothers. The team also hired Clint Malarchuk as the team’s goaltending consultant.
Team Colors and Mascot
The last team colors were ice blue, navy blue, red, and gold. In 2003, the NHL decided to switch home and road jerseys. In 2007, Reebok came out with the new jerseys as part of the rollout of the RBK Edge Uniform System. The piping only changed for the Thrasher's jerseys. Atlanta unveiled its new third jersey, red with white and gold trim on October 10, 2008.
The team's mascot was Thrash, a Brown Thrasher which is also the official state bird of Georgia.
The Thrashers fan base and Philips Arena were referred to as "Blueland."
Statistics and Records
- Most goals in a season: Ilya Kovalchuk, 52 (2005–06), (2007–08)
- Most assists in a season: Marc Savard, 69 (2005–06)
- Most points in a season: Marian Hossa, 100 (2006–07)
- Most penalty minutes in a season: Jeff Odgers, 226 (2000–01)
- Most points in a season, defenseman: Tobias Enstrom, 50 (2009–10)
- Most points in a season, rookie: Dany Heatley, 67 (2001–02)
- Most wins in a season: Kari Lehtonen, 34 (2006–07)
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Thrashers. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Atlanta Thrashers seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|2005–06||82||41||33||8||90||281||275||1318||3rd, Southeast||Did not qualify|
|2006–07||82||43||28||11||97||246||245||1097||1st, Southeast||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals, 0–4 (Rangers)|
|2007–08||82||34||40||8||76||216||272||1077||4th, Southeast||Did not qualify|
|2008–09||82||35||41||6||76||257||280||1244||4th, Southeast||Did not qualify|
|2009–10||82||35||34||13||83||234||256||1053||2nd, Southeast||Did not qualify|
Updated January 28, 2011.
Hall of Famers: No member of the Thrashers were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- 37 Dan Snyder, number taken out of circulation after death in September 2003.
- 99 Wayne Gretzky, number retired league-wide February 6, 2000
Franchise Scoring Leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Thrashers player
NHL Awards and Records
- Ilya Kovalchuk: 2003–04 (shared with Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets)
The Atlanta Thrashers are broadcast on cable television on SportSouth, which is available in many Deep South states. Until October 13, 2006, SportSouth was known as Turner South. In 2009–10, the channel will broadcast about 75% of the team's schedule. Broadcasts are occasionally available on Fox Sports South, which will air one game in 2009–10. Outside of the league's contract with NBC, the team has no broadcast (over-the-air) TV contract; thus, games are only available on television to fans with cable or satellite.
Radio coverage includes play-by-play of all games on 680 The Fan—an AM sports station in Atlanta. The station is the flagship of a network that includes 18 stations. Most are in Georgia, but there are two affiliates in South Carolina and one in Scottsboro, Alabama.
- Matt McConnell: television play-by-play
- Darren Eliot: television color analyst
- Dan Kamal: radio play-by-play
- Atlanta Flames
- List of NHL players
- List of NHL seasons
- List of NHL franchise post-season droughts
- Georgia’s Own Credit Union 3 Stars of the Year Award
- Thrasherville historical marker.
- Atlanta Thrashers Draft History at Hockey Database.
- Kreiser, John (2009-06-15). The best picks ever, No. 1-30. NHL.com. Retrieved on 2009-06-25.
- Karol, Kristofer (2003-01-27). NHL 'quacked' up with hockey jersey switch. State News. Retrieved on 2006–08–30.
- Thrashers Unveil Third Jerseys (2008-10-08). Retrieved on 2008-10-10., including a photo timeline of Thrashers jerseys.
- Atlanta Thrashers - Team - Roster. Atlanta Thrashers. Retrieved on 2011-01-28.
- "Thrashers and SportSouth Announce 61-Game TV Schedule for 2009-2010", Atlanta Thrashers, 2009-09-04. Retrieved on 2009-09-04.