At the beginning of the season, Atlanta Thrasher fans watched our most promising player fall to the ice in a moment of sheer horror. The Atlanta Thrashers played on to beat the Washington Capitals for the first time in quite a while. We remained dominant with the Capitals all season. We witnessed Dustin Byfuglien, one of the ‘unsung heros’, who was a joke at the least when announced as a Defensive player instead of the familiar forward, we witnessed him leading the league in points most of the season. Andrew Ladd, named Captain of the team, showed, in every moment why he was nominated as the Captain.
The team battled, the team played on. And Atlanta Thrasher fans saw some of the best hockey from Atlanta in years. We even sat in first place in our division for a moment. Ondrej Pavelec came back after clearing tests and became one of the most dominating forces in front of the net in the NHL, second only to Tim Thomas. Eric Boulton got his first career Hat Trick, Ron Hainsey got his first career game winning goal and baby Stapes managed to rack up two of those.
This year the Atlanta Thrashers have been challenged like no other. Playing without Tobias Enstrom on multiple occasions now, battling through continuing line changes and most prominently, the never ending discussion about relocation. To say that the talk of sale, the lies by our ownership and the blatant knowledge that they truly just do not care for this team or these fans, was truly one of the most disappointing experiences of this season and I do credit a large chunk of our weaker days this season to them, the Atlanta Spirit Group.
Despite ASG’s attempts to constantly bring down this team, Duds worked hard and got us the likes of Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart. Adding Rob Schremp to the mix has added such enjoyment to the game and shows us, the fans that, no matter what rumors are running around, our team is in this for the long run. This season was a season of rebuilding and this season, more than once, we had the numbers in the arena to show we are a city that is eagerly watching this team re-build. We broke a huge barrier this season with more African American players on roster than any other team. We showed that we have every reason to be proud of them, that hockey IS a sport everyone can enjoy in Atlanta.
Today we learn who our 7th Man is. We learn who our MVP, voted by the fans is and we learn who is the Dan Snyder recipient for the 2010-2011 season. Today the puck will drop for the final time this season. Today the players will salute the fans in one final “brutally good time” and that will be it. There is no post season this year, though there were many moments of hopeful belief there would be. Then we will sit and wait and hopefully this summer there will be some magic in the Metro ATL. Hopefully someone with the right amount of money, the love of the game and the desire to bring Lord Stanley traipsing through the streets of downtown will put the money on the table and keep this team in Atlanta where it deserves to be.
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