In order for a franchise to be financially successful, it typically needs to enjoy at least some degree of on-ice success. That’s something the Atlanta Thrashers never had going for it.
From the day they were created to the day the franchise moved to Winnipeg, they never won a single postseason game. They only ever finished a season with more than 90 points once despite selecting Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk in the 2000 and 2001 NHL Entry Drafts respectively.
Perhaps most telling is that during the 2009-10 campaign, when Kovalchuk’s contract was nearing it’s expiration, the Thrashers offered him a deal worth $101 million over 12 years and a separate $70 million, seven-year deal.
Kovalchuk was in his eighth season as the member of the Atlanta Thrashers and he wanted out. It wasn’t that the Thrashers couldn’t afford to keep him, it’s that the superstar wanted to go elsewhere. So, after trying to help the Thrashers get out of their endless rebuilding process since just a couple of seasons after their inception, the Atlanta Thrashers traded him to the New Jersey Devils. They ended up playing just one season without Kovalchuk before the entire team moved north.
That’s the sad story of the Atlanta Thrashers, summed up in a handful of paragraphs. A team that never got going. It now falls to the new ownership in Winnipeg to reverse the franchise’s fortunes.