The Atlanta Thrashers will be back one night
The Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL moved to become the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. But next month they’ll hit the ice again in Georgia thanks to the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators, for one night only.
The Gladiators, minor league affiliate of the Coyotes of Arizonawill take on “the Thrashers persona” when they take on the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Dec. 16 in Duluth.
The Gladiators will wear limited edition Thrashers jerseys that will be auctioned off to fans after the game. Thrashers rally towels will be provided to all fans in attendance. They will also have Thrashers shirts and records for sale. Thrash, the mascot of the defunct NHL team, will make an appearance. The tape board’s video and graphics will be transformed into those of the Thrashers, attempting to recreate the “Blueland” atmosphere of the team’s home games in Atlanta.
Part of the shared history between the teams: Gladiators PA announcer Steve Craig was also the voice of the Thrashers.
The ECHL team has done “hockey heritage” nights before to honor teams like the NHL’s Atlanta Flames and the IHL’s Atlanta Knights. Anthony Schaff, the team’s director of game operations, had the idea to focus on the Thrashers if they could secure the rights to their intellectual property.
According to the Gladiators’ Mike Folta, the team initially contacted the Jets for clearance and was redirected to the NHL to gain access to the Thrashers’ intellectual property rights during a game. The team had to make a case to the NHL’s director of intellectual property for why they wanted to do the event and what was planned for it. The Gladiators’ request was made in May, and the NHL finally granted access in October.
Hopefully the Gladiators look like the Thrashers but don’t play like them. Atlanta finished over .500 in points percentage just three times from 1999, when the NHL expansion team entered the League, until 2011, when they left for Winnipeg. The Thrashers made the playoffs once, losing in a sweep against the New York Rangers in 2007.
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