Leave my Thrashers alone

The year was 1969, I was a freckled-face 5-year-old who wanted to be just like Dad.

That meant I had to love sports too.

All sports.

Yes, even hockey.

Dad helped whet my appetite, and put me on the path to being a sports junkie when he took me to a playoff game between the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins in the old St. Louis Arena.

I don't remember that much about the game, and I certainly didn't understand the sport, but I got to see the great Boston Bruin Bobby Orr play against St. Louis, and it's star, Gary Unger.

Getting to see Bobby Orr play hockey was a little bit like watching Michael Jordan play basketball.

Orr wore No. 4 and was a great all- around player. He could skate past opponents with ease, and put the puck in the back of the net with the best players of his era.

One Christmas, Santa Clause brought me a pair of Bobby Orr ice skates.

I have loved hockey ever since. There is something about the speed of the game that's addicting, especially if you see it live and in person.

The year my father's company moved us to Philadelphia, the Flyers won their second straight Stanley Cup with captain Bobby Clark leading the way.

The Flyers beat most of their opponents, and could fight their way to a victory, earning the nickname the "Broadstreet Bullies."

Who could forget the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" when a bunch of upstart college players, including my favorites, goalie Jim Craig and captain Mike Eruzione beat those nasty Russians in the Olympics.

Then there's the Atlanta Thrashers, the hockey team I now follow.

The team flies under the radar of most sports fans in this city.

Rumor has it, Atlanta's second experiment with the game played on frozen water (remember the Flames) is about to melt here in the south's largest city. If it does, I doubt it will ever comeback, and that's a shame.

There are great hockey fans in this town, and they deserve better.

Some websites even have the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg as early as next year.

General manager Don Wadell says no way,

I say, I hope he's right.

Yes, the Thrashers are in need of a fix. The squad has only made the playoffs once in its decade long history, losing all four games to the New York Rangers in the playoffs.

They seem to have an ownership that is apathetic at best.

Most recently the team traded lya Kovalchuk to New Jersey. Kovalchuck was the face of the franchise who was going to be free agent at the end of this year.

To keep him in Atlanta, the Thashers were going to have to dig deep, especially when he turned down a $100-million over 12 years.

Simply put, he didn't want to be here. So good riddance.

More than anything else, this franchise has had some bad luck. Dany Heatly could have been a star for this team, but when he was involved in a car accident that killled teammate Dan Snyder, his fate was sealed. Heatly was not legally drunk, but did admit to drinking before the horrible crash.

He received three years probation and decided to continue his career elsewhere.

Patrik Stefan never lived up all the hype. Stefan was the team's first pick ever No. 1 pick and was expected to lead the Thrashers to greatness. After six year he was traded to Dallas.

Today, he is retired from the game, and long removed from Atlanta.

Marián Hossa was also expected to be a quick fix, coming over to the Thrashers when the team traded Heatly to Ottawa. Hossa was a fan favorite, but he didn't stay long either.

The list goes on, and so are the excuses that go with it.

But the past is the past. Wishful thinking would give us new ownership., who would guarantee the Thrashers were going to have a long and happy life in Atlanta,

Still, Atlanta fans need to look toward the future with guys like Maxim Afinogenov, Colby Armstrong, Evander Kane and goalie Johan Hedberg just to name the few.

Once the NHL's two-week Olympic hiatus ends the Thrashers will make a run at just their second playoff spot.

Right now they are on the bubble.

Let's hope they make it.

The franchise needs something good to happen, and a trip to the playoffs might just end all this talk about moving the team out of Atlanta.

After all the Atlanta Thrashers, sounds so much beter than the Winnipeg Thrashers.

Don't you think?