If you missed 680 the Fan's interview with Atlanta Thrashers co-owner Michael Gearon, here's a link.
Interesting interview. Despite the doom and gloom of the AJC interview with Chris Vivlamore, Michael Gearon Jr. tried to paint a franchise that isn’t in panic mode. Right off the bat, John Kincade asked about the timing of the announcement, and right away, Gearon tried to spin it and blame it on the lawsuits that the ownership group have been trapped in for five years. He stated that their hands have been tied by all of this but now it’s not. No explanation as to why the ownership group decided to release this information after the signing of Byfuglien and with the team trying to fight for a playoff spot – which is probably what Kincade meant.
When asked about if the ownership had been trying to sell the team, again the lawsuit and their hands being tied were mentioned, and then Gearon inexplicably tossed out the fact that they were able to get Joe Johnson. Absolutely nothing was said regarding the Thrashers – and this was a trend throughout the interview. Kincade would try to ask him a legit question regarding the issues, and Gearon’d stumble over his words or just randomly start talking about the Atlanta Hawks for ten minutes. Apparently that’s his comfort zone.
He did mention that they needed more fan support. The Thrashers have fan support, it’s a matter of the ownership needs more fans’ money to justify running the team. If you were to put a winning product consistently on the ice and give the team some stability, that might come.
He managed to mention the fact that the Thrashers came out of the lockout five years ago with the highest payroll in the league as evidence that they aren’t running anything on a budget. He failed to mention that currently the Thrashers are running on the lowest payroll in the NHL.
Most pointedly, Kincade asked Gearon if he could guarantee that the team wouldn’t be moving, and the response was a stock answer about dedication to the team. The best quality quote, though, is this one:
I’m not hitting a panic button here and I apologize if it came out that way. I want to set the record straight and get the fans and community on board with us.
I think that Joe Yeardon of ProHockeyTalk hit the nail on the head with this tweet:
Sounds to me like someone got an urgent call from the commissioner to knock it off with the doom and gloom talk.