Not all former Atlanta Thrashers players look down on Atlanta's hockey aptitude, despite Ben Eager's obvious disdain. Dany Heatley, one of the best players in franchise history and one who only left the city after a car wreck took the life of teammate Dan Snyder, isn't alleging Atlanta is flooded with NHL fans, but he did defend the team's core of support to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
All I can say is that there are a lot of great fans in Atlanta. A lot of great people that work for that organization and if they move it, it's going to be tough for a lot of people. You look at the city, I think there's five million people that live there. You think they could find some fans. All I know is that the fans that are there, the season-ticket holders when I was there, they were big hockey fans.
Ray Ferraro, who played center for Atlanta from 1999 to 2002, cited to LeBrun all the top talent the team has lost over the years, which would include Heatley. He also has a more insightful grasp of Atlanta's overall profile as a sports town than most Canadian or Northeastern media members do:
They've had zero success. Atlanta has had some really good players, they've hung on to none of them. ... In Atlanta, we had real good support early. But they've played four playoff games in 10 years. Who's going to go to games?
You looking for a college football ticket? You're not going to get one. You want to go to NASCAR? You're not going to get a ticket. It's a market with different priorities.
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