Former Atlanta Flames goaltender Dan Bouchard returned to radio to blast the ownership of the Atlanta Thrashers and to stick up for the market as a potentially successful one. He was on Breakaway with Gord Stelleck on XM Home Ice radio yesterday afternoon to discuss Atlanta, and had some interesting news - especially regarding why the Flames moved. Owner Tom Cousins, according to Bouchard, blew the whistle on some pension plan raiding by ownership groups, plus there was a bit of a Calgary Olympic tie in. Apparently moving the Flames was planned well in advance, with nothing that the fans could do.
Of course, there're also rumors floating around that the same arrangements are true for the Thrashers - that the Board of Governors have already agreed to move, that this deal's been in the works for a while.
Whatever the reason, Bouchard didn't like Atlanta moving the first time, and he's not fond of the Thrashers moving now.
He had several interesting quotes regarding what is going on here right now, and how the Atlanta Spirit has mis-managed the team from their first day. He believes that Atlanta could swing the hockey better than most pundits have. He pointed out that the Flames were subsiding the Hawks and were also drawing better than the Minnesota North Stars and the Colorado Rockies, two teams that also were forced to relocate. The relocation had nothing to do with the support, it had to do with winning and having dedicated ownership. That's the difference in Atlanta - not the sport, but the record.
The Thrashers, according to Bouchard, started on the "wrong foot." It's remained hopping on that foot for a while. The City of Atlanta and the surrounding counties haven't built rinks; they haven't made a connection to the Flames. They wouldn't even bother with hiring Bouchard for more than a day a week to help out with the goalie coaching.
"From the word go, the goodwill of building a winner was never there," he says.
What does that have to do with the fans? How is not building links to hockey's past in the city the fans' fault? There's a reason that so many of the Flames have returned to Atlanta - heck, former forward Tim Ecclestone even has a bar, TJ's, in Alpharetta. It's hosted many get-togethers for the over 900 member strong Atlanta Thrashers' Fan Club.
Which, since Atlanta fans care so little, has to be a joke. Right? Wrong. With 900 members and growing, it is the biggest in the league.
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