It is no secret that the Atlanta Thrashers struggle to sell tickets. Despite their record that lands them 7th in the Eastern conference, the Thrashers average just under 12 thousand fans a game. So to put more fans in the stands the Thrashers' marketing division concocted an awesomely bad plot line:
The Thrasher's mascot, Thrash, has landed himself in jail. Why? He drove the Zamboni from practice rink to the home rink to drum up attention. Thrash was tailed by a few cops and then hauled off to the county jail and has been imprisoned. The judge has ruled that the only way to release Thrash is for the Thrashers to sell an additional 5 thousand tickets for the remaining of December home games.
Yes, this campaign is real. There are videos.
I do not know whether to feel bad for the Thrashers or Gary Bettman's expansion initiative, or the fans of Canada who are missing out on another team.
Actually, I feel bad for those Canadian fans, and I feel bad for the Thrashers. The Thrashers have scratched and crawled to become a solid NHL team and now that they are, they can't get fans. The fans in Canada up in Winnipeg, or Quebec, or even in London, have pleaded and begged for a team to watch but it has fallen on the deaf ears of the NHL. They deserve more.
I feel disgusted for Gary Bettman's manifest destiny. Some teams have succeeded, like the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning who have won cups. But losses need to be cut in Phoenix and Atlanta. They need to be moved to an area where they can fill the stands every night. The NHL fans deserve it, the hockey players who bust their ass deserve to play in front of more than empty seats, and the franchises workers deserve it too.
But Bettman can't relocate, or his mission may be seen as a failure. And what is more important than the state of the game? His reputation. He's not a hockey guy. He's a lawyer, he's a former National Basketball Association senior vice president. His legacy and his wallet are what matter to him, just like all people who become enamored with power.
Relocation would bring the game back to its roots, but it would mean that Gary's "bright idea" wasn't so bright. The NHL fluffs up the greatness of the expansion but little gimmicks like this to sell tickets show it's not working everywhere.
And that's why we have these ridiculous ticket selling schemes that are Bush League.