1999/00: Nearly 20 years after the Flames left for Calgary, the NHL returned to the city of Atlanta with an expansion team owned by media mogul Ted Turner named Thrashers. The Thrashers played their first game before a sold-out crowd at Philips Arena on October 2nd, losing to the New Jersey Devils 4-1, as Kelly Buchberger scored the first goal in franchise history. The Thrashers would get their first win nearly two weeks later when Damian Rhodes blanked the New York Islanders 2-0 on the road. The Thrashers would until October 23rd when they beat the Calgary Flames in their return to Atlanta 2-1. However, wins would hardly come in bunches as Andrew Brunette led the team in scoring with a modest 50 points as the Thrashers finished last in the Southeast Division with an NHL worst record of 14-61-7-4.
2000/01: Veteran Ray Ferraro has a solid season to lead the Thrashers in scoring with 76 points as Donald Audette scores 32 goals, before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. However, the Thrashers would continue to struggle to win games as they narrowly avoided finishing in last place with an awful 23-45-12-2 record.
2001/02: Despite languishing in last place with a league-worst 19-54-11 record, Thrashers fan had plenty to be excited about as a dynamic duo of rookies Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk both made their debuts. Kovalchuk got the early attention as he stole the show in the Young Stars game on NHL All-Star Weekend. However, an injury to Kovalchuk would shift the focus to Dany Heatley, who would beat out his teammate in scoring on the Thrashers while winning the Calder Trophy with 26 goals and 41 assists. Despite the injury, Ilya Kovalchuk would also have impressive first-year numbers at 29 goals and 22 assists.
2002/03: Despite continued exciting play from their dynamic young stars Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk the Thrashers got off to a terrible start as they went winless through their first ten games, as they struggled to find a consistent goalie. The Thrashers’ struggles would continue into Christmas when Coach Curt Fraser is fired with the Thrashers sitting in last place with a terrible 8-20-1-3 record. Under General Manager Don Waddell, who served as interim coach, the Thrashers played mediocre hockey posting a 4-4-1 record before Bob Hartley is hired on January 14th. Under Hartley, the Thrashers would play much better hockey as they posted a 19-14-5-1 record in the final three months to finish in third place with a record of 31-39-7-5. Along the way, Dany Heatley became as hockey’s brightest young star winning the All-Star Game MVP with four goals as he finished his second season with 41 goals and 48 assists.
2003/04: After finishing the previous season on a strong note, the Thrashers entered camp full of optimism. However, before the season even began, it was all replaced with sorrow as young star Dany Heatley and Dan Snyder were involved in an ugly car accident. Snyder would later succumb to his injuries as Heatley suffered a knee injury while facing felony charges for his reckless driving. As the Thrashers started the season with heavy hearts, they played well, not losing any games in regulation through their first seven games. The Thrashers continued to play well through December, holding a 19-13-3-1 record on December 26th. However, as the New Year started, the Thrashers began to struggle to win just two of their next 21 games. Not even the return of Dany Heatley could help the falling Thrashers who would end up missing the playoffs again with a record of 33-37-8-4, which landed them second in the Southeast Division. Slowed by the knee injury suffered in the car accident, Heatley would only score 13 goals in 31 games, while Ilya Kovalchuk led the way with 41 points and 46 assists.
2004/05: Season Cancelled Due to Lock Out
2005/06: After the Thrashers emerged from the lockout, they were forced to almost start from scratch as they traded Danny Heatley to the Ottawa Senators for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries, while trying to bridge the gap left behind with veteran free agents like Bobby Holik and Peter Bondra. The new-look Thrashers would get off to a terrible start posting a 3-8 record in October as Goalie Kari Lehtonen was injured early in the season opener against the Florida Panthers. The Thrashers would begin to play better in November as Michael Garnett came up from the IHL and played solid in the nets, helping to get them back to .500 as Lehtonen returned at the end of December. January would be an up and down month for the Thrashers as they won 7 of 8 but lost it all back with seven straight losses as they went into the Olympic Break at 26-26-6. The rest of the way, the Thrashers, would be in a dog fight for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as Ilya Kovalchuk became the first Thrasher to score more than 50 goals at 52. However, the Thrashers would fall two points short in the postseason goal posting a winning record at 41-33-8.
2006/07: The Thrashers were able to carry over their strong finish, as they won seven of their first nine games, as Goalie Khari Lehtonen was healthy and playing well. The Thrasher would lead the Southeast Division most of the season, as Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk provided the perfect 1-2 punch leading the Thrashers in goals with 43 and 42, respectively. Despite a rough February the Thrashers continued to be kings of the South, earning their first playoff berth, while winning a division title with a record of 43-28-11, as their 97 points marked a franchise-best. For the first time since 1980, when the Atlanta Flames heated up the ice at the Omni, NHL hockey came to Atlanta, as the Thrashers faced the New York Rangers. The buzz and the excitement that filled Phillips Arena was quickly quieted as the Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The rest of the way, the Rangers kept the Thrashers at arm’s length, taking the opener 4-3. In Game 2, the Rangers scored first again, as the pesky Sean Avery scored midway through the first period. After a scoreless second period, the Thrashers would tie the game early in the third period. However, Avery would set up Brendan Shanahan for the game-winning goal with 4:01 left to give the Rangers a 2-1 win. The Thrashers would not recover as they were blown out in the final two games in New York, sweeping the Thrashers in four straight.
2007/08: Coming off their disappointing playoff sweep, the Thrashers would stumble out of the gate losing their first six games, as Coach Bob Hartley was fired on October 17th, and replaced by General Manager Don Waddell on an interim basis. In Waddle’s first game behind the bench, the Thrashers would get a little revenge against the New York Rangers earned their first win of the series by beating the team that swept them in the playoffs 5-3. The Thrashers would win seven of their first ten games after the coaching change, but it was only a temporary boost as the Thrashers continued to struggle through December and entered 2008 with a mediocre 19-20-1. In January, things would not get much better as the Thrashers managed just five wins, spoiling the excitement in Atlanta as they hosted the NHL All-Star Game. As February began, the Thrashers made a move and got back into the playoff picture with six wins in an eight-game stretch. However, just as quickly, it would all fall apart as they lost their next eight games. With the trade deadline, the Thrashers would deal away Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and a first-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. Wins would be scarce the rest of the way as the Thrashers finished the season with a disappointing record of 34-40-8.
2008/09: Coming off a disappointing season, the Thrashers again got off to a bad start as they won just two of their first 11 games, despite a solid 7-4 win over the Washington Capitals on opening night. With Johan Hedberg taking over from Kari Lehtonen in goal, the Thrashers enjoyed a five-game winning streak. Still, streaks like that were the exception rather than the rule, as the Thrashers held a terrible 12-21-5 record entering the New Year. With such a deep hole dug for them, the Thrashers who off the ice had owners fighting it out in court for control of the team would never factor in the playoff race. They would enjoy a six-game winning streak in March, but it was not enough to salvage another lost season, as they finished in fourth place in the Southeast Division with a 35-41-6 record. Despite the awful season Ilya Kovalchuk continued his solid play, ranking fourth in the NHL with 43 goals.
2009/10: With Captain Ilya Kovalchuk set to be a free agent, the Thrashers looked to lock up their top star for years to come. However, Kovalchuk turned down offers of 12 years for $101 million and seven years for $70 million. As the Thrashers tried to sign him to an extension was once again off to a strong start averaging more than a point a game. The Thrashers would play well early, as they held a 14-7-3 record at the end of November. However, as December arrived, the Thrashers struggled to post a 4-13-1 record over their next eight games, which included a nine-game losing streak that took them into the New Year. While the Thrashers played better in January, they began to access their options with Ilya Kovalchuk, as February arrived and no deal was in sight General Manager Don Waddell decided to a make a deal, sending Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils on February 4th along with Anssi Salmela for Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, and Patrice Cormier along with a first-round draft pick. The Thrashers would go into the Olympic Break with a 26-24-10 record. The Thrashers would close the season playing inconsistent hockey the remainder of the year as they again missed the playoffs despite finishing second in the Southeast Division, with a record of 35-34-13. They would be officially eliminated from the playoffs on April 6th, as they lost 3-0 at home to Devils in Ilya Kovalchuk’s first game in Phillips Arena after the deal.
2010/11: Changes were all around for the Thrashers as Don Wadell was promoted to President of Hockey Operations, while Rick Dudley took over as General Manager. Coach John Anderson would not receive a new contact as Craig Ramsay became the Thrashers’ sixth head coach. Hoping to re-stock the team with talent, the Thrashers acquired Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu from the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks for Marty Reasoner, Joseph Crabb, Jeremy Morin, and two draft picks. In another deal with the Blackhawks who were forced to cut payroll due to the salary, the Thrashers would land Andrew Ladd, for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a draft pick. Ladd would be named Captain at the start of the season. The Thrashers’ long ownership battle would be settled as the season started, as Steve Belkin was bought out by his partners. However, the six-year internal battle, along with the team’s struggles, left them $130 Million in the red. The Atlanta Spirit Ownership group sought new investors and possibly a new owner hoping to keep the team in Atlanta. Meanwhile, on the ice, the Thrashers struggled early, posting a 7-9-3 record in their first six weeks. However, as November came to an end, the Thrashers got hot, winning six straight thanks to the strong goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec, who allowed two or fewer goals in 11 straight games. After playing solid hockey at the start of December, the Thrashers came back to earth during the Holidays. As the New Year arrived the Thrashers began to scuffle, winning just four games, things would only get worse in February as they lost nine of ten games to start the month. The slump would all but take the Thrashers out of playoff contention. The Thrashers would end the season with a record of 34-36-12. Their season would end on April 10th, with a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Phillips Arena. That would be the final game played for the Atlanta Thrashers, as the team would be sold to True North Sports and Entertainment after no local owners could be found. True North, who has sought to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them back to Winnipeg, turned their attention to Atlanta. The Thrashers would move to Winnipeg, taking the name Jets that were abandoned when the original Winnipeg Jets left for Phoenix in 1996. The Thrashers’ name and logo remained the property of Atlanta Spirit Group, who someday hopes to bring hockey back to Atlanta. However, with both the Flames and Thrashers failing, a new NHL team is highly unlikely.
©MMXVIII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Hockey League. This site is not affiliated with the Atlanta Thrashers or the NHL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on Page created on June 22, 2003. Last updated on March 11, 2018 at 8:50 pm ET.