At 10:49 a.m. ET, just over an hour before the formal press conference announcing the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to True North and the franchise's relocation to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 NHL season, we called the Thrashers season-ticket office to inquire about joining their ever-expanding fan base.
This is an actual conversation with a Thrashers ticket sale representative. Again, roughly an hour before the formal announcement of the team's relocation:
["Holiday" by Vampire Weekend plays as we're on hold.]
THRASHERS: Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, this is [female name].
PD: Are you guys still accepting Thrashers season-ticket deposits?
THRASHERS: We are! Where would you like to sit? How many seats are you looking for?
PD: Downstairs would be great. And just two.
THRASHERS: And what will you be using your tickets for?
PD: To watch some exciting Thrashers hockey in 2011-12.
THRASHERS: In the lower bowl, the lowest we have are $999 and they're in Sections 201-209. Do you want me to tell you the best available there?
PD: And this is for the Atlanta Thrashers' 2011-12 season?
PD: Next season? In the NHL? In Atlanta?
THRASHERS: Uh-huh. Do you want me to tell you the best available tickets?
THRASHERS: We actually have some in Row A, in Section 208 and in Section 202. I would suggest Section 208, which has better angles. How does that sound?
PD: Honestly, it sounds a little fishy to me, because they're actually announcing that the team is moving to Winnipeg this morning. In, like, an hour. Are you guys aware of that?
THRASHERS: I'm not aware of it. They haven't announced anything to us yet.
PD: Huh. Yeah, so, I'm probably not going to be able to use those season tickets, if that's OK?
THRASHERS: I'm sorry, what was the purpose of this call?
PD: To find out if you guys are selling season tickets to a team that's no longer there.
THRASHERS: Well, they haven't formally announced anything, and anyone who purchases season tickets will actually get a full refund, so there's no risk to purchasing season tickets.
PD: Besides putting down a deposit for a team that no longer exists, I can see no risk in this investment.
• • •
As happy as we are for the great fans in Winnipeg, we're sad for the great fans in Atlanta who are losing a team they love. The experiment above wasn't intended to pour salt in that wound, but rather to underscore the reason the Thrashers are leaving: Crippling, pathetic, uncaring absentee ownership that's clearly bumbled to the end.