If Atlanta loses one more hockey team, it will be a hat trick.
Hockey and the Deep South have always been something of a forced marriage. The Flames arrived in Atlanta in 1972 and reached the NHL playoffs six times in eight years playing at the Omni. But after years of low attendance and financial problems, the Flames burned out, moving to Calgary in 1980.
Then in 1997, the NHL awarded Atlanta another franchise, the Thrashers—named for the brown thrasher, Georgia’s state bird. The Thrashers’ sold 12,000 season tickets for their first season at Philips Arena. But in 11 seasons the team made the playoffs once, and after losing $130 million in the team’s last years, history repeated itself: the Thrashers left for Canada in 2011.
Though hockey has thrived in other Southern cities, Atlanta is left to wonder if the sport will ever return after the last NHL team arrived in the city on June 25, 1997, Today in Georgia History.