Atlanta gets pro hockey team again, thanks to ECHL Gladiators

When the Atlanta Thrashers left for Winnipeg in 2011, hockey fans in the Peach State were left without a team. The Nashville Predators tried to recruit some, but the fact was that Atlanta puckheads didn’t have a pro hockey team to call their own anymore.

Four years later, that’s been rectified, thanks to the local ECHL team.

The Gwinnett Gladiators, a Boston Bruins affiliate, have decided that after 12 years in the Atlanta Metro area, they’re going to rebrand as the Atlanta Gladiators. They previously were the Mobile Mysticks, who obviously didn’t live up to the moniker, having been able to foresee the team folding in 2002.

From the Gladiators:

“We are very excited to announce that our name will transform to the Atlanta Gladiators with the 2015-2016 season,” said general manager of business operations Joe Gelderman. “We already consider ourselves to be part of the Atlanta sports landscape, and given the absence of NHL hockey in the area we want to make sure people understand that we are not just Gwinnett’s hockey team. We are the professional hockey team for all of the metro Atlanta community.

“We hope that incorporating ’Atlanta’ into our name will allow more fans to identify with us, and will inspire people from all over the metro area to continue to support and embrace our organization. This was not a decision we made lightly, and in doing so we made sure to consult with a cross section of our fan base, as well as some of our corporate partners. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly in support of making this adjustment.”

So what does this name change mean for the franchise?

Well, not always great things according to Christine Troyke of the Gwinnett Daily Post:

History doesn’t always paint a rosy picture when it comes to name changes for minor league teams. It can be viewed as a last-ditch attempt at reinvigorating a floundering franchise. “It’s definitely not the situation here,” Gelderman said.

“We’ve been fortunate enough that, honestly, our owners have never had to write a check at the end of the season to cover costs.

“Do we hope that it helps up attendance-wise? Absolutely. We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think it would help. But it’s more that we’re trying to go from good to great.”

Obviously they’re saving “great to excellent” for when they become the Georgia Gladiators.

All home games are played at the 11,355-seat Arena at Infinite Energy Center, located just off I-85 on Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth – "where parking is always free," according to the team. Take that, teams that charge for parking...

s/t Matt