The attendance issues in Atlanta isn't breaking news anymore. Atlanta has been a market already been pinpointed as "troubled" in the NHL and one that fans and media eye as a potential team that could be moved should relocation ever become a real issue. Atlanta, like Phoenix the past few seasons, is always a favorite of Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Quebec to bring NHL hockey back to their market.
This brings us to tomorrow night's Thrashers game against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. According to Le Journal de Quebec, 23 busloads of fans will be making their way to Long Island led by Vince Cauchon, a Quebec radio personality and founder of "Nordiques Nation".
Choosing a game between the NHL's 28th and 29th-ranked teams in attendance is no coincidence.
From the New York Times' Slap Shots blog:
"We just want to show the N.H.L. that Quebec needs a team and is a better market; maybe a third of the markets in the N.H.L. aren't doing so well right now."
"We have a lot of respect for the New York Islanders and what they accomplished in the past - the N.H.L. needs the Islanders," Cauchon said. "But it would be great, awesome, if the Thrashers moved. Atlanta is a great sports city, but it's not a hockey town. We're not going to New York to tell the N.H.L. they didn't do a good job going to Atlanta. We're going there to tell them in Quebec it would work."
A rally in early October drew 50,000 Nordiques supporters as the local government is inching closer to getting a $400 million state-of-the art arena built in hopes of luring a current or expansion NHL franchise there.
Nassau Coliseum is already used to being invading by opposing fans from Quebec. Whenever the Montreal Canadiens are in town, the sea of red Habs jerseys is noticeable and should the Islanders allow a goal, it sounds like the game is being played inside Bell Centre.
But despite how things may look from the outside tomorrow night, for the Islanders, knowing that they've sold at least 1,100 tickets for a game against Atlanta is knowing that they've sold at least 1,100 tickets for a game against Atlanta.
Stick-tap to Kevin Schultz at Fanhouse