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Predators pitch ticket deal to Thrashers fans for Winnipeg gamesWhen the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg last month, they left behind a fan base (such as it was) that was suddenly without a rooting interest.

Enter the Nashville Predators. The cities are roughly four hours apart (as the Yahoo! Maps fly), which Predators COO Sean Henry considered "a short drive from us."

So the team began mining its own ticket database to find sales made in the Atlanta area to gauge interest.

From the Nashville Post and Nashville VP of marketing Chris Parker last month:

Parker said the package geared towards Atlantans will be between four and seven games, predominantly on the weekend and spread throughout the season.

"If we can play the former Thrashers, that's a more appealing stand alone option. ... We'd like to work with [Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau] for a package to make it a weekend. It's four hours and 5 million people. You'd only need to obtain a sliver," he said.

One month later, and after the 2011-12 NHL schedule has been released, here's how this marketing effort materialized in Smashville. (See the full graphic via SB Nation Atlanta):

Predators pitch ticket deal to Thrashers fans for Winnipeg games

Basically, a fan picks five of eight games on the schedule — including a preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets — and they get a March 24 Predators game against the Jets "free," with tickets in the lower bowl.

It's a genius move by Nashville, and not just because it included the former Atlanta Flames, too. They might have Thrashers fans that still light a candle for Andrew Ladd(notes) and Evander Kane(notes) heading up the highway to see them again, or they might have Thrashers fans who just want to boo the crap out of the Jets doing the same. (Or, in all likelihood, fans that'll do a bit of both.)

Meanwhile, the Predators are making inroads with fans in an effort to increase the scope of their marketing base, keeping in mind there's a chance Nashville shifts to the Eastern Conference after realignment (slim as it is).

Who knows? Rebound relationships work out sometimes, right?

s/t SB National Atlanta for the story.

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