Dear Atlanta Thrashers,
Last year you captured my heart and my mind. You provided a fast, graceful, and exciting alternative to the flawed, aerial bombardment of Arena Football League to sate my sports jones. You were fun to watch last year. Every game meant something right until the very end. There was a reason to get excited, to pay attention, to learn the game. I learned to love hockey because of you. That's right, a guy who spent his childhood in a place where ice only came out of freezers started to love a sport that required a sheet of the stuff larger than all of the naturally occuring ice he'd seen in his life, and all because of your playoff season.
Sure you left me with a bad taste in my mouth as you allowed yourselves to be swept by the freakin' New York Rangers (why does New York hate Atlanta, so? Stupid Yankees always screwing up the Braves.) Still, you gave me hope for the future. Next season we'd actually win a game in the playoffs, I thought. Woohoo! I even broke up some of my religious football watching this fall to keep up on many of your games.
And to be honest, you made most of the season worthwhile, although hugely frustrating. Your streaky play let you drop your first six games of the season, only to get back into contention for the division championship within the first month of play. Of course, every time you got your win/loss ratio a game or two ahead on the winning side, you'd go on an extended losing streak until you got that sucker back down to a losing record. Through the first couple of weeks of February, you'd follow painful losing streaks with elating winning streaks, even taking short-lived tenures at the number one spot in the Southeast a few times.
Then you pretty much called it quits on Feb. 16th. You lost to the Islanders that night and I pretty much lost the will to watch as you slunk your way to the season finale with 17 losses in 22 games. You were a legit contender back on Feb. 15 to make it back to the playoffs and repeat your first-round suckitude, at least in division as lousy as the Southeast has been this year. A month later you'd fallen back to more than 10 points out of the division lead after spending most of the season only a win or two away from first place. By the end of the season last night you had fallen to 18 points behind Washington, a team you spent most of the season ahead of. I haven't bothered to watch since February ended. It was too painful and I found other things to occupy my time, like reading or something.
I had planned to watch your final game, and hoped to drink myself into a stupor before I had to see you lose for the last time until next season. Maybe the alcoholic fumes in my brain would have left me with sweet dreams of Kari Lehtonen carrying the Stanley after shutting out the other team during the entire series. That would be nice. Instead, I went to go eat sushi and watch the musical version of the Lion King in Atlanta with Hank and April, and you somehow managed to win. I'm happy for both of us. If you promise to win 75 percent of your games next season, I'll eat sushi and watch live musicals every game night. I'm not thinking I'll be spending too much money, though.