This isn’t to absolve the Atlanta Spirit of responsibility for all this because, as we’ve come to learn, stability and agenda of ownership almost always dictate whether or not a sports franchise succeeds — and the Spirit has long had different agendas for the Hawks and Thrashers.
This certainly isn’t to absolve Don Waddell, the Thrashers’ former long-time general manager and current team president, of responsibility because as the only executive who has been on campus from day one, he had the biggest hand in putting an inferior product on the ice for too many seasons.
But where is the NHL in all this?
Has Gary Bettman, the commissioner, stood at a pulpit on the corner of Marietta and Centennial Olympic Park Drive the way he did in the desert outpost of Glendale, Ariz., and screamed for hockey’s existence in Atlanta (especially given this is a top 10 TV market and Phoenix isn’t)?
Is the league coming to the rescue of a franchise in a desperate situation, the way it did in Buffalo and Nashville and Ottawa and Pittsburgh and even Tampa (Atlanta also is bigger than all of them)?