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A brief history: Atlanta Thrashers

by Michael Stainkamp
The Thrashers entered the NHL in 1999, nearly two decades after the Flames left Atlanta for Calgary. Their nickname, selected from a fan poll, comes from Georgia's state bird, a brown thrasher. Coincidentally, "Thrashers" was the runner up to "Flames" for the original Atlanta franchise and their home, the Phillips Arena, is built on the site of the former home of the Flames, the Omni.

The team started off its history with a last-place finish, totaling just 14 wins. That offseason, they had the No. 2 pick in the Entry Draft and selected Dany Heatley, who would become one of the franchise's best players.

The Thrashers would eventually trade Heatley to the Ottawa Senators for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries. Hossa would go on to be the first Thrasher to eclipse the 100-point mark in one season, breaking the previous record of 98 points held by Ilya Kovalchuk.

The 2005-06 season saw the Thrashers bring in some veteran players with the hopes of making a playoff run. The additions of Mike Dunham, Peter Bondra, Bobby Holik, Jaroslav Modry and Scott Mellanby paid off, as they won a club record 41 games that season.

The next season, the Thrashers made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The team was led by Kovalchuk and Hossa and won the Southeast Division before getting swept by the New York Rangers in the first round.

With the amount of young talent they acquired when they sent Kovalchuk to the Devils in February and through a big offseason deal with the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, the Thrashers have the foundation of a team that can be competitive for a long time to come.
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