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Atlanta Thrashers -> Town Hall Meeting recap--
 
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  Holland
 
March 7, 2008 8:11:12 pm
 
  lolland

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Town Hall Meeting recap--
Don and Bruce answered questions for around 45 minutes.

Nobody asked any difficult questions. Unfortunately, Don and Bruce wanted to take time to answer fans' questions. But it got too long. At one point, Don asked Bruce to cut his answers shorter. He didn't really listen. Bruce rambled and rambled about NOTHING. It was like ugh, get to the next question. However, it didn't help that people began by asking the dumbest stuff. So much time was just wasted.

"Do you think we need more consistency?"

"Do you think we need more leadership?"

"Will the next coach have NHL experience?"

"What defenseman do you want to go after?" (Don can't talk about specific players on other teams. That's called tampering, and VERY BAD!)

Ugh.

Overall, the place was very hostile, and it never built to anything. No resolution. No feel goods. No goodwill with the owners.

The questions were a total clusterfrick, too. Usually semi-organized by STH reps placed around the room, this is was a mishmash of people raising their hands and Bruce pointing to random people. This led to many people asking questions without a mike, and having nobody hear them. Also, MANY people had their hand raised and never got called due to time constraints.

They need 1 microphone for the fans, and a single file line behind it.

All in all, Don came off as an incredibly nice and smart guy. Bruce came off as a rude and arrogant jerk.

I was told by a high ranking Atlanta Spirit member, that Bruce is normally a really nice guy, but he agreed with me that he did NOT come off well tonight.

Basically, Bruce said STH prices are going to raise every year, so get used to it. Someone asked why we should pay more for a crappy product to which Bruce replied, "It will be a better product next year." That's all he said to it, and repeated it. He said the Thrashers were the lowest in the league for ticket averages. People BOOED that, and he said it's true, he's seen the numbers.

Don COMPLETELY rolled his eyes to EVERYTHING Bruce said in response to raising ticket prices for a crappy product. As I've said before, Don is on our side with this. He's not stupid and he emphathises with the STHers. Many times while Bruce was feeding us BS, Don turned his back to Bruce and repeatedly rolled his eyes while Bruce was talking. Don eventually walked away from Bruce to distance himself. He sat down in a chair, slumped over, closed his eyes, and massaged his temples. His body language was incredible.

Don's lost 22 lbs. since becoming head coach, too.

Bruce did NOT win any votes tonight. Which is a shame.

When asked about the cheap deals online with tickets, Bruce said that the owners have a committment to the NHL with a minimum attendance and they have to do this to keep that minimum. (Um. Try winning? Just a thought.) Bruce said the cheap deals would be lessened next year. And that the STHers get great benefits.

Very little time was spent on STH prices. Maybe 5 minutes. Bruce dismissed it quickly as a "deal with it."

When Bruce said that we were the lowest ticket prices/averages in the league, someone who I know tried to point out to Bruce that he paid $81 face value for a glass seat in Boston when the Thrashers charge $125/$135 for the same seat. And Boston provides a MUCH better product! Bruce flatly replied to his face, "No you didn't, and I know who you are." Bruce said he himself is a STHer at another arena so he knows what STHers pay. The question-asker posted a scan of his ticket on the main Thrashers forums. Bruce was right. The man didn't pay $81 for the ticket. It was $85.

And Don dealt with it to all of us with his "I'm sorry" body language. Don expressed his gratitude for our STHers and he said he knows they're the heart of our team and our fan base. And Don said he knows it's so much harder to get a new STHer than to keep one we have.

My only Bruce-highlight (aside from him pwning a guy in the front row who interrupted Bruce to try to correct Bruce's "10 game losing streak" comment in that it was only 8 games and to not be so negative. In which Bruce responded that he was talking about last year to this year -4 last, 6 this- if he would let Bruce finish.) Bruce basically apologized to Don for making him do two roles all season. (um three, dude?) He said it was a rookie owner mistake. He said the worst thing for Don was that he went 11-4 after Bob was fired. Because that basically pigeon-holed Don as head coach for the rest of the year, because you couldn't make ANOTHER change during great play. Bruce basically apologized to Don that he had to coach a game for us one night, fly to Chicago the next to see the kids play, and then fly to Boston the next for a tournament, only to fly back to coach us again.

Don added that there weren't many, if any, good coaches available 6 games into the season because most teams wouldn't let you talk to anyone on their staff. Don also guaranteed a new head coach next year and it wouldn't be him.

Speaking of the 0-10, Don said it wasn't just the record that led to Bob's departure. It was in the way we lost. That nobody expected it to carry over and destroy our team so much.

Don stressed customer service, and said he hoped our reps were very responsive to our needs. (I guess he meant to the things under the reps control. Not like lowering ticket prices.) Bruce popped in here and said he's responsive to STHers, and implores every STHer to e-mail him personally and he'll respond because he really cares what you have to say. (um.) He said he ignores the smart *** ones. "Like the guy over here. A smart ass." Referring to the guy in the front row he pwned earlier about the losing streak. (Ok, pwning him earlier because he interrupted you and he was wrong? Funny. Coming back to him later and calling him a "smart ass" in a large audience while the guy was with his kids?-- Harsh! I don't care if Bruce was smiling or not.)

Don said he threw big money at Hossa and his agent, but they NEVER replied with a number to accept or work from. Don said he was basically negotiating with himself. Don said we do NOT know MANY things that happened with Hossa and negotiations. Don said when he writes his book after he retires, we're all gonna go "OOOohhhhhh." and he reiterated we do NOT know a lot what really happened with Hossa.

Someone asked why we had to give up Dupuis with Hossa. Don said Pittsburgh demanded another player with Hossa. Don said Dupuis was becoming a UFA, so Don approached Dupuis' agent about a new contract. Don said the price was WAY too high for what he expected. He said he'd rather move Dupuis for an asset while he could rather than risk losing him. Either way it would be a tough negotiation with Dupuis, so he'd rather move him now for an asset, and negotiate after the season since Dupuis will be available again.

Some people still questioned the move of Dupuis to which Don replied, "They wanted Dupuis or Perrin." To which the crowd AAAHHHHHed and then approved Don's decision.

Don said lots of veterans let us down this year. He seemed very angry about that. He said the team does have a few leaders, but there about 10 guys who get swayed easily towards the negative. He wished the leaders would pick them up more towards the positive side.

He said Zhitnick was a key piece of the puzzle last year. This year he's just a piece......... *puts his hands in the air in frustration*

That drew huge laughter.

A few people tried to get Don to point out specific players that suck, and Don refused to throw any current players under the bus. Don said that with Zhitnik's play that the end of last year, NOBODY could have predicted what his production became this year.

Don stressed that this is NOT a blowitupandstartover scenario. He said he really believes we're a few key pieces away. He said he knows we don't want to hear it, but there are some VERY promising young people in the system. He truly believes this is salvagable and we don't need to blow the whole thing up.

He reiterated that we got 3 great young players in the Hossa trade. He said Espo would certainly be invited to minicamp next year.

Don asked if anyone noticed how bad our defense is... I yelled out "KARI!"

Don said from the very beginning of the season he knew something was wrong with defense. All he could say was "Thank God for Toby Enstrom." He said he tried and tried to trade for a defenseman but NOBODY made any trades before the deadline. Don said he actually tried to buy key pieces at the deadline, but the prices were way too high for rental players. (1st and Pavelec for a UFA rental.) and he thought it wasn't worth it. He said he specifically targeted a top defenseman who went from the East to the West. Don also reminded us that you can't get into rental mode where you rent every year, or you'll give away every prospect and pick you have and completely die from within.

Don knows we suck and wants to add 2 top defenseman and a top forward for next year. Bruce agreed. I have no idea who will want to come here. Don reminded us that we won't be the only ones bidding on these people. And that some might get signed before the UFA date. But Don has a list of who he wants.

Don also said with two first round picks next year, we have a lot of options with either trading the pick(s) for NHL talent, or drafting quality prospects.

Someone asked Don about playing Pavelec this season since it's pretty much over. Don basically said he didn't really want to. He wants Pavelec to grow and he doesn't want to throw him into the lions den so soon. He's very aware of Pavelec psyche and doesn't want to destroy it. The person asking about Pavelec implied that Kari was given enough time and he blew it. Don jumped to Kari's defense and said that Kari has made HUGE strides this year. (What do you expect? The kid has peewee league defense! Except for Toby. I heart him and so do you.)

Bruce said they want to be successful owners, and they know to do that, they have to win on the ice. He said if they can't put together successful teams, they'll sell the team to someone who can. (Um. Can I make an offer now, please?)

Someone asked why we don't spend to the cap. Don said it was HIS choice for that, and he made that choice because he wanted flexibility at the trade deadline should we be good and need to add key pieces to be great.

Someone thanked Don for his tirade at the refs the other night when the ref made Moose play the puck. That got a big applause. The guy than told Don he wished all the players cared that much. Don smirked a "Yeah, me too" grin.

Someone asked about re-signing Kovy to a long term. Don said that the day after Ovey signed his big contract, Kovy popped in his office with a big smile on his face and said, "DID YOU SEE THE CONTRACT?!" To which Don slyly replied, "What contract?"

Don said that Kovy has NEVER expressed ANY desire to leave, and Don said he will spend whatever it takes to keep Kovy here.

Someone asked about Kovy and the C. Don said that Ilya has shown GREAT leadership this year, and definitely will be on the list for consideration of our next C. He said that Bob is not like Scott who was not like Shawn. So the players always have to keep adjusting to new "leadership."

A person or two used their question to thank Don and Bruce for coming here. Some said they had big balls, some said they were brave. Both Don and Bruce shrugged it off like they didn't care. This is their job. The criticism doesn't bother them, and this is nothing to them. They face MUCH more pressure elsewhere. It just seemed odd to repeatedly thank them for coming. They were both like "ok... what's your question?"

Since there were SO many people with their hands raised that never got called on, Bruce said to e-mail him specifically (e-mail's on the main website), and ask your question. Let him know if it's for himself or Don and he will find out the answer and get back to you. I guess Bruce was trying to win back brownie points at the end. This after someone in the audience called Bruce out for not responding to 2 of his e-mails in the past few weeks. Bruce apologized if the e-mails slipped through the cracks, and offered to give the guy his cell phone number for the future. (YIKES!! That will be all over the message boards in 2 hours. Hello, Bruce? Is *tee hee* Is your refridgerator running?)

At the end, the STH reps handed out a sheet of new benefits for next year. I posted that in another thread.

I like Don. I'm a big Don fan. I feel bad for Don. Don is a GIGANTIC reason why we still have season tickets. I hope he stays as GM. Maybe that's my problem, but I haven't given up on him yet. One more year. I give him one more to turn us around. I think he can do it if ownership doesn't bury him/us. Like I said... Maybe it's me and my problem.



 
  [ PM Holland ]   Edited by Holland March 8, 2008 12:56:46 pm.

 
 
   
  adam at work
 
March 7, 2008 8:23:01 pm
 
  2nd Line Scorer

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Levenson did come across like a businessman who coincidentally owns a franchise. I'm quite disappointed about the "go suck it" attitude towards ticket prices. Oh, and the new benefits are WEAK compared to the past. They just don't get it.
 
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  fatschoonerrat
 
March 7, 2008 8:27:14 pm
 
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Mr. Holland, you rock. Helps non STH's who care like me keep up with the franchise.

quote:
Some people still questioned the move of Dupuis to which Don replied, "They wanted Dupuis or Perrin." To which the crowd AAAHHHHHed and then approved Don's decision.


LOL!

Finally, business-people who engage in business for the sole purpose of making money ... suck. They always have sucked. They always will suck.

 
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  CheapSeats
 
March 7, 2008 8:33:13 pm
 
  Miss Stake

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thanks for the recap. sounds like center ice is in our future nice crowd of wild fans here tonight - welcome back to year one
 
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  clambake
 
March 7, 2008 9:03:56 pm
 
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quote:
fatschoonerrat said...
Finally, business-people who engage in business for the sole purpose of making money ... suck. They always have sucked. They always will suck.



Still saying absolutely stupid shit, I see. Good jorb, keep it up. I'll bet it hurt your head thinking of this one.



Lolland, shouldn't you be watching the game?

It still absolutely amazes me that DW gets a pass from you people. He's responsible for the on-ice product. And don't give me none of that $6MM under the cap/his hands are tied crap. You have to keep something just in case. The balance would buy you one B+ player. This team is short more than that.

 
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  Holland
 
March 7, 2008 9:05:47 pm
 
  lolland

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quote:
clambake said...
Lolland, shouldn't you be watching the game?



I love each and every one of you too much.




and we suck.

 
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  THRASHERVILLE
 
March 8, 2008 1:19:08 am
 
  Magically Delicious!

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That prick owner made me look like the Snuggles bear... Line of the night came during the "How the**** do you justify raising ticket prices?" part of the program, when a guy said he sat on the glass in Boston last week for $81 and owner #? said, "No you didn't." That was his fucking answer! Basically they justify raising prices because the other NHL teams charge more. I don't recall anything about skating a quality team next year. Also, where were owners #2-9?? If Levenson is the best one they could put out there, then then the other 8 must be complete and total fucktards.
 
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  Valabiktorian
 
March 8, 2008 2:36:37 am
 
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Great recap, !-!o!!and. We don't deserve this. Really.
 
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  The Falconer
 
March 8, 2008 2:46:50 am
 
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One of the few funny bits involved Levenson went like this: Levenson tells angry guy in back that since he didn't respond to his past emails he would give the fan his cell number. The next guy who gets the microphone starts off by telling Bruce that giving that guy your phone number is a mistake--which got a lot of laughs.
 
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  FrenchKheldar
 
March 8, 2008 3:20:38 am
 
  So cordial, he's barely French at all!

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Thanks for the recap Holland !

As far ticket price increase goes, I still think it's normal... Cap keeps going up, ticket prices have to keep up with it. But they should do much more on and off the ice to offset this... And after reading the new STH benefits and realistically looking at the UFA list for next year, I'm afraid they'll fail to reach either goal... There's no way we'll be able to sign 2 top#2 Dman, and very lucky to get a single good one. Without blowing this team up and getting rid of dead weight such as Zhitnik, it's gonna be another long year next year...

 
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  fireball
 
March 8, 2008 7:23:45 am
 
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Holland, thank you so much for that recap. I tried to go at the last minute, but since I hadn't RSVP'd, they said it was already overbooked.

I'm always impressed with DW's straightforwardness. I still have the utmost admiration of him for coming out on his own time to have dinner and answer questions during a Fanhome meetup. (Maybe we can do that again some time during the off-season?) For all he does, he still comes off as a regular guy who's on the fan's side.

And I think you have it backwards, FK -- the cap goes up because the ticket prices go up. The cap is tied to revenue, so if they raise the ticket prices, the cap increases. Next year, the cap minimum is going to about what the cap maximum was the first year out of the lock-out.

 
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  adam at work
 
March 8, 2008 7:37:33 am
 
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I posted the following over at the "official" board, but I'll post it here too in case the mods over there delete it:

I know this probably will get deleted, but I'll post it anyway on the hopes that Mr. Levenson reads it. With all due respect, your repeated use of the term "smart ass" at the Town Hall meeting last night was completely unacceptable. Putting aside whether the person you called that name actually deserved it, did you not realize that there were many CHILDREN in attendance??? Thanks to you, my three-year-old kept repeating "smart ass" all night long, like he'd been given a new toy.

I was on the fence before the meeting, and your attitude and basic lack of awareness of your surroundings made my renewal decision for me. Thanks from a (soon to be former) STH from Day One. You kept saying that you have been with this team three years, but I (and many others) have been here nine. I'm quite disappointed that you came across as so out of touch with the history of what this ticket base has had to endure since the franchise's inception. I can only hope that one day soon you'll see how tenuous your fan base is at the moment.

Oh, and a sincere thanks to DW for going out of his way to stop and say hi and high-five my kid on his way out of the room. My kid really got a kick out of that.

 
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  adam at work
 
March 8, 2008 8:47:07 am
 
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Wow, that didn' take long. My post was deleted in less than 30 minutes.
 
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  3putt
 
March 8, 2008 9:20:47 am
 
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quote:
Holland said...
Don and Bruce answered questions for around 45 minutes.


Bruce said they want to be successful owners, and they know to do that, they have to win on the ice. He said if they can't put together a successful team, they'll sell the team to someone who can.



"Oh, Canada" I feel like this is their plan. Atlanta Spirit keeps tha Hawks and the NBA TV contract. Keeps the Arena and the large dollars for the concerts, then makes money on the sale of the Thrashers to Canadian interests with a Kovy and Kari on board.

 
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  ducksthrashers2002
 
March 8, 2008 10:40:18 am
 
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While I have a hard time imagining Henry Samuelli calling a STH a smartass, Adam, you are bringing your son to a hockey game. I'm fairly sure he has heard worse in the stands.

Sounds like DW brought him along to cast a favorable light on hos incompentence.

 
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  FrenchKheldar
 
March 8, 2008 10:49:57 am
 
  So cordial, he's barely French at all!

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quote:
Fireball said...
And I think you have it backwards, FK -- the cap goes up because the ticket prices go up. The cap is tied to revenue, so if they raise the ticket prices, the cap increases. Next year, the cap minimum is going to about what the cap maximum was the first year out of the lock-out.



Yes and no, I think the attendance is up in general, I'm sure these Crosby and Ovechkin jerseys are selling well and since we had low ticket prices and our attendance is not rising, we have to increase the prices...

 
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  dmatos
 
March 8, 2008 10:53:01 am
 
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quote:
adam at work said...
Wow, that didn' take long. My post was deleted in less than 30 minutes.



I believe the moderator may have replied with a canned response, if you started a new "Thanks for deleting my post" thread over there.

 
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  Rasp
 
March 8, 2008 10:55:07 am
 
  Floppy

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quote:
adam at work said...
Wow, that didn' take long. My post was deleted in less than 30 minutes.



You expected any less?

Honestly, the flippant attitude that Levinson displayed towards the people that are supporting this franchise doesn't surprise me. Like him or not, Belkin as an owner might be the best hope for this franchise. Because frankly, Levinson sounds like an ******* fratboy burning through his trustfund.

 
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  Holland
 
March 8, 2008 11:07:07 am
 
  lolland

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lol I just reread my post from last night.

i hope the owners don't ban me from the building.



and to all who said 'thank you', you're welcome. my fingers hurt.

 
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  dmatos
 
March 8, 2008 11:44:39 am
 
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I understand the team needs to charge more to show an increase in revenue (I think I understand that correctly), and revenue increases are necessary to keep getting our share of the profit sharing money, then why don't they raise prices on the cheapest seats in the house? A $10 seat is still $10. Is asking $11 or 12 or God forbid $15 going to lose those fans?

My seats have gone from $24 to $27 to $30 (this year) and $32 next year (that's an absurd 33% increase in ticket prices) and the product hasn't won 33% more games, it's actually no better than it was when it was $24.

 
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