Atlanta resident Jeff Peterson placed a call to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last night asking if anyone knew of the whereabouts of the Thrashers, by most accounts becoming the first local to notice that the NHL team had moved to Winnipeg.
"I was watching SportsCenter and they showed a hockey highlight and suddenly I had this weird feeling, like I had lost my keys or something," said Peterson. "After an hour or so, I realized what it was: I hadn't seen or heard of the Trackers in months!"
Peterson worked part-time as the Thrashers mascot, Thrash, for the last 11 years.
"I honestly didn't notice anything until just now," he said. "And, now that I think about it, I haven't gotten a paycheck in a while. But I went to the arena today to investigate further and I didn't notice a difference in the crowd. I think that's why their move has slipped under the radar. And also because the vast majority of Atlanta residents never even knew that the Tacklers existed. I guess you could say I was their one diehard, contractually."
Former Thrashers general manager, Rick Dudley, who now works for the Maple Leafs, says he is surprised someone noticed the Thrashers were gone so soon.
"Only two weeks into the season? That's amazing," he said. "I was thinking it would be months, maybe even years, possibly never. I believe the fact that the mascot misses us shows that we had started to build a base of support in Atlanta. It's a shame the team couldn't stay there."
Peterson was informed by a reporter that while the Thrashers are gone for good, the Braves, Falcons and Hawks still exist.
"I'm pretty sure at least two of those teams are made up," he said. "I don't care for jokes right now. I'm still coming to terms with the loss of the Trappers."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the Thrashers exit from Atlanta does not mean that hockey failed in the region.
"I don't think anyone can say that the people of Atlanta didn't adopt the team just because many Atlantans don't know the team existed," he said. "Heck, I'm the commissioner and I still can't name half of our teams."