After 11 NHL seasons, the fruits of which were a single Stanley Cup playoff appearance, Atlanta's professional hockey club will mercifully pack up their operation and move someplace north where people actually care. Because it's not polite to let a franchise die with a whimper, particularly one the Flyers have played four times every season since they entered the league in 1999, we thought a brief stroll down memory lane might be in order.
Spoiler alert: times were good.
Not unlike the majority of the NHL, Philadelphia experienced great success versus the Thrashers, compiling a 30-8-3-3 record against their southern rivals. Their sizable series lead over Atlanta was aided in large part by a 14-game winning streak that began on December 28, 2005, and lasted nearly four full years, finally ending November 28, 2009.
Not coincidentally, the Flyers' all-time winningest goaltender against the Thrashers is San Jose Sharks netminder Antero Niittymaki, who was between the pipes for the majority of the streak. Niitty was the goalie of record in 13 Philadelphia victories over Atlanta. You may remember this old gag, Niittymaki's certificate of ownership--a blogging crutch designed by Digi that I for one am sad to see retired.
Interestingly enough, Niittymaki never did surrender a game to the Thrashers. The Finnish goaltender picked up four more W's during a pit stop in Tampa Bay, driving his career record to a perfect 17-0.
Despite the Flyers' relative dominance over Atlanta, the Thrashers had gained the upper hand on the orange and black in recent years. They sneaked a series sweep in '09-'10, and last season took three of four, accounting for 63.6% of the franchise's all-time win total against Philly. For that reason alone, we aren't sorry to see them go.
Of course, they're not gone per se, just moved to a relevant hockey town, and re-branded so they finally resemble a professional sports team, and not like something that was whipped up in the Create-a-Team mode of NHL 11. Will the change in scenery spark a turnaround for the franchise though? I have no idea, but they can hardly do any worse.
Now if anybody has any Flyers-Thrashers memories they would like to share... no? Okay, carry on.