Former star pitcher Tom Glavine is leading the charge to ensure the Thrashers stay in Atlanta.
A lifelong hockey fan who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984 before going onto a lengthy baseball career, Glavine told the local NBC affiliate "he could not afford the $80- to $100-million to buy the Thrashers himself, but is trying to find investors interested and could end up a part owner."
"I don't want them to leave," Glavine said.
The Thrashers ownership situation has been a troubled one for much of the team's tenure in Atlanta, and after a recent lawsuit among those in the Atlanta Spirit LLC group was settled late last year, they have been looking to sell the team.
According to reports, several unnamed prospective owners have signed non-disclosure agreements to look at the team's finances, but it is still believed that Atlanta is the NHL's second most likely candidate for relocation behind the Phoenix Coyotes.
A recent lawsuit filed by the Atlanta Spirit group indicated the team had lost "about a quarter of its value" - a drop listed at roughly $50-million - since 2005. The team was 27th in the NHL in attendance this season with an average announced crowd of 13,403.
Glavine was on Atlanta's Sports Radio 790 this morning and elaborated on his push to keep the Thrashers.
"First and foremost, I love hockey," Glavine said. "I grew up playing it, I love watching it now, my kids are all playing now ... I have a very personal interest in it in that regard. I think it's a good sport, a good thing for the city of Atlanta. There's no question in my mind that if we lose a team again, we're never going to get another one. I would just hate to see all those things happen.
"It's really been more than anything trying to get people together, trying to get a group together if I could. By no stretch of the imagination, don't anybody think for a second that I'm buying the team. I made good money in my career, I didn't make that kind of money."
Glavine added that he believes a winning team, something the Thrashers have rarely been since joining the NHL as an expansion franchise in 1999, would be successful in the city.
"You have to start putting a winning product on the ice," he said. "If and when they're able to do that, then I think the attendance will follow and good things would happen. There's no question you have to start putting a playoff team on the ice."