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@ubertaco: As a fellow Atlanta resident, I can confirm that many people here cared deeply for all three of those franchises. The Flames relocated because their owner was losing money from other business ventures and couldn't afford the team anymore. The Knights left because the Thrashers were coming to town. And the Thrashers had perhaps the worst ownership group in the history of professional sports -- they literally sabotaged their own product in order to force the NHL's hand in relocation, just because they didn't want to own the team anymore (for reasons unrelated to fan support).

Do people here care about hockey the same way they do college football or NASCAR? Definitely not. But, this market could have easily been another success story along the same lines as Nashville/Tampa Bay/LA/Anaheim. Atlanta hockey fans got dealt a shit hand.