NHL Back To Atlanta

Atlanta Hockey…Take 3?

By: Colin Lacy

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

October is a great time for sports fans in the state of Georgia.

On any given night, you could have the first pitch for another Atlanta Braves Postseason run, or tipoff for an early season Atlanta Hawks game. Maybe you’re heading to the Benz for an Atlanta United match.

When the weekends roll around, you might be “Between the Hedges,” filing into Bobby Dodd Stadium, or tailgating at Allen E. Paulson getting ready for boot meet ball for your college football Saturday.

Then get to Sunday afternoon to see Kirk Cousins (or maybe Michael Penix Jr….. That’s a whole other story) taking snaps for the Falcons. So, what is Georgia Sports missing? A Puck drop?

Back in March, Alpharetta Sports & Entertainment officially announced they requested the NHL Commissioner and Board of Governors to commence a new expansion process to bring an NHL franchise back to Atlanta.

Alpharetta Sports & Entertainment is fronted by former NHL player and current Turner Sports analyst Anson Carter.

Carter has been extremely outspoken about the NHL making the return to Atlanta for what would be the third time in a number of years and has had multiple conversations with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about the possibility of expansion.

The potential ownership group has planned construction of 18,000-seat arena around North Point Mall in Alpharetta and plans expand the surrounding area into a commercial mini-metropolis much like the Battery Atlanta is around Truist Park.

The location has been one of the main selling points to the NHL as to why the two previous franchises didn’t succeed in the metro-Atlanta area.

Carter and the other potential owners believe that headquartering the franchise in Alpharetta helps solve the issues that stood most recently at Philips Arena (now State Farm Arena). This is the same idea that the Braves are now thriving with in Cobb County and developing the Battery and surrounding area.

Atlanta hockey has seen two previous renditions with the Atlanta Flames from 1972-1980 before being re-located to Calgary.

Take two saw the Atlanta Thrashers call (then) Philips Arena home from 1999-2011 before being moved to Winnipeg to become the Winnipeg Jets.

The NHL has only added four expansion teams since the Atlanta Thrashers were created in 1999. The next season in 2000, the NHL expanded to thirty teams with the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild.

It would be 16 years before the next new NHL franchise. The league would add one more team to get to thirty-one total teams with the 2016 expansion franchise of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Knights proved to be a success with the Stanley Cup Championship coming in their first year of existence (2017-18 season).

Most recently the NHL became a 32-team outfit with the addition of the Seattle Kraken beginning in the 2021-22 season.

Although the NHL has said that currently they have no plans for expansion, there are many that are optimistic that the Atlanta area would be on the top of the list to get an expansion franchise.

The construction of the new arena around North Point is expected to be ready for potential play for the 2027-28 season, and now it’s just a waiting game.

Personally, I would love to dust off the old Atlanta Thrashers sweater, and head back to “Blueland”!