Last season, the Atlanta Thrashers finished 23rd in the overall NHL standings. While the team finished above .500 with a 35-34-13 record, the truth is above .500 means very little in the "new NHL". Consider that the fourth-worst team in the NHL last season (Columbus Blue Jackets) finished a mere three games under .500 on the season.
Out with the old, in with the new
Optimism did not abound prior to the 2009-10 season when the focus of the Thrashers' season was as much to do with re-signing Ilya Kovalchuk as it was winning hockey games. Unfortunately for Thrashers supporters, the team finished poorly in all the significant statistical categories in 2009-10, and to rub salt in the wounds of the team fan base, Kovalchuk was dealt to New Jersey just prior to the trade deadline. The Kovalchuk trade marked the third time in the franchise's young existence that a superstar had been traded away by former GM Don Waddell. The Russian sniper joined Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley as former Thrashers players starring elsewhere.
With the loss of Kovalchuk, some in the fan base scoffed at another rebuilding project. They had heard that song before and had little interest in hearing it again. Rick Dudley, on the other hand, had no choice but to try to sell that idea to the team's withering group of fans.