Even though the Atlanta Thrashers organization was only around for 12 seasons, they had their fair share of big name players suit up during that time. Mainly washed up once-great superstars, the Thrashers still found a way to have a few top players on the roster for parts of their short existence.
Number 5- Marian Hossa
After spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Ottawa Senators until the 2004-05 lockout coincided with the end of his contract. He re-signed with the Senators for three more years, but later the same day he was dealt to the Thrashers for Dany Heatley. Hossa immediately formed a dynamic partnership with forward Ilya Kovalchuk and scored 92 points in his first season in Atlanta, and 100 in his second. In his third season, the last of his contract, he was dealt to the Penguins after failing to come to an agreement on a new deal. Hossa finished with 108 goals and 248 points in 222 games, they ended up being the best seasons of his storied career.
Number 4- Keith Tkachuk
16 years into his NHL career, and six into his tenure with St. Louis, the Blues found themselves on the outside looking in on a playoff spot, meanwhile the Atlanta Thrashers were atop the Southeast Division and looking to make the playoffs for the first time in their history. On February 25, 2007, the Blues traded Tkachuk to the Thrashers for first, second, and third round picks, as well as Glen Metropolit and a conditional first. Tkachuk played 18 regular season games and all four playoff games in Atlanta scoring 18 points. Right after the playoffs ended the Blues re-acquired Tkachuk for the conditional first Atlanta sent the first time, and he signed a two-year extension with the Blues.
Number 3- Peter Bondra
The long-time Washington Capitals forward was yet another player who found himself without a team when the lockout came to an end. He returned from Europe for the 2005-06 season and was in talks with the Capitals for a return, but ended up signing a one-year deal with the Thrashers instead. Even though Bondra was at the twilight of his career he still managed to score 21 goals and 39 points in 60 games in Atlanta. Bondra played one more season in Chicago before retiring in the summer of 2007 with 1,081 NHL games under his belt.
Number 2- Mark Recchi
By the time Mark Recchi showed up in Atlanta, his NHL career was already 20 years old. In the summer of 2007 Recchi signed a two-year extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but after scoring just eight points in their first 19 games he was sent to the AHL, but they tried to recall him just two days later. Recchi was claimed by the Thrashers on re-entry waivers by the Thrashes and spent the rest of the 2007-08 season registering 12 goals and 40 points in 53 games.
Number 1- Chris Chelios
After 26 seasons in the NHL split between the Canadiens, Blackhawks, and Red Wings, the bell was just about to toll on Chris Chelios’ legendary career. After signing two 25-game professional tryouts with the Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers AHL affiliate, he was signed to a two-way deal, making him eligible to be recalled to the NHL. He played seven games with the Thrashers, going pointless, before he was sent back down to the Wolves after failing to hold his own in his NHL return. Chelios would retire once the 2010 season came to an end finishing with 1,651 NHL games.
Pavel Kubina spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but on July 1, 2006, he signed a four-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Three years to the day he signed that contract, he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart. He suited up for 76 games as a Thrasher scoring 38 points. Once the season came to an end he re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One of Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre’s four teams during the 2003-04 NHL season was the Atlanta Thrashers. He opened the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, then got demoted to AHL Syracuse, then was traded to the Thrashers on December 31, 2003. He spent 27 games with in Atlanta before being claimed on waivers by the Washington Capitals on March 9, 2004.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: zimbio.com