When the Atlanta Thrashers were moved to Winnipeg in 2011 their history came with the team. Now that the Winnipeg Jets have decided to open up a Hall of Fame, they should honour the history of the franchise they acquired instead of conveniently ignoring it like they have been doing for the past five years. Just because the Thrashers were bad does not mean that they do not have players who should be honoured by their team. Slava Kozlov, Ilya Kovalchuk, and once he retires, Marian Hossa.
Kozlov was not the longest-serving Thrasher, but he was a gifted scorer for the team in a time when the Thrashers struggled to score at all. Having Kozlov helped the Thrashers have a legitimate threat offensively without giving up much defensively. Without him, the Thrashers would have been worse than they were. That is really saying something, but the Jets should still honour the steadfast centre who positively influenced many of the Jets current veterans like Bryan Little.
This leads me to the Thrashers most legendary player: Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk is a bit of a controversial player in the NHL these days because he left a lot of money on the table, retired and returned to Russia to play closer to home in the KHL. He did this just days after struggling to play through the Stanley Cup Finals with a herniated disk in his back and being called out for not being as dynamic as he normally was. Kovalchuk did none of this to the Thrashers. Instead he was traded by the Thrashers for Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, and a first round pick. Of course Kovalchuk was traded with Anssi Salmela That was not his doing, that was Don Waddell’s doing and most of what he did was bad anyways, so what is one more bad move for the franchise. Truth is, Kovalchuk was the Thrashers for a long time and during that time he was also one of the most dynamic and exciting players in the NHL, period. His time with the Thrashers was only eight years, but they were a damn good eight years save for the no playoff wins and only one playoff experience, but team success should never define a player.
Finally, there is the amazing and ageless Marian Hossa. Hossa is still an active NHLer so this is a pre-emptive inclusion but he should be there for what he did for the Thrashers. Hossa was one of the greats in Atlanta; under-appreciated by the NHL because he played in Atlanta. Hossa was a giant though, a fantastic two-way player who did everything for the Thrashers. The Thrashers traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 alongside Pascal Dupuis for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christenson, Angelo Esposito, and a first round pick that ended up being Daultan Leveille.
While the list is not long, it represents an important part of franchise history, a history that has been erased to a degree by the Winnipeg Jets. It is easy to only pay attention to the history of Jets hockey in Winnipeg, but that is doing a disservice to the great players who played for the very flawed Atlanta Thrashers.