There are only 3 cities in NHL history that have had two failed NHL teams: Quebec, Montreal, and… A-Town: Atlanta, Georgia.
In this article, I’ll show you what professional hockey teams are in Georgia, what top hockey teams are currently in Atlanta, and whether or not Atlanta will get another NHL team.
Pssssst! Are you curious about hockey teams in other U.S. states? You can learn more by checking out our other posts: What Hockey Team Is in Florida, What Hockey Team Is in Arizona, and What Hockey Team Is in South Carolina!
Let’s dive in.
Here’s What Hockey Teams Are In Georgia:
Georgia doesn’t have an NHL team anymore (Flames, Thrashers). But, they do have a few professional hockey teams. In the ECHL: Savannah Ghost Pirates, Atlanta Gladiators. In the FPHL: Columbus River Dragons. In the SPHL: Macon Mayhem. They also have a variety of D1 hockey and junior teams.
Is There an NHL Hockey Team in Georgia?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a current NHL team in Georgia. However, Georgia has had a total of two NHL teams in times past—right in Atlanta.
In 1972, the Atlanta Flames were created to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). However, the franchise only averaged 10,000 fans per game early on and was eventually sold and moved to Calgary to become the Calgary Flames.
The Atlanta Thrashers were the second NHL team in Atlanta. They came into the league in the 1999-2000 season and played within the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference.
The Thrashers played their home games at the State Farm Arena in downtown Atlanta. While they qualified for the playoffs in the 2006-07 season, they had little playoff success and were swept by the New York Rangers in round one.
In 2011, the Thrashers were eventually sold to the True North Sports & Entertainment group to become the second coming of the Winnipeg Jets.
Does Georgia Still Have a Hockey Team?
Yes, Georgia has several different hockey teams you can watch. However, they no longer have an NHL team. The Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary in 1980 and the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011.
Georgia doesn’t currently have an NHL or AHL team, but they do have professional hockey still.
In the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), Georgia has the Atlanta Gladiators and the Savannah Ghost Pirates. In the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) is the Columbus River Dragons. In the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) is the Macon Mayhem.
Does Atlanta Have a Hockey Team?
Yes, Atlanta has a hockey team. While they don’t have a National Hockey League (NHL) team anymore, they do still have a professional hockey team. The Atlanta Gladiators are a professional hockey team in Atlanta, Georgia. They play in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) within the South Division of the Eastern Conference.
The Gladiators are the mid-level affiliate to the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.
How Many Hockey Teams Are in Georgia?
So, what hockey teams are in Georgia? In total, there are four professional hockey teams in Georgia. The “Peach State” also has a variety of college hockey and junior teams. Here’s what hockey teams are in Georgia:
The NHL is no longer present in the state of Georgia. The Atlanta Flames and the Atlanta Thrashers were both NHL teams that operated out of Atlanta, Georgia in the past 50 years but both failed to draw fans, generate ticket sales, and succeed in their respective divisions. Ultimately, both teams were sold and relocated. The Flames went to Calgary in 1980 and the Thrashers went to Winnipeg in 2011.
While several U.S. states have an American Hockey League (AHL) team, unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t. However, they do have four other professional hockey teams.
Georgia’s top professional hockey teams play out of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). The ECHL is a mid-level professional hockey league one step down from the American Hockey League (AHL). The Atlanta Gladiators are the affiliated farm team for the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. The Savannah Ghost Pirates are the affiliated farm for the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights.
Below the ECHL is the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). This is a low-level professional hockey league located in Southern U.S. Georgias has one SPHL team: The Macon Mayhem.
Below the SPHL is the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL). This is a low-level professional hockey league located in the Eastern United States Georgia has one FPHL team: The Columbus River Dragons.
Georgia has one junior hockey team. The Atlanta Capitals are a Tier III junior hockey team located in Atlanta, Georgia. They play within the North American Tier 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
D1, D2, D3 College Hockey
Georgia has several college hockey teams. However, they don’t have any D1 college hockey teams or D2 teams. They have three D3 college hockey teams that compete within the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA):
- University of Georgia Ice Dawgs
- Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets
- Auburn University Tigers
Will Atlanta Ever Get an NHL Team?
For hockey fans, one of the most debated and curiosity-driven topics is “What city is going to get the next NHL team?”
There are probably a dozen American cities you could make the case for to get an NHL team. That list would certainly include Atlanta, Georgia, despite the fact that they have had two unsuccessful NHL franchises in the city.
When the NHL picks a city to have a team (which is a long, difficult process), the primary factor is economic opportunity. In other words, is the team going to make the owners and the city more money?
There’s one key ingredient that a sports team requires to evaluate its economic potential: population.
The most populous cities in America are packed with major sports teams. For Atlanta, they’re the 8th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
In terms of economic opportunity, it certainly makes sense that they’ll be given a shot at another NHL team at some point in the future. Every other metropolitan area in the top ten has at least one NHL team (and some have a few) with the exception of Houston, Texas.
When Did Atlanta Lose Their Hockey Team?
Atlanta has had two National Hockey League (NHL) teams in the past.
In 1972, Atlanta got its first NHL franchise: The Atlanta Flames. They played in Atlanta at the Omni Coliseum as a member of the West (and later on Patrick) division of the NHL. However, the team struggled to generate ticket sales. Eventually, the Atlanta Flames were sold and moved to Alberta to become the Calgary Flames in 1980.
Atlanta’s second NHL franchise was the Atlanta Thrashers. They were created in 1997 to become the League’s 28th franchise to start the 1999-2000 season. However, they struggled to succeed and had few playoff appearances and success. Eventually, the team was sold and moved to Manitoba, Canada. In 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets.
Why Did the NHL Leave Atlanta?
The NHL was brought to Atlanta twice in the past 50 years.
In 1972, Atlanta got its first franchise in the Atlanta Flames. However, due to poor ticket sales, the team eventually moved to Calgary to become the Calgary Flames.
In 2000, Atlanta got their second shot at an NHL team in the Atlanta Thrashers. However, similar to the first Atlanta team, they struggled to draw crowds and maintain profitability. They had little playoff success and were eventually sold and relocated to Canada to become the (new) Winnipeg Jets.
Are you curious to know more about hockey in other states across the U.S.? Don’t forget to check out our other full guide: Hockey Teams in Every U.S. State: Complete NHL & College List (2023)