Seven steps to Winnipeg 

May, 31, 2011

After a fast start in 2010-11, the Atlanta Thrashers came apart in the second half and just missed the playoffs, leading general manager Rick Dudley to proclaim that Winnipeg is getting a team on the verge of elite status. Whether this is true or a dream, the fact is that the now-former Thrashers made it to the playoffs but once in 11 years of trying and failed to win a single postseason game.

One of the NHL's greatest mysteries is the buoyancy of Don Waddell, the original general manager of the team and the author of an awful franchise narrative. Ownership in Atlanta mercifully kicked Waddell upstairs when Dudley, a solid hockey man, was brought in a couple of seasons back. It's likely that Dudley will be on hand at least in the short term (and should be longer than that). Waddell, however, won't need to find a mover just yet. He can stay on in Atlanta and consider what might have been.

1. The first Thrasher

It was intended to be a franchise-defining moment and it ended up being one in ways that Waddell never imagined. The Thrashers owned the first pick in the 1999 draft. Vancouver general manager Brian Burke traded the Canucks into the second and third overall picks with the goal of landing coveted Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

Gare Joyce is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine.