Royal Oak, MI--Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the man who assisted in the deaths of nearly 130 terminally ill patients, passed away last week due to "blood clot complications." However, before passing to the other side--a place he guided so many suffering souls toward-- he was able to complete one (or two) last minute "assist."
After eight years in prison and promising never again to help end a life, the doctor felt the suffering in this particular situation was too great to ignore the desperate cries for help. The doctor's involvement in this grim turn of events unfolded last week.
One by one calls were placed to the entire 23-man roster of the Atlanta Thrashers hockey club by the front office informing the players that their home city would no longer be the Georgia capital. The organization, founded as an expansion franchise in 1999, was saying goodbye to the Peach State and headed north of the border and relocating to Manitoba, Canada.
"It was like 3 o'clock in the morning," said team captain Andrew Ladd, recalling the night he learned of the move. "I answered the phone and a voice told me the team was moving to Winnipeg. Then they hung up before identifying themselves. In the morning, I thought it was just a dream. I was not dreaming, this is awful."
"Winnipeg? Winnipeg? Where the f*&% is Winnipeg? Is that a city, state or province?" asked Canadian-born left winger Eric Boulton, who has played for the organization for six years. "I'm from Canada, but I never heard of Winnipeg."
"I'm from Winnipeg and this is just about the worse news that anyone can ever get. I worked my butt off to get out of that hell hole. And, as Homer Simpson once said,'You know how I feel about hell holes.' I ... I don't know." defenseman Gary Thomas said.
Most members of the team just began sobbing uncontrollably when the news broke, others scoured their yards for trees with stout limbs that could support a couple hundred pounds.
"Isn't Winnipeg the place that snows so much that the police use black chalk to outline dead bodies?" added Thomas. "I thought I read an article about that one time. Also, I think it snows in July and August up there."
So distraught were the players about the future move from sunny, hot Atlanta to gray, frigid, snowy Winnipeg that one defenseman contacted a certain Michigan-based doctor. After learning that Kevorkian was spelled with a 'K,' the doctor's contact information was obtained and the process was put into motion. Soon after, the entire Thrashers team met in the locker room of Phillips Arena to carry out the gruesome deed. A note taped to the locker room door read: "We ain't movin' to Winnipeg. We ain't movin', period."
The attitude in Winnipeg mirrored that in Atlanta, as fans became sullen after hearing the news about the relocation. It was a stark contrast to the mood two days before when the City learned they would be getting their first traffic light. Elation turned to oozing hopelessness in less than 48 hours.
"The Thrashers? Really? They're f*&%ing awful. Oh, this sucks," said Winnipeg resident Harry Monroe, 42. "I was just about to play street hockey with some friends, now I only feel like playing Russian roulette. You'll have to excuse me, I have to go shovel the driveway."
The Thrashers spent eleven seasons in sprawling, auto-dependent Atlanta, where they qualified for the playoffs just once. In that season, 2006-07, they were swept from the first round in four games by the New York Rangers. This season they finished 13 points behind the number eight seed with just 34 wins.
"The Thrashers? Can we get the Braves instead ... and have them play hockey?" said another Winnipeg resident. "How about the Hawks or Fal ... nevermind."
"First, we get news that it's supposed to snow this week, then we hear that the 'Trashers' are coming," said Brian Tullimore, 55, a resident of Osborne Village. "I'm going ice fishing, it's what I do in June, July and August to take my mind of things."
The mayor of Winnipeg, sensing the absolute collective despair of his town, also called on Dr. Kevorkian, around the same time that the Thrashers had done so, to ease the City's excruciating pain. And, within 24 hours, all of the 630,000 residents of Manitoba's capital were gone.
"It's a shame that Winnipeg didn't learn about the locker room demise of the Thrashers before they performed their own demise. Many, many lives could have been saved," said one Atlanta police officer.
Before passing away, Kevorkian wrote a note justifying the deaths of a professional hockey team and hundreds of thousands of residents of a North American city: "I promised the courts that I would never again assist in ending a life no matter the level of pain being endured. However, this situation was very different. Each side--the Thrashers and the City of Winnipeg--were suffering from a great and terrible illness: the Thrashers having to move to Winnipeg and Winnipeg having to deal with the Thrashers. There were no other solutions to this situation. If you are reading this, I have passed on to the other side. Go Tigers!"