I would say that yes, your theory with real thatch will work. However, as Kiril has stated, it won't work quickly enough. As I'm sure you know, thatch is just the beginning of many other problems with a stand of turf, and also the result of poor cultural practices. Just putting compost down won't do the job, especially if the layer is too thick. I would say that using sugar/molasses would work, but if you are trying to correct a problem, aeration would speed that process up a ton, in addition to a topdressing of compost. If the layer is super thick, triple aerate or power rake the lawn, then do your thing. As Kiril said, you need to address the thatch first, most likely using a mechanical solution to go along with your cultural practices. I'm also right there with you on the winter being sh*tty. We've been above 60 once this year. Last year I was out working for 3 weeks already. Nothing is ready here now.