Back to back ends here

Greetings from Tampa, where the Thrashers finish the final two-games-in-two-days test of the season. You might think they’d be taking it easy this late in the year, with a game last night against Detroit. Nope. I don’t know if this morning’s skate is officially optional for everyone on the team, but the ice is full of players.

The only guys not skating this morning are the injured Jim Slater and Boris Valabik (neither of whom made the trip), plus Slava Kozlov (who gets a pass at age 36 and 192 consecutive games played) and Ron Hainsey (might be in the category of recovering from an injury, though he played against Detroit).

Through their first 14 back-to-backs this season, the Thrashers are 5-8-1 on the second night. That’s better than it was last season.

Six home games remain and, including tonight’s, four road games. If they go 5-3-2 they will equal last season’s record.

15 comments Add your comment


March 21st, 2009
1:11 pm

Mike Knobler, believe it or not, it might be more gorgeous in Atlanta, today, than Tampa! I’m headed back outside after this post!

Okay, hockey-related stuff … hmmn … gosh, this is getting harder to do when the club is so far out of playoff contention. Oh yeah! That’s it! Now I remembered what I wanted to ask!

Delicately, “What would be the consequences of a 29th place finish, for the Thrashers?” Or, said another way, “What would the consequences be for a lower point total finish this year, compared to last year, specific to the machinations of the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club?”

Before you formulate an answer, may I reminded everyone that Bruce Levensen said, after a 28th place finish last year, that the team was “moving in the RIGHT direction.” If that direction were farther south, by definition, the organization has continued to falter and fail, in terms of tangible results. More specifically, per the Standings.

So … the big ANSWER awaits! Could anyone be getting fired? If not, why not? Bearing in mind, that the default bizarro world answer, “Because the Thrashers exist in a world where hamburgers eat people” cannot suffice as a reply. This isn’t bizarro world. And consequences for failure have been a part of the NHL landscape since its inception in 1917. (The NHA, dating back to 1910.) Coaches and GM’s have been fired for FAR, FAR LESS than consecutive lottery draft finishes, or being in the bottom third of a conference for eight times in nine (8/9) seasons.

At least the Atlanta Spirit, LLC’s “kooky longevity of management theories” have had some TANGIBLE effect on them. They are NOT raking in the money. The reason for that can be found by Bruce Levensen, Ed Pescowitz, Michael Gearon, Beau Turner, and Rutherford Seydel … gazing into a mirror, and casting their eyes upon the reflection. For THEY, THEMSELVES, are the ones to blame. Don Waddell is too convenient of a scapegoat. While hardly “blameless,” simply put, FUBAS kept him in charge. When you hire a crooner to sing at your daughter’s wedding, all you can do is hope he has a “good day.” But if the guests complain about the singing, who hired him? And since the ownership cannot be fired, the only other alternative was to withhold purchase. Perhaps, pehaps, they are realizing that now. Then again, maybe not.

Does the NHL offer remedial classes for hockey ownership? And can we make the NHL make such classes MANDATORY for FUBAS?



March 21st, 2009
1:54 pm

The NHL needs to step in, and take away the Thrashers from the INCOMPETEND “spirit group” ownership, and sell the team to an owner who cares.

Someone like Mr. Blank, who will do whatever it takes to make this a successful franchise, and will HOLD PEOPLE accountable for their results (or lack there of).

I hate to see this team “remain in limbo” due to the ownership situation, the fans, the players deserve better than this.

We need someone with passion (and money, always helps) to step in and resque this franchise (in the very near future, or else the worst may happen and they end up taking the Thrashers away from ATL in a few years…if no changes are made to the current situation).

I really don’t care what the record is (wins would be great), but I would like to see the team moving in the right direction, I would like to see progress, desire, passion (on the ice) and no quitting (which to their credit, they didn’t quit last night when down big to the Red Wings).

Also, if we end up 29,28, whatever it is, I hope we are FORTUNATE enought to be able to land Tavarez (at least some reward for the suffering), and a pick even DW and Thrashers “management” can’t screw up!

Don Waddell

March 21st, 2009
1:55 pm

If I only had a brain…


March 21st, 2009
6:42 pm

Brendan there was a strong suggestion in my interview with Bruce Levenson that the owners are happy with John Anderson and that they haven’t blamed him for what is likely to be the first losing season in his coaching career (minors and NHL). I don’t know about higher up the food chain, though I would point out that Don Waddell seems to have had a decent 12 months in terms of: drafting Bogosian, turning Brad Larsen and Ken Klee into a useful draft pick or picks (via Mathieu Schneider deals plus the cash paid Schneider), claiming Rich Peverley off waivers. He struck out last summer on Jason Williams but did well with Ron Hainsey and Marty Reasoner (and for what it’s worth he probably had no shot at a forward better than Williams — yes, I know you can say he bears responsibility for making Atlanta a place better free agents didn’t want to come).


March 21st, 2009
7:18 pm

By the way, it WAS an optional skate. Also, I spoke with Ilya Kovalchuk, who said his back felt good despite having played a game the night before. He said it was tight in the first period of the Detroit game but loosened up and was no issue after that.


March 21st, 2009
8:08 pm

Yeah, firing Anderson seems like a “misplaced” focal point of accountability. That’s not to absolve him (Anderson) entirely, mind you. But how can an organization justify firing three (3) Head Coaches while retaining the same GM? Waddell is improving. Conditions are favorable, as a bottom-feeder, to making sucessful waiver claims like Peverley, and more in the future. But someone should answer for WHY the team is continually in the bottom third of the Conference. With the exception of 2007, it’s been an ANNUAL occurrence, since the Inaugural Seasons for Atlanta.

I do wonder, Mike Knobler, if there’s an “appropriate way” to gingerly ask Levensen, “Why was it UNACCEPTABLE for Waddell and his Thrashers to miss the playoffs in 2007, but it’s perfectly ‘fine’ to do so in 2008 and 2009?” In other words, what WAS IT about the year 2007 that made it so IMPERATIVE to make the playoffs, and to hold the GM position to “some” standard for accountability? Whereas, today, that standard has been removed? It seems, to me, that making or missing the playoffs is no longer IMPERATIVE, (think OR ELSE!,) anymore.

Is there a way to delicately ask Bruce Levensen, “Do you think it’s because the fans now UNDERSTAND the financial situation of the team, and have lowered their expectations accordingly?” And as a follow up question, “Is it OKAY to tell the fans that there’s a ‘rebuilding project’ going on?” OR, is it still important, in THE OWNERSHIP’s VIEW, to PRETEND, and to PROJECT TO FANS, that the playoffs are some SERIOUS objective for this season and next season?”

And, as yet another question, “Is it okay to NOT make the playoffs again next season?” Just ask that as a “yes or no” type question. For the record, I’m okay with Bruce saying, “Hey look, obviously we WANT to make the playoffs. But it’s FAR MORE IMPORTANT to keep developing our draft picks towards a much, much BIGGER PICTURE OBJECTIVE of building a playoff team with a legitimate WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY to actually bring home a Stanley Cup.”

I just want to hear some HONESTY from this ownership. I can HANDLE THE TRUTH of a plan like that. Maybe some other fans cannot. Maybe, to other fans, anything less than the playoffs next season is wholly UNACCEPTABLE. There’s got to be a diversity of opinion about such things. I’d just love to hear what the ownership has to say about it.

I’m asking for A LOT, aren’t I?


March 21st, 2009
10:25 pm

Thrashers got shootout victory with Moose on hostile ice. Not overjoyed about blowing a 2-0 lead but two points are two points. Three goals lot easier to deal with than six! Nice rebound after total home humiliation. Night all.


March 21st, 2009
11:32 pm

Slava rocks!


March 22nd, 2009
1:18 am

To Brendan:
This is why I am rooting AGAINST this team down the stretch: a sustained losing streak at the end may be the only way for ownership to sniff the caffeinated cup of reality with this team, and realize that drastic changes are needed all the way around from the ownership box, to the GM’s box, to the TV annnounce booth.

I don’t want to hear about “making progress” in yet another season the team misses the playoffs; I want to see it in mid-April when they DO.


March 22nd, 2009
1:25 am

One final thing about the article saying the team having to reach the 14,000 paid tickets a game minimum figure for receiving revenue sharing:
After Friday’s game, the team’s paid ticket sales were 505,538 for the season, coming out to 14,443/game. To stay above the 14,000 cut-off, the team needs to draw a total of 68,462 for the final 6 games, or an average of 11,411/game.


March 22nd, 2009
3:08 am

The “On the Fly” guys were kind to Atlanta, and Moose Hedberg, tonight.

Sage of Bluesland

March 22nd, 2009
8:38 am

Ownership isn’t serious about the product on the ice. Exhibit A: The continued employment of the buffoon Don Waddell.

That is why my money stays where it belongs: in MY pocket. Not another dollar of MINE to subsidize the incompetence.

Simple, end-of.


March 22nd, 2009
11:01 am

Don’t forget the Pens-Rangers on NBC today. Also, on NHL Network, there’s the ECAC Tournament Championship game on the NHL Network in the mid-day hours.


March 22nd, 2009
11:04 am

I see your point entirely, Wayne. (And Sage.) In the end, I think FUBAS believes the following. (1) Fans of the opposing team have money that is just as green, and legal tender, as Thrasher fans. They care not from where their money comes. (2) Some fans, just like Maple Leaf fans, will come NO MATTER HOW BAD the product is. (3) Some fans ENJOY the ’sound’ of the words, “I’ve been a Season Ticket Holder Since Day One.” And, in order for those words to remain true, they must buy tickets again, to keep their “streak” going. (4) Friday and Saturday nights are big “Date Nights,” and a hockey game is a place we couples will go for an evening’s entertainment, even if the “action” they seek isn’t on the ice. (5) They’ve pretty much whittled it down to the “Waddell backers.” They’ve lost the “fire Waddell” crowd. Their goal … is to have 18,545 “die hard” Waddell fans. As in, “Waddell uber alles.” (Waddell, no matter what!)


March 22nd, 2009
5:03 pm

I still want to know who changed the system mid-season. Anderson said he’d risk being fired before changing it, so who did? Waddell? The assistant coaches? Was it a collaborative effort? We know from interviews that there had been push-back from the players re: Anderson’s system, and the A’s by-passed him to get Kovy named captain. Who had the influence to get the system changed to one the players now buy into? …the one that’s actually winning games?

Bigger question: does Kovalchuk want Anderson back next season?…because if he’s going to be invited to sign long-term here this summer, he’s going to want some say in that, I bet.