Optimistic or skeptical?

The Thrashers  finished strong. I’m going to write a season wrap-up for Tuesday’s newspaper (posted on the Web site sometime Monday) after a day to think things over. I’m curious if you guys go into the summer thinking things will get better or that the Thrashers will be unable to carry their season-ending momentum into the fall.

For now, though, let me give  you something to think about. Red Wings scout Glenn Merkosky had a seat in the press box Saturday night. Now, the Thrashers and the Lightning aren’t in the playoffs, so who was he looking at? Kari Lehtonen, perhaps. Remember, the Red Wings were rumored to be interested in Lehtonen at the trade deadline. The Thrashers have a goalie surplus. And Lehtonen was playing for the first time this month. … Of course, Merkosky might have been looking at a player on the Lightning, for all I know. But if he was looking at Lehtonen, he had to be impressed.

64 comments Add your comment

Nikita

April 13th, 2009
1:32 pm

From the Blueland blog, reporting comments after the game:

…I know for sure we need more players. Like I said, we got, I think, one of the best fourth lines in the league. Boults, Slates, and Thorbsy work hard, but we need more top guys and I think we’ll be really good.”

Sara, what they say and what they can actually do are not the same thing. Particularly not when going low will actually cost them and it’s in their legal interest to poormouth. I didn’t say we had money for “a big shopping spree.” What we have money for is what we were inclined to purchase anyway — people like Hainsey, who are established and known quantities that can hopefully juice a more or less working configuration. We have to and will break the cap floor. My guess would be that we go beyond that to lock up every player in danger of leaving, who luckily aren’t likely to be worth much more on the market because they either have played entirely in our system or are considered distressed assets. And then I think we’ll see one more player for $5 mill. or less. And whoever we draft will go straight to the rink, if they’re remotely capable.

As for our D, we’re not losing Big Boris. Exelby is who needs to go, but I don’t see that happening, either. So that leaves Oystrick, whose dependability and moderate play should make him decently valuable on the market.

Bob

April 13th, 2009
1:55 pm

and now the real season starts, I love the playoffs. But this is going to be the real season for the Thrash as well, what happens with the ownership cluster and then the GM will be the keys to the success of the franchise. If the owners continue their circus and Waddell remains in place, it’s just more of the same old.

But I’m hopeful that the suit is resolved and they go get a real GM, there’s a core here that a new GM could work with.

Kaptain

April 13th, 2009
2:05 pm

*The Wings can’t afford Kari (or any goalie for that matter) with a salary above $3M a year. It’s just not feasible with all the other signings they have. He also has no reason to give them a “hometown discount” like the other Wings’ players have. .
Maybe he hoped Pavelec would play instead. The kid is cheap*

Pavelec is cheap and KL is always injured. Why would we not trade KL for a bag of pucks and anything else we can get for whats left of his fragile bones and take the money saved on a cheap Pavelec and give it to Kovy? The Red Wings aren’t the only team looking for a goalie there are going to be plenty of lookers so maybe we can dupe one of them into thinking KL is healthy.

Old Time Hockey

April 13th, 2009
2:32 pm

1- Of course the payroll and attendance are linked…that’s the ONLY real income besides beer and jersey sales.

2- Why would you want to dump Slater now? He developed so much between last year and now.

3- It has been amazing to see how much more the D has been jumping into the play since Havelid was traded.

4- Why not be a little optimistic? This team COMPETED in the last 30 or so games. They were exciting and fun to watch. That’s what I would pay for! The reality is that this is entertainment and they were very entertaining late in the season. I give that credit to the coaching and look forward to fitting players to our system.

5- Was listening to XM over the weekend and they were discussing the prospects. They were very high on Holzapfel, Machacek and Esposito. They praised the grittiness and two way ability of the first two and the maturity and development of the latter.

Fletch

April 13th, 2009
2:33 pm

Here is my dream, let waddell sign Kovy to a long term contract at WHATEVER the cost. Then have the spirit owners announce “we have to honor the contract, but that is soooo irresponsible that we have decided to fire waddell.” That way we rid of ding don and get to keep Kovy. Ah, such a sweet dream.
I have NOT renewed my season tix yet, and without a Kovy signing, will not. Plus, I can go to all the same games cheaper without commiting money, and can quit once Kovy is shipped off at the trade deadline once we are eliminated from playoff contention.
So, to answer your question, I guess I am skeptical.

Frosty the snowman

April 13th, 2009
2:40 pm

After a 32-45-5 season that saw the Colorado Avalanche finish last in the Western Conference, the team announced on Monday that executive vice president/general manager Francois Giguere has been fired

FormerIslesFan

April 13th, 2009
2:51 pm

Frosty, you beat me to the punch. Here is the link:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=274901

Note the language: “The Colorado Avalanche fired general manager Francois Giguere on Monday, saying fans and management ‘deserve better’ than a last-place finish in the Western Conference.”

Avs fan

April 13th, 2009
4:06 pm

FormerIslesFan I don’t think the city of Atlanta has done as much as the Denver fans to say you deserve as much (per the language you noted). If your fans showed up more your ownership would be buyers and not sellers at the deadline. You can’t sit at home and cry about ownership when fans showing up is what moves the ownership to spend more. It keeps them coming once they showed they will buy tickets on a consistent basis.

RobD

April 13th, 2009
4:09 pm

Mike, to try to answer the question you originally posted, I guess I’d have to say I’m cautiously optomistic. (I’m a relatively new thrasher’s fan, and maybe I haven’t been beaten down yet like some of the other folks posting here.) I feel reasonably good going into the off-season, but I haven’t decided whether or not to renew my season tickets yet. My outlook could get a whole lot better, or a whole lot worse. For example, it will get worse if they don’t re-sign Marty Reasoner, and it will get a whole lot better if they sign Kovy to a new contract before the start of next season. In general, I actually feel pretty good about where the team is headed, but I could see things changing a great deal–positively or negatively–in the off-season.

Sara

April 13th, 2009
6:26 pm

AvsFan – I’d take a look at Colorado’s attendance records for the season first before you start throwing stones at ATL fans re: showing up (or not) for games. We had 4,000 more fans attend the final home game than the Avs did. Seems like when the team hit a bump in the road (as all teams eventually do) Avs fans weren’t any keener on showing up than Thrasher fans have at times been.

Brendan

April 13th, 2009
9:29 pm

I think Kovy would view holding the GM position accountable for the results of 8 non-playoff years as a commitment that the organization has, indeed, “turned over a new leaf,” and will now start trying to win Stanley Cup, instead of simply remaining fiscally responsible, with salary cap floor salaried rosters.

But what do I know? I must be some kind of ‘hater’ because I think Don Waddell has MORE THAN HAD HIS CHANCE. It’s a DECADE LATER, folks. How many playoff series has the team won? Scratch that. How many playoff GAMES has it won? Seriously.

No, seriously. Ask someone … ANYONE … who’s not in Atlanta … if they’d retain a GM who had such results, no matter HOW HAMSTRUNG by budget and lackluster ownership the franchise has had. I’d be the first to say that Waddell has a few mitigating circumstances that slightly deflect some of that blame. But … ultimately … who is responsible for the oversight of a hockey team as its chief decision-maker, if not the GM????

Alllriiighteeee then. Eight seasons out of nine … in the bottom third of the conference. Coach John Anderson said it best, to his very players, at practice: “Our record at home is terrible. We have to give the fans a reason to be here.” Well, what more is there to add?

I’m delighted by the post-trade deadline surge. Imagine if it hadn’t occurred? For a while there, this team was on pace for 62-points. Seriously. Sixty-two. (The Isles still would have finished below us, had that happened.) I think Waddell has improved his drafting as a GM since the lockout. Even before that. But his ability to judge blueline talent, aside from obvious consensus type picks like Coburn and Bogosian, is something of concern. Ohhh yes. Enstrom and Exelby were 7th rounders. Shots in the dark that panned out. Zach Redmond may yet be the next of his 7th round picks to don Thrasher Blue. But out of 34 defensemen draft picks selected, five have made the starting lineup. How many years of defenders like Modry, Sutton, Tremblay, Zhitnik, Tamer, etc, Bob has the official list, did we have to endure?

GM’s are fired for far, far, far LESS. Poor Dave Nonis got canned in Vancouver after two playoff berths, just because the Canucks didn’t advance into the Conference Finals. It’s about accountability. Not hating. Hating would be… blaming Don Waddell if you have a flat tire. Blaming Don Waddell if your girlfriend breaks up with you. Blaming Don Waddell because today wasn’t 78-degrees and sunny. That’s ‘hating’ on someone. But suggesting that a GM with the Waddell Administration’s track record be fired … doesn’t exactly seat you in the “crazy, lunatic” section of the stadium.

ranallo10 (in AT)

April 14th, 2009
3:45 am

“Hating would be… blaming Don Waddell if you have a flat tire.”

Or…blaming Waddell because you don’t like the team’s marketing. Blaming Waddell for the new jersey design. Blaming Waddell because he wont resign. Blaming Waddell because he got hired instead of Brian Burke.

The list goes on…

Brendan

April 14th, 2009
8:05 pm

In the end, Ranallo, does it matter WHICH REASON is the one that got Waddell canned? If Bruce Levenson actually got a flat tire, BLAMED WADDELL for it, and fired him, how many Thrasher fans would say, “Waddell got a raw deal?”

In some ways, several ways actually, Waddell has gotten a raw deal. But he CHOSE to stay here and endure it. And yes, collect a paycheck for it, too. I hear ya, Sage of Bluesland. I hear you.

Get The Puck Out

April 18th, 2009
10:12 am

Draft a D- man and buy a center. And sign all the returning players from the team that you want to keep. What’s so hard about that?