I’m back … and so are some of the Thrashers

OK folks. I’m back from another week of vacation and some heavy reporting days. I’ll be taking another week in a couple weeks. I have to get all my time in before the season starts.

I spent some time in Duluth on Wednesday. I interviewed Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn, who are training with a boxing instructor, for a story next week. The Thrashers web folks tagged along so they might have some video on their website soon. I think it will be a good story. They do it in part for conditioning and in part to bolster their on-ice fights. Let me tell you, those guys can punch. It’s a good thing a hockey player can’t get the same kind of leverage on skates as he can in a gym, because those were some powerful punches. Look for that next week. By the way, let me say that Boulton and Thorburn are very personable. I’ve dealt with them a couple of times this offseason and they could not have been nicer.

Also in the gym working out were Slava Kozlov, Johan Hedberg and Nathan Oystrick, along with several prospects, including Angelo Esposito, the Saponari brothers and Doug James. They all had an on-ice training session following the gym work.

I spoke to Hedberg following the workouts. I will be writing a weekly Inside the NHL column for the Sunday paper. That will begin this Sunday and my talk with Hedberg will be much of it. He is back after 10 weeks in Sweden, just in time to get the kids back and school. He was very good, had some good things to say, especially about the upcoming goalie competition. Look for that Sunday.

Obviously, I’ve spent a lot of the week on the ownership situation with the news of the court decision on Monday. I had a long interview with co-owner Michael Gearon on Tuesday, along with my esteemed colleague Sekou Smith. I will put some of that in my Sunday notes column. I pushed him on several issues, including the sale and/or move of the Thrashers. While he said the owners are looking for investors, like Arthur Blank and the Falcons did recently, there are no intentions to sell the team or move them. The quick reasons they are not a movable franchise are that they are tied to Philips Arena in naming rights. The arena must have an NHL and a NBA tenant or Philips can get out of the deal. Also, the owners signed an agreement with the NHL that they would not move the franchise. Several years remain on that deal.

I am working on the Ilya Kovalchuk negotiations. I have to speak to a few more people before I can give a full report. All my indications, so far, are that they are proceeding slowly with no major roadblocks at this point. Any thing can change in contract talks, but that is where we stand right now. I will keep you posted.

61 comments Add your comment

The Earl of Bud

August 21st, 2009
3:44 pm

Dwayne, go back to my 10:09pm. You are confusing a SHOT with a SHOT ON GOAL. Two different things. We just want to know if the defensemen are making any kind of effort to help their team. Not whether the shot is going on goal or not to judge the shooter. If you don’t like it take it up with the NHL, the NHLPA and the Elias Sports Bureau cuz I don’t know what else to say.


August 21st, 2009
3:57 pm

Don’t forget, Dwayne, that stats are also kept for MISSED shots. Though a shot that misses everything is, as you said, NOT a shot on goal, it is still counted as a shot. While all shots on goal are, obviously, shots, not all shots are necessarily shots on goal. You seem to be getting caught up with the idea that a shot is not a shot unless it’s on goal, and that’s simply not true.

So, if we can accept the premise that any puck directed towards the net in a shooting motion is a shot (whether it hits the net, the post, or the glass), then we can see how any opposing player who stops the progress of the puck before it reaches its destination would be credited with a blocked shot (again, NOT a blocked shot on goal…just a blocked shot).

World Be Free

August 21st, 2009
6:48 pm

Randy-please go back to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blog.

The Earl of Bud

August 21st, 2009
8:33 pm

Thanks MB.

Dwayne, remember when Carolina blocked that field goal against the Falcons? Well how could it have been a field goal if it didn’t go through the uprights for 3 points? So if it wasn’t a field goal how was it a blocked field goal?

Remember when Mutumbo played for the Hawks and had all those blocked shots? Well none of those shots hit the rim or went anywhere near the net, so wasn’t he just blocking passes?

Now you know what I meant when I referred to the vortex.

Ok, let’s drop the puck already.

WBF, nice call on that one.


August 22nd, 2009
3:52 pm

Welcome back, Chris Vivlamore. I wanted to get your take on what will happen with respect to minority owner, Steve Belkin. Do you think he’ll stay, and pony up his fair share of the money? Do you think the Spirit owners will buy him out now? Do you think they can ‘make up’ and run things as before, prior to the Joe Johnson trade debate?


August 22nd, 2009
5:31 pm

Smitty- I think Kari’s back probably isn’t quite ready to be on the ice since his surgery.

Sara- I can’t help but think that the NHL’s objection was rooted in the idea that McDavid, as I’ve heard, was strictly a basketball guy, and they probably wanted the NHL team to remain tied to the NBA team at least until it was entrenched in this market a bit better. If I remember correctly, I heard that McDavid was planning on simply selling the Thrashers as soon as possible, and since the Spirit at least held on to it up until this point, I think that option keeps the teams and the arena linked longer than the McDavid option potentially would have. I remember a lot of people clamoring about how they wish McDavid would’ve been the sole owner, and that sounded good to me, until I read that he had no interest in hockey. That is, unless I’m remembering all this completely wrong. I didn’t think there was much point in paying a lot of attention to the owner that never was.


August 22nd, 2009
5:43 pm

“All my indications, so far, are that they are proceeding slowly with no major roadblocks at this point.” – Wow that line is scary. Isn’t that almost verbatim what was said about the Hossa negotiations around this time? I know. Different situation, but still…


August 24th, 2009
3:01 pm

Advice: Don’t get too attached to this team, it won’t be here much longer. For enough money anything can be bought, even a Philips licensing agreement, the NHL, and most certainly greedy owners. One way to settle the ownership mess is for everyone to cash in their chips and go off rich and happy. I’d be shocked if that wasn’t in the works already. There’s countless millions to be made letting this team go elsewhere; countless millions to be lost keeping it here.


August 24th, 2009
5:19 pm

Too late, DawgDad…pretty much everyone on here is already attached to the team, hence the fact that we spend time on a blog for fans. And we’ve all heard the various doomsday scenarios about the team leaving, and who knows…maybe some day, sooner or later, it’ll happen. But there’s about as much value in worrying about that as there is in worrying that Mark Richt is leaving UGA at the end of the season to take over for another major college program. Could happen, but there’s not a whole lot we as fans can do about it, so we prefer to support the team, hope for the best, and if they DO end up leaving some day, then we’ll cry in a beer or two and then move on.

Viva La Vivlamore

August 24th, 2009
10:24 pm


August 26th, 2009
1:31 pm

“I remember a lot of people clamoring about how they wish McDavid would’ve been the sole owner, and that sounded good to me, until I read that he had no interest in hockey. That is, unless I’m remembering all this completely wrong.”

Brendan, I don’t recall that all. It’s the Spirit boys that are mainly bball guys, I don’t recall any talk about McDavid wanting to move the Thrash.