Archive for September, 2009

Thrashers line combinations – with plenty of updates

Reporting in early from Wednesday’s Thrashers practice.

Here are the line combinations on the ice. Do not know if there is any significance yet. I’ll check after practice.

Light blue: Kovalchuk, Little, Antropov

Grey: Kozlov, White, Afinogenov

Orange: Kane, Reasoner, Peverley

Red: Boulton, Slater, Thorburn

Yellow: Armstrong, Gratton

There is nothing new of the Kovalchuk negotiations at this point. I, obviously, have a lot of catching up to do with Don Waddell and John Anderson a bit later. I have a long list of things to ask about, but feel free to give me your thoughts and I’ll add them to my list.

I will check back after lockeroom and interviews.

UPDATE: Lots to report from locker room interviews and session with Waddell and Anderson.

Here goes:

1. Kovy negotiations continue. Waddell remains optimistic. However, don’t expect it to be done by start of season. Both Waddell and Kovy said they don’t – and won’t – consider the contract talks a distraction. Stay tuned.

2.Without …

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Thrashers make moves … on the golf course

I just got back from playing in the Thrashers golf outing. Had to cut the event short to race back home and write the story on the signing of Max Afinogenov and Mark Popovic and the release of Nathan Oystrick.

I found out about the moves while on the golf course, but had no way to let everyone know. It might be time to invest in a blackberry. I just didn’t think the moves would happen today while on the course course. I live and learn.

The roster may not be set just yet.  There are other possible moves to come. The obvious move to get to the 23-player limit is to put Kari Lehtonen on injured reserve. Other moves – including a trade – could still happen.

While it was good news for Afinogenov and Popovic, Oystrick also found out he was waived while on the course. There are several scenarios, but it’s possible he could end up in Chicago if he passes through waivers. That’s just one scenario. I had just completed a lengthy story on how he found his biological mother over the …

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Off covering golf

My apologies friends, but you may have noticed I am covering the Tour Championship at East Lake this week for the paper. That would account for my lack of blogging.

I’m afraid the closest I have come to the Thrashers this week is walking 18 holes with fan Stewart Cink on Thursday.

While I’m away, I have left the blogging to Rawhide – who does a terrific job. We share a number of text messages.  Colleague Ken Sugiura has been filling in on the game coverage and has done a very nice job.

After Sunday’s final round of the Tour Championship, I will be back at it. I’m trying to keep up with everything from here.

Please hang in there. I will be back soon. I appreciate the understanding.

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Esposito among 10 sent to Chicago

The Thrashers trimmed their training camp roster by 10 players Saturday. I had to wait to post this because some of the players had not been told yet.

Angelo Esposito, Riley Holzapfel, Jordan LaVallee, Anthony Stewart, Brett Sterling, Rylan Kaip, Andrew Kozek, Chad Denny, Peter Mannino and Kevin Doell were all sent to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

That leaves the roster at 36 players.

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Thrashers add Afinogenov for tryout

The Thrashers will bring Maxim Afinogenov, who played in Buffalo last season, into training camp for a pro tryout. He is expected to arrive Thursday night.

Afinogenov was injured much of last season, but the 6-foot-1, 191-pound Russian forward led the Sabres in scoring in 2005-06 with 73 points.

“He’s a high-end guy, a skill guy,” Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said. “It doesn’t hurt. We’ll see what happens.”

Afinogenov had 20 points (6 goals, 14 assists) last season for the Sabres.

He was a third-round draft pick in 1997.

What are your thoughts?

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Thrashers trim roster

As expected, the Thrashers trimmed their roster on Wednesday by releasing 16 players from the NHL roster. All were prospects, most of whom will move to their junior teams.

Released were: Matt Anderson, Jimmy Bubnick, Michael Forney, Levko Koper, Jeremy Morin, Eric O’Dell, Danick Paquette, Tomas Pospisil, Matt Siddall, Darryl Smith, Ben Chiarot, Scott Lehman, Mike Looby, Drew Paris, Cody Sol and Josh Unice.

Also on Wednesday, the Thrashers set their roster for the team’s first two preseason games – Thursday at Nashville and Friday at Tampa Bay. For a lot of the young players this will be a quick two-game audition before the roster is trimmed again.

Here is the roster. MacIntyre will start in goal Thursday and Pavelec will start Friday.

36    Boulton, Eric
15    Crabb, Joey
67    Doell, Kevin
57    Esposito, Angelo
16    Fritsche, Dan
24    Gratton, Josh
9    Kane, Evander
40    Krog, Jason
50    LaVallee, Jordan
46    Machacek, …

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Lehtonen expects to return soon

While Thrashers training camp continues, Kari Lehtonen continues to recover from off-season back surgery. I caught up with the goaltender at the team’s facility today.

Lehtonen was originally not expected to miss training camp, but now team officials are saying his return is not imminent. Lehtonen told me he expects to be back before the end of camp. That will be the story for Wednesday’s paper.

“I feel a lot better than I did a couple of weeks ago,” Lehtonen said Tuesday. “The first four or five weeks were very, very slow. With my back getting better, I wasn’t able to do much. Now, the last two weeks I’ve been able to, first, live normally, and now I’ve got the OK from the doctor to start working hard. It’s been holding up great and that’s a great thing.”

Lehtonen also said he regrets not having the surgery sooner. However he and the team thought an off-season epidural cleared up any issues that lingered from the injury suffered in October.

Stay tuned to see if he is able to …

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Little wants to have better season

Back from Day 2 of Thrashers training camp and have sent two stories.

I am skipping the prospect game with Nashville today. I will stick around for Tuesday’s afternoon game.

I talked to Bryan Little for one story. He wants to improve on last season, although he wouldn’t give a number of goals he is shooting for. That would be a major plus if he scores more than 31 this year.

I also spoke with Drew MacIntyre on Sunday. I wrote that for the Tuesday paper. He was pretty candid. He said the goalie situation – even before Manny Legace arrived – made him hesitate on signing with the Thrashers. He said he would go to Chicago if sent there, but you could tell he’s had enough minor-league hockey.

I’m trying to talk to all the goalies in the next few days. There was no sign of Kari Lehtonen today.

Let me know if there is someone in particular you want me to write about or a question you want me to ask.

I will check in earlier on Tuesday.

Thanks folks.

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Kovalchuk hopeful about a new contract

Just got back from the first day of Thrashers training camp. Very good to meet so many of you fans. Hey, I even met the famous – or is that infamous? – Sara.

Lots of news from the practice.

My first stop was obviously Ilya Kovalchuk to talk about his contract status. I asked him for an update. He said his agent and Don Waddell were talking and he just wanted to concentrate on playing hockey. So I asked if he was confident he would re-sign and he said yes.

“Yeah, hopefully because I’ve been here all my [professional] life,” Kovalchuk said.

Stay tuned.

Talked to Toby Enstrom about the injury his suffered during the World Championships. He said he is fine. He took four weeks off after surgery to repair the facial fractures.

The other note of interest was Kari Lehtonen. He did not practice. He is still recovering from back surgery. There was no indication from coach John Anderson when he will return. In Lehtonen’s absence, finding a No. 1 goalie is a top priority of camp.

“Right …

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Thrashers training camp roster

Here is the Thrashers training camp roster – all 62 names. I had to take out their birthplace to get each player to fit on one line.

See you Sunday.


No.    Player    Ht.    Wt.    S    Born  Acquired
71    Anderson, Matt***    5-11    195    R    10/31/82   N/A
80    Antropov, Nik    6-6    230    L    2/18/80   Free Agent (7/2/09)
20    Armstrong, Colby    6-2    190    R    11/23/82   Trade w/ PIT (2/26/08)
36    Boulton, Eric    6-1    220    L    8/17/76   Free Agent (8/8/05)
54    Bubnick, Jimmy*    6-2    195    R    1/19/91  Draft ’09 (6th Rd, 155th Over)
15    Crabb, Joey    6-1    190    R    4/3/83   Free Agent (8/31/06)
67    Doell, Kevin***    5-11    190    R    7/15/79   N/A
57    Esposito, Angelo    6-1    180    L    2/20/89   Trade w/ PIT …

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