And then there were five …

Folks:

Sorry for the long delay between blogs, but those days are almost over. I have just finished the last of five stories that I had on my plate this week before I take the last few remaining vacation days I have left. Then it’s the start of training camp and non-stop until April – or beyond?

Despite the title of the last blog, about four goaltenders in the mix at training camp, there are now five. As Kevin Allen of USA Today first reported, and I have since confirmed myself, Manny Legace will be invited to camp for a pro tryout. There are other players that will get a pro tryout – namely Dan Fritsche and Mark Popovic. Don’t be surprised if they are one or two others.

Just to keep you updated on the Ilya Kovalchuk negotiations. They are on hold for the moment. Don’t be alarmed. Both sides are waiting for Kovy to return to the states to continue the talks. Like I had in my last story, there doesn’t appear to be any major roadblocks at the moment.

I spent some time with Waddell on Wednesday reporting on a couple stories about his extensive autograph collection. I wrote a story that will appear later in the month. The man has one huge and impressive collection, most of which we obtained by himself as a fan. He has plenty of hockey stuff. Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Stan Makita, Wayne Gretzky, Brendan Shanahan, the list goes on. However, he also has over 200 baseballs with Hall of Fame signatures, Julius Erving on a basketball, Joe Montana on a football, many jerseys. He has the first Thrashers jersey wore by Kovy and Dany Heatley. Anyway, that story will run later in the month.

I did use the story of how he got the jersey he wore for the L.A. Kings in the one career NHL game he played in 1980-81 for my Sunday notebook. Look for that.

I know you guys are hungry for hockey but I did my best to keep you informed throughout the summer – all while covering quite a number of different sports and events. That will change in a week. It will be all hockey, all the time. It starts with interviews on Sept. 11, team physicals on the 12th and the first on-ice practice on the 13th.

I’m coming up with a list of the top five things to watch for during training camp. Of course, we have the goalie situation and how it falls out. The Kovy negotiations. How Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina fit in? Will Evander Kane make the team? Can the team build off last season’s late success?

What things will you be looking for?

35 comments Add your comment

aaron

September 3rd, 2009
3:15 pm

A 4-2 start….

…but I’m not exactly holding my breath.

Russian

September 3rd, 2009
3:23 pm

Do not worry. Only 30 Days Left to Face Off. :-)

Rabnnod

September 3rd, 2009
3:24 pm

How about some coverage of Traverse City? Hockey starts Sept 6th not the 11th.

aaron

September 3rd, 2009
3:32 pm

Couldn’t resist that shot. :)

Here’s something to look for: how the excess number of goalies is mentally effecting each of them. Kari seems to be a different “type” of goalie when it comes to things like personality, and it’d be interesting to see how Ondrej takes to it as well.

lee

September 3rd, 2009
3:54 pm

chris-awesome blog budddy!

im excited for the guys, they’re great!

chris-here are the things i would like to see in now and in the season:
-kovalchuk signing
-get this owner situation done
-seee kari preform healthely
-watch evander kane make the team
-hope that the thrashers rank 10 or above
-hope to get season tickets this year
-maybe zherdev??/
-watch kuby and nik score
-maybe make the playoffs??

(aaron, you r a new face right? well, glad to hav u.

[...] like there will be a fifth goalie in the Thrashers camp, as Manny Legace was invited for a try out.  Does this mean that Kari Lehtonen isn’t 100%?  [...]

jared

September 3rd, 2009
4:18 pm

how about this zherdev situation

aaron

September 3rd, 2009
5:11 pm

lee – not so much a new face as a longtime lurker, first-time poster. thanks for the welcome!

Brendan

September 3rd, 2009
5:56 pm

I look for accountability this year. What? The “A” word? Well, yes. More hangs in the balance this season, than at any other point in Thrashers history. Back in 2007, there was a playoffs ultimatum on Don Waddell’s head. A dubious claim, at best, however. They did make it in that year, but the COST of it was HEFTY, if you recall those four (4) trade deadline deals.

This year, something even more important than making the playoffs is at stake. The future of the “face of the franchise” hangs in the balance, this time around. And his departure from the organization would not go over well with Thrasher fans. If it happens. In 2007, the team got swept out of the playoffs with no accountability over the result. Coach Hartley didn’t get fired until the 0-6-0 start to the 2007-08 season. Heck, Hartley had a fresh, new 2-year deal in his pocket. He’s only just this season coming off the payroll. Hartley’s termination was the only accountability the organization could muster. Their response to Don Waddell, in terms of accountability, was to yank the carpet out from underneath him, in terms of the budget. Mission accomplished, the team finished in the lottery draft for past two seasons, as would be EXPECTED from their league-mandated minimum payroll.

I actually feel sorry for Don Waddell, in this respect. This year, one would think, that Bruce Levenson and the rest of the Spirit Boys realize that they must spend more, if they are to retain Kovalchuk. Then again, maybe they DON’T CARE. Maybe they see Kovalchuk’s departure as an excellent way to clear $6.5 million in cap space, for next season. It’s hard to say WHAT the Spirit thinks. Nothing they do seems to make much sense.

Keeping payroll low, while stocking the club with high-end draft picks, is primarily good for SELLING the team. It would, however, also be a very intelligent way to build a solid contender that would have a 3-5 year window of opportunity for a Championship. Which goal do you SUSPECT the Spirit is trying to attain? Sale? Or Stanley Cup?

If you ASK the Spirit, they’ll tell you that this season, just like the past TWO (2) seasons, are all about making the playoffs. Hmmn. Doesn’t seem to add up, does it? If they’d admit to a slow build, 4-year project, I think fans would be onboard with that. That’s actually a sound strategy. But it would require HONESTY on their part. And that’s not their strong suit. The other possibility … is a preparation for sale. Note: Not relocation, but sale. Truthfully, that’s what I hope for. I want some local interest, ideally one (1) person, to buy the Thrashers and care for them. Ya know, properly.

It’s NOT proper care of a franchise to get drunk on Opening Night, grab a live microphone, and promise a PACKED HOUSE that you’re going to do everything in your power to bring the Stanley Cup to Atlanta. That didn’t accomplish anything, but rile up the opposition to defeat you that night. Which they did. 3-1. Enroute to winning the the Southeast Division for the next two straight seasons.

Tony C.

September 3rd, 2009
7:42 pm

Why are we going to sign Zherdev? Mind asking DW how/if he thinks Zherdev will help the club (other than being a workout homie of #17’s) Chris?

LAC

September 3rd, 2009
8:43 pm

The only autograph I want to see or hear about waddell is the one where he signs his name to a paper saying he had turned over ALL his Thrashers cridentials as he is FIRED ! That is the only autograph I care about, his collection, Who The F— Cares !

JAmes_kovyboy from MTL

September 3rd, 2009
9:19 pm

manny legace could help our goalie situation
dan frtische is an awesome 4th line/PK guy
and popovic
i hope they get signed!!

World Be Free

September 3rd, 2009
10:40 pm

LAC is back with his usual tact!

Shawn@GSG

September 4th, 2009
8:21 am

I just want to see good goaltending and repectful defensive play to start the season. I know we’ll score goals – we just need to work harder on not giving up so many.

Bob

September 4th, 2009
9:14 am

So Don Waddell is a puck bunny. Why does that not suprise me. I can just see Brian Burke running around like a school girl asking for Gordie Howe’s autograph.

Amateur Hour, indeed.

I’d like to see Kovy signed to an extension before training camp breaks? Anyone care to put odds on that happening?

ThrasherFan

September 4th, 2009
11:11 am

UGH – Matt McConnell is back as the TV announcer. He seriously sucks

mid-ga-hockey fan

September 4th, 2009
11:47 am

By my count thats 6 goaltenders,to give all 6 a fair shot they should have started camp 2 weeks ago,c’mon drop the puck already.I’m having DT’s here in Macon,I can only watch so much NHLnetwork my eyes are crossed,I don’t have the access to all the hockey news down here and it’s KILLING me.Keep blogging guys,your are my only link to hockey in middle GA.

Wayne stuck in AL

September 4th, 2009
12:38 pm

Matt McConnell is back? The guy is the Bob Rathbun of hockey–awful…

I hope 680AM’s signal comes in good this season.

polskidawg

September 4th, 2009
1:37 pm

A HEALTHY Legace would be an upgrade in goal, in my opinion. Perhaps some of his mental fortitude will rub off on to Kari – assuming he’s still here…

ChippersLoveChild

September 4th, 2009
2:24 pm

Anything on Zherdev? I heard he has said in the Russian papers that he is signing with the Thrashers… any news on this?

ChippersLoveChild

September 4th, 2009
2:25 pm

Lol, apparently I should read others comments first. Sorry, didn’t see others had mentioned him.

R. Stroz

September 4th, 2009
2:35 pm

Bob – Maybe DW can get Cindy Crotchby to sign Boris’s cup. That would make an interesting addition to his autograph collection.

Tincup9

September 4th, 2009
3:59 pm

Boris’ cup, that’s funny. But the only autograph I want is Kovy’s on a long term contract extension

thebighairybeast

September 4th, 2009
9:34 pm

I would like to look for a Stanley Cup parade down Peachtree early this summer and sip sweet tea from Lord Stanley’s Cup. A guy can dream . . .

On the other hand, watching the team tank (again) Kovy stalling and then leaving, and Waddell and the AS guys telling us its all in their master plan is a possibilty. Hey a guy can have a nightmare cant he?

But realistically I just look for and hope for more of the kind of play in the second half of last year, having a defence that actually looks like a defence, and two actual scoring lines. Drop the puck already!

ranallo10 (in AT)

September 5th, 2009
5:51 pm

Has Lavallee been re-signed?

JLH

September 5th, 2009
9:00 pm

Chris, I would say you hit most of what I would look for in training camp. I think the line combinations will be very telling and also who our PK pairings will be. I’m hoping we can get a sense of this during camp. I would actually not consider Kane’s status to be that important this season. He is a long term investment and if we are depending on another 18 year old to contribute significantly to this team and put us over the top, we are in trouble. . At the start of the season I will be most interested in Lehtonen, Bogosian and Hainsey. Kari is key as we have all said numerous times. While I think Bogosian will be a stud in the not too distant future, I think some of us fanatics are setting the bar a bit to high, but I think we will have an unsuccessful season without a signifcant contribution from ZB. I also expect more from Hainsey and will be disappointed if playing with Kubina (still to be determined, I know) does not significantly improve his performance.

Brendan

September 5th, 2009
10:43 pm

I, too, would like to know if LaVallee has benen re-signed. If not, what’s the hold up?

kracker

September 6th, 2009
5:48 pm

Chris, Mgmt. has to be working to bolster last year’s not so good PK which is now even worse after losing Stuart and Perrin. What are their plans for that? Some have said Frtische is a pretty good PKer. What do you think?

Dave

September 6th, 2009
10:49 pm

The Thrashers are a joke. They will continue to be a joke for the foreseeable future. The owners are interested in the Hawks only. Donny Waddell would have been fired years ago by any other organization. The only draft pick they didn’t totally mess up was Kovalchuk, and even he had character issues at the start of his career. Team’s going nowhere, folks, except maybe South Ontario.

Brendan

September 6th, 2009
11:04 pm

Dave’s right. The Thrashers aren’t moving. But what is still possible is a budget with increasing numbers. If Mr. Belkin ponies up his fair share, or if they buy out Mr. Belkin, and find a new investor, the team could once again have a respectable budget, like it did in the early portion of the post-Lockout. While I certainly agree that a maxed out cap for Opening Night in 2005 is not the same equasion as a MAXED CAP in 2009, at least they were trying back then. I blame NHL accountants for creative book keeping and artificial Cap figures. A market like Atlanta faces an uphill battle.

The Thrashers have been trying to build a winner via the draft and the waiver wire. I think they’re getting better, because of it. I project Atlanta 10th in the Conference and 23rd in the NHL. Talk of playoffs seems more like wishful thinking than a certainty, but we really don’t know what an 82 game season might bring. If Kari Lehtonen can actually play 60 games, he’ll have the best blueline the Thrashers have ever assembled in front of him. If Lehtonen falters, once again, I think we might be seeing the last of him. Back in 2002, when Kari was drafted 2nd overall, he was heralded as the solution and savior in net for Atlanta. If he has that kind of season, playoff position #8 is within sight.

bigjohnthrashfan

September 7th, 2009
1:14 pm

Any chance they get rid of those awful burgundy jerseys?

They really take the fun out of division match-ups.

It pains me to say it, but Carolina has the best third jersey in the game.

Here’s to an opening night thrashing of the Bolts. Let’s Go Thrashers!

Toby

September 8th, 2009
8:56 am

Thanks for your great insight Dave… Go take a long walk…will ya?

Duder

September 8th, 2009
8:57 am

Dave,

So they “totally messed up” on Bogosian?

The Earl of Bud

September 8th, 2009
3:53 pm

Little and Enstrom are working out too in addition to Kovalchuk and Bogosian. Kane and Postma could be the real deal.

Duder

September 9th, 2009
10:38 am

Good call Earl. Pains me to say it but Coburn is a player too…just not here…sigh