Sports Illustrated – Not big fans of Thrashers’ moves

So, I pick up my copy of Sports Illustrated from the mailbox yesterday. There is the magazine’s NHL preview. I immediately check where it predicts the Thrashers will finish.

I have to admit to being a  surprised that they were predicted to finish 15th – that’s dead last – in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, when they listed Anthony Stewart and Noah Welch – not currently with the big club – as key additions along with Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina I knew something was slightly amiss.

The magazine also seemed to be of the opinion that Ilya Kovalchuk re-signing with the Thrashers was very much up in the air.

The magazine did list GM Don Waddell as the person on the hot seat for the upcoming year.

Wonder what you folks think about that prediction?

51 comments Add your comment

j nes

October 1st, 2009
10:31 am

Sounds like SI needs to do some more homework.

Jeremy H

October 1st, 2009
10:32 am

Agreed, J Nes.


October 1st, 2009
10:35 am

Sports Illustrated is one of the worst sports publications to ever exist. They constantly make mistakes and/or use outdated information for their articles. Their hockey coverage is abysmal and biased. Other sports’ coverage is not much better.

…I do enjoy the swimsuit issue though.


October 1st, 2009
10:40 am

Typical NHL reporting….they have been sipping on the Canadian Kool-Aid too. I’ve come to learn unless the media is local then NHL writers have little to no clue as to what is really going on with this team. Their entire articles can be summed up with

“blah blah blah”..”Ilya Kovalchuk…blah blah blah…trade…blah blah blah….they still stink…blah blah blah”


October 1st, 2009
10:43 am

I think its funny how everyone seems to turn a blind eye to the Thrashers. All we did was shed bad players and replace them with huge (literally and figuratively) that give us that dimension we never had last year. Get Kari healthy and your looking at a semi finals in the East team potentially. People always laugh at me for that, but if we get out of the gates at 3-3 or better after the road trip this team will explode with confidence and go on a tear.

Also, we only have 2 players that will be tired from the olympics when other teams will have 3-5 tired from competition… that will give us a boost in Jan to steal some extra points here and there. I am actually excited about this season and think we may have finally turned the corner as a franchise. Its just sad it took us 10 years to get it right.


October 1st, 2009
11:00 am

I’ve said for a long time that Waddell needs to be gone. His inaction during the last few trade deadlines has been proof to me that he would rather coach than be a GM. Sadly for the Thrashers, as long as the ownership group conrtinues to squabble no big name player will want to come to Atlanta, and likely many of the players we currently have will want to leave. I personally will be surprised if Kovalchuk signs long term after this season.

I really like Kari when he first came up, especially knowing what he accomplished as a youngster with Jokerit in Finland, but he’s just not panned out. Give the goalie job to Moose or Pavelec. It may be time after this season to splurge on a big goalie. Or if we know Kovy isn’t resigning, try trading him for a big name goalie. The offense we have means nothing if our own goalie can’t stop the puck.

I am a big fan of our defense. I think the Thrashers are setting up a strong blueline, and I truly believe Bogosian will be a star for many years.

So right now our task is simple: Get rid of Waddell, stabilize the ownership group, resign Kovy long term, and stabilize our own goal. I guess that’s easier said than done.


October 1st, 2009
11:00 am

The crew at 790 brought up this SI issue with Waddell this morning. Twice in fact. The first time they asked Don about being on the hot seat – he said he felt pretty safe. He talked about this being a business but also there being a need to win games. The second time, they asked about SI along with other national media not buying into a good season for ATL this year – to which Don replied with the bare bones honest truth – the team won’t get recognition until they start winning.


October 1st, 2009
11:06 am

Enter your comments here If the Thrashers struggle out of the gate, it will be harder to sign Kovy in my opinion. If Kovy doesn’t reup, this team is toast!


October 1st, 2009
11:15 am

I quit reading SI at least ten years ago. I’m surprised people still find them relevant and in publication.

mid-ga-hockey fan

October 1st, 2009
11:19 am

Sports illustrated is without a doubt the worst excuse for Sports journalism on the planet,Hockey is an afterthought and these projections are probably put together by the same guy that covers synchronized goat shearing.The only people in sprts that get accurate coverage fron SI have the last name of Favre,Jeter,Brady or are affiliated with some team in a large market or if it has to do with Hockey,Canada.I hope that this team puts together the type of season that whoever covers this sport will actually get out a map and figure out exactly where Atlanta is.I put SI in the same category with ESPN,Hockey ignorance!!!!!!!!

j nes

October 1st, 2009
11:19 am

A corrected/updated article should read:

In the offseason, the Atlanta Thrashers have added two veteran players (Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov) that will fit in well with Coach John Anderson’s offensive minded system. If the preseason is any indicator, Antropov’ five points in two games and Afinogenov’s rediscovered speed will bode well for an offense that includes goal scorers like Ilya Kovalchuck and Bryan Little. The defense in Atlanta was improved with the acquisition of Pave Kubina, while talented youngsters Zach Bogosian and Toby Enstrom should continue to assert themselves as bonafide top four NHL defensemen. The biggest question mark for the Thrashers going into the 2009 campaign rests between the pipes. Considering the recurring injuries of former first round pick Kari Lehtonenen, general manager Don Wadell is relying on second year goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to prove himself as a starter. Pavelec has been inconsistent at best for the club. Unfortunately for Wadell, Pavelec’s performance will likely determine the status of the contract negotiations with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Ilya Kovalchuck. The wait and see attitude of the team’s only superstar could indirectly put an incredible amount of pressure on both a young netminder and a second year coach in search of an elusive playoff win for the franchise.

huh, huh, I said bonafide

Hockey Biltong

October 1st, 2009
11:21 am

Perhaps submarining the division to make the playoffs is the best storey of all!! If Alan Muir et al. can’t see any progress or don’t care enough to dig deep on their research, then all we do is play and win as much as we can, much like the ‘91 Braves…It’s only our ego that is bruised in the meantime because we aren’t getting the pub…


October 1st, 2009
11:24 am

I quit reading SI at least ten years ago. I’m surprised people still find them relevant and in publication.

Darkhorse- like i said, Swimsuit Issue!


October 1st, 2009
11:29 am

Dawg – I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of Waddell. You stated that his inaction at the last few trade deadlines as a reason for his needing to be gone…but in fact he’s usually very active at the deadline and has brought several good pieces to this team with shrewd trades, such as Armstrong. The only trade in fact where he checked his brain at the door was the Coburn\Zhitnik trade.

I’m not trying to be an apologist for Don Waddell by any stretch, but I think that some times people heap more vitriol on him than is truly deserved. There have been several situations where he was forced into making moves for this club that he hadn’t anticipated nor wanted. I will say though, after 10 years and we only make one swept playoff appearance it’s time to produce or leave. I also think you will be surprised then when Kovy resigns…(notice I didn’t say if). I believe this team will have to stink it up Detroit Lion style for him to not sign. Management has done all he has asked of them, he’s stated on multiple occasions that he wants this team to be a winner, his family loves living here, and he wants to commit to this team.

I too am doubtful about our goaltending situation and this is my biggest concern for our success this season.


October 1st, 2009
11:43 am

Who cares? It’s kind of scary, but I agree with Waddell on this: you win, you get to be on the front page (unless you’re Crosby, who will be on the front page, even if all he slaps with his stick is peoples’ balls).


October 1st, 2009
11:56 am

Every season preview I’ve read so far reads like this:

“Good additions…but they’ve sucked for the last 9 years….so they will suck again”


October 1st, 2009
12:00 pm

As Toby said, I hear the same things. Oh and, this team has no local support and will be moved out of Atlanta. So sick of that Canadian Kool-Aid


October 1st, 2009
12:17 pm

Daculafan, I can see where you’re coming from. But I think Waddell could’ve done more. I really liked the Hossa trade, but there was a point where he could’ve made moves that would have propelled the team forward and he only pulled the trigger on one deal (I’m thinking: Holik). I believe Blueland would be better served by a new GM.

B. Thenet

October 1st, 2009
12:29 pm

Anyone who has someone other than the Islanders finishing dead last in the East is a chump.

The Isles are going to be abysmal this year, worse than last year.


October 1st, 2009
12:43 pm

A NEW GM = Winning. waddell = MORE LOSING.

How is it these worthless little, and I mean little, owners cannot see what a complete liar & flop & loser he is.

For the sake of the team FIRE waddell once and for all… He’s feels safe, well that means exactly what they and EVERYONE else says NO playoffs again ! Thanks waddell you have ruined yet another team & season for the shrinking fan base in Atlanta.

My STH status ended now 4 season’s ago because of waddell and I won’t return until he is FIRED !


October 1st, 2009
1:08 pm

SI predicted the NY Mets would win the World Series this year.


October 1st, 2009
1:19 pm

Obviously Sports Illustrated puts a lot of work into researching their article. I believe they did the research back in June, based on the personnel they had listed for us. Then they sit on it for 3 months and publish at the start of the season. Personally, I give them credit for knowing when the start of hockey season was.

I’m not sure if we’ll make the playoffs, but I am sure we won’t finish dead last.


October 1st, 2009
1:41 pm

RE-SIGNING ILYA KOVALCHUK IS STILL VERY MUCH UP IN THE AIR. Until that announcemnt is made, it hasn’t happened. And if we have a bad first couple of months, Ilya’s agent will be contacting other teams (so will Waddell and Anderson). Ilya’s loyal, but he’s not stupid.

If we suck again in net, all the forwards and defensemen in the league won’t be able to carry this team.

Stat Man

October 1st, 2009
1:53 pm

I don’t think there is any doubt that (a) Kovy is encouraged by the additions made BUT (b) wants to wait to see if the team jells with the new folks.

His worst nightmare would be to sign a long term contract to stay, then a month into the season the team is floundering in last place and though I would be greatly dissappointed if he doesn’t sign, I certainly can’t blame him for taking a little bit of a wait and see attitude.

To me, the only bad news would come if he ever says “let’s wait till the year is over, I don’t want to let contract negotiations sidetrack my playing”. THAT would be the kiss of death and fortunately, nothing similar has been stated!

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 1st, 2009
1:57 pm

Just a minor correction Sam … Kovalchuk’s agent is not allowed to contact other teams while his client is under contract with Atlanta.

Al Smith

October 1st, 2009
2:00 pm

Well they’re pretty awesome in NHL Live 10


October 1st, 2009
2:21 pm

I wish they would just offer him 2 years for $20 M and get it over with for the time being. He wants to take a wait and see approach, but a 2 year deal not only gives him time to see how things take shape with Antro, Bogey, Kane etc, but also makes him a FA at the tender age of 29 to start the 2012-13 season.


October 1st, 2009
2:41 pm

Picking them dead last is not shocking. Picking them 1st would be shocking. So mabye they finish 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, or 15th in the Conference. It doesn’t matter, if you don’t go to the playoffs (ask The Real Season), then you might as well finish dead last.

If you don’t understand that having the holes in goal that we have is a huge problem (once again) and that we’ll be giving up shots on goal this year by the dozens (once again) which is going to lead us to where we are every year, then mabye you’re one of the suckers who bought season tickets again.

Kovy won’t re-sign early, he has no reason to and 29 reasons not to.

Waddell on the hot seat? Better hope so, as until that single change is made, nothing else will.

[...] Illustrated has apparently dissed (disrespected) the Atlanta Thrashers pretty, pretty, pretty bad. Pavel Kubina, Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov [...]

Paul From Milton

October 1st, 2009
3:05 pm

SI may have missed with a few players but they have the Kovy situation spot on. Face it people, if Kovy wanted to resign then he would have already done so. The Thrashers have never proven that they will do what it takes to make this team a consistent winner and I believe that Kovy is as much gone as Hossa was. Maybe Waddell moves him at the deadline. Whatever, Waddell still keeps his job. We are the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL.


October 1st, 2009
3:47 pm

ugh, im disgusted, ya know, i luv sports illustrated, but they really need to look a little bit further than what they hav. First of all, i really dont think kovy is gonna sign in 2 days, i mean really? Second, they just put atlanta at the bottom cuz they sucked last year. They prob don’t even follow off-season news! Now, i don’t expect the thrashers to make the playoffs, but i do expect them to be ranked higher than the worst! I mean come on, just cuz atl has been bad in the past years, doesnt mean they will this year. they dont care a $#!&.


October 1st, 2009
3:58 pm

Unless it’s got swimsuit babes on the cover no one buys SI.

Obviously if they can’t get the key additions right they simply have no insight into the Thrashers at all.

Kovy will wait to sign and I don’t blame him. Waddell is and should be on the hot seat but I like the changes he made and he does draft well. I think most of the problem with the Thrashers has been with goal tending and defense over the years and until that get’s fixed they will have trouble making the playoffs.


October 1st, 2009
3:59 pm

This is not surprising….they probably would have got a better ranking if they were an “original 6″ team………..I hate “original 6″ teams….


October 1st, 2009
4:12 pm

Its easy to draft well when your franchise is always in the bottom 5.

And I meant the comment about Ilya’s agent looking for other teams figuratively, not literally…ie like Ilya’s one skate out the door if we suck.

Get The Puck Out

October 1st, 2009
4:41 pm

That’s why kovy’s not signed. He is waiting to see what kind of team the Thrasher’s are going to have two months from now. He wants to play for a team that has a CHANCE to win deep in the playoffs, so he’s got the wait and see approach. Can’t blame him, but i really hope he signs very soon. I sure wouldn’t want to be Donnie if he walks. Just hope the goalies can do the job.


October 1st, 2009
4:51 pm

It’s so easy to blame DW for the woes of this franchise. I have nearly been sucked into that myself. An accurate assessment of his performance HAS to start with recognition of the two most important facts: 1) the ownership has taken responsibility for the Coburn/Zhitnick trade. They have admitted that it was a soul-selling move to make a playoff push and 2) the ownership’s past unwillingness/inability to spend enough money to make this a consistently viable franchise.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way.

1) Yes, it’s a performance business… but honestly, who is going to replace him? The Thrashers would have to replace him with a big name for it to be worth starting over from square one… and that’s just not going to happen. A rebuilding process started by anything less than a hockey god will destroy what’s left of this fan base.

2) Other than the aforementioned Coburn/Zhitnick trade, what would you have done differently?

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 1st, 2009
5:47 pm

“Other than the aforementioned Coburn/Zhitnick trade, what would you have done differently?”

Tkachuk. Belanger. Savard (that’s hindsight talking though, I felt he was asking for too much at the time and was wrong considering how the market has exploded since). Vigier. Modry. Not firing Hartley sooner. Firing Hartley too soon (sounds contradicting I know, but I can explain). Rucchin.

Shall I go on with the things I would have done differently?

I agree that the ownership bears a lot of burden for the state of the franchise currently, and that it’s all too easy to solely (operative word) blame Waddell. However, after years and years of failure I would expect the ownership to right what is wrong and make a conscious effort towards rectifying this hockey franchise. If that begins with replacing Waddell with almost anybody (Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury excluded), then so be it.

I’m not attached to Waddell in any way shape or form, but I don’t think he deserves all of the blame. As Brendan has said numerous times you cannot blame Waddell for doing what he considers to be the best for this club when nobody is holding him accountable for his actions. He (Waddell) thinks he’s doing what is right, and nobody has told him otherwise. In my opinion Waddell isn’t free from blame, but at this point it’s up to the ownership group to do something about it and they don’t seem willing in the least bit (in fact, they seem happy with the course of the franchise).

B. Thenet

October 1st, 2009
6:06 pm

As of right now I think Darcy Hordichuk is the only F drafted by the Thrashers outside of the 1st round, that has become a regular in the NHL.

The drafting for the first 5 years was awful, and set back the franchise quite a bit. By the time we were done with the Over The Hill Gang, our old playoff team, and ready to turn it over to our prospects….there weren’t any.

We have had to give up 3rd rounders for 4th liners like Thorburn. We have a 1st round pick centering our 4th line. Ilya, Slater, Little, and now Kane are the only homegrown forwards on our team. All 1st rounders. Yes, we have some kids coming up the pipe that will break that streak soon, but the scouts really let us down for the early years of our franchise and it is one of the major reasons why the Thrashers have been very bad over the last two seasons.

That is just one thing DW could have done different.

Fan from Carolina

October 1st, 2009
7:57 pm

Can’t argue vehemently with the pick but sure hope they are wrong. Atlanta has actually done little from last year and the goaltending situation right now is downright scary. Kubina is just average compared to the glorious Cup year in 2004. He flourished under the old rules and I always remember how he manhandled Jagr back then. Can’t do that stuff anymore. Antropov was very unwelcome by the fans and media in T.O. so there is something there that we will soon find out about. I didn’t watch enough Leafs games to see firsthand but I was surprised on a few occasions watching on Center Ice hearing the announcers put him down so often. Can’t get too excited about anything and I agree with those about Kovy taking the ‘wait and see’ approach. He could be the big NHL news at the trade deadline later this season. The Canes, Caps, an improved Tampa Bay spells trouble ahead in this ‘not so easy’ division.

Putting On The Foil

October 1st, 2009
8:52 pm

Didn’t these same guys pick the Falcons 1-15 last year? I like our chances even more now. And thanks five_hole, I’ll try the McKellans.


October 1st, 2009
10:10 pm

@putting on the foil: that was actually Sporting News. SI still sucks though.


October 1st, 2009
11:02 pm

Waddell’s gotta go if this team ever hopes to ever get over the hump!


October 2nd, 2009
12:34 am

I will never believe that Waddell can get fired, if the Atlanta Spirit, LLC is the ownership. Re-read that sentence again. Sink in, yet?

Good. It’s the truth. Does that mean Waddell is a good GM? Pfft! Moving right along. If the day ever ARRIVES that Don Waddell isn’t the GM, it’ll be because one of three things happened. (1) Waddell retired or resigned, (2) because the team was sold to new owners, or (3) because Waddell got promoted to some budgetary oversight position for the Hawks and Thrashers. And even then, he’s still calling the shots, no matter WHAT PUPPET GM is installed. If Ric Dudley is ever made GM, he’ll have as much power, scope and authority as Emperor Puyi did over Manchuria, during the Japanese occupation of Northern China.

Waddell, in my view, is doing all that he can. He’s TRYING. Good lord, he’s trying. But he’s a limited-ability GM, who is hamstrung by ownership to make any serious reforms. Truthfully, I don’t know what I wish for more. Tighter control of Waddell or turning him loose, to land the next Uwe Krupp, Jani Hurme, or Steve Rucchin. Or to sign some Bobby Holik-like crippling contract, or some defensive upgrade like Ken Klee or Jaroslav Modry. (Or Mandy.)

The thing that bothers me the most about Waddell … is his ability to obtain and develop blueline talent. While Enstrom and Exelby were latter round draft picks, and Bogosian and Coburn with high-end picks, the rest of his defensive selections, trades, or free agent signings have left a lot to be desired. And what is worse, in my view, is that Waddell was, HIMSELF, a defenseman! He should have a much better handle on judging that position. Don’t get me started on Waddell and his goaltender selections. Wait, what did Mother say? “If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.”

When I stop to think that the first ever Thrasher signed to a contract was Damian Rhodes, I should have known then. But truthfully, I didn’t think that was a bad contract, at the time it was signed. Who knew Rhodes would play 81 games over 3 seasons, collecting $10 million in the process, in a contract that couldn’t be bought out, either. Uggh. And that 2005 trade to get Pavelec … is now under the microscope.


October 2nd, 2009
1:18 am

I agree with SI. But what can you expect with the Thrashers’ multi-head up their ownership group. I guess Waddell does the best he can under the circumstances. But he should have signed Andrei Zubarev for at least this year. And Kari’s really good, but always hurt and should be traded for a 1st tier player. Give Ondrej and Moose his work. I think Kane should first play some AHL for a year.


October 2nd, 2009
3:37 am

EA Sports is using their game to predict this season, here is how “they” say the outcome will be.

2009-10 Final standings

Eastern Conference W L OTL PTS
p-Carolina 54 23 5 113
y-Boston 49 25 8 106
y-Pittsburgh 47 28 7 101
x-New Jersey 46 29 7 99
x-Washington 47 31 6 98
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96
x-Philadelphia 42 32 8 92
x-Florida 40 33 9 89

Tampa Bay 40 38 4 84
Montreal 37 36 9 83
Ottawa 39 39 4 82
Toronto 36 37 9 81
Buffalo 34 37 11 79
Atlanta 34 42 6 74
NY Islanders 31 41 10 72

Atlanta, Losersville USA !!!!!!!!


October 2nd, 2009
6:48 am

Coming from NY I wanted the Thrashers to succeed and held great season tix in 116 the first several years. I went so far as to walk away from the Rangers during the only playoff appearance….now the Thrashers are dead to me. That team is just like every Atlanta team – happy with mediocrity. Hockey has probably the most loyal fan base but it costs too much to go down to watch when management doesn’t care – I’ll go to the Glaiators! Go Rangers! (another disaster but at least we offer death vendettas and get mad!)

Hockey Biltong

October 2nd, 2009
8:45 am

Putting on the Foil – try Balvanie 18yr old.It’s pretty good too!

Spud Webb

October 2nd, 2009
10:50 am

I didn’t know Sports Illustrated covered hockey anymore. hahahahahahhaha. That magazine is horrible, it’s for the guys who “try” to follow sports.
Listen, I maybe alone here but DW needs to be fired NO matter what we do this season. Sorry, I don’t think 10 years to get something right is reasonable. I’m not going to accept one good year (maybe 2 this season) as a reason to keep a guy. There is a way to run a franchise, even with money restrictions and DW and the Thrashers are NOT doing it the “right” way. I hope we have a GREAT season and make a playoff run. That said, I want DW out the door regardless…enough is enough. I mean think about that 10 FREAKING YEARS???????????????????????? High draft picks, bad trades, bad signings…now the Kovy situation. Granted it’s ownership and DW, but ownership isn’t going anywhere (god thats a wet dream!) so DW, see ya. See everyone tomorrow night!!! GIANT BEERS IN CNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


October 2nd, 2009
11:43 am

The steps have been good ones but are baby steps. Yes, the D looks good on paper but it did at the start of last year, too (Schneider, Hainsey, Tobi, Havelid) and was a disaster. Two of those pieces are different now but the end result is unseen on the ice.

The goalie situation will be a +/- 10 win factor. It will trump everything else.

Scoring, I think will be there as expected, but I’m not expecting anywhere near a repeat year for Todd White. Some of those points will have to be made up by others. We should have moved him at peak value after last year. I hope I’m wrong and it wasn’t an anomaly.


October 2nd, 2009
3:07 pm

meat brought up a good point. If you aren’t happy with the prices, the atmosphere, or the performance, of the big league club, drive on up to Duluth and experience the Gwinnett Gladiators. The hometown ECHL team that is a perennial playoff contender, has actually played for their league’s championship, and regularly scores in the top five in attendance in the ECHL. Plus, you sometimes get to see young stars headed for the AHL and NHL. And it’s relatively cheap…