Exelby returns to Atlanta

Garnet Exelby was back in Atlanta Tuesday – if only for the day.

The former Thrashers defenseman made his first appearance at Philips Arena as an opposing player after being traded to Toronto in the offseason as part of the Pavel Kubina deal.

“It’s great to be back,” Exelby said before the Maple Leafs played the Thrashers. “It’s a little strange seeing the arena and the rink from a different side. I had no idea how to get in the building as a visitor. I came in [several hours early] one of the ways I knew from when I was a player here. I’ve never been in this dressing room before. Hopefully, I won’t [line] change on the wrong bench.”

Exelby said he was anxious to play and get the game over.

“Eventually, you are going to play a game against a former teammate, but to have everyone be your old team is very different,” Exelby said. “You almost know the other team as well as you know the team you are playing on right now. It’s an interesting dynamic.”

Hockey players are used to playing against former teammates. It’s part of the business.

“I think it will be a lot weirder for him,” Thrashers forward Chris Thorburn said. “It’s business on the ice but afterward we’ll probably have a couple laughs.”

The Maple Leafs play again in Atlanta in March but that won’t be Exelby’s last visit. He said he still has his house here and plans to keep it.

“I like living here,” he said. “I’ll likely be back here in the offseason. I’m not sure what level it will be – every other weekend type of thing or if I will train here for the summer. I’m still working that out.”

Exelby, who is an unrestricted free agent following the season, struggled early in the season to crack the Maple Leafs lineup. He has been a healthy scratch 20 times. However, he has played the past nine games.

“When you are in and out of the lineup every game is sort of your first game of the year and it’s tough to get anything going,” said Exelby, who has three assists. “Hockey is all about confidence and you can’t get confidence without playing. A player has to be able to play through a mistake here or there and not worry about making a mistake and what’s going to happen. I definitely want to be playing the rest of the game this year. When I do play, I want to do the best I can.”

20 comments Add your comment


January 19th, 2010
6:19 pm

Welcome back, “X.”


January 19th, 2010
6:21 pm

Wow, I didn’t know Exelby still lives here. Wonder if Waddell will go after him in his unrestricted free agency. He certainly knows Coach Anderson well, as well as the schemes and strategies.


January 19th, 2010
6:37 pm

He knows the strategies?! Strategies for what? For making the playoffs once per 10 years?


January 19th, 2010
11:00 pm

Anderson strategies. I leave it to you decide what that strategy is. But Exelby played for Anderson in the AHL.


January 19th, 2010
11:07 pm

Okay, folks. Forget that this team is 8-17, straight up, since December 1, 2009, over its last 25 games. Their actual record is 8-13-4, for .400 hockey. That’s not the point. The point is this. These upcoming games are the ones that can redefine the season. Two games against 13th seeded TB, in the East. There is DEAD LAST in the NHL Carolina, up next. Philly is in the mix, who is seeded 12th in the East, at present. And out West, there’s 11th place Anaheim, with 22 wins and 51-points, same as Atlanta is now. And 4th seeded Nashville, who looks very solidly in the playoff field.

This is it. This where drive for the playoffs begin … or the dismantling and subsequent “firesale” of the team is determined. There are as many as 12-points to be had in these six games. If they only come away with three (3), or even six (6), that’s really not going to be good enough. This team has to look at the rest of its season in 10-game increments. And they must go 6-2-2 every time. If they do this, they’ll be in the playoffs. If they go 5-4-1, or worse, I don’t think they’ll have enough points.


January 19th, 2010
11:21 pm

Fair is fair. Thrasher Captain Ilya Kovalchuk scored a pair of goals at Blueland. The final of those two proved to be the game winner. Pavs was average with a trio of tallies surrendered. A rare home triumph was much needed after the fumigation special in Florida the previous evening. So what if these were the Maple Loafs? As bad as the Atlanta hockey club is it will struggle to whip any team from here on out. Primed for a playoff run? Uh, no. Maybe just a bit of respect. Then again, maybe not. These head cases are just as apt to get blown out in their next home appearance. Who knows? ++STENDEC++

thasher fan

January 20th, 2010
6:49 am

bring X back. simple as that.


January 20th, 2010
8:04 am

Welcome back X. But I don’t want him here. Time has come and GONE…. As D. Elliott pointed out last night he still gets one open ice hit every 100 games but he did not have the edge that made him a fan favorite. Too any concussions me thinks.

Chris Vivlamore

January 20th, 2010
8:37 am

Thrashers called off this morning’s practice. I’ll leave this blog until posting a new one after tomorrow’s morning skate.


January 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Don’t shoot the messenger but Don Waddell’s has used this first priority line before, his first priority was to sign Marian Hossa. I love the Thrashers and hope they never move, but if they don’t sign Kovalchuk, they will not stay in Atlanta….Please get it done….


January 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Ex was never the same after the cheapshot from Hollweg. I swear when he first arrived he played like a young Scott Stevens, then he turned into Rich Pilon, visor an all. I miss him but the reality is that he can barely break into the Leafs lineup and they aren’t very good at all. My guess is that he’ll be moved at the deadline to a team needing some ‘healthy scratch’ grit and insurance in case of injuries.


January 20th, 2010
9:25 am

XLB is a great character and seems like a cool guy from what people say. I hope he has a future in the AHL, broadcasting, stand-up comedy or matching socks. He does not have a future with the Atlanta Thrashers.

j nes

January 20th, 2010
10:57 am

Was anyone else a little surprised at the monster check X threw on Kozlov? I could see him gunning for one of the new guys or even Kovalchuk, but I thought he would have more respect for Kozlov. On a related note, it seems like Kozlov is getting lit up every other game. Is he not keeping his head up or something?


January 20th, 2010
4:14 pm

@ J nes…..maybe one of the Thrasher players asked Exelby to light Kozlov up because he has been beyond worthless….I kind of wish it was during the PP..maybe when Kozlov did his infamous “fake shot”, curl, pass to Enstrom bit…….


January 20th, 2010
6:49 pm

so Enstrom could have a fake shot and pass to Kovy…….again, and if it gets blocked, let’s try it again


January 20th, 2010
7:18 pm

Having X back was great! I’d love to see him in Blueland again!

Diego from Lilburn

January 20th, 2010
7:48 pm

J nes, Yeah, I’ve noticed Slava getting hammered lately, too. I wonder if he’s just not into it anymore. I doubt he will continue after this season. Just seems half-hearted this year.


January 20th, 2010
11:11 pm

Marty Brodeur breaks his own shutout record, and now stands at 108 career shutouts, including 7 this season. He also got his 30th win, which makes the 13th time in his career that he’s won 30 or more games. That ties him with Patrick Roy. And the hits just keep comin’ for Brodeur. But better than that, Florida got ZERO points, to go along with their zero goals. Which is important, considering the Cats only trail Le Thrash by one-point.

Segue, the St. Louis Blues did not do us any favors tonight. They were up, 3-1, going into the 3rd period against Montreal. And, with Carey Price pulled from the net, they got the equalizer in the final 20 or so seconds of regulation time. That gave the Habs a point, dagnabit. But the Blues did prevail in overtime, for the win, denying Montreal the other point. A regulation time win would have really helped the Thrashers, by St. Louis.


January 21st, 2010
12:11 am

We’ve got to pick up the chatter, here, folks. Okay, here’s your game preview vs. Carolina. http://www.nhl.com/ice/preview.htm?id=2009020748. Again, nothing short of two-points is acceptable. Atlanta’s playoffs start now. If we blow 2-points here, in this game, it’s another game OFF the schedule … and it means we’ll have to BANK POINTS off of a BETTER team just to make up for this game.

People, points are already becoming difficult to obtain. We’re not even in February yet. Carolina has nothing to play for … but a roster spot for next year’s club. They’re headed to the lottery draft. They won’t escape that fate. But they WON’T TANK IT, precisely because they know that being LAST doesn’t guarantee anything but 2nd spot in the draft. If you’re Carolina … and you are eyeballing what “possible” points are left on your schedule, you’ve CIRCLED the remaining games vs. the Thrashers. Their role? Spoilers. And they’d just LOVE to derail our playoff chances. We can’t let it happen. We can’t let it happen. It must end with 2-points. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be FUGLY, even. Maybe even a shootout. But it must END with TWO (2) points in the standings. We can’t add more games to the schedule in April. The league says … everyone plays 82 of them. Want to “firesale” the team at the deadline?? Then lose to Carolina tonight. Want to be BUYERS at the deadline? Then you gotta win these games, to put yourself in that position. And Kovalchuk can use his contract as leverage to make the owners ADD more pieces at the deadline, if the playoffs are a real possibility.


January 21st, 2010
10:20 am

Brendan, our playoffs started on 1/11 against Ottawa. The last three weeks of January features winnable games and after essentially what was a 9-game losing streak, the playoffs started in game # 45. We’re 3 – 1 – 1 so far. We certainly need to make more hay tonite, Sat vs Tampa and hopefully Tues vs AHM. While the AHM game is not as crucial, it’s a chance at “free” points against a potentially jet-lagged team. Although they will have two days to rest after their tilt in St. Louis.