Q and A with Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson

Here is the transcript from my interview with Atlanta Spirit co-owner Bruce Levenson done Wednesday night after the franchise promoted Don Waddell to president, promoted Rick Dudley to general manager and did not retain its coaching staff.

Q. Why the organizational changes? Why now?

A. We obviously had this in mind when we brought Rick [Dudley] in a year ago. We thought it was a wise investment to have another voice at the table that had achieved a fair amount of success in this league. We wanted to get to know him and it was an opportunity to do that. He’s a rink rat and I mean that in a very flattering way. It was an opportunity for him to do that and see how it goes. We talked about it over the course of the year and in recent weeks it just all came together. If we were going to do this, this was the time. Way ahead of the draft. The decision was made to go into a different direction with the coaching staff and we wanted Rick to head up the effort in putting a new staff together. The timing just seemed right. Over the year, I had the opportunity to see Rick in action. Trade deadline day. It was an opportunity for me to watch him up close over the course of the year. The whole [Ilya] Kovalchuk negotiation and ultimately the trade. I had a really, really good feeling about this and so did Don.

Q. How soon after the season did you decide to go in a different direction with the coaching staff?

A. There is an on-going assessment of this coaching staff throughout the season. At the end of the season, there is a more thorough assessment that culminated in a discussion Monday in which this was the recommendation of our hockey operations people and I agreed with that recommendation.

Q. Waddell has taken a lot of criticism as GM. What was the thinking of moving him to the business side? Was it as much to get him out of the GM position or keeping a loyal person who has worked for you as long as you’ve owned the team?

A. I get a lot of e-mails from fans and season-ticket holders, all very passionate about team and wanting as much success for the team as I want. The e-mails, I’ve never done an actual count as there are hundreds and hundreds of them, run about 50-50 with some saying if you don’t remove Don as GM I’m not going to renew my season tickets. And there are others that say if you do remove Don as GM I won’t renew my season tickets. It’s kind of 50-50. Don has burned a lot of bridges in this town and his built an enormous amount of bridges. I’ve been around professional sports for a couple of decades and of the general managers that I have gotten to know, he brings a pretty unique skill set. He has the hockey personnel piece and he also has a business side to him that I haven’t seen in any other GM. It started to make sense. We need to rebuild both here. We need to rebuild the business side and we obviously need to rebuild the on-ice product. But are pointed in the right direction now and Don has a terrific relationship with our business partners. I spend a fair amount of time with our business partners with Don. So I’ve seen the relationships he’s built over all the years here. Nobody wants more for the success of the Atlanta Thrashers than Don Waddell. We think this is an opportune time for him to channel that passion and his business experience into bringing fans back into the stands. It obviously has to go hand in hand with the on-ice product that we can be proud of and our fans can be proud of.

Q. How will his role be different than that of Bernie Mullin?

A. Since Bernie left, Don took on some of Bernie’s responsibilities. This is really a focus. We have to focus our sales, our marketing, our sponsorship relationships, our season-ticket plans. All of that now is going to get a focus at the very top of the organization. I think that’s needed if we are going to turn this thing around.

Q. How frustrating is it as an owner to see where the Thrashers are as compared to where the Hawks are?

A. It’s been six years [since Atlanta Spirit has owned the franchises]. We have learned an enormous amount. We came in as rookie owners six years ago. We’ve learned an enormous amount about building a sports team. We’ve made mistakes along with way with both teams. We also did some positive things with both the teams. The goal from the beginning, and we said this then, was to bring a quality product on the ice and a quality product on the court. We understood that was what was needed for us to achieve success here. It is gratifying on the one hand to look at what we’ve done with the Hawks. I’m extremely proud of that. We’ve had an improved every year that we’ve owned the team. I don’t think any new ownership group in the history of professional sports has had the string that we’ve had on the Hawks side. That’s gratifying. But yes, it’s been unbelievably frustrating. I can look back at mistakes that we’ve made and wish that we haven’t made them. But it’s been extremely frustrating. After we got as far as we got (in making the playoffs) we hit a wall. We had to start over. Nobody likes to take two steps back, but we had to take two steps back. I’m a three-quarters full guy. I don’t want to overhype the direction I think we are headed in, but based on what we’ve learned over the six years, I feel good about the direction that the hockey team is headed right now.

Q. Do you consider this one-step back?

A. I think this is an important step forward. I think we now have a guy that’s going to be focused on the business side and I know from working with him very, very closely over six years that he’s very good at that. And we have a guy that’s going to be focused on the hockey side, on the personnel side that A has a resume, but resumes and only take you so far but B I’ve had the personal experience of working with him for a year whom I also feel very good about.

Q. How is the ownership currently working? There is still the on-going litigation. Can you also speak to how the search for investors is going?

A. It’s working as its worked. And it has worked. It’s worked fine. It has not had any impact. I can understand how a fan could look at it and say Geez, this is dysfunctional group, a bunch of wealthy guys fighting with each other. We have a legitimate dispute between two sides that’s been working its way through the legal process. I would dare you to find one example where that has impacted any of the decisions that we have made on the Hawks and in hopefully rebuilding the Thrashers. It doesn’t impact. It has no impact. It will ultimately come to a conclusion. It’s pretty much disappeared, I think, from the public psyche. It just never did have an impact. We have been ideally looking for an investor to come in and play a role in the Atlanta Thrashers – ideally a local investor who would give us more financial muscle, if you will, in this community. We haven’t found that person yet but we are continuing to look.

Q. If that person comes in, is it to keep the team here? Or could that person come in with majority ownership and move the franchise?

A. We bought the Atlanta Thrashers. In doing that we signed agreements with the NHL. Even if we wanted to talk to somebody about moving, we are forbidden from doing that under our agreements with the NHL. Even if we wanted to talk to somebody who wanted to move it, it’s clearly stated in our agreements. We are forbidden from doing that. We’ve never had those discussions. Every rumor that’s been published, and I’ve seen rumors we were moving to Quebec, to Hamilton, to Winnipeg, Seattle, they’ve been 100 percent unfounded and unfair.

Q. You have 10 unrestricted free agents, how do you see the payroll changing? You are in the bottom third in the NHL in payroll. Do you expect it to stay there? Is there a budget in place?

A. We were running right near $50 million. I hope we can achieve with the Thrashers what we’ve been able to achieve with the Hawks — to build a winning team in a financially responsible manner. That’s what we’ve done with the Hawks. There are ways to measure that like payroll dollars per win. We are at the very top of the NBA and there are a lot of jealous owners with what we’ve been able to accomplish there. I hope we will be able accomplish that. We don’t have an unlimited budget here unfortunately to spend on players. That would make it much easier so we are going to try to do that in a responsible way.

143 comments Add your comment

John

April 16th, 2010
12:01 pm

Fans in Atlanta, don’t think that you will lose your NHL team anytime soon. If Commissioner Bettman went out on a limb for Phoenix, what do you think he would do to keep the NHL in the hub of the Southeast? If any franchises need to be moved, we have two down here in Florida, the Lightning and Panthers. At least the Lightning appear to be getting their ship in order with new ownership and aggressive marketing. The Panthers are a complete joke in South Florida. Have gone to games where in the Bank Atlantic Center, could swear there were only 5,000 fans when they announced 12,000 or so as paid attendance for a Panthers vs. Thrashers game. Heck, WWE sells out when they come here. The Thrashers situation is sad, I feel sorry for you guys, Atlanta can be a great NHL market with the right ownership situation. You guys got screwed out of the Flames. The league took a huge step backwards when they let the Flames leave Atlanta at a time when they easily and should have taken in Houston in the WHA merger along with the other four teams they took in. That would have continued the growth of the game in the Southeast and other non-traditional markets during the 1980’s. There was talk before Gretzky came to LA, the Kings were looking to be moved to Hamilton. The US would have had zero NHL teams in “warm” weather markets. The league over-expanded. And put teams in the wrong places in the 90’s expansion. Houston should have been a lock, but competing ownership groups killed the expansion bid, and Les Alexander couldn’t get the Oilers deal done. And the league needs still another Pacific Northwest team, hello Seattle?

Worst Team In ALL Of Professional Sports

April 16th, 2010
12:05 pm

50-50 for and against Waddell. LMAO! NO WAY THAT IS TRUE!! I’m calling you out Bruce Levenson. Do you think we are idiots??

Adam

April 16th, 2010
12:23 pm

The only ball C-Viv dropped was not following up on Levenson’s claim that the lawsuit hasn’t had any effect on how they’ve run the Thrashers. I would’ve then asked him why Jay Grossman, Kovy’s agent, publicly claimed that Spirit did not even authorize DW to begin negotiating a new deal until October because of their ongoing hunt for a new investor. http://tinyurl.com/yagknkc

gcs

April 16th, 2010
12:45 pm

“…about 50-50 with some saying if you don’t remove Don as GM I’m not going to renew my season tickets. And there are others that say if you do remove Don as GM I won’t renew my season tickets.”

THAT IS A @#$%ING LIE!

There is no way that any Thrashers fan said keep Waddell or I am walking. Yet another reason Atlanta Spirit needs to get out of the hockey business in Atlanta. We don’t appreciate bullsh*ters.

.

J.B.

April 16th, 2010
12:51 pm

That’s a good and fair point Adam. Though, even if the question was asked it would surely be answered with B.S. Chris probably knows this and knew it about most of the other quotes he got from Levenson.

The point is likely moot anyhow as I don’t think anyone believes a couple more months of negotiation would have changed the Kovy situation. It’s public knowlege that Grossman never once wavered from the 11.36M for 10-12 year offer they presented to the ASG. Despite feeding us the standard pending free agent canned answers about staying here, Kovy knew all along he was leaving. In hindsight, as many have pointed out, the Thrashers seem to be a better unified team without him to rely on for offense, to compensate for on defense, and to deflect for off the ice in the media about being a distraction.

Alan R.

April 16th, 2010
1:10 pm

THAT IS A @#$%ING LIE!

Congratulations for picking up on the most obvious lie to have ever been printed in the Thrashers blog.

Now, if you people are done concentrating on one stupid line spoken by one of the biggest morons in Atlanta sports history, there’s far more things we could be discussing.

Joe Friday – I like much of what Dudley has said, and I would love to see his plans come to fruition. I’d love to see what kind of coach he brings in, and who that veteran he’s referring to is.

World Be Free

April 16th, 2010
1:18 pm

Good to see more bloggers are willing to give Dudley a chance. That’s all we should expect.

Jimbo-gotta have cheese with the wine.

litz

April 16th, 2010
1:48 pm

Look guys … Levenson was saying what needed to be said.

There’s no way he’s going to look a reporter in the eye and say “the Season Ticket Holders revolted and demanded we remove the GM” …

Take his statements with a grain of salt, digest the moves made, swallow (with difficulty), and move on.

B***ing about the guy’s comments does not help things.

This IS a fresh start, and there IS hope.

Let’s keep an eye on things going forwards, and the actions taken will tell us if we’re looking at daylight at the other end of the tunnel, or a freight train.

Alan R.

April 16th, 2010
1:51 pm

Well WBF, it’s been 11 years of the same ol stuff, with the same ol guy in charge. I can understand that many people approach this situation with trepidation because D-Wad is still here.

He should have been outright ousted. We all know that.. I read a comment the other day that stated D-Wad “must have pictures of the owners with farm animals” to still be employed here. And who knows, really?

However, this is a time for optimism. We have a change. Maybe it’s not the change we all would have liked, or it’s more change than we would have liked, but it’s still change. Change can be scary, especially to us die-hard Thrashers fans who have put up with years of what seems like abuse from above. No matter who the “new sheriff in town” answers to, though, we still have that new sheriff.

We should all give Dudley an opportunity to succeed. However, it’s understandable that people fear the “change” we perceive is actually a smoke and mirrors trick. We’ll see. All we can do is wait and see.

GaVaHokie

April 16th, 2010
1:56 pm

MB… oops, thanks for the subtle correction. I meant Andreychuk, not Nieuwendyk… always get those two mixed up for some reason.

Personally, I’d like to see Kubina be that veteran player and Rick can continue finding more compliments for Bergfors, Little and Kane.

I still feel that Patrick Sharp is the best fit as a player/leader.

Joe Friday

April 16th, 2010
2:15 pm

“I still feel that Patrick Sharp is the best fit as a player/leader.”

Concur. I do like the leadership and examples that Antropov and Kubina bring, but didn’t do enough this year so there does need to someone new that could be the missing link needed leadershipwise.

rob

April 16th, 2010
3:23 pm

The past is just that people. It’s over. Choose to either support the team or not. If you don’t want to support the team, why waste time on these blogs, honestly? All you do is take up space for those here who actually enjoy hockey and watch the game for that reason. Just because we go to the game doesn’t mean we like Dumb Wad. But just because I don’t like him doesn’t mean I stay away from the game I love. This is a chance for true change. ASG and Dumb Wad are still here, sure, but Dudley isn’t going to just come here and associate his name with them if he didn’t think he could help the team and keep his name out of the mud covering the ownership/GM. If you don’t think it’s a chance worth taking, then stop worrying about it. I spent good money to see some great games this year, and I spent some good money to see some horrible hockey this year. Enjoyed the good and the bad. The fact that I was there and watched all the other games on TV gives me reason to discuss the team, both good and bad. If you want change, voice your opinions where it will do the most good…….at the games. Otherwise, I am sure Bettman or anyone else who might have the power to force change isn’t reading an AJC blog (afterall who reads the AJC?), and the FANS will continue to go see games because they want to. Maybe Dudley can turn things around here, halting the flow of UFA’s running from this place faster than rats on a sinking ship, and even make some others give us a look when they are shopping for a new home. I am looking forward to the off season once the playoffs are done, and next season won’t get here fast enough.
LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!!!

World Be Free

April 16th, 2010
3:54 pm

Alan R-totally agree with what you have stated here.
Fresh start, but still accountability, maybe more than ever since we never expected much up to now.

Joe Friday-I think Versteeg could be had, but I don’t think Chicago will let Sharp go just yet. Just my thoughts.

newyorker

April 16th, 2010
4:25 pm

I didn’t realize Waddell had such a big family! 50% of e mails saying to keep him!? Bruce wouldn’t lie to us would he?

Fan from Carolina

April 16th, 2010
4:56 pm

Didn’t I read here that Dudley wanted to trade Lecavalier way back when?? If he got his way Tampa Bay would have no Stanley Cup and would be in worse shape than Atlanta. This is NOT a guy to get excited about.

Sage of Bluesland

April 16th, 2010
5:35 pm

It’s like deja-vu all over again, as I see Bob is going back to his ‘old’ ways, before he was so vehement in his opposition to Waddell…See, some may want to forget what they USED to say, but I do not! Laughing about how ‘full circle’ this feels!

Reading those words by our ‘new’ GM reminds me more of Ken Herock than anything else (he of the infamous words upon his arrival in Suwanee back in the late 80s: “Don’t worry about the 49ers, I’ll outdraft them…”)

Uh-huh. Sure. Bluster is bluster–it just ranges on the scale of offensiveness/abrasiveness/delivery from Dudley to Waddell…

We’ll see. Hoping for the best–really am–but not expecting it. I don’t believe in “Hope as a strategy” as some apparently do…

bugman

April 16th, 2010
10:17 pm

“It’s working as its worked. And it has worked. It’s worked fine. It has not had any impact.”

Huh?!!

Rocket science at its finest!

Great i-view c-Viv.

Thrashers27

April 17th, 2010
2:09 pm

Fan from Carolina,

I disagree with you.

I’m not saying you’re right, or wrong, just that your statement is one that cannot be proven right, or wrong. Should Dudley have traded Lecavalier, what would he have gotten in return? I doubt anyone knows for certain. Maybe the return would have resulted in additional cup wins for Tampa.

Point being that you can’t dismiss the guy on baseless information.

Lee

April 17th, 2010
2:20 pm

Chris did the best he could with the interview with Levenson even though he may not have asked somethings that you whiners want. Give him a break.

Paddy

April 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

As long as this ownership group is embattled in legal problems and financial disaster, there will be no moving forward.

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
8:28 pm

I guess I don’t understand why the Spirit doesn’t just hire an accountant/budget expert to be Team President? Why is it that Waddell’s accounting skills are so highly in demand? What secret source of revenue stream is Waddell going to find, in his new administrative, desk job ONLY function, having ZERO impact on hockey roster decisions? Why not fire him, end any talk or confusion WHATSOEVER about Dudley’s status, as “Chief Decision-Maker,” having total OVERSIGHT, as GM, of the franchise?

I’ve heard the argument, “But Brendan, you cannot pay Waddell to sit and knit at home.” Why not? What’s wrong with knitting? (At this point, I should mention that I have been sued, successfully, by the ‘Anti-Knitting Defamation League.’) My lawyer is glaring at me. A-hem. On advice of counsel, I am hereby declaring knitting to be a very fine hobby, and there’s nothing wrong with it. That should please these people. My attorney’s arms are flailing wildly, objecting over the term, ‘these people,’ as apparently that has offensive connotations. He’s still nudging me in the short ribs. Fine. “And knitting is something that all Americans should try at least once, whether in the privacy of their own homes, or in some central, organized location, or as a group or society.” (Looking over at him.) Okay, he’s smiling now.

Can we move it along?

How ’bout these Montreal Canadiens? They’re up, 3-1, in the 2nd period, over the Capitals. Montreal won Game One in overtime. If the Habs go back to Montreal, up 2-0, I still say Washington wins this series. Remember 2006? (Of course you do.) Montreal won BOTH games in Carolina, forcing Martin Gerber out of the ‘Canes net, in favor of Cam Ward for Games Three and Four. The results? Carolina won the next four games to take the series, 4-2, en route to winning the Stanley Cup that year.

Halak looks good. If Halak is the future in Montreal, will Carey Price be on the move, whether at the draft, or during the Frenzy, on July 1? Maybe not. But it’s something to keep our eye on. Carey Price went 5th overall in his draft year, and outgoing GM Bob Gainey was VEHEMENT in Carey’s defense, at the # 1 goalie in Montreal.

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
8:37 pm

It’s 4-2, Montreal, now.

Joe Friday

April 17th, 2010
8:57 pm

crap, I thought the Habs had that period locked down at 4-1.

“I see Bob is going back to his ‘old’ ways”

yougottabekiddinme

No season tix here, Sparky. Willing to give Dudley a chance, though . . . you have to give it at least 50/50 that Waddell is out of the decision making process

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
9:28 pm

Washington tied it, 4-4. But not, Monteal is back on top, on a goal by Plekanec. But the Capitals are on the PP, with 4:00 left in regulation. Tense times.

Aren’t you GLAD there are no “pity points” in the playoffs? Just a winner and a loser, like it should be. Justice will be served, one way or another. If only the regular season could function the same way.

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
9:35 pm

Washington 5, Montreal 5, headed to overtime. No “pity points,” Montreal. You gotta win it. Or you get NOTHING!!!

4 jacks

April 17th, 2010
9:38 pm

This ownership is nothing but a joke. Waddell was only 10 percent of the problem, ownership is 90 percent of the problem. Why should people spend their hard earned money on a sorry product when ownership does not make the committment to put a good product on the ice. It all starts at the top, and although I feel it is past time for Waddell to go, it is certainly not all his fault. This ownership just plain out sucks…sorry for the offensive language.

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
10:01 pm

Backstrom get the “trick” in the overtime. Montreal get NOTHING!! “Awwww, shouldn’t they get a pity point? They played hard. They tried. They put effort. Shouldn’t that be rewarded??”

Sorry!!! No sale!!! You lost, Montreal. You get nothing. If only the regular season worked this way, too!! Capitals 6, Canadiens 5.

Brendan

April 17th, 2010
10:15 pm

4 jacks, don’t forget that the ownership insults us, regularly, with their pathetic and transparent moves. This “Waddell is now the Team President” is just the latest in a long line of less than forthright efforts and words. I could at least extend a measure of respect of them, had they said, “We’re going to embark on a 4-year building campaign, after this NY Rangers sweep. We realize we don’t have draft picks this year (2007) to go rebuild. But we want the fans to be “on board” with our plans, moving forward, so that they understand the situation and what we’re trying to do.”

I can live with that. Truly. That’s honest. Instead, we got, “This will be a playoff year.” When the results were 76-points, 76-points, and now, 83-points.” And budgets were at the league minimum for 2008 and 2009. So, there’s a pretty big and obvious disconnect between the “words and the deeds.”

Truthfully, I don’t listen to BL anymore. There’s nothing left for him to say. What do you expect from a pig, but a grunt? What do you expect from a politician, but kissing babies, then stealing their lollipops, when their parents head is turned. Fool us once, that’s shame on us. Fool us 14 times, and we’re the ones out of excuses.

I heard that BL said, “we’ve made mistakes in the past.” Well, gee. That’s all fine and good. It’s nice 1st step to admit failure, but who hasn’t been keeping up with those current events? Don’t apologize for past mistakes, take corrective action. By that, I mean … you fire Waddell with Dan Marr, the rest of the scouts, the rest of the Coaching staff, and you tell Dudley, “You’re Absolutely, 100% in charge. Go do whatever you feel is best.” Better still, hold an exhaustive search for a new GM, and if the best candidate really is Rick Dudley, then you hire him. Then tell him, “You’re in charge. Do whatever you feel is best. I pay you to manage the team.”

Brendan

April 18th, 2010
12:35 am

Vancouver has squandered a 2-0 lead, as the Kings and Canucks are going to overtime. Canucks lead the series, 1-0.

Brendan

April 18th, 2010
1:13 am

The Canucks no longer lead the series. Anze Kopitar has won it for the Kings, on a PPG, in overtime.

Lee

April 18th, 2010
9:14 am

A friend of mine lives next to Mr. Waddell, and he gives their family free season passes. I assume that he does that to the people that live next to him, and the people that live across, and diagonal. Now. Change Mr. Waddell to….uhhh….Steve Belkin. Do you think he’d do that? Uh no.

Jeremy

April 18th, 2010
9:41 am

Have to understand NHl is not in a position to move a team. If they wanted a team to move they would of done that by now. Ask Arizona that. The NHl spent more money in count last summer than what it would of cost to move the team. Not many people looking to buy an NHL team. Only one person come to mind Blackberry which they are are not doing as the NHl won’t move any team as this time time. This has also been stated by the NHl several times over this year.

Sage of Bluesland

April 18th, 2010
10:10 am

“…you have to give it at least 50/50 that Waddell is out of the decision making process.”

See, this is evidence of your former ways; this truly personifies the “Hope as a Strategy” approach.

For the official and non-waffling record that many seem predisposed to, I don’t buy any of this “change”…When Waddell is finally separated from the organization, I will conclude that his stench doesn’t permeate the halls anymore.

But, of course, those who place the blame for all ills on the ownership are absolutely correct. Waddell is just the incompetent representation of an indifferent group.

Thus, they don’t deserve my money at all. I support accountability and responsibility–not indifference and intellect-insults…

Alan R.

April 18th, 2010
11:52 am

yougottabekiddinme

No, he’s not kidding. You softened your image of Dudley, and therefore you’re fair game for attack. You’ve seen how this works countless times.

Brendan

April 18th, 2010
3:20 pm

Sage, I agree with you, but I must ask you a question. And I do appreciate your honesty and sincerity of response. Here, now, the question: “Do you see players like Artyukin, Kubina, and Antropov, as well as several of last year’s (bigger, taller) draft picks, as the IMPRINT of Dudley on this team?”

Answering truthfully to the same question, I do see a change. I do see Dudley’s imprint. And all I can do is hope that Dudley will eventually be (1) exclusively in charge of the roster and (2) have exclusive responsibility for the choice of a Head Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. A former poster, who has since been banned, would completely disagree with me, stating that Waddell is the lone architect of it all, and that Dudley has done absolutely nothing. That banned poster is certainly welcome to that opinion.

For my $0.02, I still don’t understand what Waddell has done … (1) to deserve an office or (2) a contract or (3) a salary from this NHL team. What is Waddell doing, as Team President, that a $45,000-a-year accountant couldn’t do for them? Why is Waddell still part of the equasion? That’s what I cannot fathom. People keep telling me, “Oh, he’s been neutered. Ohh, he’s been shoved aside. Ohhh, he really doesn’t count for anything anymore.” If those were true, Waddell would have been told to clean out his desk. Instead, the “man in charge” for the past 11 season remains part of the “consulting/vetting” process of the named GM, Rick Dudley. What has Waddell done to merit being part of that process?

According to some, Waddell’s around “to smooth things over” and “ease the transition” of Dudley to GM. See, that … RIGHT THERE … to me, is the problem. If Dudley is a “hot head,” which I don’t know to be true as a character trait, perhaps that is JUSSSSSST what these owners need. Waddell, to me, seemed like the type who didn’t like conflict. He’d just agree to whatever they said or wanted, to keep his job. If Dudley’s the sort to say, “Look fellas, you can’t run a team like this. And the next guy to sit in that GM chair would tell you the same,” then I totally support Dudley in his allegedly, supposedly confrontational nature. These owners, in my view, don’t have a handle on the dynamics of running an NHL franchise. If Dudley can educate them on that, fine! Great! Fabulous!! I’d love to see it. Maybe we’d start to retain players when they hit UFA status? Maybe we’ll have a coach who improves the club’s fortunes with respect to the core area of “player development.”

I welcome all of the positive “changes” that are supposedly coming. I just don’t see what retaining Waddell accomplishes, in terms of ‘turning the corner’ from the past, as a franchise. Don’t tell me the the Thrashers are the Braves or the Falcons. When clearly, they are not. They are the Atlanta Thrashers, as run … by a dysfunctional ownership group. They say, “We’ve made mistakes in the past.” Fine. Everyone does. That’s why pencils have erasers. But part of correcting the mistakes of the past includes removing what was wrong from the beginning, and that’s Waddell.

Look, my goal, here, isn’t to see Waddell begging for change on the street corner. He’s made $9 million being the GM of this team for the past 11 years. If Waddell’s house isn’t paid off yet, shame on him. He shouldn’t be destitute, nor should be completely “unemployable” by another franchise in the NHL. Remember, “he’s very respected in NHL circles.” And that “respect” will land him another job. Somewhere in the league. And I’d be the first to wish Waddell well in that new job, elsewhere in the league. I think Waddell got a raw deal here. Maybe in a different environment, he’d have better luck? Shrugs. I don’t know. I see Waddell like I do Kari Lehtonen, a guy who seemingly has a lot potential, but for whatever reason(s), never achieved it. I hope Kari does have a great career in Dallas, or wherever. And if Waddell wins a Stanley Cup somewhere else in the league, I won’t begrudge him that. But he’s MORE than had his chance here. For his benefit, and that of the Thrashers, he should go. Go get that fresh, new start.

Sage, I await your answer.

Lee

April 18th, 2010
4:48 pm

Will Montreal/Washington be an upset?? Montreal certainly isn’t letting in in this series.

Sage of Bluesland

April 18th, 2010
5:05 pm

“…Here, now, the question: “Do you see players like Artyukin, Kubina, and Antropov, as well as several of last year’s (bigger, taller) draft picks, as the IMPRINT of Dudley on this team?…”

I don’t think it’s evidence of anything, as there has been no official correspondence supporting this point of view. I can speculate JUST AS EASILY that Ilya Kovalchuk wanted these players and make a case that he had more of a GM-impact than “Duds” did. See what I mean?

Another road I don’t want to go down–AGAIN–is trumpeting the pick of Kane and attributing that to either “Duds” or Waddell…Never forget that even ‘I’ could read the top-prospect list and make that very pick, given everything related to Kane and how well he would fit into Atlanta…just as I wanted Heatley, Kovalchuk, and Nash…A ‘real’ GM makes or breaks his team with the picks which require real skill (or luck), which are about all picks after the top-ten.

Until we start hitting on picks from the 2nd to the 7th round with legitimate NHL players (not just 4th liners), then we’re stuck back in the cycle of one premier pick per year; one kid per year; too little too late when rebuilding, as the good ones will be long gone once they can.

By the way, I have a serious question for the hockey grognards (serious question with no offense intended)…Why do people shorten names of players/persons and add an ‘-s’ to the end seemingly all the time? Cases in point: Lehts, Duds, Slates, et. al. My favorite sport is football, and I notice it’s not done there…thank goodness, too. I think it sounds, well, I’ll let you be the judge of how I’m feeling about that…

OK, serious question #2 for those who follow the business workings or arena of the Thrashers: I notice that other hockey venues have ‘electronic’ advertising boards…and we have a clear window with what looks like a paper-roller-bar for the ads. I don’t know what the percentage is of the electronic ones–and I know it’s completely peripheral to the playing of hockey–but I DO laugh every time I see ours on TV and think of our wonderful owners and how much they must care!

Nope, I’m not convinced of anything. Some dream and want certain things so badly they invent the ‘truth’ in their minds. It’s far too early to judge anything related to “Duds”. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I liken him to Ken Herock of the Falcons when he arrived to that other dysfunctional team then located in Suwannee (the Falcons). He blustered well, too…but, in the end, IT’S THE OWNERSHIP where it all starts.

(and that is precisely why I’m not sold on anything they say or do…they have proven to me they are not serious about this team, numerous times too…I don’t know what other people are seeing, but I’m seeing the old Jack-and-the-beanstalk and the magic beans moreso than real, effective, change…)

Brendan

April 18th, 2010
8:04 pm

Uht-oh, my last post didn’t take. Maybe Vivlamore can save it. Sage, the shortening of names in hockey is just a common thing that happens. At the speed hockey is played, no one has time to say, “vanRiemsdyk,” while tapping your stick on the ice. When you can say, “Rimer” or “Van.”

Ice Man

April 19th, 2010
2:06 am

John is correct about Houston being left out of the WHA NHL merger; Houston was a strong WHA franchise and a good hockey market. But remember, the Aeros folded after the 1977-1978 season. Many of their players ie Morris Lukowich, Rich Preston, Terry Ruskowsky, Scott Campbell, and a few others were sold to the Winnipeg Jets, where they played in 1978-1979. The leagues merged the after the 1978-1979 season was completed; Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hartford, and Edmonton joined the NHL in the 1979-1980 season.
Too bad earlier attempts at merger did not succeed; the Aeros and the Cincinatti Stingers would have also joined the NHL had that earlier attempt succeeded.

GaVaHokie

April 19th, 2010
8:35 am

“Do you see players like Artyukin, Kubina, and Antropov, as well as several of last year’s (bigger, taller) draft picks, as the IMPRINT of Dudley on this team?”

I agree with Sage on this one… it’s hard to judge, but I’d say Kubina was a favor to Burke that made sense for us, Antro was Waddell making Kovy happy, and anything during the season… Oduya, Arty, Bergfors, Cormier, Vishnevskiy was an imprint of Dudley.

As for your Waddell “knitting” and budget argument… I’m thinking Levenson tipped his hat a little bit by pointing out Waddell’s “business relationships”. Something that’s probably hard for the Spirit Group to maintain themselves. When you’re never present, and you allow your GM to be the eyes and ears for your business; he probably becomes more valuable than the owners themselves… scary thought, huh?

I notice that other hockey venues have ‘electronic’ advertising boards…and we have a clear window with what looks like a paper-roller-bar for the ads.

haha… especially when Philips is our building sponsor. You’d think they could design something.

GaVaHokie

April 19th, 2010
8:40 am

At the speed hockey is played, no one has time to say, “vanRiemsdyk,” while tapping your stick on the ice. When you can say, “Rimer” or “Van.”

Yep, and doesn’t quite work in football when your receiver is 30 yards down field. :)

Gotta think Kovy was screwing with the guys in that NJ game… coming up behind the guys saying “Thorsy, I’m open”… “Pevs, line change”

Andrew G

April 19th, 2010
4:02 pm

When are the Thrashers going to be saved by a professional like Arthur Blank? The farm system sucks as we let players like Chelios and Krog take up minutes for our players we want to develop. I am sick of the Calder Cup.

Brendan

April 19th, 2010
5:40 pm

Hokie, maybe I’m wrong and you and Sage are right. All I know is … I really, truly want “change” for this organization. I hope we’ll really get it this time.