A few (small) pieces of offseason news

I wanted to get a new blog up – in between too much yard work and some Braves assignments – and post a few items of news. Nothing big, but I thought the loyal Thrashers readers would be interested in them.

* Not much to report on the coaching search right now. The one name that I have heard mentioned by several people in the NHL is Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti. We may know more about his status once the Blackhawks season is over.

* I’m hearing that SportSouth has re-upped to do Thrashers television for three more seasons. Not sure if that has been out there or not. My understanding is the new deal also includes an increase in the number of games aired each season with up to 75 in the third year. I will let you know if I find out something more.

* Also the radio deal with 680 The Fan expired after this recently completed season. My understanding that a deal there is being worked on and may well get done, but nothing official yet so stay tuned.

* Rich Peverley has joined Evander Kane as Thrashers that will play for Team Canada at the World Championships next month in Germany. The two were on the list of 15 players announced by general manager Mark Messier last week. Ondrej Pavelec will be playing for the Czech Republic and Maxim Afinogenov will represent Russia.

* I talked to Slava Kozlov recently about his status for next season. He told me he has been contacted by “five or six” KHL teams. However, he fully intends to wait until July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent to explore all his options, including the NHL.

* I had an interesting quote from new GM Rick Dudley that I was unable to get into the story last week. I asked him how close he thought the Thrashers were to where the Blackhawks were a few years ago when he was the assistant GM. Here is what he said:  “Very similar [to what he built in Chicago]. In fact I see this team, this year, as fairly close to the team that got 88 points in Chicago (2007-08). They are both in the same point in their evolution. At that point we added Brian Campbell [in Chicago], which certainly helped us. We are at a very similar point. We’ve got three lines that are capable of scoring, or we have the capacity of having three lines capable of scoring. We have a good defense, which we had in Chicago. We may have as good, or better, goaltending. [Johan] Hedberg had a brilliant year and [Ondrej] Pavelec’s got a great capacity. We haven’t signed Hedberg yet, but we’ll see.”

* Dudley had a big part in determining what the Thrashers got from the Devils in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade – Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier,  a No. 1 pick and a swap of second-round picks.

I hope that gives us a little to talk about. I’ll start transcribing my notes from exit interviews and start getting them posted early next week.

111 comments Add your comment

jakass

April 19th, 2010
9:15 am

When is the next TJ’s gathering?

Red Light

April 19th, 2010
9:17 am

Not sure if you can compare the offensive skill set of the Thrashers to the Blackhawks of 2007-08. Not sure the Thrashers have any that compare to Patrick Kane, Sharp, Toews and Keith.

Smoothie

April 19th, 2010
9:28 am

Feu Rouge – good point, the skill sets of say Little, Peverley, Bergfors and Bogosian don’t quite match up with Kane, Sharp, Toews and Keith. And we don’t have enough guys with one syllable last names!

Peverley sort of reminds me of Sharp but with less grit. However, Pevs has good enough hands to do the same amount of damage with the right line mates…such as Patrick Sharp and Evander Kane! ;-)

I think Bergfors has the potential to develop into a Patrick Kane type player, a fine sniper with less flair. I don’t think Bergie will ever be the dangler that Kane is, but I could see him becoming very tough to knock off the puck in a year or two.

As for Toews, I don’t think there are many teams that have anyone who measures up to the array of skills and intangibles he possesses.

J.B.

April 19th, 2010
9:38 am

I know Dudley has been in preliminary contact with some of the agents from our UFA’s from previous postings… Is it likely one or more will be re-signed before Free Agency begins on July 1st. I’d really like to see the three previously mentioned in that context Kubina, Afinogenov, and Armstrong re-signed. I know the latter seems less likely though.

TableHockey

April 19th, 2010
9:49 am

Congrats to Kane and Pevs!

J(Z)

April 19th, 2010
9:51 am

Any more HD games on SportsSouth???? By now they really should ALL be in HD, but it would be nice to hear!

Darkhorse

April 19th, 2010
9:53 am

Thanks for the updates Chris. Red Light echos my thoughts about comparing the talent of Toews and company to our guys at this point. I can see the upside of Bogosian over Keith and Evander Kane and Sharp being comparable, but no budding superstar types on our roster at the moment like Kane or Toews. If Little can get back on track to developing I can see him becoming a consistant contributor like Sharp, but not a perennial all star. Too early to tell how guys like Kulda and others on the farm are going to impact this roster.

I thinks Dudley is doing the correct PR move by starting to upsell his roster to everyone around the league. He may be overstating where the roster is currently, but you need to let everyone around, from fans to coaching and FA possibilities, that this is a up and coming quality roster with a new direction that just needs some pieces here and there to field a solid playoff contender.

KLS1

April 19th, 2010
10:22 am

We need one player to grow into a star, whether it is Bergfors, Cormier or Kulda…I hope someone can break out and develop into a player we can build a team around.

I think the prospects for success are good but we are a couple years from competing like Blackhawks are now.

KLS1

April 19th, 2010
10:23 am

Agree with the need for all games to be in HD!

Joe Friday

April 19th, 2010
10:23 am

I had the same take upon 1st read (that our talent doesn’t compare to Chicago’s), but read his quote again. “They are both in the same point in their evolution.” I think he’s right in terms of where the clubs are in terms of evolving, but Chicago’s upside was/is much higher than ours now. But we’re evolving and the right additions could bring this to a more competitive club.

I’m more concerned about his comments on our goaltending. If we go in with Hedberg and Pavelec again, that’s a cluster. We need a serious upgrade in goal and I’m pulling for the Sharks to choke again here so they aren’t ready to sign Nabokov again.

Smoothie

April 19th, 2010
10:24 am

If SportSouth doesn’t show at least 35 games in HD, real HD, next season, I may personally start my own “Sage”-like campaign to boycott them! More people will watch if they can actually follow the damn puck. Not showing hockey in HD is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

10 yr plan

April 19th, 2010
10:38 am

Chris,
Thank you for all your hard work this year. Do you know if Dudley is planning on keeping the scouting system intact or will he make some changes. Also. Any news in him bringing in someone to help him run the hockey side of things now that Don is on the business side, a director of hockey operations? One last question, where can I find these numerous bridges that Levenson mentioned that Don has built over the years? Thanks again.

Telfo

April 19th, 2010
10:54 am

they best be showing 75 games with at least half in HD

Stevo

April 19th, 2010
11:07 am

I too would like to see more HD games, if not all. I am out of the Atlanta market and buy the Center Ice package so if the SS feed is not in HD I usually wind up watching the opponent’s broadcast because most teams, not all, have all their games in HD.

alex

April 19th, 2010
11:16 am

they better try to steal somebody in 6 or 7 round in draft day with player like zettenberg in deitroit. now with rick in charge it’s small possibility with dw ziro possibility, but need upgrade scouting department, not sure asg have desire and guts to do that. if nothing changes here going to be very difficult to turn thrashers to winning organization even with better gm in charge.

whaler8888

April 19th, 2010
12:09 pm

I think the news regarding both TV and potential radio deal is quite significant. The willingness of these outlets to reup is an indication of their belief in the potential of a growing fan base. Let’s face reality ratings to date have been terrible and it would not have been surprising to see media walk away. I also would love to see all HD broadcasts but more games is great even without the added expense of HD broadcasting. Like everything else put a winning team on the ice and it will all fall into place – inrcreased attendance, payroll, TV radio ratings and even getting Chris on the road for all games

Wayne stuck in AL

April 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

We need a PROVEN WINNER for coach, not someone who needs on-the-job training; either Guy Carbonneau or Craig MacTavish.

Wayne stuck in AL

April 19th, 2010
1:17 pm

Also glad to see the team might re-up with 680 The Fan.

J(Z)

April 19th, 2010
1:54 pm

Now can we also ditch McConnell as part of this new TV deal?

Alan R.

April 19th, 2010
2:01 pm

Wayne, we also need a coach who is capable of working with the young guys. A coach capable of developing them properly. Craig Mac and Guy C aren’t on my list of coaches that are any good at doing that.

Rusty

April 19th, 2010
3:09 pm

Any hope that SPSO will broadcast in HD? It’s a totally different game in wide aspect. I got the new HD satellite dish and the Sony Bravia’s just to watch hockey…I’d like to get a ROI.

Lee

April 19th, 2010
3:11 pm

I hope we get Torchetti, we need a good coaching staff from a good team. GO BLACKHAWKS!

Old Time Hockey

April 19th, 2010
4:47 pm

I’ve heard the commissioner speak about HD games and it will increase in the next couple of years until they are all HD. Hope they improve their production skills a bit with the TV. When you watch other teams on Center Ice, there are a handful of teams who have great camera work (Boston, Detroit, Edmonton). That makes a big difference. Wouldn’t mind seeing McConnell go either, but Kamal has GOT to go. He doesn’t finish a sentence during a play. “He’s in alone…fakes…shoots and AAAHHHHH!…..the puck is in the corner…”. WTF?

This team IS close. Important off season to say the least. This team must move forward with draft and free agency. I think Evander Kane is going to be the star that this team is built around. He reminds me of Jerome Iginla, and not because of the color of his skin. It’s the speed, great hands, toughness, never quit on a play and, when needed, knuckles on face! Also gives a great interview. He’s going to have a big year next season.

Sage of Bluesland

April 19th, 2010
5:15 pm

I’d caution some of you to take some of these comments with a very small grain of salt. After all, didn’t Donny want to pattern his first “Five-Year Plan” after his ‘own’ experiences in Detroit? He was going to build a ‘Red Wings-South’ type of team?

That should be the joke of the century! But, giving the benefit of the doubt back then, I was just as gullible as the sheep who are grazing all over the place here and now…

I can see that our GM hasn’t learned to keep the comparisons to a minimum–even during the ‘honeymoon’ period. I will be sure to remind those who forget–and him–if and when our progress doesn’t exactly match that of Chicago. I’ll give Donny credit for one thing: Once folks started using his own buffoonish words/promises/statements against him, he generally stopped talking ‘expansively’ to the media.

…and Don gets a “promotion” for his fine work over a decade…I can envision “Duds” getting canned in a couple of years when things go all pear-shaped (again)…and guess who has the ‘experience, knowledge, and respect’ to step in to save the day?

You guessed it. Call it my three-year prediction.

Farel

April 19th, 2010
5:30 pm

HD or bust!!!!!!! My god you can watch a SPELLING BEE in HD!?

Brendan

April 19th, 2010
5:52 pm

Sage/Hokie, per our previous blog discussions, C. Vivlamore was timely in providing that the NJ pieces that came back in the Kovy trade were largely Dudley’s doing. So, I stand corrected there. You and Sage were right.

tom

April 19th, 2010
7:02 pm

3yr contract for tv. Hmmm, wonder if the Thrashers will be here in three years.

Kari Lehtonen stayed hurt

April 19th, 2010
7:25 pm

SHOW ALL THE GAMES!!!

This season, they showed the first game, and then didn’t broadcast the next six!!

Chris Vivlamore

April 19th, 2010
8:11 pm

So get this everybody. I heard back from the SportSouth folks this afternoon. They don’t make details of their broadcast agreements public. I guess that they don’t want you all to know that they are going to televise Thrashers games for the next three years. Take that for what it’s worth.

brown bagger

April 19th, 2010
9:13 pm

I lived in Tampa when Duds was there and brought in Andreychuck and won a cup with him. Would Marty St. Louis be considered a vet worth bringing in? He has a year left on his contract, but would consider a trade.

gcs

April 19th, 2010
10:13 pm

Guess what team Martin St. Louis has the most career points against: 63 vs. ATL. Let’s sign him so he’ll stop scoring on us. B)

.

World Be Free

April 19th, 2010
10:17 pm

brown bagger, not sure the Bolts would want to help us by trading St. Louis to ATL.
10 year plan, echoed the same thoughts, what about evaluating the scouts? I am not sold on out scouting department at all!

Comparing with Chicago-a stretch, but I believe be felt we have a fair amount of young talent in ATL. Chicago has developed some name players, drafted repeatly near the top as we did for years. If anyone knows the CHI players and ATL players at this point, it’s Dudley.

Wish we had 1/2 of Chicago’s defense.

Kirk P

April 19th, 2010
10:18 pm

Old Time Hockey– you are so right about Dan Kamal. He screams the player’s name or AAAHHHH during a great scoring chance and you can’t tell what the hell is going on.

KLS1

April 19th, 2010
10:19 pm

I would love to have St. Louis, if for no other reason than he kills us every year. Can score which we need as well.

As for the broadcasts, Darren Eliot can move along too…no real hockey insights and he never calls anyone out. Plus he’s got that weird smirk all the time like he’s got a secret he aint telling. Someone should check his basement for runaways.

stendek

April 19th, 2010
10:21 pm

Glad Crying Ryan Miller got the loss! Cannot stand that bum. Happy he choked on Buffalo Sabredancers not the USA Olympic hockey team this time! Hope New Jersey Pitchforks plus Ilya Kovalchoke on sidelines after opening round. Hate that Russian backstabber! Got no use for Chicago Chickenhawks either with quitter Maryann Hossa wasting roster space. Hope those scumballs are gone after first round too! Want Vancounver Nookies gone too. Just because I love Calgary Flames! Regional thing. ++STENDEK++

Brendan

April 19th, 2010
11:23 pm

The Thrashers aren’t leaving. Not now, next year, or the year after that. Or the year after that. But it is kind of funny that a TV network doesn’t want its loyal viewers to know its plans for the future. Ummn, how do they plan to survive while holding this philosophy? Shouldn’t a network announce its TV lineup??

What are we supposed to do, as Thrasher fans, “guess” when games will be on? Do we hire to hire “Madam X” for her crystal ball? Does anyone know a good soothsayer? Is anyone clairvoyant?

Wayne stuck in AL

April 20th, 2010
12:57 am

McConnell and Eliot can both go; they’re both NyQuil and AmbienCR…On the other hand, I’d rather have Kamal doing simulcasts; that way, his calls can get on SportsCenter and FSN Final Score

Lee

April 20th, 2010
6:46 am

Haha, SPSO is probably ashamed.

GaVaHokie

April 20th, 2010
8:34 am

Viv… when you get your “draft” stories together in the next few months, it would be interesting to ask Dudley if he’s a “draft for needs” or a “best available player” kind of drafter. Also curious if a guy who prides himself on scouting would ever trade draft picks for established players… i think a good amount of people would like to see that NJ 1st round pick traded for more scoring help.

teflon don

April 20th, 2010
8:43 am

As for the broadcasters – it will take them another decade to realize that there is no “good fight”. Same with the fans – those who go to the game just to see any fight should have no business to be there. Look at the great ones – they would never fight. The broadcasters should be promoting hockey when it comes to a hockey game. Unfortunately, low IQ Americans do not see it this way…

Chris

April 20th, 2010
9:23 am

Rick Dudley: “We have a good defense, which we had in Chicago. We may have as good, or better, goaltending.”

I would ask why, if this team has a good defense and good goaltending, are they 24th in the league in goals against? There are only 6 teams who gave up as many or more goals than the Trashers did. I would love to see this consistent problem addressed by the new coaching staff.

Wristshot

April 20th, 2010
10:02 am

KLS1

I think that player may end up being Evander Kane. I don’t think Cormier will ever be able to put up the offensive numbers that Kane will start racking up over the next few seasons. Cormier will be fun to watch, don’t get me wrong, but he won’t be an offensive superstar like Kane will be.

Dan Duffy

April 20th, 2010
10:58 am

We need at least one more line 2 D man. We need to keep both Afinogonov and Kubina and add depth. By the way, Kovalchuk has 7 shots and no goals in 2 games.

Tired of Dan Kamal's schtick.

April 20th, 2010
12:12 pm

While we are in the process of cleaning house, getting rid of Dan Kamal and his minor league act would be nice.

Also, throw out any loser who hollers “KNIGHTS!” during the National Anthem.

kracker

April 20th, 2010
12:53 pm

I think you guys are nuts. Kamal does a great job providing a very exciting and informative game call. I turn down the TV listen to Kamal whenever the on-ice action and the radio feed are mostly synced up, which is not often enough :(

Hopefully, Kamal isn’t going anywhere.

kracker

April 20th, 2010
1:01 pm

I also think Eliot does a good job as the color guy. I learn a lot by listening to his play analysis.

Of the three, I think McConnell is the weakest link. He’s a nice guy, though.

Acer

April 20th, 2010
2:00 pm

Chris,
Scouting and player development (mainly in the AHL) were never really strengths of the Thrashers under Waddell. Does Dudley plan to make a few adjustments to improve the Thrashers in these area’s? Will the Thrashers continue to work together with the Chicago Wolves in AHL?

Joe Friday

April 20th, 2010
2:37 pm

Only radio guy I ever was interested in was Ferrall. I hear him on Howard Stern’s network on Sirius sometimes. I like Ferrall because he used to drink beers with us and smoke cigs in the smoking area at the Knights’ games right after his show was over (he did it from the CNN center).

I was just thinking that the one thing the Thrashers have developed well over the years is our radio and TV personalities. Think about it. You have Ferrall now on worldwide Sirius. Billy Jaffe is a color guy on VS. Derwood is another color guy on VS. Then you have Erin Andrews as well (meow)

Lee

April 20th, 2010
3:00 pm

Yah, I like Kamal. He’s awesome, great emotions! :) Makes me feel like I’m at the game. Anywayz…why do they yell knights at the games?

GaVaHokie

April 20th, 2010
3:06 pm

Joe… Darren Elliot is also the color commentator for Verus during the playoffs.