I spent an hour with new Thrashers GM Rick Dudley this fine Saturday for a feature that will appear later this week. His journey to the NHL is an extremely interesting story. You can read about it later this week, but I will leave you with one tidbit. Dudley once appeared on the game show To Tell The Truth as a two-sport professional athlete (hockey and lacrosse). He stumped the panel.
The Thrashers have been preparing all week for the upcoming draft with the scouting team in Duluth for hours of meetings, one of which I interrupted for the interview.
I asked about the coaching search. He again said to me that he is in no hurry to make a hire. However, he has sought permission from four NHL teams to speak to people in their organization about the Thrashers vacancy. He gave no names, but when pressed told me that three of the potential candidates are currently still in the playoffs. He believes the correct practice is to wait until those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs before doing an interview.
The organization – meaning Dudley and assistant GM Larry Simmons – have begun reaching out to several of the 10 unrestricted free agents. Dudley said for the right price he’d like to have them all back - except for Slava Kozlov. A long shot to return is Mark Popovic. If Pavel Kubina is re-signed, that gives the Thrashers six top defensemen with Boris Valabik returning from injury. A player like Arturs Kulda will get a looooong look in training camp and a chance to make the team.
Several other prospects will get a real chance as well. Dudley mentioned Patrice Cormier (who he sees as a second or third liner), Spencer Machacek, Ivan Vishnevskiy and Paul Postma by name. “We have to give our young players a real look,” Dudley said.
Of the unrestricted free agents that Dudley said the team has begun to talk to their representation are Kubina, Colby Armstrong, Maxim Afinogenov, Johan Hedberg, Jim Slater and Eric Boulton. He said they have not yet talked to Evgeny Artyukhin. I will be making some calls to stay on top of potential signings.
Those are some of the highlights from the interview.
It sure is good to get a hockey blog posted. I have covered several Braves games since the season ended and, no offense, but baseball is a slow game. I haven’t forgotten the several season-ending interviews I still have to get posted as well. Now that the house and yard are in order and Mrs. Vivlamore is happy, I will get to them.