Search for new coach has begun

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.

55 comments Add your comment

Bob

May 8th, 2010
5:33 pm

Delbert D.

May 8th, 2010
5:38 pm

Ah, man…I saw the headline, and I thought this blog was about Woody.

kracker

May 8th, 2010
6:22 pm

Agree, Chris. Baseball is a slow game. Which is good for that game, the players couldn’t possibly play 9 out of 10 days for six months at anything approaching the intensity of hockey. They sit in the dugout for half the game. Baseball has it’s moments but it’s largely no longer for me.

Thanks for the update. Dudley said about what I expected from him at this point. The playoffs are ongoing, our RFA/UFAs are engaged in doing whatever each of them does when the season ends…like family matters, vacationing, traveling to the home country, etc. Duds is waiting on coaches to be available, talking to his agents, scouting young players, meeting about the draft…all like you said.

All indications as I see them at the momment seem to say Dudley really is content on:
- resigning the players you mentioned
- keeping our higher draft picks unless someone won’t take no for an answer which will then cost them dearly
- bringing Kulda and Cormier to camp with the expectation of them making the team
- giving the other youngsters a good look to see if someone plays surprisingly well
- make a FA signing or a trade for a top 6 forward(s) and possibly a goalie. All depending on getting out FAs signed, of course.

Really, it’s too early to tell but that’s my guess.

kracker

May 8th, 2010
6:25 pm

Oh, Chris, Rawhide has a draft blog out. I’m sure you have one upcoming but until then, do you have any personal preferences on who or what position you’d like Dudley to draft?

Tony C.

May 8th, 2010
6:28 pm

Nice work Chris-was afraid the kudzu got ya! Looking forward to the player interviews, also any info from the other side of the table in regards to our FA negotiations would be great. Keep up the good work and see you @ the Draft thinger.

kracker

May 8th, 2010
6:29 pm

Dudley may indeed be talking to ‘his’ agents but it should read talking to the players’ agents. Sorry. :)

[...] to Chris Vivlamore’s most recent blog post three of the four NHL organizations Rick Dudley has spoken to about talking to coaches are still [...]

StateBird

May 9th, 2010
12:05 am

Welcome back Viv …. But I hope that the Organization doesn’t consider Valabik a top 6 defensemen. Never has been and never will be.

Brendan

May 9th, 2010
12:18 am

I’ve love to privately ask Dudley who he sees as “trade bait” at the draft, to try to elevate our draft positions in the 1st round. What? I’ve love to move up to 3rd or 4th from 8th, and to 19th from 25th, if possible.

East Point Bob

May 9th, 2010
8:27 am

Why do we want back the same people we could not win with this past season and others before that ?

beauvighn

May 9th, 2010
10:10 am

I just hope Donnie boy keeps his nose out of it. Let Duds do what he was hired to do

kracker

May 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Dunno, Brendan, if moving up to 3rd or 4th is realistic. Just like Dudley indicates someone moving up to the 8 spot will cost them a tangible asset(s) – a player, not just a pick(s) – we would very likely have to give up better player & pick to move up 3-5 spots. Plus, aren’t those spots are projected as defensemen (I left my draft lists at work). While any team always needs more defenseman, I would look to target one on the FA/trade market for immediate help rather than the years of development time usually required for defennsemen. What level d-man Duds might need to go after depends on getting Kubina signed or not. Obviously, the same situation applies on the forward side…for example, does Max sign or not?

However, with the Thrash owners almost certainly not spending to the cap, the plan may well be to bring back most everybody from last season, add a FA forward, bring in Kulda and Cormier and bank on the real difference being playing better, smarter hockey as directed by the as yet to be hired coaching staff. That includes bringing in a top goalie coach as Dudley has said he will do.

That’s the way I see it based on Dudleys comments to date and Viv’s information that they are talking to, or plan to talk to, everyone’s agent except Kozlov with the intent to resign them. And it’s pretty easy to see Pops being replaced by Kulda. Valabik going in some trade? Could be, if Dudley has decided he won’t ever help more than he hurts.

Sooo…If the bring back the team with better coaching model is really the plan, then Dudley will draft the best players he can get for help in a year or two and then maybe add a FA piece or two or via a trade. This is the Thrashers so the pieces probably won’t be major unless players like Kubina, Max, Army don’t stay.

Lee

May 9th, 2010
11:13 am

Dudley’s a smart man. Good to have him in da booth.

Sage of Bluesland

May 9th, 2010
1:44 pm

It will be interesting to see who Donny ultimately signs off on related to both coaching and personnel decisions for the upcoming year…After all, when we continue to languish and “Duds” is unceremoniously fired about three years from now, it will be Donny to the rescue, yet again.

He does have ten years of experience at the position…Incompetence does count as experience, apparently, to the buffoonish ownership group.

As you ’should’ know by now, it all starts at the top. Thus, this hockey club is destined to fail.

Brendan

May 9th, 2010
9:51 pm

Kracker, it probably isn’t realistic. I just like to be optimistic. I’m actually fine with drafting at 8th. There still should be good talent on the table. I just hope we don’t trade down again, like in 2005. If the pick is traded for a player, he’s got to have 4-5 years left on that contract.

Well, I’m 0-1 in the only series that has concluded. That means I’m 6-3, through 9 completed series. Looks like Vancouver will survive to fight another day. Their ownership must be thrilled to be making another $2 million in pure profit by hosting Game Six.

Brendan

May 9th, 2010
10:37 pm

Before I leave the subject of the San Jose Sharks entirely, I am truly surprised the Sharks have advanced into the CF. Good for them, I suppose. It’s their 2nd trip to the CF since 2004. In most people’s book, that’s pretty good success. But they’ve noticeably underachieved since 2004. A lot is riding on this season, out in San Jose. They got past the Kings, and now Detroit, and they await the Vancouver-Chicago winner. The Sharks have never been to the Stanley Cup Finals. They came into the league in 1991. It was a LONNNNG inaugural season, that ended in 17 wins and 39-points. In those days, they played 80 games in the regular season. In 1993 and 1994, the NHL played 84 games. Believe it or not, San Jose actually managed to do WORSE in their 2nd season, with 84 games played. They finished with eleven (11) wins and only 24-points, along with a WHOPPING 71 losses, an NHL record. If memory serves me correctly, the Sharks had only one (1) regulation time road win in the 1992-93 campaign, and that occurred in their final road game of the season.

Think about that, folks. The Thrashers, even at their WORST, during the Curt Fraser years, never had a season that bad. Oh, yes. Sure. They did have a 39-point season in the inaugural season. But San Jose redefined “pathetic” in their early years. But, here they are, in their 18th season, in the midst of their “prosperity years.” Since 2004, the Sharks have only failed to make the 2nd round ONCE, last year, with the stunning defeat by Anaheim, in a President’s Trophy winning season. In 23 playoff series, the Sharks are 11-12. That’s pretty respectable, really. The Sharks own two playoff series victories over Detroit, Nashville, Calgary, and St. Louis in their postseason history. My earliest memory of them in the playoffs, was 1994. I was actually living in Europe at the time, desperately trying to get NHL highlights. I saw Owen Nolan hit the crossbar, in overtime, of Game Six against Toronto. At the time, SJ led the series, 3-2, and would have won the series with an overtime winner. Toronto won the OT, then took Game Seven. It would have sent the Sharks into the CF against the Vancouver Canucks. (The Rangers won the Cup that year, in one of the best Finals ever played, to end 54-years of drought.)

Ummn, Brendan? Your point? Well, chuckling, it’s that no matter HOW PATHETIC you might see the Thrashers, now or in the past, it’s possible to get it all turned-around, at some point in the future. I long for the day … when we all have a GOOD, HEARTY CHUCKLE over the “Waddell Years,” and just how dreadful they really were. That day will come. I think we could be on our way to looking and acting and behaving like a real NHL franchise should. If Dudley’s in charge, the “minor league habitus” that surrounded this team will be gone. The proof of which will be that UFA’s actually choose Atlanta as their intended destination of choice. Certainly, Atlanta signed Todd White to a 4-year deal in 2007 and Ron Hainsey to a 5-year deal, in 2008. I’m not too sure if White and Hainsey had Atlanta in mind when they hit the open market. But, tier II free agents will also be available on July 2nd and 3rd. When I think of “traditional hockey markets,” I don’t think of San Jose, California. I don’t think of Anaheim, either. I don’t think of Nashville, TN, nor Raleigh, NC, nor Tampa Bay, FL. And yet, the ‘Canes and Ducks and Bolts own Stanley Cup titles, and SJ is knockin’ on the door. I still see the Thrashers engaged in a 4-year building “process.” I’m fine with that. Let’s just hope nothing stupid happens at the draft.

Lee

May 10th, 2010
6:51 am

Some people say: “Oh, the 8th pick is worth nothing!” But take Niclas Bergfors for an answer, Lord knows what pick he was, but probably around the 20’s, and in my opinion, has been better than Kane when he got here, and Kane was the number 4 pick! So our eigth pick could be something to hold on to.

kracker

May 10th, 2010
7:28 am

Summer optimism always works for me, Brendan. Nice comparison of the first decade or so of the Sharks and the Thrashers. It gives one hope.

Jarndyce

May 10th, 2010
7:40 am

Lee: There’s a big flaw in your logic. Bergfors may have been a rookie, but he’s 23 years old. Kane is 18. Let’s give him five more years, and then see how he’s performing…

GaVaHokie

May 10th, 2010
8:35 am

Baseball sucks… what’s the most exciting thing that could happen? A Grand Slam… a triple play… a no hitter?

… seen it.

R. Stroz

May 10th, 2010
8:42 am

GaVaHokie – A bean ball followed by a bench clearing brawl with a bunch of guys who fight like high school cheerleaders.

In other words, a cat fight in reverse drag.

kracker

May 10th, 2010
9:03 am

hahaha Stroz! Baseball needs to be “Springerized”

Jandy

May 10th, 2010
9:10 am

Will the Thrashers new management team PLEASE do something about the awful home uniforms with the idiotic “Atlanta” sleeve. The uniform is an embarrassment.

Bill

May 10th, 2010
9:40 am

Yep, the Thrashers have the worst uniforms in the league, but I can tell you they won’t change them because the same idiots who yell “Knights!” during the National Anthem love them. Go figure.

GaVaHokie

May 10th, 2010
10:42 am

The most exciting thing that could happen to the Braves all year has already happened… Jason Heywards first professional “at bat”.

kracker

May 10th, 2010
11:56 am

Chris, I’m throwing this out there to see what people think of them as Thrashers candidates.

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Sam-Woo/Devils-coach-merry-go-round-continues/80/28258

Thrashers27

May 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

Sorry, Bill, but I like the unis and hate the “KNIGHTS!” BS, so the two are not mutually exclusive.

MW

May 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

Brendan –

As a Sharks fan, loved your post about how Atlanta should have some hope for their team going forward. I remember those first couple of years for the Sharks (in the Cow Palace, sheesh!)…and it is so nice now to enjoy the team we have (previous playoff disappointments aside). Hopefully Atlanta will do the same (and with the young players you have now, there certainly should be optimism). A couple of points:

1) If we had drafted players the caliber of Heatley/Kovalchuk in the franchise’s first couple of years (instead of Falloon/Rathje), we might have enjoyed better earlier seasons as the Thrashers did. :D

2) As someone still haunted by that crossbar shot in OT of Game 6 against Toronto, it was actually Johan Garpenlov who took the shot. Owen Nolan did not show up until a couple of years later. I don’t know what was worse…the crossbar or the weak sharp angle goal from Gartner that won it for Toronto. I was only a kid and it still makes me sad.

Cheers to Thrashers fans…

-M

Sage of Bluesland

May 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

…and if San Jose had a lisping, bumbling, buffoon of a GM like Don Waddell, they would be embarking on their third “Five-Year Plan” without a playoff victory…all the while with sheep making excuse after excuse for his, umm, “performance”…

Oh well, with ownership proven to be what it is, I may as well become a Sharks fan..

Andy

May 10th, 2010
3:27 pm

They still play hockey in ATL? How bout that.

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Where the Lord Split Ya

May 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

Great idea there Sage! Do us all a favor and follow through on that statement of becoming a Sharks fan.

MW

May 10th, 2010
4:05 pm

Sage…

Considering the crazy jedi mind tricks that Doug Wilson has used to fleece Boston out of Thornton and Ottawa out of Heatley…sounds like Waddell should ask him some advice.

-M

Brendan

May 10th, 2010
10:49 pm

MW, I enjoyed your post, as well. Thank you for correction on Johan Garpenlov as the shot taker. I think Garpenlov wound up in Atlanta in 1999. That name sounds familiar. I was very happy that the NHL awarded a team to San Jose. I thought they’d make a fine rival for the L.A. Kings. Of course, the much closer Anaheim Ducks, would be the Kings new primary rivals. When the league unveiled the Sharks logo and uniforms, I remember that there was a tremendously positive reaction to it. I was living in Europe, and I’d see tourists wearing the Sharks uniform. When I got back stateside, I was surprised to see some many kids wearing San Jose coats and jackets, on the East Coast. But teal is a popular color, and a Shark is quite a menacing mascot. Much moreso than “a harmless, little brown bird.” Actually, I heard the new Georgia state bird is a chicken now. Is that right? The Atlanta Chickens?? Atlanta poultry processors? Their slogan could be, “We hire aliens.” I tease. I kid. I do that sometime.

MW, don’t be a stranger, as SJ continues into the CF, and potentially beyond. I’m not much of a Heatley fan, but I like the rest of the Sharks.

Kracker, I think now is a GREAT TIME for optimism. If R.Stroz is correct, that money is fungible, perhaps the money NOT SPENT on Joe Johnson and Ilya Kovalchuk could wind up in the payroll of the Thrashers.

Alan R.

May 11th, 2010
1:39 am

Actually, I heard the new Georgia state bird is a chicken now. Is that right?

No. A couple of cluckheads out in Augusta proposed the idea. It hasn’t quite taken off.

GAY4SLAVA

May 11th, 2010
10:18 am

SLAVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We Love You, #13 !!

GAY4SLAVA

May 11th, 2010
10:20 am

Someone please hold me.

Sis?

RS

May 11th, 2010
12:04 pm

Baseball would be much more interesting if everybody had a bat…..

MW

May 11th, 2010
12:14 pm

Brendan-

Thanks for the post. Actually, with regard to the “harmless little brown bird” logo, I actually bought a Thrashers home jersey (well…the whites that USED to be the home jerseys) to wear in my hockey league not long after they came into the league. I think the jersey and logo look slick.

I definitely follow the Thrashers in the Eastern Conference, largely because you guys seem to be in the same position the Sharks were in 10 years or so into their existence…floating around the final playoff seed looking to break through. I will definitely be pulling for your GM to work some magic and get you guys some consistent playoff appearances. Doesn’t seem like they are TOO far off…

Cheers,
-M

Zabby

May 11th, 2010
12:18 pm

For what it’s worth department: Dudley was one nasty indoor box-lacrosse player years back playing for the Rochester Griffins. He literally tossed guys like rag dolls – - fun to watch. They want the Championshipo with his leadership! Based on this that I’d say he’s going to want more guys like Cormier…

Brendan

May 11th, 2010
12:19 pm

Thanks MW. We need all the help we can possibly get in Atlanta. My favorite Thrasher jersey is the white one, with the bird wing, holding the hockey stick. I always liked that uniform. The colors and design are nice. I also liked the “retro” one, which was the shoulder patch in the middle, with red down the shoulders and sleeve, with the traditional log as the shoulder patch. I never did much care for the powder blue jerseys and Thursday game “red” jerseys, neither of which I own. I stick with the two from 1999.

If only a Thrasher bird were a manacing mascot.

thebighairybeast

May 11th, 2010
4:19 pm

Perusing hockey news ay work and yahoo is reporting Cormier is being criminally charged and could face up to 18 months in jail..Not something you want to see in a top prospect.

As to the unforms, I actually like the powder blue ones (prepares to recieve thrown stones). The logo is the same as the white (my second favorite), and I think the Atlanta down the sleeve is pretty cool. I abhored the old batman jersey, nor for the new red jersey.

Joyaman

May 12th, 2010
12:17 am

WTF is Waddell doing at the World Championships in Germany?????????

Comparing notes on ticket prices with DEL presidents? Considering selling logo space on Thrashers unis? Seeing how far his US dollars will get him versus the declining Euro?

I think not. Get his sorry-ass, incompetent, franchise-fouling rear end out of hockey rinks worldwide. I don’t give a rat’s ass about his opinion on ANY hockey player, anywhere. Neither should Dudley.

This is reaaaaalllllly pissing me off now. I’m now seriously considering reinstating the boycott I had just lifted after Waddell was removed as GM. If he shows up anywhere near the draft table it’s definetly on again. Just when we thought it was safe to return to Blueland again, DW pulls this crap.

kracker

May 12th, 2010
8:19 am

[rolling eyes] Go ahead, dude. “Reinstate” the boycott (of one) you just lifted. lol

kracker

May 12th, 2010
8:23 am

bighairybeast, I like the batman logo/jersey. Perhaps I can find one on e-bay.

alex

May 12th, 2010
12:28 pm

live is good for waddell: traveling each year in europe world champ on asg credit cards. best restarants, hotels, watching games, casinos, etc… if you think he understand just a crap what he see in germany you can name me einstein also. asg please chase this idiot out from hockey it’s waste you f…g money, better spend some on improving thrashers. by the way maybe he is planning travel to south africa on soccer world cup to pick up something for hockey in atlanta for goodness sake

Sage of Bluesland

May 12th, 2010
1:31 pm

Still waiting for the sheep to keep trying to “sell” me that it’s a “new day” in Thrashersland…

Sure it is–if that helps you medicate yourself…maybe if you click your heels and spin around three times that will help, too?

This is one organization destined for failure, pure and simple. Whoever can’t see it is blind–or willfully ignorant…Both work as good excuses, I’m sure…

Alan R.

May 12th, 2010
1:35 pm

People will find anything to complain about these days. The new GM hasn’t made one decision yet, and people are still whining about Waddell.

So what. He’s in Germany. I hope he stays there.

Wadellblows

May 12th, 2010
3:22 pm

Anyone have a Kozzie home jersey (large) they’d be willing to part with? I’m serious.

As for the home jerseys, I like them, except for the Atlanta sleeve–

Bring back Slater, Colby, Kubina & Max– the rest can go

Jack

May 12th, 2010
3:41 pm

Sorry I burned mine already

Wadellblows

May 12th, 2010
4:24 pm

anyone else have one? understand the disdain for him, but he was good for Thrash until last 2 years.

foo

May 12th, 2010
4:33 pm

Enter your comments here

Jack

May 12th, 2010
8:00 pm

Crosby is losing YEAH. I know its not over so I am knocking on wood

Eugene

May 13th, 2010
2:04 am

A good coach will be the difference for the Thrashers this year. My first choice as I mentioned numerous times before would be Craig MacTavish but if the Thrashers wanted to get a coach on the cheap, I’d try to get Kirk Muller or John Maclean.

Joyaman

May 13th, 2010
10:03 am

Hey Kracker. Wake up.

I think if you’ll check the real gate receipts of the last two years (as opposed to the announced attendance figures that includes numerous comps), the numbers were down by several thousand, not just “one.” I wouldn’t have said another word about Waddell, and was actually looking way past his nightmare regime, when he starts poking his head back in player-evaluation situations.

I worked for the New Jersey Devils for three years and for 10 other NHL teams’ hockey departments for another six years, and I know the role of a team President vs. a Director of Player Personnel, Area Scout, GM, Assistant GM, Pro Scout, Amateur Scout, etc….Presidents (without a shared GM title) are supposed to run the business operations (Marketing, PR, Ticket Sales, Accounting, Season Ticket Relations, etc…), not show up at major championships, junior rinks, rookie camps, etc….

If Waddell is no longer in a player personnel evalutation role, he picked a poor way of demonstrating it by having the PR department publicly state that he couldn’t be reached for comment on the Cormier situation because “he was at the World Championships in Germany.” I want to root for this team as hard as you, Brendan and the others, but the guy who personally guided this team into the toilet is clearly still performing his amateur plumbing – and not even attempting to hide this fact.

I’ll stop bringing up Waddell as soon as he stops his tinkering in the clubs’ hockey operations.

Joyaman

May 13th, 2010
10:18 am

Hey Viv, see if you can get a straight answer from Duds or an owner on the purpose of Waddell’s presence at the World Championships, and more importantly on a definition of his new role, especially as it relates to the club’s Hockey Department.. Does Dudley report to Waddell? Is Waddell directly or indirectly involved in player personnel decisions? What will Waddell be doing at this year’s Entry Draft? Will he attend? Why? Presidents typically do show up at Entry Drafts for the PR exposure and executive-junket perk value. Will this be the case wtih DW in LA (purported destination of Kovy if he doesn’t join his boy Slava in the KHL)? Thanks.