A little insight into Dudley’s thinking; Draft update

I just finished transcribing my hour-long interview with Rick Dudley for the profile story that is scheduled to appear next week. Now, I just have to write it in between Braves games over the next four days.

One thing Dudley talked about, that I don’t think will find a home in the story, is the following example of his philosophy of scouting players. I thought you folks would be interested in his thoughts about how Dudley and Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Dan Boyle from Florida in 2001-02. Boyle was a key part in the Lightning’s Stanley Cup championship in 2004.

“Here is an example of the type of successes that I’ve had,” Dudley said. “Dan Boyle was a smallish defenseman. Mike Keenan was the coach of Florida and he wouldn’t play him much. I talked to Chuck Fletcher, the interim GM there, and he was very honest. He said our coach won’t play him. I said what do you want for him. He said I don’t know. I said I’ll get back to you. I watched him play seven straight games. He played about three minutes a game. In those three minutes for seven straight games I had to make an evaluation as to whether this guy could help us. I came to the conclusion he could. I had to fight like hell with my bosses in Tampa, but we made the trade for a fifth-round draft pick. Well, you look at the player now, and I could not have done that on someone else’s say so. That comfort level wouldn’t have been there for a smaller D-man. The natural assumption is that he can’t play for the Florida Panthers so why would you be so excited about this player. The truth is he was in a circumstance. I’m not discrediting the coach. Mike liked big defensemen. He did not like small defensemen. Danny was a smaller defenseman. But I saw enough for our team that I felt comfortable that he could play for us. Those are things you have to do. I don’t know how you do it elsewise. There are GMs that do it [differently] and they are successful. But I don’t know how you rely on someone else’s opinion to build a hockey team. I just don’t.”

Here is more on Dudley’s overall thoughts:

“I realized one thing. I don’t give a damn what organization it is, the most important thing you can do is build a team. That’s a fact. … Back in the day you could buy a team if you had $100 million. When we built that team in Tampa, we had $21 million payroll and there were a couple of teams in the league at $80 million.  With the cap system today, no one can tell me there is anything more important than putting all the pieces in place, the right pieces. Everyone talks about capologists. What is a capologist? One of these people that looks at pieces of the puzzle and says that’s worth that much money in that slot. If you don’t watch the players, you don’t understand the players, you can not do that. The only thing you can do is walk in and give a report. You can’t walk in and say you have to move that piece or that piece. That has to be the person that does the evaluation. What I maintain … look at Phoenix, Don Maloney is a scout (and recently nominated for GM of the Year award). He’s watched a lot of hockey games and he knows how to put the right pieces in place. The person who puts those pieces in place is the most important person in the organization, other than the players you are putting there.

“I think we have a hell of a staff [in Atlanta], but if I’m looking at spending somewhere between a half million and five million dollars of someone else’s money, I want to have a comfort level. I don’t mind getting on a plane or hopping in a car to see a hockey player who we might acquire. It makes for a lot of work, makes for a lot of time, makes for a lot of time away from my wife who now understands after 26 years, she knows exactly what I’m about. But it works.”

Look for the story next week.

Watching the Eastern Conference playoffs makes you wonder what could have happened had the Thrashers got into the postseason with No. 8 Montreal knocking off No. 1 Washington and now No. 4 Pittsburgh. Should Philadelphia win Game 7 ,you would have the No. 7 and No. 8 seeded teams playing for a trip to the Stanley Cup finals. You just never know.

Also, I verified with the NHL today that the Thrashers will get the No. 24th pick in the first round as part of the Ilya Kovalchuk trade. As it stands now, here is the order. Only who will pick No. 15 and the final four spots is yet to be determined.

Entry Draft order of selection

Round 1

1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Boston Bruins (from Toronto)
3. Florida Panthers
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
5. New York Islanders
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Atlanta Thrashers
9. Minnesota Wild
10. New York Rangers
11. Dallas Stars
12. Anaheim Ducks
13. Phoenix Coyotes (from Calgary)
14. St. Louis Blues
15. Boston or Anaheim (from Philadelphia)
16. Ottawa Senators
17. Colorado Avalanche
18. Nashville Predators
19. Los Angeles Kings
20. Pittsburgh Penguins
21. Detroit Red Wings
22. Phoenix Coyotes
23. Buffalo Sabres
24. Atlanta Thrashers (from New Jersey)
25. Vancouver Canucks
26. Washington Capitals

Picks 27-28: The two teams eliminated in the Conference Finals, in inverse order of points
Pick 29: The team eliminated in the Stanley Cup Final
Pick 30: The Stanley Cup champion

64 comments Add your comment


May 13th, 2010
11:45 am

Sounds pretty good…hopefully a good offseason will bring much success to Blueland next year!


May 13th, 2010
12:18 pm

This is the mindset that this club needs in a GM. Hopefully his wife can go on a few of the more fun trips.


May 13th, 2010
12:41 pm

Welcome back Chris. Looking forward to the story. The more I hear from/about Dudley the more I’m convinced we’ve got the right man for the job.


May 13th, 2010
12:45 pm

I think this deserves to be noted again, re: Mike Keenan… “I’m not discrediting the coach. Mike liked big defensemen. He did not like small defensemen.”

I guess that takes him off the candidate list for Atlanta… gladly.


May 13th, 2010
12:56 pm

Excellent insight. Thanks Chris!


May 13th, 2010
1:20 pm

Chris You Rock. also it sounds like Dudley IS THE MAN!!!!!!!

Jonathan Willis

May 13th, 2010
1:22 pm

That’s a fun story from Dudley, but while he deserves credit for finding Boyle he’s stretching the truth a little.

Boyle played a grand total of four games for Mike Keenan, and never played less than 14:00 in any of them.



May 13th, 2010
1:28 pm

Thank goodness he’s in charge now!!!


May 13th, 2010
1:52 pm

Damn Willis, you got that together FAST!!

World Be Free

May 13th, 2010
2:51 pm


May 13th, 2010
2:53 pm

Still give Dudley props as long as he doesn’t hire Keenan

Spud Webb

May 13th, 2010
3:18 pm

Wow, nice work Chris.
Seems like a great philosophy!! Can’t resist…Chris, was DW in the room taking notes?? haahhahhahahhahahahahhahahahhahahah
Duds does have me hopeful.

Joe Friday

May 13th, 2010
4:06 pm

I agree with him that the GM or the guy ultimately making the decision needs to see the player play.

So, did you ask him why Waddell has been reported twice now scouting games in Canada and also overseas at the Worlds when Waddell is supposedly out of personnel now and that’s Dudley’s job?!?

The Real Thrash

May 13th, 2010
5:39 pm

I just hope that waiting until next week to post the interview does not make it old news.


May 13th, 2010
7:34 pm

Nice, Chris, very interesting insight into Duds’ GMing philosphies! I look forward to more Dudley articles. And your entry draft & FA articles. If you need to cut some of those Braves storys a bit to devote more time to the #1 Sport, I will understand ;)


May 13th, 2010
8:56 pm

I don’t care who Dudley hires or who he drafts as long as Don Waddell keeps his two cents out of it. Don’t let him anywhere near the draft board…Good luck Duds…get us some freakin’ players

Sage of Bluesland

May 13th, 2010
9:49 pm

Stop deluding yourselves…”Duds” will be doing precisely what Donny wants him to….Ever see a puppet work? Just watch the Thrashers “braintrust” in action and you’ll learn…

Betting Hockey Coaching Club » More

May 14th, 2010
12:12 am

[...] A little insight into Dudley’s thinking I just finished transcribing my hour-long interview with Rick Dudley for the profile story that is scheduled to appear next week. [...]


May 14th, 2010
4:42 am

Dudley keeps talking about building teams which is music to my ears. The draft is VERY important building tool and I’m hopeful that Dudley refrains from any DW type win-now moves.

My picks throughout the first four rounds.
08- Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter or Brett Connolly (if healthy)
24- Tyler Toffoli, Calle Järnock, Dylan McIlrath, Brock Nelson
55- Brad Ross, Ryan Martindale, Tom Kühnhackl, Jarred Knight
72- Curtis Hamilton, Devante Smith-Pelly, Dalton Smith
101- Sondre Olden


May 14th, 2010
6:45 am

Tony C.

May 14th, 2010
7:10 am

I’m just scared to death he’s going to trade the #8 pick and we don’t get a 30-goal scorer.

Tony C.

May 14th, 2010
7:12 am

Also, put me down for Nino. Watch some vid of this kid-he’s naaaaaasty good.


May 14th, 2010
8:13 am

Acer… I think Martindale will be gone before #55… at #72 or #101, I’m hoping for Tyler Bunz.


May 14th, 2010
8:49 am

I always felt we were getting less than the truth from our old GM and now the new guy comes up with a tale that is less than the truth about Boyle. Are we getting more of the same?


May 14th, 2010
9:13 am

We still need to get a quality coach! This will determine what free agents will want to come to Atlanta. I don’t see us resigning Armstrong or Kubina. I also think Arty will sign with another team. I really hope we resign Kubina, he had a good year, but at what price should we pay him. We really need a vocal leader to come in here and lead this team. I think we should either trade for Sharp/Chicago or sign Frolov /LA.


May 14th, 2010
9:14 am

The Thrashers would have been swept in 4 games by the Caps had they made the playoffs. Montreal eventually figured out a way to beat the Caps (and the Pens) defensively that would have been absolutely impossible under John Anderson’s system, and if we learned anything under Anderson, we learned that he did not under any circumstances abandon his system. Let’s not delude ourselves with the “if only we had made the playoffs, we’d be in the conference finals too because we’re better than Montreal” nonsense because it’s simply not true. The Thrashers missed by 5 points and since Montreal won more games than Atlanta did, it would have taken three more victories to get into the playoffs instead of them. That’s not exactly a close miss.


May 14th, 2010
9:17 am

Tony C. – There’s not a GM in the NHL who would trade a 30 goal scorer for an 8th overall pick. So certainly if the pick is traded, it won’t bring that in return. But I don’t think Dudley will trade the pick unless someone makes him an offer he simply cannot refuse. I don’t see that happening.


May 14th, 2010
9:18 am

GaVaHokie, it’s possible that Martindale will be gone but you never know with this draft. Somebody may like Martindale enough in the first round. His potential may be enough for one team to take a chance of him early.

Can you give me a little insight into Bunz? I always find it difficult to rank goalies.

Game On

May 14th, 2010
9:33 am

We need to address the goalie situation. If Moose does not come back, then we only have Pav. I have no convidence in Pav, the only thng he will block is our way to the playoffs.


May 14th, 2010
10:01 am

Funny that Hedberg commented on what if scenarios had they made the playoffs. The Caps did everything they could, Halak is the only reason Montreal is alive…could we have gotten that kind of performance from our goalies?

You never know since Halak wasn’t very impressive in the regular season but its a stretch.


May 14th, 2010
10:41 am

Acer… Bunz was 17 years old and was starting for Medicine Hat. I could be wrong, but I think him and Calvin Pickard were the only 17 year-old starters in the WHL. Pickard, of course, is a projected 1st rounder.

He’s very athletic and even does Yoga for flexibility… so, youth, experience and conditioning for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he climbs the charts at the Combine.


May 14th, 2010
11:01 am

Here’s a great video of Tyler Bunz… maybe some of our resident goalie experts can give us some feedback. My first instinct is that he drops too quickly, but he’s really good with lateral movement.


Here’s something to compare it with… Mark Visentin (Top OHL prospect)



May 14th, 2010
5:51 pm

Thanks for the article on the search for another hockey oriented owner. I am very glad they are looking to up the funding for the hockey operatioons side of the company. They really need to spend a little closer to the cap which would mean not having to put a player that should be a bottom six guy on your second line. Ditto for your defensive pairings.


May 14th, 2010
6:06 pm

hahaha Chris, the owners in the pic above your article are all wearing batman jerseys! lol, can’t they get an up-to-date picture? That looks like one from 1999.


May 14th, 2010
7:18 pm

When will the finale settlement happen with the Spirit Group Owners and will we the fan’s see any type of improved commitment this year?Will we have to wait on Steve Belkin to get out of the picture to get a true understanding how the Spirit Owners want to treat these orphans?

Delbert D.

May 14th, 2010
9:38 pm

Will Dudley do right?


May 15th, 2010
12:19 am

What would it take to get Arthur Blank interested in this team, I do wonder. I never thought I’d ever utter those words, but now, with Joe Johnson, the VERY CAUSE of the ownership dispute, one-foot out the door, haven’t we transcended “absurd” yet?

JJ has come and gone, ostensibly. But Belkin’s still here. That’s amazing. How hard could it possibly be to buy out an estranged owner?


May 15th, 2010
8:12 am


I usually try to get as many opinions as possible from coaches, scouts (CSB, RLR, ISS) and from knowledgeable fans. YT videos are part of the equation but not a main piece when evaluating a player.


May 15th, 2010
11:17 am

The Thrashers are doing exactly what I would expect with Waddell still in the henhouse. Looking for a new coach in the minors. If you bring a first time coach you will be in the rebuilding phase for the umpteenth time. He will get fired after two seasons and here we go again. The NHL needs to take the franchise from
Atlanta for acting stupid. Fans don’t deserve such mis management.


May 15th, 2010
12:49 pm

I am refraining from projecting my draftees through each round at this juncture. First, I’d say, we have to hire a coach, and hear his stated philosophy. Once we know what THAT is, then, MAYYYYBE, we’d have an inkling what looks GOOD to fill that wish list.

Are we looking for grinders, who win puck battles? Are we looking for “finesse players?” Are we looking to get BIGGER? Shrugs. I don’t know. I can’t say. Therefore, I cannot project picks. All I can do is say things like, “In the Brendan philosophy, you take the best available player at your best available draft position.” Irrespective of need??? Well, honestly, answering truthfully, “yes.” If I had a team with four bonafide Centers and a young Wayne Gretzky was the consensus # 1 pick, I’m taking Gretzky, no matter how many of my Centers feelings just got hurt. And yes, it’d mean I have to trade one or more of those centers. The “Brendan” way of thinking, we can never have enough promising defenseman. In that regard, I’m thinking Derek Borgfort (sp?) would still be available at pick # 8. I’m hardly married to that pick. I can’t even spell it. And let’s see what utter stupidity preceeds us at the podium. If there’s a consensus BETTER pick than this U-18 program defender, then “see ya later, Derek.” We have to wait-n-see. I think Borgfort is projected at 10th overall. I doubt someone would take him with picks 1-7.


May 15th, 2010
2:53 pm

Glad to see that Dudley doesn’t make trades based on second-hand opinions.


May 15th, 2010
8:34 pm

I like what Dudley has to say about building a “team”. the Teflon One was enthralled with scoring and superstars and tried to piece players around Kovy and Hossa. It didn’t work and they didn’t create any team unity. Great to see playoff teams using all four lines and getting hi-energy on every shift. A hustling, hitting, team with some D is going to be a welcome change. Good luck Duds with the draft and coach search. We renewed our season tix and will be back as the Eternal Optimists.


May 15th, 2010
9:08 pm


Let’s see what your overinflated sense of self worth looks like when it’s pasturized by the D-Wad.

just a fan

May 16th, 2010
10:58 pm

Really impressed with the depth of knowledge on this forum, no lies. As a hockey fan from Canada there is a lot of surprisingly good insight. Nice to see the game being appreciated down there!


May 17th, 2010
8:11 am

Acer… I’ve looked at more than just YT videos. Like we’ve said on here before, even YT can make J.P. Vigier look like Wayne Gretzky.


May 17th, 2010
8:13 am

Wow, Viv, that picture of ownership for your investor piece looks bad. Who is that bent over the table? :)

They should send that picture to potential investors with an arrow pointing to that guy… “This could be you!”

teflon don

May 17th, 2010
8:42 am

All these useless comments. Hey, guys! Mind you – ASG is looking for investors. What’s that tell you? Yes it’s the budget!! One team too many! No head coach for Hawks AND Thrashers! Problems, problems, problems!. The outcome will be the same as always here, in ATL. Mediocre $$$, mediocre coach, mediocre players, mediocre results!! 2nd most miserable sport city in US. Welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alan R.

May 17th, 2010
11:30 am

All these useless comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All these useless exclamation points…


May 17th, 2010
3:12 pm

just a fan – Thanks. There’s a reason why you see a lot of away jerseys when we play the Sabres, Rangers, Blackhawks and some other northern teams. They moved here and brought their hockey passion and knowledge with them.

Perhaps soon the Thrashers can steal some of their allegiance to their former team. They will always love their old team, we just need to get the transplants backing the Thrashers too.


May 18th, 2010
8:40 pm

any more updates from the coaching search?