NOTE: SINCE I POSTED THIS FINAL VERSION WITH TONS OF NEWS AFTER 2 A.M., I’M GOING TO LEAVE THIS BLOG UP TODAY FOR ALL THOSE WHO WANT TO COMMENT ON THE BIG DAY. I WILL POST NEW BLOG AFTER TALKING TO RAMSAY.
The Thrashers will officially name Craig Ramsay as the francishe’s fifth head coach on Thursday. The announcement will come later this afternoon. The 59-year-old Ramsay has served as assistant coach with the Boston Bruins the past three seasons.
In a conference call to discuss the two trades the Thrashers made early Thursday morning, general manager Rick Dudley said he “won’t tip our hand” about the new coach. However, he did acknowledge that he has spoken to Ramsay “quite a bit.” He said the two had coffee in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning and Ramsay had dinner with team president Don Waddell Wednesday night.
There is a report from TSN that John Torchetti, the Chicago Blackhawks assistant who was the other leading candidate for the head coach job, would join the Thrashers as an associate head coach. I have not confirmed that. I do know that when the deal is announced today, Torchetti won’t be involved. Just Ramsay.
Ramsay interviewed with the Thrashers several weeks ago. The 59-year old has served stints as head coach for Buffalo and Philadelphia. He has also served as an assistant with Florida, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and, most recently, Boston. He was an assistant with the Bruins for the past three seasons.
Ramsay played 14 NHL seasons with the Sabres, where he was a teammate and linemate of Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley. He retired in 1985 with 672 points (252 goals, 420 assists) in 1,070 games. He won the Selke Award as the league’s top defensive forward in 1984-85. He played in 776 consecutive games between 1973-83.
By now you know the old news. The Thrashers acquired Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager and Akim Aliu from Chicago for Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, Jeremy Morin and a first- and second-round draft pick in this year’s draft.
In order to make that deal work, the Thrashers also made a trade with San Jose, sending Mike Vernace, Brett Sterling and a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft for future considerations.
Here are some of the highlights from Dudley’s after 1 a.m. conference call:
* He thinks Byfuglien is a 20-30 goal scorer and that he is every bit the player that excelled in the playoffs.
*He called Sopel a “character guy” that will “block as many shots as he takes.”
*Praised Eager’s forechecking and his “pugilistic side.”
*Called Aliu “a bit of a wildcard” that just needs to mature into an NHL player.
*Now that he traded his second-round pick, Dudley would like to try to replace it. The team will pick No. 8 and then not again until 87th as it stands now.
*He said he would continue to talk to UFAs such as Colby Armstrong and Pavel Kubina but admitted they have “pieces in place that make it easier to move on without them.” He also said, in regards to talks with Kubina, that they are a “little ways apart right now.”
*He said he’s not done dealing and would like to trade for a 20-goal scorer and maybe a defenseman.
*Team will focus on restricted free agents after the draft.They have deadline of June 28th to make qualifying offers.
Back to the deals: I talked to Reasoner about the trade. He said he talked to his agent early Wednesday and heard rumblings that something might be happening. Here is some of what he said.
“You can’t beat going to a team that just won the Stanley Cup. I’m pretty excited.”
“It’s always a little shocking to be traded, but we’ve been through it before.”
“I would have liked to have stayed in Atlanta another year and help that team build, but it’s a new chapter. It will be exciting. You can tell from watching the playoffs that the Blackhawks have taken over the city.”
“[My time in Atlanta] was good. I met a lot of great people. … I think you learn a lot about yourself when you are in different situations and I definitely learned a lot about myself there. I will always have fond memories. My daughter was born there. … You become part of the community even if it’s a short amount of time. But we signed up for this.”
I also spoke with Ron Hainsey about the deal. He said he was not surprised that Dudley made a deal with Chicago, considering his relationship with the franchise.
“We added some great pieces today,” Hainsey said. “We hate to see Marty go but we got a lot back. We got a player who was a huge part of their playoff run, a veteran right-handed shooting defenseman. Another good player and a prospect. Those are some pretty big pieces.”