Archive for September, 2010

Ramsay explains new coaching structure

This is it. The last element of my interview with coach Craig Ramsay before training camp starts Saturday.

I asked Ramsay about how the coaching staff will work with associate head coach John Torchetti, assistant Mike Stothers and goaltender consultant Clint Malarchuk. I was also interested in their plans for in-game adjustments, which was one of the reasons general manager Rick Dudley pointed to when discussing the dismissal of John Anderson and his staff.

Here is what he had to say:

“John will do the defense during the game. He will be overseeing the power play. Mike will work with me on penalty killing, on 5-on-5. We’ll all work on all of that. Mike will go upstairs [to press box] to watch and observe but he will end up on the bench during almost every game for the third period, maybe the second period. It depends on how we see the game and feel the game because it’s important for him to get on the bench and really feel what it’s like down there. He’s been there at the NHL …

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Updated: Cormier hurt; Training camp roster set

Patrice Cormier left the Thrashers practice facility on crutches Thursday after he was hit with a puck while blocking a shot during the final four-on-four scrimmage of rookie camp.

X-rays were taken and the team will announce the results on Friday.

Cormier immediately fell to the ice after being hit with the puck. He did get up and told a teammate that he was all right.

I will provide updates and more details as they become available.

Training camp roster

Here is the complete roster for Thrashers training camp, which starts on Saturday. A total of 52 players have been invited.

Groupings won’t be available until Friday.

Forwards (28): Akim Aliu, Nik Antropov, Niclas Bergfors, Eric Boulton, Alexander Burmistrov, Patrice Cormier, Nigel Dawes, Andre Deveaux**, Ben Eager, Angelo Esposito, Michael Forney, Riley Holzapfel, Evander Kane, Andrew Kozek, Andrew Ladd, Enver Lisin*, Bryan Little, Spencer Machacek, Ian McKenzie, Fredrik Modin, Danick Paquette, Fredrik Pettersson, Rich …

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Who will be Thrashers captain?

In talking to coach Craig Ramsay it’s clear he has definite ideas about what makes a captain. It’s way too early for the new coach to say just who might captain the Thrashers this season (he’s still meeting and learning about his players, after all). I asked him what qualities he would look for in a captain/leader.

Here is what he had to say on the subject, including the fact that the team may just have assistants:

“The captain is a difficult pick. First, he must be committed to the well being of your hockey club first, not just his own stats. Far too often, throughout the years, throughout the league, you see the scorer become the captain of the team. Why? Because they want him to play harder every night so they figure if they make him captain he will have some commitment to that. It’s a flawed concept. A captain is a person first. He must be committed to his conditioning, to the style of play the team has, to his teammates. It’s just a player that believes in the team …

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Ramsay’s No. 1 training camp goal: Go

I finally finished going through the rest of my interview with coach Craig Ramsay from last week. Man, I still have some good stuff leftover.

I will share it over the next couple days and then training camp will start and there will be plenty of new stuff to discuss.

I asked Ramsay what was the number one thing he wanted to see and/or get accomplished in training camp.  Read carefully and you’ll pick up a lot of insight into how the Thrashers will operate this season. I also asked about the process of installing his system since it took awhile for former coach John Anderson to install his system.

Here is what Ramsay had to say:

“The number one concept is ‘Go.’ Get up ice. We don’t want any lazy defensemen. We don’t want any lazy players. Get up the ice and get off when it’s time to change and get going on the back check. That philosophy of go is the most important thing. We expect you to go hard up, back, get off and do it again. That idea, as simple as it is, is probably the …

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Late signings make it more difficult for Thrashers prospects

By signing a number of veteran players late in the off-season – Fredrik Modin, Nigel Dawes, Freddy Meyer to name just a few – it will be increasingly more difficult for the Thrashers’ young prospects to earn a roster spot in training camp. Not that the veterans are all guaranteed spots, but the competition has definitely been kicked up a notch.

That begs a couple of questions. Would the Thrashers rather have a young player on the NHL roster seeing limited minutes or down at AHL Chicago getting serious ice time? How many extra players will the team keep on the roster this season?

I posed these questions to coach Craig Ramsay as part of an interview last week. Here is what he had to say.

On playing time for young players: “If they are good enough to be here then we will do everything we can to keep them here. Sometimes they need to be in the minors, sometimes they need to go down and play and play a lot. What we envision is that whoever makes this team plays. We don’t want to …

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Updated: Ramsay: Offense will be team effort; Bergfors one-year deal agreed upon

Before we head off to Duluth for Day One of the Thrashers rookie camp, let’s delve into another part of my interview with coach Craig Ramsay from last week. (I still have a half hour of tape to transcribe).

We’ve documented much of the plan for the defense with Dustin Byfuglien coming to camp on the blue line and Ramsay’s plan to get some scoring from his defense.

I did ask Ramsay about the offense. Specifically, where will it come from this season? Ilya Kovalchuk is gone and, for now, there doesn’t seem to be a 50-goal scorer on the roster.

Here is his answer:

“[Bryan] Little should score again. [Evander] Kane should score. Nik [Antropov] should score. The most important thing to me is, again, getting scoring from everyone. Every line is responsible to try and score a goal. I said this earlier, but it’s hard to believe you have to tell a player to score. You think everybody wants to score but they get into a role, like I’m just a checker. [Eric] Boulton can score. [Chris] …

Continue reading Updated: Ramsay: Offense will be team effort; Bergfors one-year deal agreed upon »

Ramsay says Byfuglien will play defense

Dustin Byfuglien scored 28 goals last season during the regular and post seasons.

Dustin Byfuglien scored 28 goals last season during the regular and post seasons.

Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley told me two weeks ago that he would like to see Dustin Byfuglien move back to defense, his original position. In doing so, he left one caveat. The final decision would be up to new coach Craig Ramsay.

That decision has been made.

Ramsay said Friday that Byfuglien will come to training camp as a defenseman.

“Dustin Byfuglien will have a chance to play defense,” Ramsay said. “I’ve been told he is a defenseman, he was a defenseman. That was his position and he likes it. He wants to be there. I will give him every opportunity to show us he can play defense. If he can do that, wonderful. That’s great. I look at our defense and I think it can be our strength, a strong point. If Buff can go in and be big and strong on defense, that would be awesome. If it doesn’t work, he’ll go up front. There is no reason we wouldn’t give him every good, solid chance to play the …

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The making of the Philips Arena ice … quite interesting

Philips Ice 001aSo, I went to Philips Arena on Thursday for the installation of the ice surface. Honestly, I thought it would make a couple pictures and a short story. It turned out to be quite a fascinating process. Who knew so much of it was painted by hand?

Here is the story I wrote about it along with some of the pictures I took.  (By the way, if you follow me on twitter you got a couple of photos earlier this morning. I’m becoming quite the social media user.) See what you think:

It’s really just finger paint and water.

The end product is a regulation NHL ice rink, complete with lines, face-off circles, goal creases and advertisement logos.

The process of installing an ice surface does require skill and high-tech, but the basic elements couldn’t be simpler.

Workers began the process of turning the floor of Philips Arena into a rink on Thursday in preparation for the Thrashers and the 2010-11 season. The majority of what is seen under the ice surface is painted – by hand.

“It’s the same …

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Updated: Meyer arrives to fight for a roster spot; Dawes agrees to terms

Freddy Meyer arrived in Duluth after a 13-hour drive from New Jersey.

Freddy Meyer arrived in Duluth after a 13-hour drive from New Jersey.

Freddy Meyer waited long enough – first for a team and now for training camp.

This offseason, the defenseman became a free agent following three seasons with the New York Islanders. When the free agent signing period began July 1st, the real waiting game started.

“You are not sure if there are 10 teams that like you or no teams that like you,” Meyer said from the Thrashers practice facility Wednesday, his first day of voluntary workouts with teammates before the start of training camp next week. “It was a bit of a stressful summer waiting.”

It wasn’t until Aug. 19 that Meyer signed a two-way contract with the Thrashers. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder will be fighting for a roster spot along with players such as Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers, Noah Welch and Andrey Zubarev. To that end, Meyer made the 13-hour drive from New Jersey on Tuesday to begin workouts.

“I wanted to get down here early to get adjusted to the …

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Rissmiller waited – patiently – for chance to return to NHL

Patrick Rissmiller was waiting for a chance – to leave the New York Rangers and get an opportunity to return to the NHL.

The big forward – 6-foot-4, 215 pounds – got his wish in early August when he was traded to the Thrashers as part of the deal that sent Todd White to the Rangers.

“Excitement,” Rissmiller said Tuesday of his reaction to the trade. “ I’m very excited and looking forward to an opportunity. I’ve been hoping for something like this for a little bit. Since I signed in New York it didn’t go well. I’m looking forward to camp and getting a chance.”

Rissmiller left San Jose and signed a three-year deal worth $1 million a season with New York in 2008. He played just two games for the Rangers during the 2008-09 season. He spent the majority of the season at AHL Hartford.

He spent the entire 2009-10 season in the AHL, splitting time between Hartford and Grand Rapids. It was a long way from his days in San Jose, where he was spent four seasons. He played  79 games for …

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