Updated: Thrashers sign Thorburn to three-year deal

Imagine Chris Thorburn’s surprise when the Thrashers approached him about signing a contract extension earlier this season.

“It’s never happen to me before,” Thorburn said. “I’ve read about guys signing extensions but for them to come to me is unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.”

Thorburn signed a new three-year contract  Saturday that will pay him an average salary of $867,000 per season.

Thorburn was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. The forward said the team approached him early in the season but the deal finally came together in the last few days.

“It feels good,” Thorburn said. “Personally, it’s something I’ve always strived for. It gives me a little bit of security. I love the organization. I’ve been here for four years and am planting some roots. I want to be part of the rebuilding and putting a solid team in Atlanta.”

Thorburn has done a little bit of everything for the Thrashers this season. He has played all three forward positions and been on the penalty kill and power play units.

“He’s a guy you can count on late in the game to go out and block shots, take a big draw,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. “He’s a guy [we use] if we are up a goal late in the game and we need a guy big in our end. He fills a lot of roles. I still feel there is potential for growth. He hasn’t reached his potential. If he trusts himself, he can become an even better player and more significant part [of the team].”

Thorburn has tied his career-high with seven goals this season. He also has 16 points, two off his best. In four seasons with the Thrashers, Thorburn has 23 goals and 39 assists. He also played for Buffalo and Pittsburgh before joining the Thrashers in 2007.

“They’ve given me every opportunity to succeed,” Thorburn said. “At the same time, I’m not satisfied and there is still room for improvement.”

Ramsay said keeping players like Thorburn is essential for building a winning team.

“Most importantly, I believe, he is a good person, a good teammate,” Ramsay said. “He tries hard at practice. He works hard in the gym. He works hard in the games. He does everything he can to be a good player and teammate. For an organization, it’s absolutely vital that everyone is pulling in the same direction and he wants to be part of something.”

In other news from Saturday:

* The Thrashers officially listed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Pavelec could dress for Sunday’s game against the Maple Leafs. However, Chris Mason is likely to get the start in goal. Ramsay said Pavelec saw the team doctor on Saturday as a precaution. Pavelec was injured in the first period of Friday’s game against the Panthers. The injury is likely to his wrist as television cameras showed the area taped up after Pavelec was relieved by Mason to start the second period.

* Pavelec did not practice on Saturday and the Thrashers re-called goaltender Drew MacIntryre from AHL Chicago. MacIntyre arrived in time to practice with the team.

* Forward Tim Stapleton was placed on waivers.

* Defenseman Johnny Oduya missed practice but Ramsay said he was “sore” and expected him to play Sunday.

38 comments Add your comment

East Point Bob

February 26th, 2011
12:32 pm

Wonderful !!!

B. Thenet

February 26th, 2011
12:35 pm

Bob McKenzie is reporting Tim Stapleton has been waived.


February 26th, 2011
12:52 pm

Looks like Thorburn gets an extension too.

Big Momma

February 26th, 2011
3:46 pm

Bravo! Thorburn is one of our best players from an effort and heart standpoint. Excellent signing!

The Real Thrash

February 26th, 2011
4:13 pm

If you are selling the team and don’t have to pay the salaries it’s easy to sign players.

[...] puts him seventh all-time among Thrashers and by the time his new deal (which is for three years according to the AJC) expires he should be in the top five in that category, if not [...]


February 26th, 2011
4:50 pm

Chris Thorburn is one Hell of a Hockey Player.


February 26th, 2011
5:04 pm

Thorburn is a “filler” for any roster. He was surprised when he was offered a 3 yr. deal. Some of us are astonished. Next we’ll be locking up Modin for 5. Here’s another where everyone applauds “HIS EFFORT”. How about performance or results??. For cryin out loud he’s a forward with 16 POINTS and hasn’t contributed to any WINS..


February 26th, 2011
5:21 pm

Enter your comments here


February 26th, 2011
5:27 pm

Maybe we can lock up Boulton next!! Thorbs certainly gives effort and has high energy but to me is a marginal NHL player in terms of his overall skills and results. He simply lacks the ability to find the back of the net in many great situations. We do need role players however and his salary is not enormous. Just hope we have him in mind as a 4th liner for his length of service.

Tony C

February 26th, 2011
5:33 pm

Glad to see this guy’s heart&hustle rewarded with some security for he and his family.

Puck Like A Porn Star

February 26th, 2011
5:44 pm

Wasn’t expecting this at all. Get Ladd signed before tomorrow’s game!!


February 26th, 2011
6:23 pm

Amazing how some are so shortsighted to the game. What Thorburn does is better than what many goal scorers are capable of or willing to do.


February 26th, 2011
7:07 pm

He is no goal scorer per say but no one claimed he is….he works hard and and is versatile.


February 26th, 2011
8:11 pm

Cornbread and Sisu- Well Mr. Versatile has 16 pts, is 0 +/- and has only 51 minutes of penalties. What is he doing that others won’t do or that creates any value to the team in the limited minutes that he plays. He is a marginal NHL player and certainly not the type of player that you need to lock up long term. Lock-up Ladd first and fill the last couple of spots on a roster with a guy like Thorburn. A couple of summers ago, he and Boulton took boxing lessons because he was going to be a tough guy. Real tough guy- 50 minutes of penalties. Gimme a break!

East Point Bob

February 26th, 2011
8:51 pm

Why are we signing players who have been associated with losing since here ? Not to knock Thorburn, but I feel we could replace him with a better scorer. This signing really makes little sense.

Alan R.

February 26th, 2011
10:34 pm

Thorburn is a solid fourth line player for the money. Fourth line primary objective? Energy: Create it. He does his job well, and actually signed for less than I thought he would (I was expecting closer to $950k-$1m per year)

Sure, it’s nice to believe everyone can go out and pot 20 goals a year, without any problems at all. The world, however, doesn’t work like that. Why would hockey be any different?


February 27th, 2011
12:10 am

He’s coachable, flexible, good at his role and a great locker room guy. He’s consistent, reliable, and never takes a shift off. This was a good move, albeit an easy one to make. Our organization has always been effective at recognizing affordable talent.

Don’t knock on Thorburn or his signing thereby lumping either into the long list of things we do poorly. His role, and Thorburn himself, is one of the few things we do well.


February 27th, 2011
1:00 am

the guy plays like his mullet is on fire every shift. good for him.

if only bogo could do the same. thorburn is is a max effort guy every shift.

Donovan McNubb

February 27th, 2011
1:29 am

Jimbo, why so upset? We are signing him to fourth-line type of money. And I think he’s proved to be a very good fourth-liner: brings you energy, grit, dependabilty and the occasional goal. Pretty good return for less than a mil a year.

Wrath of Thor

February 27th, 2011
5:11 am

Thor is a decent player / grinder. If he smashes Sopel in the face, I’d be elated. Anyone else find it nauseating reading about how great life is for Sopel now that he is in Montreal and they actually have fans. Sopel makes it sound like he played in an empty building, he has taken numerous shots at Atlanta fans since arriving in Montreal. So much for “class”. I hate to tell the no necked guy that in 2 games..Mark Stuart out worked him and that was part of the reason he was traded for a prospect, not even a roster player. Seriously, who does Sopel think he is?

Sopel's Wife

February 27th, 2011
5:50 am

Pwease don’t talk about my hubby! I like to write blogs about how tough life is for the wife of a hockey player while he makes millions of dollars and a nanny raises our kids.


February 27th, 2011
6:15 am

I’m not angry about this signing. Truthfully, we’re not close to winning a cup. If you stop to actually think about it, we’re one of the few teams whose 4th line, Boulton, Slater, Thorburn, has been together for many years. Now, I hear ya. “Years of failure.” No playoffs since 2007. But, what do we HONESTLY ask a 4th line to do? Pretty much, it’s generate energy and draw penalties, so our PP can cash-in on their efforts.

Thorburn has some toughness. If the coaching staff and GM like his effort in games and practice, enough to offer a 3-year deal, then there’s obviously something there they like. The price tag is quite allright. I would have placed Thorburn’s value at $850K to $925K. So, $867K is right in league with that. If we don’t want him anymore, we put him on waivers. If no one claims him off re-entry waivers, we can assign him to the AHL or attempt to buy him out for two-thirds the value of his contract. But only the Atlanta Thrashers would attempt to buyout a contract this small. I imagine that Chris Thorburn did not DEMAND a no trade clause. I saw no mention of it in the article. Though, Thorburn did say he was ‘laying down roots.’ To me, a player like Thorburn can qualify as ’sweetener’ in a multi-player trade deal. Relax, I doubt Thorburn is going to be dealt by the Feb. 28th trade deadline.

Overall, I’d say this is a good thing. I have forgotten how long Slater has left on his deal. I think he’s under contract next season. Eric Boulton just might be a UFA, however.


February 27th, 2011
7:03 am

Way to go Thorns! There is no doubt you seem to have been
skating quicker this year. I have also noticed you around the puck
more. Keep up the good effort and help us salvadge something
respectable this year.


February 27th, 2011
8:04 am

The only thing I retain in all this, Mr Stapleton is no longer with us and this is a step in the right direction…


February 27th, 2011
9:10 am

Brendan- you are so right, why stick with guys/system/strategy that has not produced a winner in 4 years. Time for a change. Unfortunately, both Thorburn and Boulton enjoyed some early scoring success and both started to play as if they were the reincarnation of Maurice the Rocket. They didn’t muck it up, stand up for guys, or create much excitement- much less draw penalties. Guys who have built lasting teams- Keith Allen, Cliff Fletcher and others have stressed building from the goal out (that was the Teflon One’s theme in year 1) and down the middle of the ice with wings and fringes added last. C’mon guys put a grade to our goalies, D. and centers. Where should changes be made, a focus placed????????


February 27th, 2011
10:15 am

Wrath of Thor and “Sopel’s Wife”, get a life. Sopes did his best here and was a good on-ice and locker room guy. He’s a fantastic person and does tons for the community where ever he goes. He is a tough and tenacious player, and he blocks shots with the best of them (notice how Hainsey and the rest of the team picked up in that area?).

My husband and I went to see the Thrashers play in Montreal in January and the place is just electric. It was thrilling to be in an arena that is so full and loud and has such history 100+ years. To contrast, we are 6 year season ticket holders in ATL and fans since the Flames were here. It’s disappointing to be in a 1/2 full arena, for fans and for players. But we go every game and cheer our team, and stay until the game is over even when it’s ugly. I’m glad Sopes gets a chance to play there, and I hope he does well. The flip side is the scrutiny from the press and fans, for a lot of players, can be awful.

Now to the real topic, the value of a player is not just in points and +/-, but their ability to be team players, to find their role and strive to get better at it, to work hard for the team no matter what. That’s what Thor does (and he always has). Boults is the same; although, it seems Boults’ talents are not valued as much. Everyone can’t be a superstar–you have to have guys who fill out the roster and contribute.

This is from one of CViv’s previous blogs, an illustration of one of my most vivid memories from Thrashers’ hockey, starring Thorburn, and just one example of why he deserves this extension.


February 27th, 2011
10:57 am

Bottom line for me on this signing is Thorburn’s focus and energy. If everyone on this team had his focus, and energy and his work ethic, particularly on the boards and in the corners, we would be a playoff team. Chris seems to appreciate the special lot in life that he has attained as an NHL player and shows it every second he is on the ice.

Iron League 13

February 27th, 2011
12:10 pm

I like this signing a lot. We have a solid, loyal determined 3rd or 4th liner. Under a grittier playing style and with good pairing and TOI Thorbs could (IMO) play 3rd line minutes. Imagine him playing with on the Greek Gods line when Slates gets back again Rammers un-cuffs these guys they’ll be fierce. I’d like to see this Bergie – Thorbs – Wheeler or even this Bergie – Wheeler – Thorbs for a second line.

Iron League 13

February 27th, 2011
12:13 pm

Yeah seriously, I meant that for a second line. Why not? We roll some people that are of lesser quality in the top 6, screw it. I like Thorbs a lot. Bang to the net and set up shop. I say second line with those guys since we can’t really do any worse and I think it’d be fine.

Iron League 13

February 27th, 2011
12:17 pm

I know Chris wants this team to win. I also know (like Pevs) he has integrity and feels obligated to make this team successful for having given him his best opportunity. You can see it on his face. What a pro, never too down, always trying and staying focused. This guy bleeds blue, he’s a keeper and one of the guys I think has untapped potential in him.

Iron League 13

February 27th, 2011
12:31 pm

Jimbo – I look at a lot of stats too, that’s why I never thought this team was going deep along with the Chicago Purchase of 2010. Buuut….I watch Thorbs play and right now on this roster he’s good enough for second line time with a good pairing (see my previous posts). Second of all, he’s having a career year with 4th line minutes. With the right pairings, a physica;l scheme and imore ce time I think he’s good for possibly 15 goals on average and likely about 30 points a season. That’s solid 3rd line numbers in my book. I say experiment now and play him higher since this season is basically toast.

Wrath Of Thor's Mullet

February 27th, 2011
12:59 pm

Brianne, I have a life, perhaps you should not take time out of yours to even speculate about mine since yours is so important. I get it, you are a Sopel fan, good for you. Go to Montreal with him. No neck is worth a prospect, perhaps if he was a BETTER player and this organization didn’t lose in every season but one, they’d have a few more fans show up. Sopel or you, his wife and weird looking kids have no right to tell anyone how to spend their money and I have every right in the world to criticize him for criticizing me, a fan. How’s that ?

Blueland Fart Bubble

February 27th, 2011
1:25 pm

I agree with Thors hair. Sopel got his greener pasture now it’s throw ATL fans under the bus.. when he was a member of a team that lost nearly every game they have played in over 2 months. Not every fan can be a cheerleader and pay money to see a lineup full of guys like Sopel..a guy who lost his spot to a new player after that player played two games and showed he was a thousand times more physical and better in many aspects other than shot blocking. Sopel was one of the many non physical players that have infected our roster for a very long time, maybe fans are tired of seeing that, maybe fans are tired of seeing the lifeless, gytless efforts some of these Thrasher teams manage to squirt out. I don’t miss Sopel at all, I’d take Stuart on this roster over him any day of the week.

Super Tacks

February 27th, 2011
1:43 pm

I like this signing a lot. Effort and attitude go a long way, and Thorburn has both in abundance. If all of our more talented big guys played as selflessly and physically as Thorburn does (Byfuglein, Hainsey, Antropov, Bogosian before he woke up, are you listening?) we would be in a playoff spot right now.

Iron League 13

February 27th, 2011
1:56 pm

Wrath – I’m not getting into your argument, but talking about other people’s kids being “wierd looking” (true or not) is IMO a LOW blow no matter what. I’m not trying to argue, but I don’t like that. Please put that into perspective before you jump on me about saying so much.

Back to hockey talk, I revised my idea for a second line pairing to try since threre’s nothing to lose really and I’m sure it’d be entertaining.

Kane – Thorbs -Wheeler
Kane -Wheeler -Thorbs

With Antro not being in such good form I’d say Thorbs could get the same amount of points (maybe more)as Antro with equal ice time and have a better +/-. That would be a tough tough line and with this roster easily a second line pairing. Love to see that.

B. Thenet

February 27th, 2011
4:12 pm

Nice to have a GM that believes in talking contracts during the season.


February 27th, 2011
6:30 pm

B.Thenet is right. That’s two (2) contracts made DURING the season. Byfuglien and Thorburn. And maybe Ladd is next???

Joe Friday, you’re argument about firing Ramsay is growing on me. Leafs 2, Thrashers 0, as the 2nd period is coming to a close.