Craig Ramsay sits and waits.
The Thrashers head coach still doesn’t know if he will be joining his team when it relocates to Winnipeg next season. Other members of the organization have already been told not to pack their bags.
Ramsay finally spoke to a representative of the Winnipeg franchise Thursday evening – 10 days after the deal was announced that the Atlanta Spirit would sell the Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment.
Ramsay spoke to new Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, whose hiring was announced Wednesday. Thrashers GM Rick Dudley was told Sunday he would not be retained before the sale is approved later this month and the team relocated to Manitoba.
“It’s very unnerving not knowing what the future holds,” Ramsay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday.
Ramsay said he was told by Cheveldayoff that a decision has not been made about the coaching staff. The still unnamed Winnipeg organization would meet throughout the weekend before making a final decision, he was told. Associate coach John Torchetti, assistant coach Mike Stothers and video coach Tony Borgford also wait to hear their future.
Several members of the Thrashers support staff have already been told they will not have positions in Winnipeg – including the equipment managers, athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coach. None were considered for positions despite their tenure with the Thrashers. Head equipment manager Bobby Stewart spent all 12 years with the Thrashers and 26 years with the Flames organization in Atlanta and Calgary.
The Thrashers staff was informed of Winnipeg’s decision on Monday by Craig Heisinger, who was named senior vice president and assistant general manager. Heisinger was in Atlanta Monday, two days before being named to his new position, to inventory equipment and other physical assets of the sale.
“It’s awkward,” Ramsay said. “We are hockey people, but we are also people. There are other jobs. … I just asked him to [make a decision] expeditiously.”
Several open positions in hockey, both at the NHL and AHL level, have been filled since the sale and relocation of the Thrashers became imminent.
Ramsay became the fifth head coach in Thrashers history before last season. He concluded his first full season as an NHL head coach with the disappointment of missing the playoffs but was looking forward to continued work in the organization. He may not get that chance.
“I didn’t think it would end like this,” said Ramsay, a long-time assistant who left Boston after the three previous seasons. “I can’t look into the future. I saw what I thought was a good opportunity to work with someone I had known for years (in Dudley). I thought we could improve the team. I’m sorry we didn’t get there.”
Thrashers strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan said he was told that his position at the NHL level would be filled by the coach who currently holds that position with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. According to the team’s website, Lee Stubbs is listed as Assistant Medical Trainer/Strength and Conditioning for the Moose, which is also owned by True North and play in Winnipeg’s MTS Centre.
“I’m disappointed I won’t be making the transition, but I respect the fact they are being loyal to their guy,” Brennan said.
Brennan has been in Atlanta the past week and has begun work with current players. He worked with Eric Boulton and Chris Thorburn Friday.
“They have to be prepared to play in Winnipeg and I’m happy to help them for as long as I’m here,” Brennan said.
Thrashers vice president and assistant general manager Larry Simmons has yet to be informed of his future. President Don Waddell said last week he will not be a part of the Winnipeg franchise.
On a personal note: In case you folks thought I fell off the face of the earth, I was on vacation the past week and a half. I’m back and will stay on top of any other developments including the Board of Govenors meeting on June 21.