Spoiled Rotten…And Lovin’ It!

When Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Psycho” was released in 1960, theaters were instructed to not seat anyone once the movie had begun. The reason being that the entire movie was based upon pulling the audience in and making them fall in love with Janet Leigh’s character from the very first second. As the movie progresses, the viewers follow her throughout the first half of the story and begin to relate with her…understand her…pity her. Then…just as it appeared that she was going to right the wrong that she had committed…she is brutally murdered in the now-famous shower scene.

To keep the plot of the movie hidden from the public, Hitchcock even went so far as to not allow critics the opportunity to view it in advance…instead making them experience it alongside of those who paid to see it.

Hitchcock believed that the horror of this scene would come not only from the sheer terror of seeing a young woman brutally stabbed to death while in such a vulnerable state…but it would also be made that much more shocking in the minds of those watching if he was successful in creating an emotional bond from the audience towards her. To see her killed after they had invested that much viewing time and coming to “know” her…well, it was almost as if a member of their own family had been cut down in front of their eyes.

This is why he required that viewers see the movie 100% in it’s entirely and disallowed any pre-screens by critics. He did not want the plot to be…spoiled.

Spoiled…as in, ruined or made less than it could be.

We use that word, “spoiled” in other ways in our culture. Another such way is describing how milk or other dairy products have gone bad…and have you ever opened a carton of bad milk and inhaled a whiff of that putrid aroma? Yuck! Worse still…if you have accidentally taken a swig of it. Gawd-almighty…just the thought of it makes me feel like I may have to go kneel in front of the great, white parceling goddess and become a spew-chow monkey!

Yes…spoiled. Meaning, having gone bad…nasty bad.

How many times have we placed that word “spoiled” in front of the word “child”? Uh-huh…if there is one thing that will cause a more sickening sensation in the pit of my gut than the thought of swallowing bad milk, it’s witnessing the actions of a child gone bad.

Bad as in spoiled…spoiled rotten.

If you need a refresher course in bad-parenting 101, simply mosey on out to your local Wal-Mart or Grocery store some weekend…maybe even the mall. Arm yourself with some munchies and soda…grab yourself a seat near the candy or toy isle and you won’t have to wait too long before the show begins.

Sure enough some crumb-cruncher is gonna want something but is gonna be told “no” and… BOOM! Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin…at very high decibels as well. But, as sure as hell is hot…the parental unit will capitulate or, if not, the child will gain support from the accompanying second parent or grandparent. Children are smart, ya know…they understand that to get their way all that needs to happen is for the weaker-willed adult to insert the word “just” or “only” into the discussion.

“Oh come on, hon”, they’ll say. “It’s just one cookie”…or “It’s only a $6 toy”. Game over…mission accomplished…the continued appeasement of the spoiled child.

In each case here, the word “spoil” is used in a negative way. However, our Thrashers have taken a derivative of this word and have put a very positive spin on it… positive, that is, if you are a Thrashers fan. And it can be very rotten for opposing teams these days.

That word, of course is…”Spoiler”.

Over the course of the past several weeks, such teams as the Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and twice the Montreal Canadiens have faced off against our Thrashers in need of two points and have come away with something less. Last Friday night, the Habs were blanked 2-0 by the Thrashers and their slide from an almost assured playoff spot to something far more precarious continued. Though they currently hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, they are but two points from being out of the playoff picture altogether.

And the Thrashers were all too happy to contribute to their woes.

This Thrashers team has taken the role of spoilers and begun to wear it almost as a badge of honor. They are playing better team defense, attacking the opponent’s goal, scoring at a 4 goals per game clip, skating hard, fighting…and winning…battles and are playing some of the best hockey I have seen come from them in many, many moons.

Since dropping the first three games after the All Star break, Atlanta is 8-6-1 over the past 15 games…. pssst, that’s a winning record kids. During that time, they’re 4-2-1 on the road. Three of those road wins came against teams that, at the time of the game, were in the playoff hunt and/or jostling for position.

The Thrashers had won only nine games at home through the first 28 games at Philips Arena. In the last five… they have won four. In doing so, they have denied much-needed points to the Canes and Habs. They have also worked there way out of the Southeast Division’s basement.

Sunday afternoon, the Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames came to town and once again had their “homecoming” spoiled by the Thrashers. After the 5-2 beating at the hands of the current NHL franchise in Atlanta, the Flames are now 0-5-1 in their old hometown.

One of the reasons that I’m enjoying the Thrashers play of late is how it compares to the way last year’s team played down the stretch. That bunch completely folded up the tents and phoned it in following the trade deadline. But this year’s team seems to be approaching the situation in a much more professional manner. They know their season will end after 82 games, but they are going to play the remainder of those 82 games with purpose…even if that purpose is simply to try and spoil things and make life rotten for someone else.

Hey…somebody’s gotta do it, right?

Think of it…in a few short weeks we could very well be seeing a team like Montreal, Carolina, Anaheim or the Rangers miss out on post-season play and join the Thrashers in watching them on TV instead. And it may very well be because of two measly little points. Two points that were denied to them by…the Thrashers.

Come on…be honest here. That would put a big, fat, hairy smile on your face too, wouldn’t it? I know it would mine.

Taking a look at the upcoming schedule…there are dates with Montreal and the Rangers again… Pittsburgh, Edmonton, as well as a pair with Buffalo and a pair with Florida. Right there are eight games with teams that are bouncing on playoff bubbles. Wouldn’t ya just love seeing the Thrashers provide the needle needed to bust one or two of ‘em?

And let’s not forget about the Wings coming to town next Friday. Oh, they are oing to make the playoffs alright. But they are currently in a fight with the San Jose Sharks for that top spot out west. A game seven in the conference finals would be very nice to help deprive Detroit of…would it not?

In taking to the role of spoiler in the manner that they have right now, the Thrashers are showing the potential that resides in the crop of youngsters that make up the roster. They give a glimpse of what could be this coming fall and they are providing a reason for the paying customers to continue..or even start… to show up to root them on.

A fan could get…spoiled rotten…watching this kind of play on a regular basis!

Personally, I love this new attitude on display by these Thrashers. Some may find it a little rotten to take such pleasure in adding to the misery of others…but I know I’m not alone. I met Scott and his son Nicholas Sunday and they like it too. Same is true with Kracker. Anne’… a fan of the Thrashers flew all the way in from Finland to watch this team play over the last couple of weeks… she likes it as well. And it was my pleasure to have met them all.

Besides…others have been adding to our misery up until recently and I haven’t felt much sympathy coming our way from them. So for now… I love it!

Again, that may be rotten of me…but God help me, I do love it so!

66 comments Add your comment

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
4:12 pm

Thank you, Alan. That was quick! And wow, I managed to ‘guess right’ for once. Now, I can’t sit here and say, “Bryan Little will have an IMMINENT RFA offersheet.” Sorry, I should have told you to put down the beverage first. Or swallow before reading. I don’t accept dry cleaning bills for spewed out coffee. My point, here, is not to suggest Bryan Little will be gone. I don’t think that. But a larger point is … locking him up early speaks towards the team’s “VISION” for the future. It announces, “We have a PLAN. And player retention is a big part of it.” Yes, it also hedges the RFA offersheet possibility, and it ‘probably’ also SAVES SOME MONEY.

Although … HERE … IT … COMES. Ladies and Gentlemen, this post is about to be DELUGED with those who feel the cap is shriking and that salaries will be shriking, correspondingly. In such a view, there’s no need to try to save money. (Chuckling.)

Ya know what? I welcome a DIVERSITY of opinion on that subject. But I’ll believe that when I see it. In the history of this game, I’ve basically seen more salary aggrandizement than restraint when it comes to locking up high-end players. Pre and Post Lockout. I think, in the end, that with CERTAIN players, some GM’s just think, “I have to have him, no matter the cost. He’s the difference between winning the Stanley Cup and not winning it.” And so, they pay it. Or, OVERPAY it.

Yes, I know. “The market sets the value.” But, uhh … tell me, honestly, how do you don’t think there’s been some ARTIFICIAL enhancement in that regard. For cryin’ out loud, look how the league calculates its cap! They do it … off of PROJECTED revenues, instead of ACTUAL ones. In the space of three (3) seasons, the cap went from $39 million to $56.7 million. For Cripessakes, the floor, $40.7, is larger than the previous CAP LIMIT. If the cap decreases, I wonder how much, and to what degree? And more importantly, will it EVER BE ENOUGH to adeuquately compensate–and level the ice surface–for the Raleighs, Phoenixes, Buffalos, and Atlantas of the league? Well, I’m not holding my breath.

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
4:20 pm

Hey Sage of Bluesland, dust off those “coach killer” T-shirts from the Curt Fraser era. Atlanta beat Montreal, 2-0, and a few days later, they fired Guy Carbonneau! And ya know, I’m not Bob Gainey is going to do any better behind the Habs bench. We’ll see. As Thrasher fans, we need Montreal to reach the CF, to minimize our draft pick compensation back to Montreal on the Matthieu Schneider trade.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 9th, 2009
4:36 pm

This is a year of building a team as a unit, not losing on purpose for a chance at the next superstar. Every year there is at least one “can’t miss” prospect…if this team is so far out of playoff contention next year, will people be begging for losses AGAIN (I would be they will).

I understand the glitz and glamor of having the BEST player available in the draft, but why would you want your favorite team to purposefully LOSE just to get the gem, meanwhile utterly demoralizing the team and creating an atmosphere of “oh well…we lost, there’s always the lottery draft and NEXT year” (not to mention continuing to alienate fans who get sick of watching lackluster/uninspired performances)?

Embracing losing and wishing for defeat is something I just don’t agree with. I don’t care how good the player is, there are 82 games a year that the players are paid (by us fans) to WIN, not lose in hopes that the next 82 will be more kind to them due to a lottery pick.

I’m in complete agreement with Rawhide on this one…players don’t play to lose, and I don’t support them to lose on purpose. I don’t believe either should ever embrace losing as the “right” thing to do.

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
4:44 pm

Bob, that was a hilarious comment. “But I will say we’re 1 GM away from moving in the right direction.” That was awesome.

Look, I must say something to the Pro-Waddell crowd. Yes, I think he’s doing BETTER. The drafting has been better. Take away the longterm effects of 2007 trade deadline, and forget about losing Hossa, then some of his other Trade Deadline years have been pretty “decent.” That one year, he got Steve McCarthy for nothing, and McCarthy actually played pretty well, especially on the Power Play, at first. This year, I think Eric O’Dell is a fine acquisition. We’ve got a 2nd rounder from Montreal coming this year, and a 3rd rounder next year.

But … and the but is going to be J-Lo sized, that doesn’t ABSOLVE the eight seasons, out of nine, finishing in the bottom third of the Eastern Conference. Does the word, “accountability” mean ANYTHING? GM’s are fired for infinitely LESS! Dave Nonis comes immediately to mind. He got fired because he didn’t advance the Vancouver Canucks into the Conference Finals. Imagine if that were the STANDARD in Atlanta, for a GM?

Do you see how I at least TRY to be FAIR? I credit Waddell with Bogosian-type picks. I think he did well to get Niclas Lasu and Zach Redmond, as latter round picks. Exelby, while not anything resembling an All-Star, has managed to play several seasons as a Thrasher, as a 7th round pick. Enstrom came from the 7th round. Etc. Okay, no one should EXPECT GM’s to nail down picks in the 7th round. But what about the Dwyers, Santalas, Sipotzes, MacKenzies, Baby’s, etc.?

There’s a reason why we have this thing called “Standings.” GM’s are, conceptually, supposed to answer for wins and losses. GM’s are responsible for molding and shaping the franchise, from the selection of the Head Coach, to the scouting staff, right down to the equipment manager and ticket sales staffers. This franchise is about to enter the lottery draft for the sixth-time in nine seasons. This team has had SEVEN (7) FIRST ROUND Draft picks with which to build this franchise. Just because Don Waddell is doing a bit better lately, and, AS A BOTTOM FEEDER, managed to snare Rich Peverley, doesn’t mean the GM position is suddenly SOLVED.

Good GOLLY! When is enough … enough. The guy had his chance. No one can say he didn’t. It’s absurd.

Alan

March 9th, 2009
4:47 pm

I don’t know, Brendan. IMO, it was worth giving up a conditional third rounder to send Schneider off.

I thank Schneider for his months of service mentoring Bogosian and showing him the ropes. I’m certain that having Schneider here helped ground Bogosian and find more confidence. Bogosian looks leaps and bounds better now than he did even a month ago.

We also have our other defenders playing better, too. As a matter of fact, this is the best I’ve seen an Atlanta defense play in a long time. I almost forgot what it looked like to have a team playing defense and offense — together.

If MTL doesn’t qualify or has an early exit, it was worth it to give up a third or fourth rounder — even though I’d love to see them get to the cup finals and take the fifth rounder instead (while, of course, losing to the Wings).

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
4:53 pm

Ranallo, I don’t think the Thrashers are trying to lose games. I think they’re doing about as well as they can. The opening night payroll was $45.5 million. The Thrashers, pretty much, got what they paid for. They need to alter their business model and hold their GM accountable.

The Thrashers CAN be among the bottom FIVE in the league and still WIN the lottery draft. It’s possible. Just not probable. John Anderson wants to win. Don Waddell wants to win. Larry Simmons wants to win. And let’s face it, if wins put more fannies in paid seats, the owners want to win. I think Atlanta is gunning for as manay wins as they can get, as assembled.

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
4:58 pm

I agree with you, Alan. I had no problem with the Schneider deal. I merely commented that the farther the Habs go, the better it is for our franchise. I’m not “hopping mad” at Don Waddell for his 2009 trade deadline moves. I think some others are. Schneider didn’t have a great year, such that any team was about to pony up a 1st round pick for him. And to expect bodies of a contender’s roster seems a bit unrealistic, as well. I view the Schneider trade as a “net 2nd round pick.” Third rounders, to me, fall within the “shot in the dark” portion of the draft. I had no problem with the deal Waddell made, even if it does cost us a 3rd rounder this Summer. We get that 3rd rounder right back in 2010.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 9th, 2009
5:16 pm

Brendan, I also don’t think the Thrashers are trying to lose games, and rightfully so. Of course this team wasn’t put together to make the playoffs, but the players and the coaches are aiming for them none-the-less.

The ownership paid for a bottom 10 team, and this is what it got them. Waddell built a bottom 10 team, and hoped for the best. We’ve seen a purging of aged players, and an infusion of youth…that’s how you build a team for sustained success, in my opinion. Use the draft picks we have to draft the best talent available, or to improve the important roles like top line D or top line O for a few years (no rentals).

In that entire equation, there should never be lose on purpose…”lose on purpose” and “Stanley Cup champion” do not usually follow eachother by a few seasons. Unless of course there’s a GM change, an entire paradigm shift in the culture of the team, and the ownership is dedicated to such a shift…and we all should know that’s probably not going to happen (GM change and dedicated ownership) for at least another year.

Thrashy Thrashy

March 9th, 2009
6:04 pm

I’d like to think that everyone here is pro-winning. Whether Waddell is the guy who wins here (in spite of the fact that he should have been fired many moons ago) or someone else does, I don’t really care. I just want to win.

Again, no matter who the GM is, I want to win. As much as I despise Don Waddell, he’s finally doing the right thing with this club. Maybe he’s tried every way he can think of to produce a team that can’t win? Maybe he’s fresh out of ideas to screw his team over? Maybe he’s finally gotten sick of purposely sabotaging season after season? I don’t know, but I like the makeup of this club now a lot better than last year’s.

Could be the blind hog theory.

Glovesave29

March 9th, 2009
6:15 pm

Brendan…i’ve always thought this about RFA’s…Lets say (for instance) both the Thrashers and Wild want UFA Mats Sundin, and he will cost approx. $8M. The Wild GM would then sign Thrasher RFA Bryan Little to a high offer sheet, but within the realm that the Thrashers would be willing to pay. Thus the Wild have driven up the Thrashers cap numbers, and priced them out of the ability to get the Sundin off of the UFA list. Since they have also shrunk the market for Sundin, they can keep from entering an all-out bidding war. It’s not just the players that you get, it’s also about keeping your opponents from getting the players they want, too. Don gets hammered here.

I know Tavares looks good…but anyone can faulter once he joins the ranks of the NHL. He is playing kids in Sudbury. Soon he will be playing men. Changes the dynamic completely. I don’t really think that is too fair to compare him to Gretzky because he beat his scoring numbers…let us not forget that Wayne left the OHL as an underage with eligibility left to join the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA. The NHL had (and still has) a age minimum that allowed the WHA to poach him away before he was NHL draft eligible. (Funny note – the NHL did not consider the WHA to be a ligitimate and competitive professional league, but when it came time to give Wayne the Calder Trophy as ROY, all of the sudden the WHA WAS a pro league and thus deemed Wayne ineligible)

I remember the Georgia Generals!!! But I liked going to the Chiefs games better, because back in the day, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium had picnic areas at the field level right next to the dugouts…in soccer they were right behind the goals. Great place to see Graham Tutt guard the net against Pele and Beckenbauer.

I personally see no need to discuss “tanking”. The lottery draft makes any accusation of such to be a moot point. Plis the players like nothing more than knocking another team out of the playoffs. These guys are pros and have thier pride. Plus, as a fan…think about this – are you going to get excited for next year because we have the new “phenom”, or because you had a good second half and the team is coming together and showing promise of improving? I’d go for the latter…

Brendan

March 9th, 2009
9:12 pm

Glovesave, I wish the RFA offersheet weren’t part of the NHL CBA landscape. But it is. I know that. And that’s a great point about driving up the costs to block a competitor franchise from acquiring a coveted UFA. It’s probably wrong, on multiple levels, for me to compare the “GM Fraternity” to “honorable thieves,” but I think I just might. :)

These NHL GM’s know how hard it is. And in markets not named ATLANTA, they are required to WIN to earn their keep. All GM’s strive to keep the payroll as low and manageable as they can. Number One, there are cap limits. Number Two, they answer to owners. There are only “so many” owners who are OKAY with losing money, so long as the team wins. Personally, that’s MYYYYYYY KINDA OWNER!!!!

That’s what I want. I want a “face” on the franchise, who has a lot of unfulfilled childhood dreams, who is exceedingly wealthy, who doesn’t CARE what it costs to win a Championship. What I don’t want … is FUBAS. But, that’s what we’ve got. Probably, all the way until 2011.

And, I think, too many people know that now. The cat, “rrrearrrr,” is out of the bag. And people aren’t going to spend the money. They don’t want to hear … how we’re moving in the right direction … while Don Waddell is still the GM. Especially in the face of back-to-back 28th place finishes. I’ll be the first to say it, he’s been a fairly responsible GM since the sweep by the Rangers. He’s embarked on a “slow, steady build,” which is the correct way to build, as Ranallo points out. Look at the L.A. Kings. They’ve been in the lottery draft since … I’ve lost count of the years. But they’ve got pieces in place now. But even more than that, they’ve got “depth.” Drafting, FAVORABLY, in every round can make that happen. I was surprized by the departures of Cammalleri and O’Sullivan, but the team’s still in good shape, with TONS of cap room. But I digress.

It’s not in the GMs’, PLURAL, best interest to purposefully drive up the market place on ALL players. Every GM has to answer to the NHL budget and the budget set forth by the owners. Being a GM isn’t easy. Ex-GM Doug MacLean took a lot of heat from his fellow GM’s for the Rick Nash deal, post-lockout. Remember, back then, the cap was $39 million. So, every penny really counted. With a “leveled ice surface,” two of the three (2/3) SMALLEST NHL markets met in the Stanley Cup Finals, when Carolina faced Edmonton in 2006. Boy, those were the days!! And with a cap set that low, even FUBAS “greenlighted” a maxed cap on “Opening Night.”

Okay, all your SHRINKING CAP advocates, any of you think the cap might return to $40-ANYTHING million down the road? If the cap were to shrink to $47 million, I think Atlanta could honestly be back in the game, financially. But I seriously doubt that will happen.

Alan

March 9th, 2009
10:01 pm

If the cap were to shrink to $47 million, I think Atlanta could honestly be back in the game, financially. But I seriously doubt that will happen..

Don’t underestimate this recession… which is turning more into a depression every day. A return to the $47m level isn’t outside the realm of possibility — that’s only about a $9m drop from where it currently stands.

Obama

March 10th, 2009
1:38 am

I will ruin hockey in America with my economic stimulus plan since basketball is my favorite sport.

After leaving office in four years, I want to be a part of the Spirit ownership group.

LAC

March 10th, 2009
2:28 am

Seems losing to The Atlanta Thrashers will get you fired !

Well Ha-Ha-Ha, Glad to see Montreal’s 100th year going down because they could not beat a BETTER team.

Of all the playoff teams,seeing them miss would be SPECIAL !!!!!!

Bob

March 10th, 2009
9:19 am

what the usual suspects don’t understand (I know, big suprise) is that yes, we’re all “pro-winning”. We want the Thrashers to succeed. That’s the point, if you want them to succeed, then you want them to get Tavares, he’s a game changer.

ranallo10 (in AT)

March 10th, 2009
10:44 am

“if you want them to succeed, then you want them to get Tavares”

That’s where we completely disagree. One unproven potential superstar will not make this team better. There are many more changes needed, and one of which happens to be a winning “culture” in the locker room. Tavares would be nice to have on the roster, obviously (I emphasize this because you seem to think it’s not understood how good he is by those who don’t support tanking), but if he were to come to a team with a losing attitude, it wont make much of a difference.

Tanking a season for the next Crosby/Malkin/Daigle/Stefan will not generate a winning attitude, in my opinion.

But hell, I can agree to disagree, so long as you understand I’ll never be rooting for my favorite team to lose on purpose. Likewise I understand that you feel losing in calculated situations will potentially help this team win, eventually.