First off, let me be very clear on this point…this is not intended to be a “Bash Waddell” piece. However, given just where the organ-I-zation is at this time, I feel it is prudent to at least pose this question:
Is this summer indeed Don Waddell’s last chance to finally ice a competitive, solid, playoff-contending team…not just for this coming fall’s campaign but for the foreseeable future?
And if he doesn’t…is will time be up for him as the Thrasher’s general manager?
First let’s examine the history of the Thrashers during the Decade of Don. The overall record is 273 wins, 367 losses, 53 overtime losses and 45 ties, (accumulated during the five season’s prior to the post-lockout rules change). That amounts to a .436 points winning percentage and an average of 71.5 points earned in the standings each year. There has been exactly one playoff appearance during the nine seasons played…resulting in a four-game sweep to the Rangers in 2007.
Those, my friends are very un-good numbers.
Now, at the end of the 2007-08 debacle of a season, I made it very clear that I was of the opinion that Waddell’s tenure needed to come to an end. The circumstances that led to that miserable year was set squarely at the general manager’s feet, in my mind. And I thought even the Great Octo-Cluster could see that.
Ownership, however, chose to have Don remain.
Also, going into last season, had you told me that Atlanta would finish with the same amount of points…76…as they did the previous season, I would have called that epic failure and surely he’d be gone. But the 76 points amassed this time around are far different from those of two seasons ago…going 22-18-1 in the second half of the season instead of collapsing the way they did in March and April of 2007.
Over the course of the last calendar year, he has brought in such popular players as Marty Reasoner and Rich Peverley as well as draft Zach Bogosian with Atlanta’s third overall pick last year. Sure…many of you will quip that taking Bogey was a no-brainer, but the fact of the matter is that he did so and didn’t trade the pick away. Need I remind you of his wheeling and dealings of 2005?
So, it’s only fair to assume that if Don deserved blame for what has gone wrong in the past, certainly he deserves praise for what has gone right of late…giving rise to the hope for better days to come.
However, as we find ourselves once again enjoying the NHL playoffs from our couches instead of Philips Arena, we enter into a summer in which the Thrashers are seriously but a player or two away from being a serious threat. And what Waddell does, or fails to do, over the course of the next few months will directly impact the chances of that becoming reality…not just hope.
Of course, that “one or two players away” line is also the same as was used 12 months ago…and two summers ago. And that is why I ask the question posed above…is this finally the summer that ownership makes it clear to Don, and the whole front office, that it is time to stop building for the future and start producing results? Certainly, if we are sitting here one year from now and we’re still making the same assertions that all we need is a top-four defender and a top-six forward to complete the team…then even the Spirit Boys have to see that as an object failure…right? RIGHT?
Hope only lasts so long, after all. And it tends to fade into coldness of reality if not renewed by the observation of results.
U.S.A. vs. Russia Semi-Finals
Friday, the United States is pitted against Russia in one of the World Championships semi-finals matchup. Four Thrashers will suit up for their respective teams…Ilya Kovalchuk for the Russian squad and Zach Bogosian, Colin Stuart and Ron Hainsey for the U.S.
Here’s the linkie-linage to watch it.
Falconer’s Interview With Dan Marr Pt. II
The Falconer has posted the second part of his chat with Dan Marr. In it, Marr discusses college and European prospects. As always, great job Falconer!
Upcoming Viewing Parties At TJs
May 17 – Sunday afternoon playoff game…first weekend of the Conference Finals. Also, Tim Ecclestone will provide 4 tickets to an upcoming Braves game to raffle off that day!
June 26 – NHL Draft Party. Details to come.
As always, please RSVP with Trixie.