Passion For Atlanta’s Hockey History Is Still Aflame – Pt. II

In part one of my discussion with former Atlanta Flame Tim Ecclestone, he and I discussed his disappointment about the lack of connection between the team that was here in the 70s and the present-day one. I asked him if those involved with Thrashers organization at that time ever considered including members of the old club when constructing the Thrashers organization. Tim told me that the team did in fact interview Atlanta/Calgary Flames general manager, Cliff Fletcher, for the same position with the new club.

“Cliff was here, knows the area…a Hall of Famer…done pretty good. And he was called in by Harvey Schiller to be interviewed”, Tim said.

He and Fletcher had dinner the evening he was in town for the interview and they discussed the situation.

“He was the best man for the job”, said Ecclestone. “He had been through an expansion draft…he knows the city. I asked him how he’d make up the team, if he was hired, and Cliff said to me, ‘one thing hasn’t changed over the years…the physicality. I get the job this will be among the top-three toughest in the league. That will be it’s identity’”.

“Any time you think about the Atlanta Flames”, Tim went on, “You think about toughness. When other teams flew into Hartsfield, they didn’t want to play at the Omni…they know they were going to play a physical team. And that’s what Cliff knew would work today as well…get the biggest, toughest guys, then work in your Kovalchuks”.

Tim explained how you have to know your market. Atlanta fans, and fans in the south, love football because of it’s aggressive, physical play…and that is the kind of play they appreciate. “Cliff had this figured out in the 70s. You don’t fight it…you join it. This is why I can’t figure out why Don Waddell will say things like, ‘Why, when football season is over…then we’ll bring ‘em in’…makes no sense”.

Continuing, “Even when they go through a slump…if the team plays hard, physical hockey the fans will come”.

Tim Ecclestone with Eric Vail and Willi Plett at TJs

L -R: Eric Vail, Tim Ecclestone and Willi Plett at TJs (Photo by Trixie)

“I ask you…if they ever had a night down at Philips where they recognized some of the old players, who do you think would get the biggest ovation”?

He then answered his own question. “Willi Plett…that’s who. He was a tough player. This is also why Garnet Exelby is so popular with the fans…he’ll stick his nose in it”.

But Fletcher wasn’t given the job, however Brian Burke factored into the process, didn’t he?

“It was down to he and Waddell, so Schiller had to make a decision… and Burke was also being courted by Vancouver. Burke called him up and said, ‘Listen, I’m not trying to put your feet to the fire…but if I’m still being considered, then fine…if not I need to take this job in Vancouver’”. He then went, “Well, time passed and Schiller called him to ask if he had taken the job and he was told, ‘Yeah, I just took it’”.

And so it down to just Waddell. Why was he brought into the mix?

“I think Detroit had just won a cup and, as you know, they start looking at assistants and other people associated with winning teams…and it doesn’t matter whether it’s football or baseball or hockey…that’s where it is. That’s when Waddell’s name came up, he was a part of a winning team”.

I asked Tim about Pat Quinn…if he’s ever been considered for the job.

“That’s a funny story”, he replied. “Pat Quinn was available…Pat was a part of the Flames. He calls me up and says, ‘what’s going on down there? I just got a call from this guy Harvey Schiller asking me for the phone number of some other guy to interview for the job”.

“And keep in mind, Pat’s out of work at the time…and they call him up looking for the number of someone else to ask for an interview. He told me, ‘That was the most bazaar call I ever had’”.

Either way…Tim firmly believes that Fletcher, Burke or Quinn would have built this team on a foundation of size and toughness. And that would have been their identity.

Moving back to the old Flames and the lack of connection between them and the Thrashers organization…he once again brought up the way Minnesota has handled the same circumstance.

“Going back to the situation in Minnesota…they’ve got a mural…it must spread out 50-feet or so…and has beginning with day one of the Minnesota North Stars history all the way to their end in Minnesota. It’s a tribute to the North Stars. It’s there…it’s recognized…and, I mean, what a nice tribute”.

The he said, “This organization here…they chose not to recognize the past”.

He recalled the time when Dany Heatley had won the Calder Memorial Cup as rookie of the year. “Here we have this young man, great player…at the time one of the faces of the future for this team…he’s out there on the ice being presented with the trophy in front of the Atlanta fans. And there are three other guys here in town who are a part of the city’s hockey history who have also won that award…Eric Vail, Willi Plett and Boom-Boom Geoffrion, who was still with us at the time”.

“And I thought to myself, what a nice thing it would be to have had these guys down there with him…to help present this guy with such a great honor…to welcome him in to the group of players with Atlanta ties into that club made up of Calder winners”.

To Ecclestone, it’s just another example to the new franchise making a conscience decision to keep separate the two teams that have shared the same city and much of it’s fans.

But what if the Thrashers had chosen to embrace the team that first won over a fan base to the sport of professional hockey? Again, in part one of this series, Tim discussed how the alumni was more than willing to do the legwork in the community…but he also feels they could do something for the fans attending games at Philips Arena.

Tim shared with me an idea that he had regarding how the past and the present could come together at Philips Arena…and idea that he first shared with Stan Kasten.

“I’ve known Stan for years”, Tim began. “And I said to him, ‘Ya know, what bothers me more than anything is that there is not one picture of the Flames” in the arena.

“I talked to Stan…and I talked to Bernie Mullins…about what I’d like to do. The bar behind the penalty box…I’d like to see one of the party suits on either side…take it and place on the left side an Atlanta Flames logo…on the right side an Atlanta Thrashers logo…right in the middle an NHL Alumni logo”.

He went on to describe how each team’s general managers, assistant GMs, players…everyone involved with those teams would be given space and attention. Display photos of special moments on either side of the room for both teams…recognize team awards and player’s awards” on their respective side.

He also stated that it would also be a nice idea to have alumni members sitting in the top row of seats just outside of the room who would be accessible to all who cared to join them for a beer and talk hockey.

“All of this would be made available to anyone who paid to get into see the game”, he said. “Eric Vail can entertain them better than anyone…same with Danny Bouchard, Tom Lysiak…let us go down there and mix and be a part of them. And the fans can look in the room and see the history of the sport here from the 70s to the present”.

But aren’t those rooms rented out or sold?

“Listen, I understand that room gets rented out on occasions…if they want to rent it out and get one of the guys to host the party…put it into the package…let them do that”.

Ecclestone even stated that he’d help pay for the cost of this “Atlanta Hockey Museum”…kinda like what they have for the Braves at Turner Field.

And the team’s response?

“They have never gotten back with me”.

But would you still be willing to work with them if they would call?

“If they come to us…but Levenson’s gotta return my call. Michael (Gearon), he’s returned my calls, but he’s got his hands full with the Hawks…he’s fine and he’s been good enough to call me back…but Bruce is the point man for the Thrashers”.

And there is more to what he feels they could do for the team beyond just promoting the product in the area.

There are people in this town…both individuals and corporate…”Who have given up on them”, he said. “These guys are big hitters and these guys will spend and spend and spend. And he (Levenson) needs to get involved here. You’ve got out-of town ownership…but you’ve got a fan base here and they could lean on us…but they don’t do it”.

Ecclestone concluded by reiterating his intent here is to simply offer assistance in promoting the team and the sport in the community that he and the alumni know so well, but is frustrated with the lack of interest from the organization.

“We’re not looking for any money…we just want this thing to succeed. But not getting a phone call back…that just bugs me”.

144 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

May 13th, 2009
5:40 pm

So, Don Waddell, at best, was our sloppy seconds pick for GM. GREAT!

Sean Avery

May 13th, 2009
5:49 pm

R.Stroz, leave Elisha Cuthbert out of this!

Brendan

May 13th, 2009
6:01 pm

Maybe this article will prompt a phone call? Ya know something, Rawhide? I’ve always thought that Michael Gearon was probably the best of this bunch. This article sort of reinforces that for me. Likewise, I’ve always felt that Bruce Levenson was the biggest impediment to greater Thrasher success. This article also reinforces that notion, for me.

Hockey Biltong

May 13th, 2009
6:31 pm

SImply put, the stubborness and lack of vision has kept this team behind the ‘8 ball’ from the word go. With such terriffic resources as Tim and others how could an owners group not include them in initiallising momentum and keeping momentum.Why not tap into a grass roots identity/cache of support???? Bewildering….

Sage of Bluesland

May 13th, 2009
7:02 pm

These past two articles are among the best I’ve ever read from the cluster otherwise known as the AJC Sports Department (concerning the Thrashers)….I take that qualifier back: These past two HAVE been the best articles on the Thrashers ‘associated’ with the AJC. All of the ones which make the ‘main’ paper (no offense, Rawhide) have the stench of Don Waddell associated with it, so thus it’s worthless to begin with…

Anyway, it’s amazing how slim the margin is on decision-making, isn’t it? For the want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost–and the whole battle with it (or something like that, being a historical military reference)…For the timing of a telephone call, we have suffered with the laughable incompetence of Don Waddell, he of the ten-year “Five-Year Plan!”.

What will finally convince the pitiful sheep to STOP subsidizing the willful incompetence…STOP giving your hard-earned money (I’m assuming that) to those who do not deserve it…STOP being part of the problem and start being part of the long-overdue solution…

I continue to ask these questions–and GaVaSheep and RanalloLamb continue to defend the indefensible…They always have and always will…I attribute it to either sheer ignorance or a relationship with none other than our bumbling, blustering fraud of a GM.

I actually feel sorry for you, Rawhide–I think you will get attention based on these outstanding articles, but it will not endear you to ‘The Man’.

However, those articles warmed my heart in a way I cannot describe. I used to love going to the Flames games as a kid–and these names bring back wonderful memories. Everything–literally everything–Mr. Ecclestone stated was absolutely true. Heck, let’s put him at GM–I know GaVaSheep would disagree, but he couldn’t do much worse than his hero now, could he?

Now, the centerpiece of our existence is ownership which simply doesn’t care and a clownish buffoon pulling the strings…How sad! It makes me laugh more often than not anymore–but, in the end, it’s still sad.

How anyone ‘rewards’ this organization for its performance baffles me. They do not deserve it. Period.

This is your Wake-Up call, folks…Are you even listening?

Glovesave29

May 13th, 2009
7:51 pm

The only thing I can add here is that I wish you could have seen how animated Tim was during this whole discussion (which took up most of the third and all of the first two OT’s of the ANA / DET game). He genuinly cares about Atlanta and the Thrashers along with the legacy that is the Atlanta Flames. You could tell he was really disappointed that he didn’t get the Color Analyst gig or that we didn’t bring Cliff back. Someone, ANYONE with that passion would do wonders down at Philips these days.

The first game ever played here in Atlanta was against the Sabres. The next time they come into town, lets have Flames night. Everyone get out the flaming “A”, or wear red. Get Neal Boortz to come back to his gig as arena announcer, bring as many old Flames back and have some sort of celebration. Think anyone could get Jiggs out of retirement to call one last game? Oh, I’d kill to hear that.

krust

May 13th, 2009
8:38 pm

Rawhide,

Your are a whistle blower, after these two blogs. It demands a response from the owners. Well done!
And I agree with Saga of Bluesland make Tim E GM and give Dan Bouchard Assistant GM.

Tom

May 13th, 2009
9:04 pm

So if I am to read this correctly, the Thrashers have ignored one of the better assets they have to sell tickets to the games. Then they discount the tickets to the games that piss off the season ticket holders even more.

They would be better off giving tickets to the alumni and have them sit with season ticket holders.

Ugh…

Bob

May 13th, 2009
9:15 pm

Burke would have run circles around Waddell. this makes me so sad to think where we would have been by now.

great game tonight, anyone left that still think ovechkin is better than Crosby? Hockey ain’t about individual fancy play guys, Crosby makes everyone around him better. Scoreboard.

Rawhide

May 13th, 2009
9:33 pm

Bob – If I had to chose one or the other…I’d still pick Ovie.

Pittsburgh was indeed the better team in the game, and even the series if ya look at the stats.

And it cannot be denied…Crosby had a helluva series and put himself up 1-0 in Ovie/Crosby post-season matchups.

LAC

May 13th, 2009
9:43 pm

Boy, Tim set the record straight for sure. Let him & Bouchard and other Flames run this club,boy what a transformation we would see !!!!!!

A move IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, with people who know hockey and not the out to lunch bunch we have to put up with now !

Alan

May 13th, 2009
9:47 pm

These stories have made me pretty angry. How could the ownership/GM ignore the former Flames like that? Picking Waddell over Burke, Fletcher, or even Quinn? I’m perturbed.

It’s about damn time this story, the other half of the story, has made some semblance of mainstream media. Thank you, Bill, and a special thanks to Tim for taking the time to tell this story. I wish I could get there on a weekend sometime to sit down and listen to stories in person.

To sum it all up: I feel cheated.

Bob

May 13th, 2009
9:51 pm

*If I had to chose one or the other…I’d still pick Ovie*

Hockey’s the ultimate team game. I’d take Ovie in an All Star Game skills competition, but no way no how in games, and Crosby proved why in this series. Crosby’s the captain of his team, and makes everyone around him better and they completely schooled the Caps and Ovechkin tonight. Scoreboard.

great job on the reporting, Rawhide. Good luck getting any quotes out of Waddell in the future, heh. It’s just pretty said to now know, “the rest of the story”.

sisu

May 13th, 2009
9:54 pm

Sad, very very sad to read the last two articles! Not really surprising to read what most of has guessed. Oh if only the old Flames players could have bought the team.

Bob, if Pitt actually had a goalie worth a damn they be scary. But any respect I had for Crocthby was lost when he punched Boris, he is a whiner and a cry baby!

Rawhide

May 13th, 2009
9:55 pm

Bob – Well, no one can ague with the results.

And thanks, but I’m not holding my breath getting anything out of DW.

Britt

May 13th, 2009
10:05 pm

Did you ever think that there is another side to this story?

Brendan

May 13th, 2009
10:12 pm

I know the marquee matchup was Crosby/Malkin vs. Ovechkin, but there’s an unsung hero wearing the Penguins colors: Kris Letang. He scored plenty of big goals in this series. None bigger than at the series MOST ESSENTIAL POINT: Overtime of Game Three. Without that goal, Pittsburgh might be in an 0-3 hole. And we ALLLLL know what that means.

From the Letang goal forward, it was almost ALL Penguins. For Washington, this isn’t total failure. It’s not. But it does represent a truly blown opportunity. Whenever a team gets up 2-0 in a series, they’re just about out of excuses as to why they lost the series.

That’s how I see it. Also, Simeone Varlamov is just a rookie!!!!! He is. He didn’t exactly have 40-50 games under his belt to prepare for these playoffs. So????? So, Washington has some decisions to make. Jose Theodore is allegedly, supposedly their #1 goalie. He played tonight, but only after his understudy surrendered 4 goals. His only other appearance was Game One, of the opening round vs. the Rangers.

So, while this season does represent “incremental progress” (Rolling eyes skyward,) for Washington, it still feels like a huge disappointment. A Game Seven, at home, shouldn’t result in a 4 goal shellacking. What that tells me is … they weren’t prepared.

Very few goalies can put a team up on their shoulders and carry them to a Cup Finals or Cup win. Let’s see, there’s Dryden and Roy. Can you think of any others? Allright then. So, Washington’s offseason has to be about fixing their goaltending. Either they go with Varlamov as their #1, finish developing him, and grab a netminder at the trade deadline if it’s not going so well. Or just for insurance for Varlamov. Or, they stick with Theodore. Hmmn. If Theodore wasn’t good enough this year, why will he be better NEXT year? Perhaps they’ll move Theodore in the offseason. These are the agonies of a GM.

Folks, this is also the time of year when we fans overreact about goaltending. We know and recognize that it’s essential during the playoffs. But if these goalies were so terrible, how did they manage to lead their teams into the playoffs and in latter rounds? I’m thinking more specifically about Roberto Luongo, and his seven goals that he surrendered in Game Six, in an elimination game.

Does this mean Roberto Luongo sucks?? Does it mean Robert Luongo can’t win the big one? Does this mean Vancouver trades him in the offseason? The answers to these questions ought to be “no.” What it means is that any goalie can lay an egg in a big game. I remember a game when Patrick Roy lost to the Red Wings, 6-0. And everything was on the line. And he’s … Patrick Roy.

Washington needed a bigger series out of Alexander Semin. They didn’t get it. Backstrom could have been better. Green could have been better. It was a team failure, tonight, for Washington. Yes, coupled with bad goaltending, at the series final game. These things happen.

Ya know what ELSE it means? C’mon. You know this one, if you’ve been paying attention. It means, “This is why you need to build a window of opportunity. If you don’t have that window, you risk your only chance on a Game 7 blowout. And then, sometimes, it’s right back to the drawing board. Pittsburgh was very slowly and intelligently built, via the draft. They’ve got their “window.” This is “back-to-back” Conference Finals for them. Maybe this will be their year? And even if it isn’t, there’s next year. And the year after that. Same deal with Detroit. The Red Wings will contend for years to come. Washington’s roster is good. They should ‘tweak it’ in the offseason, not overhaul it.

Rawhide

May 13th, 2009
10:18 pm

Britt - Certainly I have considered that. However, this was Tim’s story as told to me. If someone would like to tell “another side”…I’m all ears.

However…and I am speaking only for myself here…I think that when Tim heard DE make the comment about how the Thrashers organization had done everthing they could to reach out the the old Flames and alumni group, he kinda figure “that side of the story” had already been thrown out there and he has just now been able to respond to that.

HookyBob

May 13th, 2009
10:30 pm

Much as like Ovie, a loose cannon (or entire flotilla) if ever there was one,…I’m with Bob on this one. Crosby has won me over recently.

I’d lost a lot of respect for him over the course of this season. But it is a different Sid the Kid we see in the play-offs.

I don’t know if he’s matured, taken PR lessons from NHL brass, or what. But he is not whining or diving. He’s going into the tough area right in front of the net (brings back memories of Phil Esposito). He is setting up, or creating openings for linemates. In general setting a good example,..as you would want out of a captian. All without much fanfare.

As for the Flames – Thrasher connection or lack of,….damn, just damn.

Brendan

May 13th, 2009
11:26 pm

Sage of Bluesland, I think it’s a case of fans having hockey as a part of their culture; that is, they can’t envision a season where they don’t come out to hockey games at Philips Arena. Or, it’s a case of “fear of relocation,” a misplaced one to be sure, that drives the sale of tickets. But by now, even those who WANT to buy tickets know to WAIT until they’re discounted. Why pay FULL PRICE??

Okayyy. Now I’ve done it. This where a “die-hard” will tell me, “But Brendan, without that FULL PRICE REVENUE stream, the organization can’t afford to go out and buy free agents.” Hmmn. Interesting theory. But whose FAULT is that? Whose is it, really? Don’t say “Fans.” Is this team going to be $4 million or more above the floor of the cap on Opening Night? Probably not. Are the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, standing on the precipice of a MAXED CAP, “playoffs or bust” season? With ultimatums on the heads of Don Waddell and John Anderson, too? PFFT. Put … your hands … down.

These owners are probably NOT planning any such moves. And I’d be STUNNED if they did. The “plan,” such as it is not being discussed publicly, by ownership or management, is to continue the slow build through the draft, while blustering about “how close we are” to making the playoffs. At the league minimum payroll. Allrighteee, then.

But much more imporantly, if the organization wanted to win back fans, AND THEIR MONEY, they’d make the sort of fundamentally obvious moves, like firing Waddell and Dan Marr, that are necessary. So, it’s hard to FEEL SORRY for them. Especially when THEY ARE THE ONES IN CHARGE and CAN MAKE THOSE SORTS OF CHANGES. Fans can’t. Eventually, Sage, the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, will take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that they, themselves, are the cause of ALL THEIR PROBLEMS. You can’t flourish when you’re too busy shooting yourself in the foot.

Jason(Darkhorse)

May 13th, 2009
11:48 pm

Really nice job Rawhide. Maybe you can take Terrence Moore’s spot at the paper. His spot, not his clueless negative spewing each week mind you.

Are you planning on pursuing DW or someone else for the franchise’s take on this perception and overall clueless take on how to get people in this town interested in them?

ranallo10 (in AT)

May 14th, 2009
3:25 am

I love it…ownership has been the root of the problems from the get-go, as evidenced in their delayed decision making removing the apparent best candidate from their GM pool, yet people still find a way to ignore that fact (as provided by Ecclestone) and focus on the under performing GM.

I find it funny where people displace their anger. Some yell at players like Kovalchuk or Lehtonen, others yell at Waddell, fans who pay (with their own money) to watch hocky, or even yell at everyone/anyone who dares to disagree with their opinion…all because the Thrashers don’t win consistently. There’s a reason we’re called fanatics, and it’s not exactly due to our sense of logic or reason.

There is one group of people involved in this equation that can do something to help fix the Thrashers. Yet, they sit by idly. Sports Illustrated has identified them as one of the 5 worst ownership groups in the NHL, in the company of MLSE, Predators Holding Group, and Charles-Freaking-Wang…that’s BAD company to be in.

In my opinion the ASG deserves every bit of blame and criticism that can be dolled out. But, I’m just another fanatic with an opinion and a keyboard.

Sage of Bluesland

May 14th, 2009
6:15 am

The dynamics of this are a bit more complex than just being the ownership’s fault. It’s like blaming a five-year old child for all of the havoc they create.

Simply put, it’s like a game of rock-paper-scissors. While ownership is a definite ‘portion’ of the cause of the real problem (where, at the top, most problems occur; see “Parents” in the case of the out-of-control five-year old child referenced above), there IS one group in the equation that actually have ‘power’ over even the owners.

Yes, that’s right–that underappreciated group that actually has ALL of the power (but can’t seem to recognize it, due to the smoke put forth by the minions and shallow-minded sheep) are the FANS/CUSTOMERS. The money in their pocket is craved by ownership (of any business) and is the engine which runs the entire machine. This is so obvious it’s not even debatable.

RanalloLamb is correct about one thing: fans not using their logic or reasoning. The basic economic facts above aren’t recognized because too many sheep, I mean “fans”, use emotion in their decision-making.

Thus, they get herded along to the slaughter because someone else makes the decision for them–and the false ‘reasoning’ and ‘logic’ appeal to their inner feelings…

Rock-paper-scissors, folks. There is one group that can influence even the ‘untouchable’ ownership. It’s YOU.

Thus, as I’ve stated to the emotional ‘horror’ of some, I wish the fans would put their wallets away when it comes to all things Thrashers and start becoming part of the solution instead of part of the problem. You just might be amazed at how much change can be effected.

Stop allowing the five-year old child to run the show. Parents, real ones anyway, step up and utilize discipline and establish rules and rewards/punishment for certain behaviors. But it’s not done out of emotional ‘mean-ness’; it’s done for love and responsibility.

Short-term pain, folks; Long-term benefit. Again, though, the choice is yours. Seeing some of the sheep waving their wittle Bwuewand fwags and preparing their spweadsheets, I don’t have much hope at all…

DB

May 14th, 2009
8:22 am

Wasn’t Harvey S. employed by Time Warner? Not the ASG? That aside, ownership in Atlanta has been given plenty of opportunities to present their case for the direction of the franchise. When questioned, the most susccinct response has been “Deal with it.” Rawhide, thank you for these 2 blogs (and all of the others as well). If only ownership was as passionate about the team as its fans.

Rawhide

May 14th, 2009
8:31 am

Jason(Darkhorse) – If someone ever contacted me I would definately give them the same attention. It would mean they were paying attention at least, right?

But in all honesty, if someone from the Thrashers organ-I-zation ever wanted to do so, they would probably get in touch with Chris Vivlamore.

DB – Yes…in the late 90s – early 2000s it was Time Warner… the Atlanta Spirit, LLC didn’t take over the Thrashers/Hawks/Philips until March 31, 2004.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
9:23 am

Great read Bill… it’s very touching, and I feel for the old hockey fans that would want to see all that done.

Every owner and GM has the right to run the team however they see fit… right or wrong… it’s no different then the CEO who thought NEW COKE was a great idea… or Pepsi Clear.

I’ve dealt with enough corporate Marketing people to know that they don’t take advice from anyone… they don’t want to hear your suggestions… there is no comment box… if they didn’t think of it themselves, it’s not going to happen.

Maybe Burke or Fletcher come in here, and they embrace the Flames history… would Ted Turner though?… Would FUBAS?

The question REALLY is… would Burke or Fletcher have gotten more for $11 million that Don Waddell?… we’ll never know. It reminds me of the line in ‘Stand By Me’… “Gee Gordo, why couldn’t you have gotten breakfast food like Twinkies, Pez and Root Beer?”… “I don’t know Vern, maybe a more experienced shopper could have gotten more for your 7 cents.” :)

Smoothie

May 14th, 2009
9:36 am

If Arthur Blank didn’t ever listen to anyone, including his customers, he would not be as successful as he is today and he never would have turned things around as quickly as he did for the football franchise.

So telling us that “every GM or CEO” will run their business however they see fit is quite myopic and silly in my opinion. Sure, DW and ASG can continue to run this franchsie into the ground, but if they want to start making money again, they might want to start listening a little more closely to their customer base, which isn’t big enough to begin with. The fact remains (and this is documented in court), the ASG is hemmoraghing money fast and they better turn it around quickly before the end up back in court…for bankruptcy!

Bob

May 14th, 2009
9:46 am

“Wasn’t Harvey S. employed by Time Warner? Not the ASG?”

Yep, there’s been three ownership groups, to point at the ASG as the core problem is just laughable. The problem has been from Day 1 that each set of owners we’ve had aren’t hockey guys, and the first set of owners went out and hired a “hockey guy” to run things and Waddell has been in charge of all of the decisions since Day 1, and we are where we are.

Gee Hokie, that’s a toughie, this is going to take some deep analytical skills to figure out if Burke or Fletcher would have done a better job than Donnie. Boy, I’m going to have to think about that for a while, that’s a real stumper.

What are you talking about getting more with $11 million? The Spirit even let Waddell spend max cap his first two years, and he got us nothing. Nada.

Hokie, in case you truly wonder how we remember some of the doozies you type on here, it’s cause you’re so off base. Now you want to educate us on your take on corporate marketing? Let me help you here also on this take of yours, “Corporate Marketing Types” constantly give out surveys, conduct focus groups, perform market research, and diligently keep an eye on what their competitors are doing taking the best of breed ideas and incorporating them as their own. Why is that, Hokie? C’mon, think about it, you can figure it out. Oops, sorry, let me help you here . . . it’s because in corporate marketing you constantly take advice from others, the market, and incorporate the best ideas out there and what your customers are looking for and use them as your campaign, it’s what the job is all about, ya hump.

Ok, I’ve thought about it. Yeah, Brian Burke would also have us skating around in baby blue sweaters with no team identity, disjointed lineups that have no cohesion, no dmen, no centers, no top RW, a revolving door of broken goalies, no toughness, no fans in the seats, no playoff wins after 10 years, no respect from around the league, and would have alienated all of the long time hockey fans in this town as well as the NHL alumni in this town. Yeah, that’s what would have happened.

Sage, most of us get it, it’s why the seats are empty, that’s why we no longer support them with our dollars. That is what speaks to “corporate types” and that is what will finally affect the necessary change.

FormerIslesFan

May 14th, 2009
9:53 am

RH, I’ll keep it simple. I think these were great pieces. I think it is equally important that Ownership respond to the statements that have been made here, if not through you then through some other medium. But, it is patently obvious to any hockey fan in Atlanta (especially those of us that did not grow up in Atlanta) that there is a disconnect between the Atlanta Flames and the Atlanta Thrashers.

That to me is inexcusable.

There is a willing resource offering and waiting to be tapped and it is being intentionally not utilitzed. Why? Is it as TJ says or is there another side to the story?

Whichever, I for one would like to know the answer. Better yet, I’d like to see this situation rectified.

Tony C.

May 14th, 2009
9:53 am

gee I dunno. Let’s look at Fletcher’s overall record (keep in mind, he’s dealt with payrolls of all types: scrooge, medium & Cup or Bust):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliff_Fletcher

granted, he tanked in Phoenix, but that seems to be a common theme for the Jets/’Yotes franchise.

Now let’s look at Waddell:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Waddell

Burke:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Burke_(ice_hockey)

and ol’ Paddy Quinn:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Quinn_(ice_hockey)

Something tells me Trader Cliff would’ve been able to make something worthwhile out of the shoestring budgets Waddell has labored under.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
9:55 am

Smoothie… I don’t think the line “Deal with it” makes me think anyone is listening to suggestion.

Sigh… It’s funny how the warm fuzzy feeling we all had the last 3 months of the season is gone and we’re back to doom and gloom again.

We’re going to work ourselves up into a frenzy all through May and June, then the draft will come, we’ll pick Evander Kane, Waddell will trade for Pavel Kubina, we’ll sign Reasoner… maybe add Havlat or Cammalleri or Afinogenov or whoever… then everyone will be sunshines and rainbows again.

Smoothie

May 14th, 2009
10:11 am

GVH, I wasn’t talking about asshead Levenson. I was talking about your sweeping generalization about GM’s and CEO’s. I never said that the ASG was doing a good job of listening to its customers did I?

If Waddell really had his crap together, Marty Reasoner would have already been re-signed proactively. We own his rights and there is no excuse if DW lets him slip away because he put Marty on the back burner. Let’s just hope they have talked secretly or have a gentlemen’s agreement in place that allows Marty to gauge his market value by waiting until the end of the first week in July to sign.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
10:11 am

Whichever, I for one would like to know the answer. Better yet, I’d like to see this situation rectified.

I concur.

Rawhide

May 14th, 2009
10:13 am

Tony C. – Well done. You may move to the front of the class.

Hip Czech

May 14th, 2009
10:14 am

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/hockey/nhl/05/08/nhl.owners/index.html

Kind of interesting the Phoenix ownership wasn’t listed in the bottom 5.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
10:24 am

Smoothie… we have a misunderstanding… I agree with you. :)

What I’m trying to say is GM’s and CEO’s have a vision of how they think the company should operate… “Forget the past, we’re moving forward… we’ll call it NEW COKE”…

We’re obviously still in NEW COKE phase with the Thrashers… if Waddell wants to be stubborn about that, he has every right until ownership says otherwise or boots his ass out the door. If Pat Quinn wants to come in here afterwards and bring back Classic Coke… he has every right until ownership says otherwise or boots his ass out the door… “Not just throwback jerseys, Jimmy. Throwback EVERYTHING!”

Or, Waddell can read this article, gauge public interest, read our comments, and do something about it… like any good GM should.

Smoothie

May 14th, 2009
10:35 am

Unfortunately, we’re stuck with Waddell for the forseeable future. But I do believe DWad has learned from some of his mistakes. Problem is that he helped contribute to the alienation of the fanbase by being so complicit with his ownership. I just don’t get why Levenson must be the “point person” for the hockey side of the operation. Is it because he contributes the 2nd most capital to the business? Or are the other 5 pansies scared of him? Gearon seems to have a better awareness and business savvy, but then again, he allowed Billy Knight to draft Marvin Williams over Chris Paul.

Yes indeed GVH, their vision has failed pretty miserably. However, they still have a chance to rectify things IF they are serious about replacing Belkin and moving forward. Better yet, they are serious about selling the franchise to someone who gives a rat’s ass about hockey as well as its history in this city. We shall see.

But I don’t agree with Sage that every fan needs to abandon the franchise completely. Is it the players fault that they were brought in to play hockey for a bumbling management / ownership group? NO! I’m not going to turn my back on these players when they show that they care and provide entertainment value in my life. And it’s not as though the ASG is making any money. What is the estimate on operating losses over 5 years? $150 M?? Eventually they will run out of money or perhaps someone will make them an offer they can’t refuse. Hopefully, that lease agreement with Philips is as ironclad as we’re being told by Custance, Foley and Don Waddell.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
11:00 am

I’ll agree that Waddell has been a “Yes, man” because he even said himself at the Town Hall Meeting “he likes having a job.” Couple that with “I can’t wait to write a book about this” and what do you get… a guy who has his hands tied.

And I’ll also agree with others that it’s “no excuse” and there have been a lot of excuses… but damn me for thinking so, I say we have a good thing going right now. I think Waddell and Marr are getting better at their jobs. We have great prospects, a great new coach and just maybe we are a “few players away” from being contenders.

Now, for the off-ice product… my suggestion to Marketing… give up the gimics… take off the suit and tie, throw on a T-shirt and let’s be more lose about this… it’s not that hard… if the old Flames players want to be involved, by God… LET THEM!! You’d be crazy not to.

Spud Webb

May 14th, 2009
11:07 am

Britt you work for the clowns known as the ASG??
Rawhide, great, GREAT job. I do feel sick to my stomach though. &*%^ everywhere, I mean I just curse & curse. SICK, these guys are jokes, I WISH THEY WOULD come talk to you since our “beat” writer seems to be on vacation. Why are you having to get this information? I love it, keep it up. Shame on the ASG & most of all, DW. The other guys are “business” men, Donnie knows the history of hockey and should be absolutly ASHAMED of himself for allowing this to happen or not happen (depends on how you look at it). %&$% UGH, the beat goes on.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
11:42 am

Bob… the focus groups come AFTER you’ve come up with the slogans and campaigns… the campaigns are based on what the GM and Vice President see as the vision for the company… what they’re trying to accomplish…focus groups would have been conducted after “Blueland” was decided.

Maybe they send out surveys, but at the end of the day, it’s that V.P. at the end of the conference table that says, “we’re not doing a throwback, we’re going with Blueland.”

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
11:48 am

Bob… another thing, they change Marketing people at these companies like they change their underwear… I used to know one of the marketing people with the Thrashers… I couldn’t tell you if they could talk hockey more than the man in the moon, but this person ran some damn good campaigns… the Hummer two minute drill, the year lease on a BMW, the Philips prize packs, the autograph sessions at every Saturday home game, the KB Home giveaway… what happened to all that kind of stuff?

From what I heard… last year’s slogan “Become One” came from an Intern.

Britt

May 14th, 2009
11:59 am

Spud hell no I do not work for AS, I simply like to hear both sides instead of just one. Kinda makes it easier to see the big picture that way now doesn’t it?

World be Free

May 14th, 2009
12:14 pm

As I have been saying, we need to include our former Atlanta Flames AND get Pat Quinn involved-he’s available!

Alan

May 14th, 2009
12:19 pm

I simply like to hear both sides instead of just one

The one side, as we know it from a Thrashers broadcast, was when Darren Elliot said, basically, the former Flames were to be brought into the fold, yet the Flames never responded.

Rawhide went out and got Tim to comment, which gave us “the big picture” — and gave us something many of us suspected for a good while.

I’d love to hear an Atlanta Spirit rebuttal. Somehow, I doubt we’ll get one. They seem to like pretending problems don’t exist and hoping it goes away.

R. Stroz

May 14th, 2009
12:20 pm

Isn’t the Great Octo-Cluster, or FUBAS, or DASG, suppossed to go back to court next week?

Does anyone remember when?

World be Free

May 14th, 2009
12:21 pm

Who are the 3 owners worse than Spirit? Bill Wirtz and Harold Ballard are both dead!

World be Free

May 14th, 2009
12:29 pm

Top unrestricted free agents-the Sedins were drafted after thr Thrash took Stefan!

1. Jay Bouwmeester
Towering defensman will be a hot ticket. There’s a good chance he will leave the Panther’s and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got over 20 offers.
2. Marian Hossa
Red Wings sniper notched 40 goals this year. The 31 year old talked about his next contract being his “last one” and hinted that he’d be looking for a long term deal. If he can’t be extended by the Red Wings his phone will be ringing off the hook in July.

3. Daniel and Henrik Sedin
81 points a piece this year! These two have been really consistant over the past several seasons always posting up over 70 pts. I don’t see them splitting up, and their combined salaries could be up around $11-14 million. That kind of cap hit could take several teams out of the equation. Staying in Vancouver is a possibility.

4. Marian Gaborik
If he gets and stays healthy, this guy will be the prize of this years UFA pool. But there is that risk with Gaborik because of his medical record. Still a potential 90+ point guy, and a game breaker. Gaborik is one of the game’s elite talents. He turned down 8 years and over $60 million from Minnesota last fall, which could mean he wants out of Minnesota. Some speculate he didn’t get along with Lemaire which could have something to do with his not signing the extension. So we’ll see…

5. Martin Havlatt
Hawks leading scorer posted 78 points this season. This guy is just 27, and like Gaborik is lethal when healthy. Lots of talent and should be a beauty if he hits the open market.

6. Scott Niedermyer
If he decides to leave Anaheim, Scotty has proven he is still an elite player. The future hall of famer would bring a great player on and off the ice along with so many other intangeables to any team that signs him.

7. Mike Cammalleri
Has scored a total of 118 goals in his 4 post-lockout seasons. (Averaging 29.5 per season). He’ll be 27 in June. Size is a concern but he is not a soft player and should cash in big. Oh, and he’s a filthy sniper.

8. Mattius Ohlund
32 year old defensman is a bear. Big, grizzled, veteran defensman will attract lots of interest if Vancouver doesn’t get a deal done before July 1.

9. Alex Kovalev
Gamble. Here’s a guy who was a top 10 scorer in the league last season, and played like border line 2nd liner this season. Kovalev has the tools to be a great scoring threat, but at age 36 he might need to go somewhere that he doesn’t have to be “the guy”. He could be a great signing for the right price, provided he delivers.

10. Nik Antropov
Big body. Amazing skater…. ;) Nik is a legitimate 25-30 goal man and is a quality guy for standing in front of the net, grabbing rebounds or tipping pucks, and providing a screen. Could be a boost for a team with a weak power play who need someone to provide that traffic in front. Nik is also a solid two-way player and has an award winning smile.

10. (tie) Brian Gionta
Small speedy winger has a lot of offensive tools. Its not unlike Lou Lamerello to let guys like this walk when they want that big pay raise, and I could definitely see him testing the UFA waters.

Here’s some other’s I won’t place them in any order:

Keith Tkachuk
I don’t think he’ll leave St.Louis, but you never know. Keith was a monster for the Blues in the playoffs even though he was held scoreless and they were swept. He was throwing huge hits, winning most of his draws, and just being Keith out there. You heard his name more than anyone’s except Luongo in that series. I think the veteran who is on the home stretch of a cupless career could look to sign at a moderate salary with a legitimate contender in the hopes of winning a cup.

Viktor Kozlov
34 year old. Great big body with soft hands. Due to age, he would be best suited for a 1 to 2 year deal, 3 years at most. Could bring some secondary scoring to a team needing one more guy. (Similar to Montreal’s reasoning for bringing in Lang last fall). Viktor can still score highlight reel goals, as witnessed in game 6 of the first round.

Mike Knuble
36 year old Knuble, is a consistant secondary scorer. A big body guy who likes to play physical and be that solid support winger for any top line forward.

Chris Neil
30 year old is a tough guy and a yapper. Quality role player. Not a lot of offensive skills, he typically doesn’t score a lot but there is reason to believe there will be lots of interest out there based on his presence on the ice.

John Madden
36 year old checking centre will probably stick with the Devils. But if not, he’d be a quality pick up for a team looking for a reliable defensive forward, and a veteran leader.

“Speedin” Stevie Sullivan aka “Sully”
I love Sully! This guy can fly and score goals too. He recovered after having not played for over a year and scored at a decent pace for Nashville at the end of the season. He’s 34 years old, and because of health he could be a guy worth taking a chance on for a lot of teams. Watch for him to be a steal somewhere at around $2-3 million and put up over 60 points.

Saku Koivu
Long time Habs captain could be on the way out. If so, there will be interest in the feisty centre who can provide secondary scoring and solid defensive play.

Todd Bertuzzi
Bert can still play. I think Calgary will try to bring him back, he seems to be a good fit there, but if he hits the market he’ll bring some size and skill to any teams line up.

Jere Lehtinen
Long time Star could stick with Dallas. He’s a great player, but health has been a concern in recent years and he’s now 36. Still, the former Selke winner could be a big boost at a reasonable price to some team in need of a winner.

Francois Beauchemin
Quality d-man. Might want out of Anaheim with the arrival of Ryan Whitney. However depending on Scott Niedermyer’s future with the team Beauchemin might want to stay. This guy could actually be one of the best signings in the offseason.

Spud Webb

May 14th, 2009
12:36 pm

Give me Chris Neil, put him on the 4th line, let Bolts go.

Alan

May 14th, 2009
12:51 pm

Stroz, this was posted in the paper on 6 March:

The ongoing ownership dispute between the Hawks and Thrashers partners wrapped up in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Thursday. But lawyers will return on May 8 to make their final arguments before the judge makes his decision. That probably will take several additional weeks.

So, lawyers are (probably still) in court, but we might not get a ruling until July.

What a clusterf#&k.

GaVaHokie

May 14th, 2009
1:09 pm

Steve Sullivan would be right up Waddell’s alley… ala. Slava Kozlov and Jason Williams… star quality players with injury history that come at a discount.

Never thought I’d want Nik Antropov but he could bring the size up front we need, but I see NYR retaining him.

I like Ohlund, but he’s gonna get overpaid by someone else ($5 million, maybe)… I’d rather spend that on a scoring threat and then get a guy like Hal Gill for $3.5-4 million.