Quick Shots By The Pool

Hi all…greetings again from poolside in Orlando. Can’t say it’s been sunny the whole time here, but there’s been enough sun to get in some pool time fun.

Sunday afternoon I watched game-four of the Western Conference Finals from the poolside bar and grill. There was a gentleman and his father-in-law there from Michigan enjoying what they saw. I, along with my older tax-exemption, chatted with them as the game played out in front of us. At one point Matt asked the two if they would take Don Waddell back.

That drew a few chuckles from the pair…the older one simply told him that Don must not have taken very good notes while he was with the Wings.

The son-in-law commented that before the trade that sent Hossa to Pittsburgh, the knock on him was that he tended to disappear come the playoffs. ..and that was his only real concern when the Red Wings signed him last summer.

The numbers back up his thoughts…in Ottawa, Hossa had amassed a grand total of 13 goals and 21 assists in 51 playoff games. In Atlanta’s four playoff games, he had all of one assist. That’s 13 goals and 22 assists during 55 post-season games over seven years.

However, during last year’s playoffs alone the winger accounted 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 games to help the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Championship. And while we sat their observing Detroit’s 6-1 beat-down of Chicago… Hossa notched a pair of goals and an assist to help move the Wings to just one victory of their second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearance. The showing in Chi-town brought Hossa’s totals to six goals and twelve overall points in 15 playoff games so far this spring.

So, in the past two post-seasons, Hossa has 18 goals and 20 assists in 35 games. That ain’t too shabby.

Now, Hossa’s half-dozen tallies this post-season have been spread out though. His two Sunday were his first since scoring twice in a 6-3 game-four victory against the Ducks during the second round back on May 7. Before that, he scored twice in the 6-5 win that capped off the opening round sweep of Columbus.

Hmmm…two goals in each game-four of the three series so far for Hossa. Well, then I guess he’ll be the player to watch in the fourth game of the Stanley Cup Finals, huh?

Anyway…here are a few other items that have gone down over the Memorial Day Weekend.

Bye-Bye Bobby

Former Atlanta Thrashers Captain Bobby Holik has announced his retirement. In 1990 he began his career with the Hartford Whalers, who had drafted him in 1989 with the 10th overall pick. He spent time also in New Jersey, Atlanta and with the New York Rangers. Most of his time, however, was in a Devils uniform.

He played in 1,314 regular season games scoring 326 goals and 421 assists. He also amassed 1,421 PIM and finished his career a +115 during the regular season. Holik also participated in 141 post-season games where he notched 20 goals and 59 overall points.

In his three seasons in Atlanta, Holik accounted for 41 goals and 55 assists. He also racked up 255 PIM and was a -23. In four playoff games as a Thrasher, he had a single assist.

Cal-GARY Is A Tough Town

After being ousted in six games during the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks, Cal-GARY head coach Mike Keenan fully expected to be back to coach the Flames next season. “I have another year left on my contract,” Keenan said. “My expectation is to be here to fulfill my contract.”

Turns out…no he won’t.

The Flames went 88-60-16 in the two seasons with Keenan ehind the bench, finishing with 94 and 98 points. Both seasons they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This year it was the Hawks doing the deed, last year it was at the hands …er, fins… of the San Jose Sharks.

What was also factored in, I’m sure, was how his Flames let a 13-point lead in the division slip away from them…losing out to Vancouver at the end of the season by two points.

Wild To Become More Aggressive And Physical

When Chuck Fletcher was introduced as the new GM in Minn-EE-soh-TAH, he promised to bring with him the aggressive and physical style of play…a style that he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins team acquire during his three seasons as assistant general manager there.

“Why back up and cede the ice to your opponent when you can force the issue up the ice?”, said Fletcher. ”We want to dictate the pace of the play against our opponent”.

Physical and aggressive…hmmm, isn’t that exactly what Thrashers captain Ilya Kovalchuk is indicating that he wants Don Waddell to do for our team?

Isn’t that just what Chuck’s father Cliff said he would have done if he were given the GM job here over a decade ago?

Taking notes, Don?

And Finally…Carolina’s Playoff Run Has Them Seeing Black

Here’s an intersting story I found in Yahoo Sports. It seems as though the Carolina Hurricanes’ recent run deep into the playoffs has helped their bottom line. Fascinating…isn’t it? Spend a little money, ice a competitive team…make the playoffs and see the money come in.

Taking notes, Spirit Boys?

70 comments Add your comment

Wayne from AL

May 25th, 2009
10:37 pm

Have both sides given the closing arguments yet in the Belkin vs. Atlanta Spirit trial? Has the judge said when he’ll render a decision?

LAC

May 25th, 2009
10:51 pm

Bill, It will be a repeat next season of this past season and the
one before, They will do NOTHING to improve the team and will
be at the bottom of the NHL !!!

Brendan

May 25th, 2009
10:56 pm

Rawhide, I was just thinking that GM Jim Rutherford has guided his ‘Canes to their third Conference Finals appearance in seven (3/7) years. (2002, 2006, and 2009. There was a lockout in 2005.) That’s closing in on HALF of the that time. And two (2) division titles, also. I’d certainly “settle” for results like that. Especially, that Stanley Cup win in 2006.

Now, I don’t really know if Raleigh sold out all its playoff games, but I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to hear it did. Barry Melrose once said, “every soldout playoff game puts $2 million of pure profit in the pockets of the owners.” I wish the ‘Canes good luck in trying to extend the series back to Raleigh for Game Six. It’d sure make their ownership happy.

As well reach the 11th hour, I just want to thank all our soldiers for their brave service to our country. And for those who died. I think it’s really a blessing to live in a country where people are ‘presumed innocent.’ Where people can ‘assemble peaceably’ to speak their minds, without being rounded up, arrested, and incarcerated, then forced to make wallets for export. It’s pretty nice that people can own land, cars, boats, planes, motorcyles, and houses, privately. It’s pretty nice that when we want a loaf of bread, we go to the store and pick one out at our convenience, and don’t have to wait on line for one for hours. And if happen to speak German, it’s by choice that we do. Ours is a great country. Happy Memorial Day.

R. Stroz

May 25th, 2009
10:56 pm

Bruce Levenson is too busy complaining about LAC’s pugilistic overtures than running the Thrashers.

Hey Bruce, here’s a unique concept:

When you bankroll the GM at the payroll cap and he doesn’t produce a playoff caliber team, FIRE him. Instead, you cut the Thrasher payroll and expect better results, are you nuts? If the GM can’t produce at the payroll cap, how do you expect him to perform at the cap floor?

Brendan

May 25th, 2009
11:07 pm

R.Stroz, keeping the overhead low and the high-end draft picks ‘well-stocked’ is a formula for a better sales price. Which, I think, is their true objective. Either Waddell is a ‘willing accomplice,’ or he’s William Hung. I can’t use that guy from ‘The Office.’ He’s an actor playing a role. Don Waddell isn’t an official thespian.

Brendan

May 25th, 2009
11:19 pm

If there is an ‘other hand,’ maybe this is what Bruce Levenson really thinks. “I can’t hire somebody good and still achieve my objectives. So, I’ve got to find someone willing to work with the league minimum payroll, and still give us ’some outside shot’ at position #8 in the conference. But where would I find such a GM, willing to sacrifice his reputation for the sake of having a job?” Then Ed Peskowicz elbowed him in the short ribs, and pointed at Waddell. Then Bruce smiled and said, “Ed, you ol’ dog. That’s brilliant.”

The mystery, she is a-sol-ved.

Sadly, it’s also reason #293 people shouldn’t contribute any more money unless ‘meaningful changes’ are made. It will be more of the same. Barring some ‘epiphany.’

LAC

May 26th, 2009
1:53 am

Right Stroz… I agree with you completely, this guy could care less about the Thrashers.

I would like to see him at a NHL Board of Governors meeting… He’d
stand out like the Big Chicken is a suit… The REAL NHL guys would laugh him out of the place…

But Stroz is correct, levenson is a complete FOOL and him
geron and LIAR snydel do not give a damn about NHL hockey and have NO clue as to running any professional sports teams period.

They will not up payroll and will not improve the team… Could really
be the beginning of the end… At least we can PREY for a NEW OWNER, That is OWNER… But with these GOOFS around and waddell commited to ruining NHL hockey here, Well Stroz IS right !

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
9:10 am

Ugh… I’m tired of talking about Waddell and ownership… I’ll reserve any further comment until draft weekend and free agency. Anything before then is speculation and drivel… like these comments. They will not up payroll and will not improve the team… Could really
be the beginning of the end…
…during the month of May.

Rawhide… Hossa’s playoff success the last two years comes from not being leaned on for the team’s success. I think he’s always wanted to be a “depth player”, not a star player that’s going to get all the attention from the other team’s defense.

When all the talk of extending Hossa last year in Atlanta came up, and Hossa was talking about getting “more talent” in Atlanta. I argued that Hossa needs to realize “HE IS the top line talent.” There really is only one place in the league where Hossa can be happy… it’s Detroit. The only reason it works is because guys take paycuts to keep a winning environment.

Jim Rutherford is the best GM in the league… no one is taking paycuts to play in Carolina. Star players aren’t being served up on silver platters to Rutherford like in Detroit. That team has been built out of perfect lateral trading to find the right chemistry. Good drafting backed up by ownership building a team around them doesn’t hurt either. They didn’t draft Eric Staal and make him THE guy in Carolina… he had Ron Francis and Rod Brindamour.

We draft Patrik Stefan and then back him up with $11 million in team salary… we draft Kovalchuk and Heatley… they play on the top line with Ray Ferraro and a $17 million supporting cast.

… and I’ll stop, because I’m starting to make ownership comments. :)

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
10:05 am

I’m gonna drag this over from the last blog…

Does not surprise me that Waddell would have a different top 3 than most of the other teams. The other teams scout and draft well. I would really like to know who his top 3 are.

I think Waddell agrees on the Top 3, just in a different order… Currently, it’s Tavares, Duchene and Hedman 1,2,3… I think, judging by Waddell’s comments, he has it Hedman, Tavares, Duchene.

Thrashers27

May 26th, 2009
11:20 am

Hokie, I think it was just an insight into the realization that none of those choices will be around when it comes to the fourth pick, so it’s really nothing to consider, unless he’s going to trade up.

MB

May 26th, 2009
11:27 am

Hossa’s playoff career seems to be very segmented, with the exception of the hiccup that was the Thrashers v. Rangers series.

The first segment, when he was in his early 20s, featured two sweeps and a six-game series. Through those 14 games, Marian contributed all of 4 points.

The next three seasons, both the Sens and Hoss performed better, with him tallying 30 points in 37 games. Not bad at all, though I’m sure the Ottawa faithful would have liked to have seen more than 12 goals from him.

Add the 1 point for us in the Rangers series, and certainly his overall #s (before the last two seasons) don’t look impressive, but upon closer inspection, I think more was made of his playoff struggles than was deserved.

Alan

May 26th, 2009
11:30 am

Stroz hit the nail on the head, here. You don’t handcuff the GM if playing at max cap didn’t help. You either fire his ass, or you bring in an adviser to help. What we’ve witnessed over the years since the Spirit took over is a slashing of the “internal” cap to the floor. And with that also comes old re-tread third liners being brought in and playing top line spots with the coach hoping for the best, while the GM talks about how much those guys will improve the team.

Male bovine excrement.

Now, we all watched – mostly in awe – at the incredible turnaround last season. 22-18-1 isn’t making the playoffs, but it’s a start. It means all four lines started to click, and the defense picked it up a bit. However, this does not mean you should leave things alone and hope for the best by bringing in a few more third liners. This is a major test for the ownership and management. You have to bring in some good players for once. Top six forwards and top four defensemen are not cheap – especially when you’re talking about a sunbelt team whose only glimpse of excellence came from selling the farm and a little luck.

Hope you’re reading this, Bruce. I’m not threatening to fight you in the middle of the street like LAC (and, really, he would relish the opportunity to show you his Thrashers-related frustration); however, I am threatening to spend my money elsewhere. Get this team in a position where it, and the good young core we have, can experience some modicum of success, or you can expect to lose a lot more season ticket holders and casual fans. You can expect to lose corporate dollars, buying up club level seating. And you can expect to lose folks like me, who decide they feel like attending, hop on MARTA, and grab a ticket or two at the box office.

The ice at the Verizon Center might be the worst in the league, but Bruce, you’re on thin ice. Bring success to this team, or you’re going to lose a lot more than you think. And I’m not just talking about losing to LAC in the street brawl, either. Put up or shut up. It’s as simple as that.

Oh, and Bruce? You should really have had someone from the IT field proofread your column before you published it. You got some technical details wrong. And do respond to us here. Despite how much we dislike the way the franchise has been run, I’m sure we would all like more interaction. If you’re serious about growing the sport here, you should be willing to make yourself, as well as the rest of management, available to the fans. Even if it’s just here on the blog.

Kovalchuk wants to compete. For the cup. Get him the pieces he wants, and let’s get it done. No more screwing around.

Tony C.

May 26th, 2009
12:22 pm

Wow.

Nice post Alan

Tony C.

May 26th, 2009
1:08 pm

Cool little section from CBC’s “hotstove” section from the 23rd (Of note; LeBrunn’s comments on the #17/FUBAS meeting this past Thrusday-also Milbury’s reaction[wonder why he isn't a GM anymore?] and news about NHLPA & ESPN negotiations):

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/hockeynightincanada/hotstove/

Alan

May 26th, 2009
1:14 pm

Things are about to get interesting in Edmonton.

Sources tell TSN Pat Quinn will be announced as the new head coach at a news conference later today with former Rangers coach Tom Renney being named be the associate head coach.

Rawhide

May 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

Alan – Quinn and Renney…eh? Well, it looks like Oilers’ ownership didn’t simply call to ask Pat for someone else’s phone number. :smile:

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
1:25 pm

When you bankroll the GM at the payroll cap and he doesn’t produce a playoff caliber team, FIRE him. Instead, you cut the Thrasher payroll and expect better results, are you nuts? If the GM can’t produce at the payroll cap, how do you expect him to perform at the cap floor?

Okay, but how do you explain the team performing better at the cap floor when jettisoning Havelid and Schneider? Waddell actually did better at the cap floor then at max cap this past season.

… I’m not defending spending less money… just saying spending max cap doesn’t make the chemistry work on the ice.

This one line stood out to me in Waddell’s interview… this was in reference to Peverley.

We provide the opportunities and it’s up to players to take advantage of it.

Translation… when we’re cheap, players are going to get opportunities here that they can’t get elsewhere because there won’t be much top talent ahead of them.

What’s the big difference when you talk about Audette, Brunette, Savard, Dupuis and Belanger… and then you talk about Holik, Rucchin, McEachern, Abid, Fata, Sim, and Kapanen? This year, it’s Marty Reasoner. Excluding Savard, how much skill difference is there amongst that group? Why did some guys out perform others?

… well, what’s missing is the “reward”. When you bring in a dark horse, and he performs… retain him! Reward him! Instead of treating it like it was a fluke… that’s how you lose guys like Savard.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
1:28 pm

Dammit… stop making me talk about GM’s and ownership… argh.

Tony C.

May 26th, 2009
1:29 pm

kracker

May 26th, 2009
1:43 pm

A Finnish hockey mag or website is publishing that Salmela has signed a 2-yr contract extension. Sweet! That’s one RFA checked off on Waddell’s off-season list of things to do.

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=fi&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jatkoaika.com%2Fnhl.php%3Fsivu%3Duutiset%26id%3D9319&sl=fi&tl=en&history_state0=&swap=1

Alan

May 26th, 2009
1:46 pm

Okay, but how do you explain the team performing better at the cap floor when jettisoning Havelid and Schneider?

The team got young with a quickness, with fresh new blood. Compound that with the absolute likelihood that opposing teams just didn’t take Atlanta seriously, and you’ve got your answer. We loved seeing the team perform, and perform well at that, but teams like Atlanta, NY Islanders, and Tampa Bay were just looked upon as schedule fodder. Nothing more, nothing less. You can tell by the comments made by many opposing coaches after a loss to our Thrashers.

We need more than just something that could be looked upon as circumstantial. We need solid results early in the year. The 18 games post-deadline isn’t much of a sample size.

R. Stroz

May 26th, 2009
1:55 pm

GaVaHokie – Fairly, simple. Top ten draft picks and wire pickups who usually equate to hungry players.

Given enough top ten draft picks, I’m sure either of us could field a competitive team.

BTW, without Schneider and Williams salary numbers, the Thrashers would have been below the salary floor. It’s not like Waddell tried to spend money on salary, the league rules forced him to do so.

Anyway, the point is simple. If ownership lost faith in Waddell as evidenced by the salary dump, why not just fire the guy?

Besides Hokie, someone has to keep you on subject. Chuckle, Chuckle.

DW and FUBAS

May 26th, 2009
1:55 pm

Good strategy, Tony C..

All we gotta do is get the first or second pick four years in a row and pick no brainers like Malkin, Crosby and Staal. Maybe we get lucky on a goalie like Fleury, too.

Thanks for giving us the heads up. We’re really gonna suck next year, man. We owe it all to you.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
2:24 pm

All we gotta do is get the first or second pick four years in a row and pick no brainers like Malkin, Crosby and Staal. Maybe we get lucky on a goalie like Fleury, too.

:) … yeah, I’m not quite sure what DW and FUBAS was supposed to “get” out of that article.

Stroz… Lost faith as evidenced by the salary dump!? Are you talking about jettisoning players at the trade deadline to free up millions in unnecessary spending and gain assets for the summer? Is a good GM supposed to hold all those players until the end of the season?… I don’t understand how that equates to loss of faith. Especially when one of those salary dumps was Havelid, who is leaving for Sweden, and has now been replaced with Salmela who appears to have a 2-year extension.

Alan… there were several teams there at the end of the season hungry for a playoff spot… Florida, Colorado, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, New York, Edmonton, Buffalo.

You can tell by the comments made by many opposing coaches after a loss to our Thrashers.

… seriously, like who, and what did they say?

Brendan

May 26th, 2009
2:29 pm

Well, the strategy, in theory, works. Pens drafted 1st overall, then 2nd overall. Then 1st overall again, followed by yet another 2nd overall draft position.

Wait a minute! Sounds eerily familiar. Didn’t Atlanta draft 1st overall in 1999, then 2nd overall in 2000? And didn’t Atlanta draft 1st overall in 2001, and 2nd overall in 2001? Well, why don’t the Thrashers have a history that includes “back-to-back” trips to the Conference Finals?

Is it all really just due to “bad luck?” Could it be “poor officiating?” Is it due to the ice conditions? Or it is something more?

For what it’s worth, I think the Thrashers should come clean about its building project. I don’t think the fans will abandon them, if they’re ‘brought in’ on THE PLAN. And no, I don’t think the Thrashers are TRYYYYING to fail. I call it, “a natural progression.” I doubt there’s any actual intent to perform WORSE on some annual basis. But they PAY for a botton third of the league roster and, not unexpectedly, they get it.

In Pittsburgh, the players were retained or swapped out for useful pieces that continued to move their franchise forward. And when accountability was necessary, it OCCURRED. Craig Hartsburg was shown the door during the process. Also, very recently, just this past season, Michel Therrien was shown the door, with a contract that won’t expire until 2011. In came people like GM Ray Shero, and Head Coach Dan Bylsma. Can anyone say, with certainty, that the Penguins won’t win the Stanley Cup this year?

For the Thrashers, the only casualty of “accountability” has been Bob Hartley, post-lockout. Yes, Curt Fraser was fired in 2002. But that was different ownership. In 2007-08, the team went 76-games without naming a Head Coach after Hartley was fired. The “visionary” of this club since its inception, was then asked to coach what he assembled. At first, the team did very well. An 11-4-1 stretch followed. But the team wound up in 28th place. Time for accountability? Apparently not. The next season saw a new Coach in place, hired on the morning of the draft, officially, but the team still finished with the same point total, in 27th position, league-wide. Time for accountability?

Stay tuned. But my feeling is … “probably not.” Have any of you ever been put in the uncomfortable position of trying to explain this to hockey fans in other markets? If so, how’d it go? Was it a positive experience? Did people agree with the decisions by the Atlanta Spirit, LLC? Let’s hear some positive feedback out there. Your homework is to find an article or articles praising the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, for their stewardship of its NHL franchise.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
2:31 pm

Oops… didn’t mean to mention Colorado in that list. ;)

Tony C.

May 26th, 2009
2:34 pm

Clearly, DW/FUBAS have been given the top-10 picks…the thing that was pointed out in that column is that the Penguins developed those top-10 picks I’ll go ahead and say that Crosby & Malkin vs. Heatley & Kovalchuk is pretty much a wash-the difference between the two organizations is that where Shapiro has used trades and FAs to augment those prime draft choices.

Conversely, DW/FUBAS have used FAs to try and “legitimize” the roster, and also have gotten FAs who have not helped develop our young talent but rather have superceded their development. Or in the case of some veteran FA choices, have been undermined the young players in the organization as well as disparaging the organization as a whole.

What I was suggesting is that instead of getting these great picks and then polishing the “diamonds in the rough”, DW/FUBAS have only recently seemed to consider that part of building a successful franchise is “growing from within”. Continually over the past 10 years, we’ve been told about “our exciting young talent in the system” yet come October, we’re icing a squad of retreads and almost-wheres.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
2:40 pm

Brendan… in a way, we are following that model… problem is, Patrick Stefan is no Crosby or Malkin… neither are the Sedin Twins, so don’t even use that excuse. ;)

We never backed up Kovy and Heatley in their entry salary years with guys like Mario Lemeiux and Sergei Gonchar, either.

Take a look at the team salaries and the highest salaried players for Atlanta during the entry level years of Kovy and Heatley.

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

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
3:00 pm

Tony… I think we’re kinda making the same point… I use to refer to it as the Kovy and Heatley “Dog and Pony” show… “come one, come all… watch these youngsters score highlight reel goals while still losing to your favorite team from New York”.

Alan

May 26th, 2009
3:08 pm

… seriously, like who, and what did they say?

That information is pretty basic. The only way I can see you missing it is if you didn’t read any game recaps. If that’s the case, I’m not doing the dirty work for you. :P

Tony C.

May 26th, 2009
3:09 pm

Hokie-exactly!

It’s not that PGH was given such a different set of opportunities-but rather the way the organization has utilized said opportunities; one a model of “biting the bullet” and taking the hits, while building for a much brighter future – the other is a study in makeshift patches all but ensuring year-in, year-out mediocrity or worse.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
3:30 pm

Darkhorse

May 26th, 2009
3:58 pm

Nice link Tony C on the Hot Stove from the CBC last week. Mike Milbury is such an idiot. That’s someone who I would bet my house note in Vegas on that would do a worse job than DW as GM here. I wouldn’t let that guy even train my own dog.

kracker-Nice find on the Salmela rumor. Anyone been able to confirm it. Would be nice to have a fulltime beat writer here that could sniff out the truth.

Brendan

May 26th, 2009
4:04 pm

Hokie, definitely, the 1999 draft wasn’t goldmine. For the longest time, pick #26, Martin Havlat, was thought to be the “prize” of that draft year. Pick #23, Steve McCarthy, wound up here, briefly. He mostly spend time up in the pressbox. Patrik Stefan is something I don’t blame Waddell for. Others do. But, if I recall correctly, four out of five hockey publications listed Stefan as the #1 choice for the first pick in the draft. Where you can fault Waddell on the selection of Stefan is his history of concussions. But even the league scouting department was willing to overlook that one. So, if everyone was wrong, then that’s not a Waddell mistake. Likewise, I offer not an ounce for praise for Waddell on the Kovalchuk selection. That’s still a “consensus” pick, that my Aunt Bertha could pull off. And my Aunt Bertha, God Bless her, doesn’t know a fraction of what Don Waddell does. She’s only been to one (1) game in her life.

So yes, the Penguins were fortunate that the 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 drafts were so fortified at its top positions. Winning the Crosby sweepstakes, to me, reflects the greatest wildcard in the series of draft years. With that blessing from above, came a natural desire to spend to a cap limit. Which I think the Pens did, while not making the playoffs.

For me, the turning point of the franchise pre-dates the Snyder tragedy. It was the 2002 Draft, when the organization didn’t come away with either Nash or Bouwmeester, instead investing a 5-year long goalie development program. Today, Cam Ward, pick #22, may be regarded as the prized goaltender to emerge from that draft year. Bygones.

What’s done is done. It can’t be undone. So, it’s now … what are the organization’s plans, moving forward, when so little money is actually committed to roster players for the coming years? Who’s actually under contract past 2010? Todd White, right? And Ron Hainsey. Maybe Anssi Salmela? Who else?

This represents a golden opportunity to re-examine what a different approach, including a different GM, might achieve? The Falcons went with Dimitroff and Smith, got to the playoffs, with an 11-5 record. The Hawks went with Sund, after Billy Knight resigned. And they won a round of playoff action. Would it really be the end of the world to replace Waddell as GM, to confirm this club has a “pulse,” and to send a message to the fanbase that they are not going to watch another star player leave, in a 25th-26th place finish for the 2009-10 season?

Alan

May 26th, 2009
4:06 pm

Pretty much, Hokie. The argument could be made that those comments weren’t made by coaches; however, there were some recaps that included coaches comments along the same lines of “this team sucks, so we should have beat them handily.”

The season ending results in a throwaway year like this year were great. But I’m not sold. Let’s see what happens in the first 18 games this coming season instead.

LAC

May 26th, 2009
4:11 pm

Have to say we have a VERY SPRITED Group on this blog, more Heart & Soul
here than the owners will ever have !!! Great Group of TRUE Hockey Fans !!!!!!!!!

What I sense is just another year where we do not spend to get in top UFA’s. Granted the playoffs are not done, but it looks like more on the CHEAP for Thrashers. Where has that taken us so far ? BACKWARDS !

Everyone needs to remember comments by STAR players who are and have been here. They are in a position to know, but most agree the team is
not improving. Twice in the past two seasons #17 has called for changes and what happens, CHEAP moves, waiver pickups andthe same crap that will NOT WIN, let alone get us in the playoffs.

But you see Calgary changing coaches, Minnesota too, on so on,
Look at Washington last season and where they are now because they made changes…. Why can’t the Thrashers DUMP waddell, he is a failure of the highest order, a career loser,with NO idea of what he is doing.

Everyone on this blog see’s it, why not these IDIOT owners ?

Jim Rutherford has done an EXCELLENT job in Raleigh, they type GM
you want to play for, their OWNER too !!!! Just wish we could start over and avoid the mess that is The Atlanta Thrashers !

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
4:16 pm

The only part that bothers me with Salmela is the 1-way part… I’d like to see more flexibility in case we bring in a Top 4 D-man… Salmela might be looking at a lot of press box time. Valabik and Exelby will most likely be the bruiser 3rd pairing, unless Anderson wants to develop more chemistry with Valabik and Salmela from the end of the season.

… which would pave the way to an Exelby trade at the draft. Would they dare trade a fan favorite with so many STHer’s in the balance?

Brendan

May 26th, 2009
4:38 pm

I think Exelby is still a very popular player. But, he’s got a year left on his contract. If he can actually be packaged in a deal that makes the club stronger, I’d “greenlight” that project. Then again, I didn’t DRAFT Exelby, nor feel a sense of fatherly obligation to guide and direct the player, either. I’m also not someone looking to point to my latter round draft selections to say, “SEEE! A got a couple of 7th rounders in my starting lineup! I’m a draft day GURU!” Allright, enough hyperbole. But you get the point.

I want what’s best for the club. I’d certainly wish Exelby the best, moving forward. And I wouldn’t boo him upon his return to Philips Arena. Along the blueline, I’d like to have Komisarek and/or Beauchemin, if that were actually doable. With Bogosian, Enstrom, Valabik and Hainsey, that’s a decent-enough group of defenders. Let Salmella/Grant Lewis/Nathan Oystrick fill in where they can. Darren Eliot called Nathan Oystrick “a revelation” last November. I sure hope we don’t lose him; he is a pending unrestricted free agent. Also, we picked up C. Wilson in the Jason Williams trade to Columbus. I think he needs a contract, if he’s to be retained. Decisions on Joey Crabb, Mike Hoffman, etc., are coming due fairly soon, too. If Atlanta has re-signed Anssi Salmella, I’d sure hope the team announces it on its website soon.

Thrashers27

May 26th, 2009
4:47 pm

Don’t forget that Postma is in that mix o D-men as well. I really think we’re in a great position to trade off at least two decent blueliners…especially if Nikulin gets his rear in gear.

GaVaHokie

May 26th, 2009
4:56 pm

Someone posted the other day that Nikulin re-upped with Kazan… could also be speculation though.

Wouldn’t mind trading Exelby to Chicago in a package for Cam Barker. It gives Chicago an affordable veteran presence in Exelby before they have to start throwing $4 million salaries at Cam Barker (RFA).

Another option is Jack Johnson in LA, who seems to want out of every situation he’s been in… why not add Atlanta to the list? ;)

Brendan

May 26th, 2009
6:03 pm

Ya know, Hokie, I see Exelby as a great fit in Chicago. I think they’d really like him there and he’d like to play in a great hockey city like Chicago. Of course, I’m also thinking that Chicago would like to keep Cam Barker, if at all possible. Or package his rights in a deal that brings better than Exelby as the return. But I’d be happy to pull the trigger on that one! Yes, I would!

Jack Johnson’s unhappy in L.A.? I’ve wanted him since his draft year. First Cammalleri wants out, now Johnson, too? If this rumor is true, that is. Hmmn. I know L.A. had the lowest cap hit team in the NHL last year. That’s the first immediate thought that comes to mind. But I suspect L.A. will pay its draft picks what it takes to keep them there. That’s all part of their plan.

Folks, I actually absolve such teams. I do. It makes sense to spend like a drunken sailor on shore leave when you’re “close” to winning the Cup. It doesn’t make nearly as much sense when you’re smack dab in the middle of a rebuilding project. (I.E., you pay for a lower echelon team and get bottom third of the league results, reloading via the lottery draft and waiver wire.)

I can’t even begin to imagine Jack Johnson here. Wow. With Bogosian and Enstrom and Hainsey and Valabik. That’d be the beginnings of something really good. And it’ll cost us plenty, as the contracts come due. But THAT’S THE OTHER HALF of the rebuilding project. It does REQUIRE that you spend like a politician in an election year once the team gets good enough/deep enough to compete for the big silver trophy.

R. Stroz

May 26th, 2009
6:40 pm

Doesn’t the NHL combine start today? Has anyone run across any reports yet?

Sage of Bluesland

May 26th, 2009
6:50 pm

“…Hope you’re reading this, Bruce. I’m not threatening to fight you in the middle of the street like LAC (and, really, he would relish the opportunity to show you his Thrashers-related frustration); however, I am threatening to spend my money elsewhere….”

Gee, I wonder where I’ve heard this before? Is there an echo in here based on what I’ve stated, oh, countless times before?

Oh well, I was right about the fraud that is Don Waddell–and will be proven right again and again. It will be humorous to see those sheep still in the dark finally turn the light of logic and common-sense on and proclaim, “I can see now! It’s obvious what is wrong here!”.

Glad you finally made it to the party, Alan…

kracker

May 26th, 2009
6:53 pm

OMG, some goof ball voted for Alex Bourret in the new poll as the best recent #1 draft pick! lol They deserve to be outed, in my opinion. Bourret was the best for some other teams, since Waddell left actual players on the board.

Thrashers27

May 26th, 2009
6:57 pm

Barker would be nice to have, but with our logjam @ D I’d rather see a RW in return.

kracker

May 26th, 2009
7:00 pm

I probably shouldn’t have said ‘goof ball’, it could have been some passerby jerking our chain or just a mis-vote. But Bourret? ugh Nobody could really mean to vote for that guy.

R. Stroz

May 26th, 2009
7:23 pm

kracker – Levenson must have voted.

Thrashers27

May 26th, 2009
7:30 pm

Stroz, according to TSN.ca the combine started yesterday. I don’t see any info on it anywhere either.

Glovesave29

May 26th, 2009
7:59 pm

Let’s have a moment of silence for the tough as nails gritty forward Peter Zezel, who lost his fight today to a rare form of blood cancer at the tender age of 44. He, Wickenhiser and Snyder were all cut of the same cloth, those undersized guys who would fight like hell. Every team needs at least one.

kracker

May 26th, 2009
7:59 pm

Alan’s buddy Eklund has just bumped up Komisarek to a 15% chance of coming to Atlanta on his rumor chart. He also has Stephane Yelle at a 30% chance which is just the kind of guy DW used to go for. Resist the temptation, Donnie….Just to throw it out there, the rest of Eklund’s divinings for the Thrash are Thomas Pock (10%), Andrew Raycroft (20%), Eric Perrin (40%) big fail, Rob Niedermayer (20%), Dean McAmmond (40%) no Donnie no, Ian Laperriere (10%), Ken Klee!!!! (40%), Andy Hilbert (60%) another DW special, Chris Gratton (10%), Steve Begin (70%???), Tyler Arnason (60%) groan, I should have stopped at Komisarek.