My Fellow Thrashervillians, Our Long Summertime Offseason Is Over

Ok…well, maybe the summer isn’t exactly “over” just yet. But it’s sure beginning to feel that way to me given what is on schedule for Thrashers fans…indeed for the fans of all NHL teams…over the next couple of weeks.

The last time we saw the Thrashers skate in a game was last April 11 when they were smackin’ the Buh-JEE-zus out of Tampa Bay 6-2 to end the 2008-09 campaign. Like many of you, I just wasn’t ready for the season to come to a close given the way the team had played down the stretch. But…the hockey gods only give 82 regular season games each year and…barring a trip to the springtime tournament for Lord Stanley’s Cup…to the offseason ye shall go.

Peverley, Kovy, White and all the gang are ready to hit the ice at training camp

Peverley, Kovy, White and all the gang are ready to hit the ice at training camp (AP photo/Gregory Smith)

Since that time we’ve watched as Sidney and The Crosbiteers skated away with the cup…welcomed the re-signing of centerman Marty Reasoner…applauded the acquisition of new Associate GM Rick Dudley…cheered as Don Waddell used his 4th overall draft pick on Evander Kane… said hello to veteran defenseman Pavel Kubina, while at the same time saying good-bye to Garnet Exelby…greeted with excitement the news that Nik Antropov had signed a 4-year deal to play in Atlanta…realized Ilja Nikulin was jilting us yet again…got a nice mid-summers hockey tease with prospect camp…learned of several depth players being brought in…waved bye-bye to Eric Perrin who set sail to the KHL…sweated out yet another lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng August…and now, with the Thrashers prospect’s 5-4 shootout win bringing to a close their participation in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, we are heading full steam into training camp.

That’s right dudes and dudettes… looks like we are at the brink of season number ten of Thrashers hockey!

This weekend many of us will make our way out to the Ice Forum in Duluth to help welcome the team back as training camp officially gets underway. There we’ll again feel the cool rink air…listen to the shouts of coaches as they bellow out instructions…hear the sweet, melodic sound of blades slicing through the ice and sticks slapping puck against the boards…and greet fellow Thrashers fans and friends, many of whom we haven’t seen since last we gathered in Thrasherville’s main cathedral of hockey…Philips Arena.

Ahhhhh…for hockey fans, this is our spring!

Of course, one of the players that we’ll have a sharp eye on is Mr. Kane. This past week in Travers City the 18-year old took yet another step in proving himself worthy of the status that comes with being picked so high in the draft. In four games played he scored five goals, at least one in every game, and finished with six points. He scored twice Thursday against Columbus, the second time with but 9 seconds left to tie the game…then scored on his shootout attempt…as the Thrashers beat the Blue Jackets 5-4. The six points scored overall tied him with Andrew Kozek, (3 goals and 3 assists), for the team lead…they were both one point off the overall pace of seven points achieved by Columbus’ Matt Calvert and St. Louis’ Aaron Palushaj. The five goals scored and 20 shots taken by Kane tied him with Calvert for the tournament high in both of those stats.

Evander Kane had 5 goals and an assists in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament AJC photo Hyosub Shin

Evander Kane had 5 goals and an assists in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament (AJC photo/Hyosub Shin)

Kozek had 18 SOG, which tied him with Carolina’s Brandon Sutter for the second most.

As is the case every time this season, some questions surround the Thrashers as they head into camp…can Kane make the squad or is another year’s worth of development in order?…What’s the story with Kari Lehtonen’s back?…What about the penalty kill?…Can this defense operate to the level that will allow the team to have at least an outside shot at the playoffs?

And ya know, speaking of the defense… given how I feel the offense will do this year, the blueline doesn’t necessarily have to function at the level of a finely tuned Swiss watched every night… just as long as it doesn’t more resemble Swiss cheese.

And of course…the mother of all questions going into training camp…can Waddell actually get Kovalchuk to ink a deal before the season starts?

This will all unfold before us as the next few weeks play out. But for now…

The offseason’s end draws nigh.

Training camp is upon us.

Preseason starts Thursday and the first home exhibition match is the Monday following.

The puck drops on a new season three weeks from tomorrow.

My fellow Thrashervillians, our long summer offseason is over!

131 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

September 11th, 2009
12:17 pm

FIRST, or GOLD

FormerIslesFan

September 11th, 2009
12:21 pm

I have it on good authority (R5) that Kovy is back in Atlanta and practicing with the rest of the Thrashers that are in town at the Ice Forum.

“Well, FIF,” you ask, “how do you know that?” Well, see, Lilibeter called me on the way into work this morning to tell me that she just pulled next to an SL600 on the 85N. When I asked her why she was telling me this, she was all excited and said, “because Kovy is driving it!” That was the exit before the exit for the Ice Forum in Duluth…

World Be Free

September 11th, 2009
12:22 pm

Looking forward to live hockey, instead of the endless repeats of the 2009 playoffs on NHL Network.

Daculafan

September 11th, 2009
12:39 pm

Thank all that is holy!!

We still have many questions to be answered before the puck drops at the Bulb or the season..but the drought is over…it’s time to get a drink of that water known as Hockey

See you guys at the forum on Sunday!!

Smoothie

September 11th, 2009
12:43 pm

Wooooo hoooooo!!! 3 weeks till Opening Night!! Cannot wait!

Great blog Tillzy!!

Toby

September 11th, 2009
12:54 pm

Just put this on the last bloggers…

Good interview with Kane. Looks more and more like the spot is his. He does say he’s up to 190 lbs. now.

http://communities.canada.com/theprovince/blogs/dubhub/default.aspx

Russian

September 11th, 2009
12:54 pm

I will come at Sunday also. I really want to see whole team together. Great Post! How many days left? IT IS 21 days. Let’s Go Thrashers!

Riceowls8891

September 11th, 2009
12:55 pm

NO! NO! Hockey starts monday night. Or, aren’t you going to the propsects games? (Seriously in hockey withdrawal)

Russian

September 11th, 2009
12:57 pm

**to Toby**
No way, Man!
He got 190 lbs. What did he eat? Whole Cow? :-)

Rawhide

September 11th, 2009
1:00 pm

Daculafan – See ya there, buddy!

Riceowls8891 – I’ll be there Monday night and Tuesday afternoon. Will we see you there as well?

Toby

September 11th, 2009
1:08 pm

Sunday…bright and early! Can’t wait :)

Sara

September 11th, 2009
1:37 pm

Kane wasn’t training with Norm Maracle was he?

J.B.

September 11th, 2009
1:43 pm

I’ll be there on Sunday with Lil’ J.B. in tow early as well. He’s got that on his jersey, so feel free to say hi if you see us.

Anyone know where good overflow parking can be found where I won’t have to worry about getting towed? According to Ben, 62 are on the camp roster; pretty sure there’s that many spaces at the Ice Forum, much less any left for fans!

BTW – Russian, didn’t you say a couple of posts ago that Zherdev told the russian media he was coming to the states on the 12th? Do you have any more details or a link to that?

Smoothie

September 11th, 2009
1:49 pm

With that big fat signing bonus Evander got in July, I reckon it would be pretty easy for a growing 18 y/o boy to eat whatever, whenever, and however he wants! If he’s in the gym just about every day lifting, 7-10 lbs is attainable. I don’t know if he packed on 14 lbs since May though. Even at 185, he’ll have a much better shot at making the team.

Viking

September 11th, 2009
1:54 pm

RAWHIDE & Co,

There must be some built-in troubles in the blog software. Today, I have twice been in the midst of making a comment and boom – everything’s gone!

Midfield

September 11th, 2009
1:57 pm

I have a personal favor to ask of you, Rawhide. Could you please refrain to mention Sidney Crosby if you don’t really have to? It’s enough that the league ordered all the paddlers to mention his name every 15 minutes during the “Sidney Crosby identification” pause.

Thrashy Thrashy

September 11th, 2009
2:00 pm

Norm “All I Need Is A” Maracle “All I Need Is Food”

I would have paid to hear Chris Berman say that. In fact, I’d still pay to hear him say that.

Rawhide

September 11th, 2009
2:03 pm

Viking – The techno-wizards at Rawhide Central are aware of the situation and are currently moving towards remedying this situation in a prompt and timely manner.

BTW, I slipped ‘em all a couple of donuts and Moon Pies to bribe them, so it should be taken care of soon.

Midfield – So noted and logged, sir!

LAC

September 11th, 2009
2:08 pm

WBF I agree 10,000% these 2009 playoff repeats are BORING as watching grass grow.

I also agree with Midfield, ENOUGH speaking the name of that crotch beater sniviling punk Crotchby… He has NO respect for the Game of Hockey, The Fans or his teamates, only want 100% attention on him 100% of the time. What a waste for a slighty better than average player, Not worth all the hype or glory, just a backstabbing PUNK, who…
I hope Boris PLASTERS into the boards and brakes his back for what he did !!! WOW What a nice repayment by Big Boris….

Midfield

September 11th, 2009
2:08 pm

Thank you, Rawhide. The load’s off. I can enjoy my Friday to the fullest now.

Toby

September 11th, 2009
2:26 pm

Promising answers from Kovy in an interview on the Blueland Blog:

What do you think of the moves the team made over the summer?

Kovy: “I think the team is going in the right direction. We brought in guys with experience who know how to win and that’s very important.”

Do you expect the team to have a better year than last season?

Kovy: “For sure. It looks like we will. We’re getting bigger and we’re getting stronger. Our young guys like Bogo (Zach Bogosian) and Litts (Bryan Little), and now Kane are very good. We have an all round better team and I really believe we are going to be better.”

Zoomo

September 11th, 2009
2:31 pm

It’s like Christmas Eve. Nice blog to get us fired up, Bill. I’m sure I’ll drop by the rink at some point on Sunday and I’ll be there with my 7-year old on Monday for the prospect game.

PuckedUp

September 11th, 2009
2:46 pm

Looking forward to hockey. Gets the mind off being unemployed.

Russian

September 11th, 2009
3:02 pm

**to JB**
Yes. He should be in USA at September 12. I do not have any news. I hope we will see him at Sunday in Duluth. It will be Great. :-)

World Be Free

September 11th, 2009
3:23 pm

You just wonder what the Kovy thinks of Zherdev and if he will give it a push.

LAC-I was even looking for some OLD Canadians’ playoff games I had on VHS! Can’t find ‘em-nothing like seeing a game called by Danny Gallivan, the best play by play man ever.

Pam on Weck

September 11th, 2009
3:38 pm

Does anyone have stats on how many 4th overall picks make their NHL team out of training camp? And also well those same 4ths do for their rookie season? It seems like Kane really has a shot at it.

J.B.

September 11th, 2009
3:47 pm

Russian- Thanks. I’m curious as to why he would publicly set a date for his return stateside when currently he really doesn’t have a reason to return by a specific date… like the day a particular team’s training camp activities begin. Very interesting. But, this entry isn’t about Z, so I’ll quit typing and see y’all on Sunday morning.

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
4:32 pm

Danny Gallivan was one of the best, WBF. Truly.

Rawhide, a very inspiring blog today. It has seemed like a very, very long offseason. I have enjoyed the 2008 and 2009 playoff rewind on NHL Network, but it’s time to see some games whose OUTCOME we don’t already know in advance.

I had really thought, back in April, that Mike Komisarek would have joined Atlanta’s blueline. But he wound up elsewhere. I also thought we might try out Steve Montador. But he, likewise, went elsewhere. I never envisioned Nikki Zherdev giving Atlanta the time of day, but it has been fun to speculate about him, lately. Nik Antropov wasn’t my first choice for a free agent signing, but it’s not an awful one. Plus, Kovy WANTED him. And if Kovy WANTS Zherdev, I’d say … it couldn’t be bad to add him, on a 1-year deal. That won’t hurt next year’s budget.

R. Stroz

September 11th, 2009
5:09 pm

Make Kovy Happy, Sign Zherdev for 1 Year, Re-Sign KOvy, Sell Tickets

Pan on Weck – Any ideas on a logo/slogan for your Rawhide’s Rowdies idea.

Hockey Biltong

September 11th, 2009
5:37 pm

Brendan – 91 points.$51million cap. 2nd place s.e. 5th place in east.

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
6:05 pm

Hockey Biltong, you’re registered at $51,000,000, just underneath “rightshot,” who has $51,200,000. “dwayne” is right under you, at $50,900,000. Also, you are locked in at 91-points, with tie-breakers being 2nd in the SE and 5th in the Conference.

Shifting gears, I just want to thank Garnet Exelby for 5 seasons and change of service to the Atlanta Thrashers. I remember him breaking into the league with those two fights, like it was yesterday. Garnet had his following here. Even if he does a “face plant” at Center Ice in Toronto, he has FANTASTICALLY OVERACHIEVED in his hockey career. Exelby was a 7th round pick, 217th overall. He bounced between the middle and third pairings on defense. But he can tell ANYONE … I got drafted into the premier hockey league in the World, the NHL, and I cracked the lineup, playing over 350 games. Though he is a career -20, minus-21 of those came in the 2008 season. Exelby never set the world on fire, but WHO expected him to? To the best of my knowledge, Exelby played here without complaint. I’ve never heard him say a discouraging word about the Thrashers, the City of Atlanta, or Atlanta hockey fans.

I genuinely and sincerely wish Garnet Exelby the best with the Maple Leafs organization. Toronto is, perhaps, the single most scrutinizing hockey market in North America. I just hope they give him a chance. I believe Exelby is from Manitoba, so maybe they’ll ease up a bit, since he’s Canadian? But plenty of Canadians have played for the Leafs and been unmercifully crucified in the Toronto media. And scrutinized to the Nth degree. I’ll be watching Exelby on Center Ice and hoping he does well. Except against the Thrashers, of course. I think it would be classy for Atlanta fans to give him a nice ovation during the warmups and if he should happen to be announced as part of the starting lineups when the Leafs visit Philips Arena. But remember, Exelby is now “fair game” for Boris Valabik, or any other Thrasher, to grab and pound.

Midfield

September 11th, 2009
6:36 pm

Amen, Brendan

ben

September 11th, 2009
6:40 pm

Brendan, I too miss Garnett. But Le Thrash is / has moved on. You know what would be classy, putting his name, not number, in the rafters. Or naming a trophy given to an unlikely rookie who made good. On a related note retiring Snyder’s number would be class too. I just want to put it out there that if Z-Man shows up this year, I’ll be cheering. Soo let’s just clear that up right now. My objections were purely fiscal.

R. Stroz

September 11th, 2009
6:51 pm

OK, I’ve waited long enough.

I’m hoping/guessing Zherdev gets signed, so here are my predictions.

1) Budget $50 million

2) 100 points

3) 1st in the SE division and 3rd seed overall.

Riceowls8891

September 11th, 2009
7:04 pm

I’ll be there both days. Gotta get my lungs ready for the season. Is it bad form to heckle the refs in a prospect game? (Kidding).

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
7:12 pm

Allright, R.Stroz. You got your vote in “on time.” Everyone has until 11PM tonight, that’s Sept. 11th, to submit that budget vote. We have to cut it off somewhere. The season starts in 3 weeks. This is probably the “latest” we’ve ever let the Budget contest go.

R.Stroz, you’re in at $50,000,000. On the nose. Your point total guess is now the highest, at 100. That would set a franchise record. In 2007, the Thrashers won the SE Division, with 97-points. You are also locked in with a 1st place finish in the SE Division, ahead of both Washington and Carolina. And, you also have Atlanta seeded 3rd in the Eastern Conference. Man, I hope your pick wins!!!

So far, R.Stroz is the only guess to win the division. But we do have five (5) 2nd place finishes projected, by J.B., Thrashers27, rightshot, dwayne, and ben. And we have nine (9) votes that project the Thrashers to be a playoff team. That’s a lot of positive momentum.

Sigh Zherdev already, to support these optomistic Thrasher fans! Get ‘er done!

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
7:14 pm

Freedom of speech allows it, Riceowls. I’d say, “if the spirit moves you.”

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
7:17 pm

ben, Midfield, … what do you think of giving Exelby a radio gig job, like Jeff Odgers has right now, once XLB’s playing days are through?

Brendan

September 11th, 2009
7:31 pm

I’m still a little surprised the Thrashers haven’t retired the #37 yet. What are they waiting for? It’s been more than five years since the crash. Coming up on six, on September 29th. Snyder’s death anniversary is in October, however. Forgive me for resurrecting any of that. But really, why wait to retire the number? I heard that. Whoever just yelled, “But Brendan, they’re not going to let anyone else wear #37, anyway.” Probably so. That’s a good point. But why not formalize it? There’s got to be someone else in the league who wears #37, who could, one fine day, be traded to Atlanta. Okay, I heard that, too. “Then they’d force him to pick a different number.” I suppose these kinds of arguments could go on forever.

kracker

September 11th, 2009
7:47 pm

Ben > “Or naming a trophy given to an unlikely rookie who made good.”

That could be appropriate, not a trophy per se but maybe sort of an informal GE achievement award for guys that make it from the last couple of rounds or even less likely as an invitee. The criteria could be sort of vague and left up to the players to decide when and if a player earns it.

Riceowls8891

September 11th, 2009
8:20 pm

If the Breakaway Grill is open beforehand, the spirits may move me. Not that I need much help.

Smoothie

September 11th, 2009
8:28 pm

Okay Brendan, I’ll go with an Opening Night cap hit of $48,774,179.39 to go along with my points prediction of 89 points. Is that what I gave you the first time? 89 pts with a 3rd place / 9th place finish?

Also, I say Kovy signs a 2 yr extension the day before the Casino Night preceedings whenever the hell that is this year. Since there is no AS break and January has a full slate of Saturday games, I’m not sure when this will be scheduled…Friday, January 8th??

ben

September 11th, 2009
8:42 pm

yeah Brendan

Sara

September 11th, 2009
8:55 pm

Brendan – Peverley wore #37 in Nashville…so now you know they won’t give it out.

Snyder was a great guy and the whole thing blew, but officially retiring numbers is for players who have made very significant contributions to a team. Snyder was a 3rd/4th line grinder and never even played a full season. Thus, his number becomes unofficially retired, much the same way Detroit has done with Vladdy’s #16 (who played for the team for years and won a Stanley Cup to boot). Plus, unofficially retired numbers are actually pretty common.

Scotty

September 11th, 2009
9:22 pm

great blog again Rawhide. And as always, the comments here are simply the best! Its been a long, long summer hasn’t it? I’m pumped to get this season started!

Brendan, please put me down for 91 points for the Thrashers and they will finish in 3rd place in the southeast division and 9th in the east.

I agree with Sara about the #37. I don’t think it shold be officially retired but it should never be worn by another Thrasher again. That they made Peverley take another number shows that the team thinks the same and I’m ood with that.

Pam on Wrek, maybe a slogan could go along with the Rawhide’s Rowdies logo like “We were Rowdy when Rowdy wasn’t cool”.

Dwayne

September 11th, 2009
9:37 pm

Is it bad form to heckle the refs in a prospect game? (Kidding).
No, its never bad to heckle the refs.

Brendan

September 12th, 2009
12:28 am

Well, Sara makes a good point, Scotty. Does Dan Snyder hold any team records? Pause. I don’t think so. A retired number usually is given out for longstanding years of service, or being a team leader for goals or points, or playoff leadership. Or in the case of goalies, wins, shutouts, playoff performances, and championships delivered. Scotty, you’re in for 91-points, 3rd in SE, and 9th in the Conference.

Smoothie, I have you down for 89-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 8th, not 9th, in the Conference. If you want to switch it to 9th in Conference, that’s fine. You can change it all the way until “puck drop” of Opening Night. As can anyone else. So, R.Stroz, if Zherdev never comes, you can ammend your pick, between now and “puck drop” for the Points contest.

But … **Announcement Alert** … (1) all guesses for the 2009 “Opening Night” budget are now over. As in, “Oh-vahh.” That contest has completed. No more entries are being accepted. At this point, you go to http://www.nhlnumbers.com and go click on the ATL tab, then gaze at the “cap hit number” at the bottom of the screen. Whatever that says … at “puck drop” is the official number, for purposes of our little AJC.com contest. Whoever guessed the closest to that number, whether above, below or exactly that number, is the winner of the contest. And hopefully, they will update the site soon, as they are a tad bit behind, but I think they’ll catch up by puck drop, in October. Those were the announced rules for that contest, as posted back on August 28, 2009.

**Announcement #2** … there are no more guesses for the Kovalchuk re-signing contest. That, likewise, concluded. Back in JUNE. If you correctly guessed the date, but never entered the contest, well kudos, but you didn’t win the contest. The winning guess will belong to the poster, or posters, who made the guesses DURING the voting period … of April 11, 2009 to I think it was June 17, 2009. Kovalchuk became eligible for contract renewal on July 1, 2009. As a reminder to those who voted during the open dates for voting, you MUST CORRECTLY GUESS the team, not just the closest date, when Kovalchuk signs or re-signs with some club, in SOME league. (We allowed guesses for KHL teams, too.) In the contest, there were NO GUESSES for between September 10, 2009 and June 29, 2010. September 9th was guessed by Nikita. June 30, 2010, was guessed by Ranallo10 (in AT) and by Brendan, with 5PM and 8PM as “tie-breakers” for “time of day” for the contract announcement. If there is a Christmas re-signing, I believe it would be Nikita’s win. Officially. She’d be the closest, by about 3 months, compared to June 2010.

Tony C.

September 12th, 2009
4:21 am

Hey, I know everybody’s geeked to start thing moving towards the season (finally)….but uh, I got a small problem:

We got a bunch of tickets for the Sunday Falcons home-opener and well, one of our friends stiffed us…if anybody’d like to get a pair of tickets in section 204 for at/near face value (I’ll work with you, but need to recoup the loss). Please hit me up if you know my address or with Trixie’s good graces get in touch with Mr. T and let me know.

I’ll see you guys Monday or Tuesday @ the Forum.

Also, what do you guys make of Buccigross letting the cat out of the bag on the 3-way deal for the Crybaby/Marleau/Kopitar deal???

Lee

September 12th, 2009
7:33 am

brendan, plz put me down for 89 points, third in division, 9 in conference.

rawhide-great blog to get everyone pumped up for the season!

hope to be @ the forum!

Lee

September 12th, 2009
7:35 am

hope to see u guys there @ openin game!