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

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
12:21 pm

I liked Sara’s post, too, because she logically spelled out the argument. Well done. But here’s what I like to see happen.

I’d like to resurrect Archie Bunker, (From “All in the Family,”) to grab Bruce Levenson by the lapels, jigger him, and say, “Ain’tcha got no judgement in dere, Dingbat?”

My goodness, I’m not an advocate of violence, really. But if ever someone needed to be b!tchslapped … hard … by someone who REALLY KNOWS HOW … it’s Bruce. Let me see if I understand this argument correctly? The “face of the franchise” could possibly leave, taking HALF of the season ticket holders with him, and the ownership’s take on that is … “Why risk ONE MEASELY YEAR’S WORTH of “FULL” REVENUE-SHARING. We’re passing on Zherdev.”

Digest that one yet? But by signing Zherdev, defensive liabilities not withstanding, to a one-year deal … (1) they keep the “face of the franchise” happy and (2) they DON’T IMPACT NEXT YEAR’S CAP, ANNNNNND (3)they potentially put their team INTO THE PLAYOFFS … THIS SEASON … and still qualify for “partial” revenue-sharing dollars. And I did mention … that Playoff Revenue … is 100-PERCENT PURE PROFIT FOR THE OWNERS? Well, it is.

Even if Zherdev doesn’t work out, and the team misses the playoffs, and the owners don’t get “full” revenue-sharing dollars, it’s NOT BAD or WRONG. And here’s why. It SENT A MESSAGE about COMMITMENT … to the most important player to ever wear a Thrashers uniform … and it SPEAKS TO INTENT to win. Lest these things be IRRELEVANT. “Penny wise-pound foolish,” as well stated by Sara.

If I were Don Waddell, that is, DEALING WITH MORONS at Hockey Operations, I’d sit down with Bruce. Maybe slip some “thinking juice” into his coffee, and explain the benefit of having KANE ANNNNND Zherdev. As well as the possibility, if things are going great, of BUYING at the trade deadline, so long as we’re not giving away the farm, like we did in 2007. And then … PRAY … PRAY … that the synapses in Bruce’s brain will fire. And if that doesn’t work, appeal to Michael Gearon, who seems to have the most cranial capacity out of all of the Octocluster.

It’s times like these that I simply must DEFER to a David McDavid quote, from the December 12, 2008 AJC article, “Suit’s winner might have won here,” by Jeff Schultz. Here now, the quote. “Do you know what a camel is? It’s a horse designed by a committee.” McDavid continues, “Those franchises are being run by a committee. They’re a camel. If I had taken over, nobody would be fighting, unless I was fighting with myself. Does that guarantee anything? No. But I will always believe I would have done a better job. Look at their history. none of them had [ever] run a business [sports] like that in their life.”

Okay, my point there, with that quote, isn’t to “pine away” for David McDavid. Hardly. My point is … “WELL LOOK, THEY STILL DON’T KNOW HOW TO RUN A SPORTS-BUSINESS.” At least, not a hockey one. They’ve had some successes with the Atlanta Hawks. They won a playoff series last year. And the year before, the Hawks took the eventual NBA Champs to Seven Games. Kudos to them.

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2009
12:54 pm

And don’t you know Jay Grossman, Kovalchuk’s agent, has pointed out to Kovy that the ASGs willingness to exceed the “full revenue sharing” cap number is a “tell” as to whether the ASG will ever be committed to hockey in Atlanta.

If the ASG isn’t willing to exceed the full revenue sharing cap number this year when Kovy has leverage, isn’t it obvious that they will not do so in the future when the leverage is removed?

Waddell and the ASG are trying to bluff Kovy with a pair of twos. And when bluffing with a pair of twos in poker, you will lose money nearly every time. If the ASG loses Kovy, they’ll be lucky to have revenue at all.

World Be Free

September 13th, 2009
3:40 pm

We don’t know that Kovy is in favor of signing Zherdev. Kovy may look at Zherdev, the full package, thinking he’s not worth his defensive shortcomings.

I seen a couple entries on thgis blog that signing Zherdev is crucial if we are going to resign Kovby. Earlier, I stated that I thought the 2 were intertwined. Now I am not so sure now.

Sara

September 13th, 2009
4:10 pm

Rawhide – Ben Wright interviewed Waddell and confirmed that Welch is out injured. Had off-season surgery apparently and is a month away from action per Don. No indication of Kari playing any time soon either.

GaVaHokie

September 13th, 2009
4:39 pm

WBF… I agree… I don’t think Kovy is begging for Zherdev.

Sara… Zherdev is a one year player… he either sucks and we don’t resign him, or he plays incredibly well and wants $6 million to stay and we don’t resign him.

… one year player.

Viking

September 13th, 2009
5:12 pm

To add fuel to speculations regarding Zherdev’s possible signing with Washington;

A Swedish newspaper says Bodreau is telling Washington Post that the club together with Nylander is looking a new club for him in Europe, since he is not marketable in the NHL due to his salary. Only KHL clubs can therefore be a possibility. So it appears that Nylander is willing to waive his No Trade clause.

Rawhide

September 13th, 2009
5:28 pm

Sara – Thanks for the let-know on Welch. As for Kari, well…hence Legace’s invite to camp.

Good to see you and your little tax-exemptions there today. Same for everyone else hanging in our group…and you know who your are!

Jameson

September 13th, 2009
5:47 pm

Brendan- Looks like I missed the cap game, but for the points game, put me down for 98 points, 2nd in the SE and 6th in the East. I’m going to say with the addition of a few players the boys continue what they did the last 10 games of last season all year this time around.

Zoomo

September 13th, 2009
6:22 pm

That was me that said hello to you on the way out, Bill (with my 7 year old in tow). We chatted previously, before a late season game at Taco Mac. I used to post under “ZB” but that was before we got Bogosian. Since I didn’t want to be seen as a Bogo stalker, I changed my moniker.

We’ll be back for the prospect game tomorrow.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
6:43 pm

Where’s Russian? Didn’t Russian translate an article from Europe for us that said that Zherdev said Kovalchuk, his workout partner, wanted/asked him to join him in Atlanta, but that Zherdev said, “We’ll have to see about that.” I grant you, that’s a bucket load of “hearsay,” and would never be entered into evidence in a criminal proceeding, but why would Zherdev mention that Kovalchuk wanted him to play in Atlanta next season, in an article, if it bore NO RELEVANCE?

Was Kovalchuk ever asked if he wanted Zherdev? I don’t know. I can’t say. I only got the impression that’s what Kovalchuk wanted, since Zherdev specifically went out of his way to MENTION IT. The “it” being that Kovalchuk wanted him to play in Atlanta next season. Moving right along.

Jameson, you’re entered at 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 6th in the Conference. Jameson, so that you know, “rightshot” has 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 8th in the Conference. So, that 2nd “tie-breaker” comes into effect for you guys. If the Thrashers finish with 98-points, 2nd in SE Division, and 7th in the Conference, you’d both win, being equidistant in your Conference rankings.

Rawhide

September 13th, 2009
6:55 pm

Zoomo – It was great to see you again. When you went by and said “hello”, I thought you looked familiar. I hope we’re able to chat longer tomorrow should we cross paths.

Smoothie

September 13th, 2009
7:13 pm

Does anyone have any fun observatiuons from camp or is everyone watching their DVR to see if the Falcons won?

Hockey Biltong

September 13th, 2009
7:22 pm

Brendan,
Blueshirt Hockey[Rangers] did a translation of a Zherdev interview, tying in his hopes for playing Olympic hockey and the way to prove he was capable, by playing with Kovy.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
7:33 pm

Biltong, cool.

Rawhide

September 13th, 2009
8:19 pm

Smoothie – John Anderson came over to the table I was sharing with C-Viv and a few other of my blogger buddies in the Breakaway Grill to say “hello”. I told him that I thought his skating skills were greatly improved over last year.

He laughed and said that he just tries not to get run over out there.

DWTOO

September 13th, 2009
8:43 pm

Good to see you today Rawhide. Your popularity is SOARING! Rawhide’s Rowdies – could be a whole new cult. Anyway we need to hook up before one of the pre-season games as the lovely Puckwench leaves for South Africa on a two and half month detail October 1.

Rawhide's Rowdies

September 13th, 2009
8:52 pm

Making Noise For Years

Rawhide

September 13th, 2009
8:52 pm

DWTOO – WHAT???? The lovely Puckwench is leaving me…er, ah…I mean…leaving you for a month and a half???

Indeed, we shall hook up then. I’ll be at the rookie games tomorrow and Tuesday afternoon. I’ll also be at the Monday preseason game as well as the last one on Sunday afternoon. You have my e-mail address…shoot me a quick note and we’ll set something up.

I can’t believe she’s leaving me…uh, I mean…leaving you for that long!

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2009
9:03 pm

All kind sof reports on twitter that Zherdev offered to go back to Rangers for 3.25 million, but the Rangers turned him down.

Hopefully, the Thrashers will step up and sign Zherdev for 3.25 million.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
9:15 pm

Not trying to start WW-III, but why COULDN’T Zherdev play on a 1-year deal, then get renewed, if things go well? Kozlov’s $3.666 million comes off the books. So does Kubina’s $5.0 million. As does Colby Armstrong’s $2.4 million. Jim Slater’s salary comes off. Not sure what he makes, but it’s under $1.0 million and more than $550K. Not sure if Chris Thorburn signed a 1-year or 2-year deal, but he’s probably under $750K. And if he is still on next year’s payroll, he can be traded as “sweetener” in a deal. Moose’s $1.15 to $1.25 million, or thereabouts, comes off the books next year. Eric Boulton’s $600K will be gone. Bryan Little needs a huge raise ($3.25 to $4.0 million), as would Rich Peverley, if he re-signs. Which isn’t a certainty. Brett Sterling could be traded, or re-signed for the league mininum. Kane will cost $3.1 million. Kari, assuming he is re-signed and not traded, will cost $3.0, roughly. Pavelec costs around $1.5 million, roughly. I think this DOES leave room for Zherdev, on a 1-2 year deal, if he were amenable to something like that. And he cannot command $6 million unless he puts up those kinds of numbers. I think the arbitrator awarded Zherdev $3.9 million. Atlanta’s budget has room for that figure this year, and NEXT year. Does Kovy really want him? And if so, how badly?

And if the organization can’t ever encroach on a salary figure that eclipses “full revenue sharing,” why should Kovy stay, when plenty of other organizations CAN and WILL spend to the limit, every single year, to try to win the Cup? Try to this see this from HIS SIDE of things, instead of the FAN’S perspective?

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
9:21 pm

R.Stroz, I agree with you. What’s the WORST that could happen? He doesn’t work out, and we trade him. Or we don’t renew him. Or, I suppose, he flat-out bolts for Russia. It was worth a shot. I know Zherdev is the outsider, with defensive question-marks, and Kane is the “orginal” Thrashers draft pick, but what’s more likely? That Kane will produce more than Zherdev? Rangers fans came here to give testimony that Zherdev wasn’t “that bad” of a defensive liability.

Smoothie

September 13th, 2009
9:28 pm

Rawhide – glad u had a chance to hang with Viv and some of the other dignitaries from camp, including the esteemed Coach Anderson. Good stuff.

Oh yeah, his skating isn’t the only person’s to have improved since the end of last season! LOL I can now go around the rink, albeit a bit raggedly, without the assistance of the wall or the lovely Ms. Ten.
If I only could use a hockey stick to help me with balance to develop my left leg.

One last thing: did Van Kane look like he belonged out there; how was he received?

And congrats on your ever increasing popularity! The legend grows…

Rawhide

September 13th, 2009
9:40 pm

Smoothinator – Well, don’t let on to the lovely Ms. Ten that you are getting so good on skates that you no longer are need of her…ahem…assistance.

As for Kane, he was well received by the crowd at hand, as one would expect. He played on a line with Reasoner and Army and did OK. It was the first time any of us had seen him play with the big-boys…but I think he played his position well and certainly was able to keep up. Big test will come during preseason.

Brendan – Congrats professor…your last comment was the 10,000 posted on this blog since we switch to the WordPress format in mid-February.

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2009
9:42 pm

Brendan – Zhitnik’s 1.167 million come off the books next season as well. Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
9:49 pm

I plum FORGOT about Zhitnik!! (It’s easy to do.) Cha-ching! Mo-Money! Maybe if Waddell ANNNND Dudley cornered Bruce Levenson, and with the aid of “sock puppets,” demonstrated just how simple and easy this really could be.

R. Stroz

September 13th, 2009
10:10 pm

So easy a caveman can do it, or a drunk.

Tom

September 13th, 2009
10:55 pm

Isn’t it Waddell’s line that ownership always gives him the money if it makes hockey sense?

Or was that window dressing. Zherdev is a move that will make Ilya happy and improve the team.

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
11:12 pm

It’s the money the Thrashers could be making with ZheGEICO. One “quick call” to Bruce Levenson could make the Thrashers up to 20-percent.

Tom, I think Waddell’s line was, “I’ve never had a request denied.” But someone should really double-check that. I think … the key is … to never make requests beyond the “AGREED UPON” internal budget.
But, I really think some pie charts and/or bar graph charts could really do a long way.

I do wonder … has Bruce Levenson or Michael Gearon ever asked Don Waddell the following question, “Don, would MORE MONEY have helped avoid back-to-back 76-point seasons?” And would Don’s answer be, “No. Not really. We did the right thing setting the budget where it was. We got Kane, didn’t we? We’re right on schedule for our 4-year building plan.”

Brendan

September 13th, 2009
11:17 pm

Tom, what would ownership know about ‘hockey sense?’ Until the Dudley acquisition, the one and only voice resembling hockey ‘reason’ was Don Waddell. Himself. “The architect of Champions.”

LAC

September 14th, 2009
5:38 am

Hey Brenden, Yes 80 points, 4th SE and 13th in Eastern Confrence.

Defense still not stable enough and we need one more scorer.

Plus the Goaltending is not that solid, we have solid prospects
in goal, but too many goals last year and I do not see it coming down enough to put us in a playoff position. We HAVE to have 50 goals LESS scored on us this season to have any chance at playoffs.

Remember, we tied San Jose, who was The Number #1 Regular Season team,
in goals scored with 257… but 294 allowed… That is and has been the
problem from day #1 here and I do not see it improving rnough to get to the playoffs yet again.

Brendan

September 14th, 2009
11:04 am

LAC, you are in at 80-points now, still with 4th in SE, and now 13th instead of 14th in the Eastern Conference. The Thrashers will look to improve GA this year. I’d be surprised if things stayed the same or got worse, in that department. But this is why we play the games.