Thrashers Prospect Games And Town Hall Meeting Roundup

First of all, I gotta tell you, living out here in the twin cities area of Kennesaw/Acworth while so much is going on in Duluthland and Philips these past few days has kept yours-truly on the road quite a bit. I’ve been zipping around the top-end perimeter in the big suburban assault vehicle so much that I’m afraid Al Gore is going to send me a nasty-gram about the carbon footprint I’ve been generating.

As you know by now, along with training camp opening up this past weekend, Atlanta and Nashville’s prospects split the two games played at the Duluth Ice Forum…the Thrashers taking Monday night’s matchup by a 6-3 score, Nashville then skated away with a 3-0 shutout win in Tuesday’s matinee. While unable to find the back of the net in game number two, the young Thrashers were able to ring shots off the post four or five times.

Jeremy Morin scored a couple of goals and added an assists in the first game…the first of which was a nifty one in which he took a feed from Andrew Kozek just beyond the blueline, zipped his way past a pair of defenders, moved right then left and slipped a backhand past the Preds keeper. Another goal that stood out to me was the one notched by Matt Anderson going into the corner to dig out the puck then, after winning it, making a bee-line to the goal to jam it home.

One thing about these kids is that they are a big bunch and they just don’t mind throwing their weight around out there. Very fast and aggressive…and they were very entertaining to watch this week. Morin, Eric O’Dell, Levko Koper and Drew Paris each played well in both games.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it was to see so many familiar faces as well as how nice it was to meet a few others of you for the first time. Also, I have to say that the Ice Forum crew did an awesome job in making these two days a very enjoyable and fun time for the fans.

After Tuesday’s game…and chatting with Thrashers TV duo Darren Eliot and Matt McConnell…I again jumped into the suburban assault vehicle and motored my way through a driving rain to Philips Arena for the Thrashers Season Preview Party. This event was hosted by radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal, who was joined on stage by John Anderson, Don Waddell, Rick Dudley and Colby Armstrong.

The Rawhide/Blueland Chronicle consortium were represented in full Tuesday night as I was joined by my alleys Razor Catch Pray, Big Shooter, Mortimer Peacock and French Catalogues… nesting ourselves along the top row overlooking the assembled masses that almost filled section 104 below.

After a few minutes of Q&A with Anderson, Dudley and Army, the stage was turned over to the general manager who promptly went straight the “The Big Question” of the evening…Ilya Kovalchuk and the negotiation process to re-sign him.

Waddell indicated, as he has before, that there has been an offer and subsequent counter-offer made…which is a level not reached during the Marian Hossa negotiations. He expressed his believe that a deal would be reached with the captain.

Oh, and in case you haven’t yet heard…Kovy and his wife are indeed expecting their third child. So, congrats to the whole Kovalchuk family.

Don also stated that the team’s salary cap projection is/would be just below the $50 million mark. If certain bonuses kick in, that could push it to just north of that mark. Regardless, he said this season the team will spend more on players’ salaries than ever before.

Mr. Big Shooter asked Waddell about his plans to utilize the depth in goal this past summer to use as trade material. Don responded that he was indeed open to doing so, but that the possible deals that were discussed weren’t in the team’s best interest and is now happy no keeper was move in light of Kari Lehtonen’s situation. However, given the fact that Manny Legace is in camp, they are even deeper now then when the offseason began. Thus, there are still options there.

During the Q/A session, Mr. Razor Catch Prey enquired as to John Anderson’s “system” and how it’s design is meant to play out. The coach explained that in his O-fensive scheme there are about 4 or 5 plays that are drawn up in relation to when the puck is moved out of the defensive zone. Much like a football quarterback, the puck handler has primary and secondary options in which to distribute the puck up-ice. The key, he said, is to not only perform the plays well…but to do so swiftly.

Another thing Anderson commented on was the way his team performed down the stretch of last season. He was very happy in the way they were winning a number of games against team that were “hungry for points”, as they were making playoff pushes. This helped bond the players together and is confident that it’ll translate to a stronger start this fall. To that measure, he’s gone ahead and formed his lines during traing camp in the way he sees them lining up during the season… Antropov centering Kovy, Little… Kozlov’s second line also including White and Peverley… Reasoner centering the third line with Kane and Armstrong on either side… Slater, Bolts and Thorburn forming the forth line…and the defensive pairings on Enstrom-Bogosian as well as Hainsey-Kubina.

Of course as the preseason plays out, lineups are subject to change…but the coach’s thought is to get them together early and allow them to get comfortable with one another sooner rather than later.

In response to the pre-submitted question I posed to Rick Dudley regarding what he thought he could do to help bring the measure of success seen in Chicago here…he stated that his mission with the team is to “best utilize the assets” the organization possesses. Later, he also expressed his belief that the Thrashers have the nucleus of a very good team and that the team here is further along than in other situations he’s stepped into… such as in  Ottawa. In his time there, an 80-ish point Sens team was improved to one that accumulated over 100.

Oh, and not to be overlooked is the fact that Dudley compared Evander Kane to another young player he’s seen up close…Jonathan Toews.

And lastly…during the proceedings Tuesday night, those occupying the stage did so down on the floor of Philips Arena which already has the ice surface prepared. I’m sure many of you will be relieved, as I was, to learn that the Thrashers tenth anniversary logo was NOT emblazoned on the surface.

Don Waddell alluded to the fact that it had been met with “mixed reviews”.

136 comments Add your comment

LAC

September 16th, 2009
1:37 am

Any word on Zherdev ???

Would be a nice piece to the roster… One that needs to be done.

Wayne stuck in AL

September 16th, 2009
1:55 am

Zherdev has already signed with the KHL.

Wayne stuck in AL

September 16th, 2009
1:57 am

Follow-up:

Because of the chances that Evander Kane will make the squad, the Thrasher braintrust (an oxymoron) decided not to sign Zherdev.

BTW: How are the season ticket totals compared to last year?

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
5:41 am

It would be nice to see the Thrashers do what the Columbus Blue Jackets have done-get their core players into long term contracts. It started with Rick Nash a few weeks ago, others followed.

It is better to get players under contract before October than muddle through the season with no commitments beyond next July 1.

HookyBob

September 16th, 2009
6:35 am

Hey, didn’t get this in the earlier blog but does anyone know what Slava’s workout regime is?

Russian

September 16th, 2009
8:07 am

Now it is official that Zherdev got contract with KHL team Atlant. Forget about Zherdev, Move On.
I do not understand, how we can get more than $50 mln????
Right now we got $44,322mln. Are we goignt o sign another players or two?

Sara

September 16th, 2009
8:15 am

Russian – the $44M figure does not include Army’s $2.4M salary or a salary for a 3rd line LW – probably Kane at $900K. So that brings the figure up closer to $48M. Given the number of available bonuses written into some contracts, that could push the total salary above $50M.

Big Shooter

September 16th, 2009
8:23 am

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
8:47 am

BTW: How are the season ticket totals compared to last year?

Wayne stuck in AL – If memory serves correctly, A question came from the audience last night which asked, “where we are” in regards to ticket sales given the state of the economy…Waddell’s response included the phrase “we are down” in numbers.

Big Shooter – Hey buddy…

Sara & Russian – I have the cap at about $8 to $48-1.2 mil right now…so I don’t think Waddell was too far off when he cited that we’re “just under $50 million”.

R. Stroz

September 16th, 2009
9:59 am

WBF – You nailed that one. Columbus re-signed Nash, followed by Brassard, followed by Vermette, all before the season started.

That would analogous to the Thrashers having Kovy, Little, and Peverley re-signed before the season started.

But then, Columbus did fire their idiot GM a few years ago.

LSThrasher04

September 16th, 2009
10:09 am

I was happy that Atlanta Spirit has discussed upgrading the videoboards. Don mentioned everything was state of the art when Philips opened in 1999, but now a lot of stuff is outdated. He said it requires about a $12-13 Million investment in new equipment. Nothing is in place, but it is definitely something they’re aware of.

As for those season ticket sales, Waddell did say they are doing better than they planned. Suite sales are a challenge since many 10-year leases are expiring after this season. Philips Arena also had a 10 year logo on the ice.

Sara

September 16th, 2009
10:12 am

LS – I didn’t realize the suite leases were coming up after this season. And I’m just cynical enough to now wonder if it was really Kovy who motivated the Spirit to spend some money, or the prospect of lots of lost suite revenues.

Buzilla in CT

September 16th, 2009
10:18 am

Rawhide (Willy) did Darren Elliot mention that he reads this blog? Or any other person you spoke to?

Tony C.

September 16th, 2009
10:34 am

Are the going to have a new 10-yr. aniv. logo designed? The one I’ve seen is hands down the worst thing ever.

Ever.

LSThrasher04

September 16th, 2009
10:49 am

Sara- Many of the suites are also being completely remodeled and I’m sure that timing is no accident.

Tony C.- I doubt a new 10 year logo will be designed, but they may be more conservative in how they use it.

Russian

September 16th, 2009
10:56 am

**to Sara & Rawhide**
Thanks for explanation about Salary. I forgot about Bonuses, that include to Salary Cap.
Does anybody know who is going to play in Nashville? They said that roster will be cut today.

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
10:58 am

LSThrasher04 – Thanks for the input. As for the logo, where was it… I, along with those I was with, did not notice it at all last night.

GaVaHokie

September 16th, 2009
11:05 am

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
11:20 am

Hokie – Yeah…I know what it looks like…yeck.

My point is that I din’t see it on the ice…I was fully expecting to see it right at center ice or off the the sides.

Brendan

September 16th, 2009
11:29 am

I hope Darren Eliot and Matt McConnell do read these message boards.

Thrashers27

September 16th, 2009
11:29 am

Yeah, I thought they had gotten smart and did away with that awful logo too. I was disappointed to see it on some of the Thrashers’ staff members when I was at the prospect game yesterday afternoon. I’m so glad to hear that it’s not on the ice…Awful!

Sara

September 16th, 2009
11:55 am

Rawhide I got the impression LS was refering to a different logo – one for Philips, not for the Thrashers.

Russian – Ben tweeted earlier that they’ve cut down to two groups. All the junior players have been released (with the obvious notable exception of Kane). I imagine everyone will be making the trek to Nashville, with one half playing in the Thurs game and the other half playing on Fri.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
12:00 pm

Stroz-you know man, they gotta step up to the plate. This is bigger than just Kovy, it’s our future.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
12:02 pm

Was Duds at the town hall metting?

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
12:05 pm

Per Ben: “Training camp has been cut down to two groups from three. Details later today. Most of the junior kids have been returned to their teams.”

I would not be surprised to see Postma, Morin, Kozek and perhaps even Koper get a quick look in one of the 2 pre-season games this week. Perhaps a reward for playing so well in the scrimmages. I reckon Paris & Looby are headed down the street to Gwinnett Arena and Anderson and Lehman may stick around til the end of the week before heading back to Chicago.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
12:13 pm

From Kukla’s Korner: “Devils forward Patrik Elias underwent surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia to clean up some scar tissue in his groin and will be out for three to six weeks, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said this morning (10:15 a.m).”

As stuff like this happens, it will be very interesting to see if Don Waddell’s phone starts ringing to inquire about the services of say, Todd White? Other teams know about our issues in goal and may try to tantalize us with an offer. The next few weeks will be very interesting indeed…can’t wait for tomorrow’s pre-season radio broadcast!!

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
12:15 pm

No Zherdev means that preseason will be even more interesting. Somebody’s gonna make the big team, maybe 2, just wonder who it’s gonna be.

Hope to go next Monday night and get a glimpse of the kids.

Darkhorse

September 16th, 2009
12:25 pm

Wow…..that 10 year logo is so horrible. Did DW switch into a leisure suit when the logo was mentioned last night?

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
12:26 pm

Rawhide I got the impression LS was refering to a different logo – one for Philips, not for the Thrashers.

Sara – Ahhhhhh…now I see. Apologies then to LSThrashers27. I haven’t had much sleep these past few nights. Starting at 6:00 am Sunday on, it’s been run, run, run.

Was Duds at the town hall metting?

WBF – Yup…he took a few questions as well along with Anderson and Army before Waddell then fielded the bulk of the questions.

Wow…..that 10 year logo is so horrible. Did DW switch into a leisure suit when the logo was mentioned last night?

Darkhorse – HA! Leisure Suit Don!

Personally, when I first got a look at it last spring, I thought it’s inspiration came from the aftermath of eating a full bag of skittles, the taking a ride on the Scream Machine at Six Flags.

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
12:36 pm

Thanks Bill-I am SO pumped to have Dudley here. He is a hard working and dedicated professional, always has been.

One more tidbit-Manny Malholtra, boy did he fall off the radar fast!
I do not hear his name mentioned anywhere. Back in July, the line was he wanted to field his options. Looks like he may have played his hand too heavy.

Manny may be Manny in Atlant, not Atlanta!

ben

September 16th, 2009
12:40 pm

I think the budget is a direct result of Belkin’s money being back. I don’t feel those ten-year leases have much to w/ it, because that’s a write-off. And now, more than ever, they’ll take that write-off and run. Their motives may well have more to do with a hope someone will buy this team and take it off their hands. Also, puh-lease tell me that the upgrade in video boards isn’t going to take place over the talent!

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

WBF – Agreed 1,000,000,000% on Dudley.

Daculafan

September 16th, 2009
1:02 pm

First off..I think that’s the first time I actually took a look at the anniversary logo…Hideous is being generous.

Second…glad to get a report from the town hall..was there any time line given to Kari’s return?

Buzilla – I was talking to Darren and Matt along with Rawhide after the game yesterday also..I got the impression that Darren is familiar with the rowdies!!..not sure if they follow closely…but I think they know that we’re here.

Gotta say…Matt and Darren were super cool…very approachable..they stood and chatted with us for a good 15 minutes..never a rush to get out of the conversation or anything…so next time when you think to yourself “Wow it’s like Darren is explaining this to me in my living room..” That’s just how he is off the camera too…great guys..

World Be Free

September 16th, 2009
1:03 pm

I met Eliot when he was playing for the Sabres-pretty cool back then, sounds like he’s the same today.

Toby

September 16th, 2009
1:09 pm

I saw on the Thrashers board that Donny will be on Hockeycentral today (noon – 2)…I just turned it on. Does anyone know if I missed him?

ben

September 16th, 2009
1:20 pm

i met matt and darren in the elevator years ago. good guys!

Darkhorse

September 16th, 2009
1:32 pm

I caught that too Toby. He was on at 12:30. By the time I started listening, the interview was coming to a close. But I did here him talk about a few tidbits.

-He told them he is still very confident in getting a deal done with Kovy. One of the things they have exchanged in negotiations is the term. DW says it would be between 5-8 years for sure. He said it would not be a “retirement contract”, refering to Hossa I believe. They asked him if he has the green light from ownership to get it done no matter what. DW said unless things change dramatically from what he and Kovy’s agent have talked about so far in terms of $$ or years, he has the go ahead to wrap this up as soon as Kovy agrees. Take that for what it’s worth.

-The suite renewal experation deals coming up are an issue in a possible revenue downturn this upcoming year. He did however let it be known that we were one of the few teams in the league whose ownership owns the building and the NBA team, which helps keep them in better shape.

-He says he knows this team has to win, win consistantly, and win in the playoffs to get Atlanta to notice and respond at the gate. But that the city and the fan support does get a bad wrap in the media, which he defended and said Atlanta has a lot of value to reap the benifits of. They just need to start winning again he said.

I may have missed other stuff. Someone feel free to post about anything else on the interview.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
1:39 pm

Wow, great recap Darkhorse! I wonder if DW feels more and more inclined to give out details (length of deal, Kovy’s new house etc) because he is in fact so confident that Kovy will sign. I still think there’s a chance they will do a 2-3 year contract (the old wait-and-see thing) if the team starts out sluggish in Oct / Nov. However, Kovy always surprises and I wouldn’t be shocked if he puts pen to paper before Opening Night.

BTW, Daren seems like a great guy. Chatted him up about Cornell / Bemidji St last year during a commerical at the Taco Mac post-game. He was “crestfallen”, but decided to drown his sorrows in a Corona Light.

Toby

September 16th, 2009
1:40 pm

Thank you Darkhorse!

Tom

September 16th, 2009
1:52 pm

I have to agree on Darren being personable. He was at a National Inline tourney over in Snellville last year when I got the chance to meet him. Absolutely gracious and straightforward. That is amazing for a Cornell guy, believe me… I spent 10 minutes talking to him and it was a pleasure.

A complete opposite to Perrin who was there and just sneered at anyone getting close to him when he was out of the tent. He was sitting in the main area and none of the kids even went up to him with the aura he was giving.

Darkhorse

September 16th, 2009
1:57 pm

Toby-No prob…

Smoothie-I too was surprised when they asked him about details in the Kovy negotiations that he so causually discussed the years/terms they want to sign Kovy to. Maybe Rawhide or Viv can ask him about that same thing in the next few days if they get a chance to talk with him. Maybe they are getting closer…..who knows.

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
1:58 pm

Tom – Wow, I’m surprised to hear that. I talked with Perrin a number of times during his tenure with Atlanta and found him extremely friendly, personable, and quite pleasant to talk to every time. He must have been having a bad day or something…

Brendan

September 16th, 2009
2:00 pm

Darren Eliot, in my opinion, is a sharp guy. He’s able to be “freer” when not doing a Thrashers telecast. That’s the when the REAL Darren Eliot comes forward. How much criticism can Darren really heap at the Thrashers, when he’s on their payroll and wants to keep his job? There have been times … when I’d do a double-take at some of Darren’s comments. I’d shake my head and say, “That’s the effect of a pay check.” But I don’t any idiots who are Cornell graduates. I think he’s very intelligent.

If Kovy’s next Thrashers contract is anything longer than 2-years, then Don and the ownership have laid out a plan that Kovy likes. In my opinion, it’d be a GREAT THING! I’m sure Kovy asked for (1) more commitment to annual spending, (2) more vigorous pursuit of free agents, and (3) accountability. If there’s a way that the Spirit, LLC could address those three things to Kovy’s satisfaction, then I’m very excited about the future in Thrasherville. If Kovy signs for 5-8 years, it’s a pretty big achievement for the GM and the organization, moving forward.

Sara

September 16th, 2009
2:08 pm

I’ll second J.B.’s opinion on Perrin. But then again, he was having a bit of a rough go last season.

I gotta say, the more I hear Don talk and what I hear Kovy say, I’m smelling a “major announcement” for Opening Night. It would certainly blow the roof off the arena … plus allow all the fans to immediately show the love to the Captain.

Zoomo

September 16th, 2009
2:16 pm

Nice to see the term for Kovy might be 5-8 years. I sure hope so. DW is right that the fan base would be much better if we won. Hmmm.. who do we blame for that? Case in point tho’, the playoff games at Philips. The place was packed and ROCKIN’. Most fun I’ve ever had at an Atlanta sporting event.

Darren and Matt. Great guys. I’ve seen Darren in the hallway between periods of games that were not being broadcast, entertaining questions from every nut and looney that approached him, and never once cutting the conversation short or talking down. He’s a class act. And I think every parent with a kid in Junior hockey knows the guy. He’s done a lot with the jr. hockey programs in area.

Smoothie

September 16th, 2009
2:18 pm

Sara – that would make me do cart-wheels out in the concourse if that sort of special announcement was made!! And I would surely become “Saturday night high n’ dry!”

Shifting gears a bit:

According to thrashpractice.com, Legace is already showing how valuable he can be as a VOCAL veteran presence. Don’t get me wrong, Hedberg is a quintessential pro and has the respect of every player in the room.

However, Legace is quite animated and vocal on the practice ice and has even gone so far as to impart wisdom on the young Kane, who has been told to stop passing so much in practice. Legace hollered at Kane after a spoiled 2 on 1 drill “you’ve got a good shot so shoot it!!” That my friends is the kind of leadership we need.

Manny may in fact be just the guy we need filling in for, and hence pushing Kari, to come back better and more motivated than ever. Hopefully, with the trio of Moose, Manny and Pavy, Kari will have the time he needs to rehab fully and effectively so he hits the ground running when he does return.

Good luck Kari, we want you to be the greasiest and agile “karrpa” you can be!! Unfortch, Lehtonen may need a lot of luck.

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
2:21 pm

I gotta say, the more I hear Don talk and what I hear Kovy say, I’m smelling a “major announcement” for Opening Night. It would certainly blow the roof off the arena … plus allow all the fans to immediately show the love to the Captain

Sara- Remember in June ‘08 when John Anderson was “announced/not announced” as having been signed as the new coach? That all happened the night prior to the draft…then the next morning the Thrashers had to confirm the hiring because someone had spotted JA in the lobby of a hotel downtown or where the draft was being held, (can’t remember which).

Anywhoooo…the scuttle that surrounded that fiasco was that Waddell wanted to make the surprise announcement to the masses that had gathered at Philips that Friday night to watch the draft…the one in which Bogosian was selected with the 3rd overall pick.

It sure would have had a dynamic “WOW” factor had he been able to pull it off.

Then, go back to this past January when, at Casino Night, he presented Kovy with a #17 jersey with the “C” on it…anouncing his being named as team captain.

Again, it had that certain “WOW” factor and he pulled this one off without a hitch.

Well, in that light, if a deal is reached by opening night…please everyone take note that I said IF a deal is reached…then don’t be too shocked if he announces it on the evening of Oct. during the open house down at Philips.

ben

September 16th, 2009
2:22 pm

Tell me the Letemin era is over! Can it really be!

J.B.

September 16th, 2009
2:29 pm

OFF TOPIC WARNING

Speaking of the open house at Phillips on the 1st, if there’s a season ticket holder out there who has a pass they can’t or won’t be using, please let me know. I’m willing to pay a reasonable price for it.

I think Rawhide has the ability to provide my email address to someone who does with my permission correct?

Rawhide

September 16th, 2009
2:32 pm

J.B. – Affirmative.