John Kincade: ‘Cautiously’ optimistic Thrashers fan

Remember the pouring rains that came our way a couple weeks ago that were almost of Biblical proportions? Well, on that soggy Monday afternoon I engaged the 4-wheel drive of the big, gas-guzzling suburban assault vehicle and trudged my way through the flooding deluge down to Hudson Grille in Brookhaven. The reason I was traveling through such a mess was to have lunch with my good friend John Kincade who, along with former UGA quarterback Buck Belue, handles the afternoon drive show on the Thrashers flagship station 680 AM The Fan.

We had attempted to get together to break bread all summer long… however, our schedules just couldn’t seem to sync up. But we had agreed to do so on this day and, by golly, if John wasn’t gonna let a few trillion-gazillion raindrops stop him that day…well, I wasn’t going to either.

So, what is a fan blogger for the Atlanta Thrashers and an on-air sports personality going to chat about over grilled buffalo chicken sandwiches? Well…the weather, of course. But eventually, we found our way around to the subject of hockey.

In the mid to late ‘80s, John worked with Mike Keenan during his days with the Philadelphia Flyers. Along with the coaching staff, Kincade would chart shots during the games. He also provided analysis for the TV side of the Thrashers broadcasts during their inaugural season and, as he likes to point out, “during their one and only playoff season”…wryly smiling as if he had something to do with it.

John Kincade sports the hockey mullet

John Kincade sports the hockey mullet

This season, Thrashers fans will again see Kincade during TV broadcasts starting in November. “I will fill-in on the TV side for Natalie Taylor some games and will even do the in-house stuff I used to do for some games”, he told me. “I am thrilled to be once again working with a great group of people on a ‘situational’ basis”.

During some of these games he may even come to us from the area between the team benches…much like Pierre McGuire does for the NHL on NBC.

Always a big supporter of the Thrashers since they have been in existence, Kincade… like so many others… has seen a lot of good from this team over the past decade. Unfortunately, there have also been way too many disappointments experienced as well. Recently he opined about those observations in this column listing the Ten Defining Moments of Ten Tumultuous Years for the Thrashers.

Of course, no discussion of the Thrashers these days can be held without the topic skating it’s way to Ilya Kovalchuk and the team’s efforts to re-sign the captain. Like myself and so many others, Kincade feels that it is imperative that Waddell and the organization accomplish this mission. Not just because of the caliber player he is, but also because he is the face of this franchise… to die-hard fans as well as the casual Atlanta area sports fan. He and I also share the belief that Kovy is of the frame of mind to wait until he sees just how this team fairs before putting ink to paper here.

Regardless of the timing, I asked what he thought the chances were that a deal would ultimately get done. He replied, “I think that if the Thrashers are in the hunt at Christmas and things are looking up, there is a chance to get the deal done”.

And what if things don’t go so well this fall?

“Another poor start and we may see him gone even before the trade deadline”.

Given that response, I also asked for his feelings about the team and the general direction of the franchise…is he optimistic going into this, the tenth NHL campaign for the Thrashers?

“I’d say that I’m ‘cautiously’ optimistic”.

He went on to explain that he likes the lineup that Waddell has iced and believes a lot of last spring’s success will carry over. “I think they have been better 1 through 10 before but NEVER 1 through 20”, he told me. “I’m also a believer that what we saw down the stretch [last spring] was not a mirage and that the Anderson system had caught hold… We should not see the learning curve be so tall this season”.

Continuing about coach Anderson’s system, “I love the style of play”.

So why is there the disclaimer of “cautiously” attached to his optimism? Well, he has been “optimistic” before about this team…seen good players brought in…had his hopes raised…felt good about draft picks…only to see that “optimism” soaked by harsh reality as the season unfolded.

“I guess I’m just jaded by the past”, he lamented.

Are the playoffs a possibility at all this coming spring? Well, yeah…of course he thinks they’re possible. And if things go according to plan and players play to their potential, it’s not inconceivable. But a lot has to go right.

If there is one main area of concern of his, something that could prevent things from going well for the Thrashers, what would that be? Not surprisingly, John pointed between the pipes…citing that, given that the forward lines are as solid as ever and the defense, (while not without some questions), looks to be much improved over seasons past…the goalkeeping issue remains as Kincade’s top worry. And what happens there…especially now that we are experiencing “Kari Down ‘09″ so early in the season… will be the major factor in determining whether wins will rain down upon Thrasherville this season or if any and all thoughts of postseason play are washed down the same stream that so many others have gone over the past decade.

“Without goaltending, all hopes and dreams of a playoff push are not a reality…I’m hoping that we see somebody step up quickly to fill the void until Kari is ready to go 100%”.

99 comments Add your comment

swtephen

October 6th, 2009
1:36 pm

kracker

October 6th, 2009
1:36 pm

J.B.

October 6th, 2009
1:40 pm

To me, Kincade doesn’t sound as cautiously optimistic when discussing the Thrashers on the radio (unless he’s interviewing a Thrasher, Coach, DW, or Gearon, of course). I enjoyed reading his more candid thoughts here away from “the show” where I’d guess there’s at least a slight need to cater to the audience which, in this case, is largely non-hockey folks…

five_hole

October 6th, 2009
2:10 pm

I am thrilled. Kincade may not be as pretty as Natalie Taylor but infinitely more interesting.

Darkhorse

October 6th, 2009
2:17 pm

Good article Rawhide. As much as Kincade irritated me in the past, the Thrashers need all the local media they can get on their side. I’m more excited though he will be taking some TV time away from Natalie Taylor.

Natalie Taylor-”Hey Ilya, how does it feel to win at home!?!?!”

Ilya-Bewildered, deer in headlights stare, sound of crickets in background. “Ummm….good.”

J.B.

October 6th, 2009
2:30 pm

I cannot adequately express how awful I think Natalie Taylor is at her job. I’m embarrassed for her when I see scenes like Darkhorse has described. Certainly there’s someone better in town who knows SOMETHING about hockey AND interviewing!

Smoothie

October 6th, 2009
2:31 pm

Kincade must’ve picked up his manners on the air from Mike Keenan. He’s unmistakingly Philly in his sensibilities…I care for him not!!

But good blog Bill…I’m sure he’s better in person without his huge ego and butthole radio persona getting in the way.

Sara

October 6th, 2009
2:42 pm

I have so much to say … unfortunately when it comes to all the above topics, I’m a little raging ball of hate … so I’ll pass. But, just, grrrrrrrr…….

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 6th, 2009
3:06 pm

Don’t forget, this is the same Kincade who was saying Kovalchuk should have been traded before last season began, because at that time failure to re-sign him was a foregone conclusion.

I guess I have nothing to say other than I’m still not a Kincade fan nor a Taylor fan.

5 will get you 10

October 6th, 2009
3:21 pm

John Kincaid is tired. His predictions and declarations are regularly off the mark and he refuses to entertain ideas that differ from his own. Just another yahoo in town full of sports talk yahoos.

MashaPlayer7

October 6th, 2009
3:29 pm

Thanks Kracker. I’ll take the Canes’ or Hawks’ ice girls any day! (Not that I would kick the others out of bed either).

Rawhide

October 6th, 2009
3:34 pm

kracker – You officially have my permision to go off topic in that manner anytime you wish!

Cornbread

October 6th, 2009
4:21 pm

The hottest girls in those photos wear hockey skates! C’mon Blue Crew ditch the toe picks!

At least John Anderson was not the one busted in that last photo. Anyone have any idea who the Wolf who was is or if he’s now skating with the big club?

Smoothie

October 6th, 2009
4:22 pm

Cornbread, was it Sterling? Too funny…perhaps he should pay closer attention to learning the system!

Dwayne

October 6th, 2009
4:41 pm

those 2 islander girls are ugly, so is the beast from ottawa, no wonder Dany wanted out.
i thought john kincaid was the dude who painted pictures of houses in the woods and crap like that. i didn’t know he liked hockey. And why don’t he paint any pictures of hockey players?

Me Love Hockey Chix

October 6th, 2009
5:55 pm

Natalie Taylor is a girl I would love to kiss, but she needs to be sitting next to me in the stands at Philips with my arms around her to keep her warm instead of using a live microphone to ask the First Star of the Game about “this great crowd tonight” and “what tonight’s win did for the ‘energy’ of the time.”

Good Grief!

Me Love Hockey Chix

October 6th, 2009
5:57 pm

Sorry, “…’energy” of the T-E-A-M (not ‘time’).”

LAC

October 6th, 2009
6:15 pm

I vote RAWHIDE as new rinkside reporter… Natalie is WAY TOO Out of her league !

Hockey Biltong

October 6th, 2009
6:25 pm

sisu

October 6th, 2009
7:30 pm

I would have to agree with the cautiously optimistic part. Until Kari comes back all hope is with the flopping goalie we got to see on opening night. Here is a small part of an article that one could consider when discussing Kari…
PASCAL LECLAIRE, Ottawa
The Senators are desperately hoping their years of searching for a bona fide No. 1 goaltender are behind them. Leclaire, drafted eighth overall in 2001 by Columbus, has had a bumpy entrance into the NHL due to his propensity for injury. But he compiled a 24-17-6 record in 2007-08 for the non-playoff Jackets, including a 2.25 GAA and .919 save percentage. More importantly, he impressed the Sens with his quickness during the pre-season, giving the team some much-needed confidence in its goaltending.

Matt the Brave

October 6th, 2009
9:42 pm

WE HAVE A HOCKEY TEAM IN ATLANTA?!?!

Just playin’ y’all. I’m hoping that this is the year that we break out in the NHL. I’m just worried that if the team goes up for sale (as is being predicted) that they will not be distracted by it. I have a good feeling about it, though.

Rawhide

October 6th, 2009
9:56 pm

I vote RAWHIDE as new rinkside reporter…

LAC – Oh no…I don’t think they would want me cussin’ into the mic when the Thrashers screw up or a ref blows a call.

WE HAVE A HOCKEY TEAM IN ATLANTA?!?!

Matt the Brave – What the…??????

HA! Nicely played!

Curly

October 6th, 2009
10:00 pm

A Blog about John Kincade?

………. No Comment.

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
10:29 pm

I’d vote for Sara to take Natalie’s spot on the show. But, all things considered, HOW does what Natalie does … DIFFER from what any ‘eye-candy’ sideline reporter does at Halftime of a football game? Gee, wonder if the sideline reporter will ask the Head Coach what adjustments they need to do to either (1) bring home the win or (2) get back into this game? Ooooooh, better have a MENSA candidate for that assignment!

What, EXACTLY and SPECIFICALLY, is Natalie Taylor supposed to ask? I’m just asking a question. Feel free to provide SPECIFIC answer. Maybe she reads this board and would appreciate some ‘constructive criticism.’ Natalie Taylor’s 1st period intermission guest will be … GUESS WHO? That’s right, whoever scored for Atlanta. And she’ll ask the player to “take us through the goal.” Well, isn’t that, pretty much, what she’s SUPPOSED to ask? And then, she’s going to say, “Good luck the rest of the way to hopefully bring home a win.” Again, this isn’t rocket science. Natalie Taylor is there, folks, to stand there, try to look her very best, smile a lot, and be pleasant. Then toss it back up to Darren and Matt for further comment. If you can name SOMETHING ELSE that she should be doing, let’s hear it! Unload!!! Maybe it’ll get passed along to her.

Okay, John Kincade. Or as Buck Belue calls him, “Philly John.” Boy, that schtick never gets old. (Rolling eyes.) Kincade is challenged, DAILY, by the mental GIANT that is Buck Belue. I think you could wake Kincade up at 3AM and he’d still be more cogent than Belue. Kincade is often … well … outspoken. But he’s not always wrong. He CAN be insightful. And is. Lately, over the past few years, he’s taken the ’sugarcoating’ off of the Thrashers woes. There are a few things that stick out in my mind, other than what Ranallo has pointed out, namely, that Kincade advocated during the Summer of 2008 to trade Kovalchuk, to obtain maximum value. I think Kincade may have even repeated that during this 2009 offseason.

I can recall, in the Inaugural season, how Kincade chastised fans who demanded that the Thrashers attempt to ACQUIRE players at the trade deadline. Kincade fired back at them, “Well WHAT do we trade? And WHY make a trade to improve the team from 27th place to 26th?” There was logic in that statement. But by 2005, I was hearing statements from Kincade like, “The Hockey News reports that the Thrashers have the BEST UNDER 25 TALENT in the NHL.” I tried to reason with Kincade, that they were talking about Heatley and Kovalchuk, one of which had just been TRADED AWAY. Let’s face it, folks, in 2005-06, Braydon Coburn wasn’t ready to help, neither was Big Boris, Kari Lehtonen had played all of four (4) NHL games in his life. It’s not as if all those 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 latter round draft picks had made the roster, making Atlanta the ‘youngest, fastest, most skilled’ team in the NHL. Hardly. Atlanta was the 2nd OLDEST team in the league, despite is recent EXPANSION status.

Then Kincade proclaimed, “I LOVE THIS TRADE,” referring to Dany Heatley for Greg deVries and Marian Hossa.” When he knew all along that Hossa would leave after this three year ’sentence’ was complete. I credit Kincade for foresight there. If he’d qualified, “for purposes of the next three seasons, Hossa will equal or better Heatley’s production, so I like this trade,” I could let it slide. That’s a sufficient explanation. But bear in mind, at the time of the trade, Dany Heatley was arguably the face of the franchise. At least as much as Kovalchuk was. And anytime a team trades the face of its franchise, it’s not exactly a BANNER DAY. Especially when you KNOW AHEAD OF TIME that the replacement ISN’T STAYING.

I usually defend Kincade. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes Kincade is obstinent. Sometimes, you can reason with him, if your argument is FLAWLESS and irrefutable in its construction. Well, that’s a ringing endorsement, huh? Truthfully, I enjoy listening to him on 680TheFan. You guys might not care for him, but put the prejudice aside … just long enough … to be fair. That’s the most you could ask of anyone.

Viking

October 6th, 2009
10:31 pm

Another two extra points handed out to teams in our division. Tampa and Washington were the recipients tonight.

I really, really dislike the current point system.

Sara

October 6th, 2009
10:45 pm

I dunno about the Tampa game, but Washington certainly earned their point tonight – that was one heck of a game tonight.

Brendan I’d love that job – unfortunately I am neither blonde nor bubbly nor willing to allow myself to be “dumbed down.” Now, if they want a brunette who is both smart and a smartass, then I’m their girl.

Mr. Heat Miser

October 6th, 2009
11:41 pm

I vote for Rawhide to do the between period interviews. I’m sure he won’t mind the makeup.

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
11:42 pm

Well, I’d second the vote for you, Sara. But, I’m probably a minority voice, in the big scheme of things.

Viking, did you just read my post over at Vivlamore’s blog? I just expressed that very sentiment. So, I AGREE with you! :)

I’m watching a great game between Anaheim, and one of my TWO (2) adopted Western Conference teams this year: Minnesota. It was 3-0, Duck, with 11:00 left in the 3rd period. The Wild have just tied it on a PPG that made Giguere look like a rented goalie. There’s 45 seconds left.

My other Western Conference team, THIS YEAR, is the L.A. Kings, who now lead the Heatley-led Sharks, 2-0. Go Kings!!!

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
11:45 pm

The Ducks and Wild are now in OT. The Stars and Oilers are tied, 4-4, with 8:00 left in regulation time. Calgary is off to a 3-0-0 start, I believe. They got a win over the Habs, who were 2-0-0, coming in, I believe. Whenever I see the Flames and Canadiens, I think of 1986 and 1989. I love the Flames in those Atlanta-era jersey throwbacks. Maybe I should have adopted Calgary this year???

World Be Free

October 6th, 2009
11:47 pm

You will all have to type louder-just got back from the U2 concert.
I may be old, but that was LOUD!

Matt-there we idiots before that said the same thing. We don’t hear much from them these days.

You touch upon Anderson’s style of play. We have a tough road trip starting Thursday. Let’s hope Anderson’s style carries over to the road. We need to paly better team defense too, cut down on the shots.

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
11:49 pm

Wild win!! Wild Win!! Former Thrasher, Andrew Brunette, with the winning goal!!! PPG!!

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
11:52 pm

What a choke by Anaheim! Up 3-0, after two periods, with 11:00 left in regulation, they wind up losing, 4-3, in OT. Unbelieveable. I hope people out there saw this game. There’s just over 2:00 left in the 3rd, out in Edmonton, where it’s Oilers 4, Stars 4. I smell overtime.

Brendan

October 6th, 2009
11:55 pm

Viking, you made your post well before I did. I must have been channeling you tonight!! You know what they say about ‘great minds.’ They’re … uhhh … GREAT!! :)

Brendan

October 7th, 2009
12:05 am

Shootout in Edmonton. Oilers usually win these. Let’s see if they do. Hey, hey. Looky here!! The Kings are up, 4-1, over Heatley’s heap.

Brendan

October 7th, 2009
12:12 am

Ales Hemsky gets the winner for the Oilers on a “fanned” shot. Hemsky whiffs on it, but it’s got just enough of juice to go in. Turco looked like a batter fooled by a change up. He was noticeably upset with himself. Stars have now lost two shootouts already this year.

Viking

October 7th, 2009
12:13 am

Brendan, I am sure the present point system is here to stay, since it “tightens” the standings.

But I would rather see no extra points given. Or, alternatively there would be 3 points for a regulation win, 2 for OT/SO win and 1 for OT/SO loss.

Sharon

October 7th, 2009
2:33 am

I don’t listen to Natalie’s content because I can’t get past her poor presentation. Her plastic persona, if you will. A skilled reporter is polished and believable and she is neither. Her presentation is more of a caricature, or a skit, but definitely not realistic portrayal of a reporter. Maybe that’s the issue — she’s less reporter than actress. I’m curious how she got this far without anyone in her professional life addressing this. I’m not meaning to hate on this woman, but this is not her forte. She simply cannot ‘sell it’.

five_hole

October 7th, 2009
7:37 am

Brendan No one here questioned Erin Andrews doing the job that Natalie has now, as Erin was able to ask questions while demonstrating an understanding of the game. Perhaps we were simply spoiled by having a talent like Erin replaced by Natalie.

In fairness to Natalie, I’m sure that appearing on live television and trying to not embarrass either yourself or the player is tough enough. Maybe she can grow into the job.

World Be Free

October 7th, 2009
8:08 am

Natalie has to tone down the enthusism and focus on the subject matter, only then will she have a chance to improve. Erin Andrews was much more in control, which is why she was able to move on to her current gig. She’s one of the few ESPN announcers that actually tries to do the job. The rest are just amateur comedians.

Toby

October 7th, 2009
8:24 am

Last time I talked with Kincade, he hung up on me on the air because I agreed with the decision to fire Hartley (on the day it happened). He did not so he hung up and called me a jerk with no hockey knowledge. HA!

Rawhide

October 7th, 2009
8:38 am

I vote for Rawhide to do the between period interviews. I’m sure he won’t mind the makeup.

Mr. Heat Miser – HA! :lol: Just keep the eyeliner away from me…I can’t stand the thought of a stick near ny eyes!

Could image that, tough…me doing the interviews? It would go something like….”We’re here outside the locker room with Boris Valabik. Tell me Boris…JUST WHAT THE HELL WHERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU TOOK THAT NEEDLESS HIGH STICKING MINOR IN NEUTRAL ZONE”??????

Sara

October 7th, 2009
8:54 am

five-hole I beg to differ. A LOT of people questioned the job Erin Andrews did while she was here (I remember entire threads on the official boards getting deleted because of the Erin bashing). She asked fluff questions, screwed up in-game recaps, and butchered name pronunciations. I even brought it up again after she had left – I think when Natalie started. Craig was still our regular beat writer and while I do not want to put definitive words into his mouth, his defense of Erin left the distinct impression that the higher-ups intentionally dumbed her down. I didn’t point out at the time that that “explanation” only made Erin look even worse. Better her to actually be incompetent than to have allowed herself to be exploited, thus continuing the cycle that has brought us to Natalie. Sad part is perhaps Natalie isn’t incompetent or airheaded herself but just goes along with what the higher-ups want. Kinda like the Blue Crew. I hear from people who know them all the time saying how sweet and smart some of these girls are, etc etc, but when you allow an organization to essentially present you as a bimbo, that’s how you’ll be perceived (and those “Become One with a Blue Crew Member” skits pretty much seal the deal).

Sorry – this is a high-horse issue with me – both as a female and the mother of two girls. You should have heard the ear-full my ticket rep got the first time I saw one of those Blue Crew spots. It’s even more aggravating because there are women out there, shockingly even attractive ones, who are capable of providing insightful commentary and journalism on sports. Even crazier is that most guys I know are way more impressed with the double-package of beauty *and* brains … so why not give it to them instead of demeaning women?

/rant

five_hole

October 7th, 2009
9:21 am

Sara That’s not my recollection of Erin while she was here but I agree to disagree.

I do agree that the commentators/announcers “slant” their blurbs to create a positive view of the team. They’re hired by the ASG specifically to promote their product, and so I’m sure they’re not allowed to make Rawhide’scomment “JUST WHAT THE HELL WHERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU TOOK THAT NEEDLESS HIGH STICKING MINOR IN NEUTRAL ZONE”??????”. Plus, I have a horrible mental image of him in makeup & heels. I do question that the ASG would ask Natalie to “bubble-head” it up a little. If that were true, then they’d probably dress her in the 2-band-aids and a g-string that the Blue Crew wears (not that I’m complaining, mind you).

And I disagree with World Be Free that “She’s one of the few ESPN announcers that actually tries to do the job. The rest are just amateur comedians.”. I think women from Robin Roberts to Andrea Kramer have done a fine job there.

R. Stroz

October 7th, 2009
9:58 am

Maybe Natalie Taylor is on the same 10 ten year on the job training program that Waddell has been on the past ten years.

So the real question is this, after five years will Natalie Taylor have to be rebuilt?

Glovesave29

October 7th, 2009
10:04 am

Personally, i’d get rid of these silly distractions altogether. Erin, Natalie…all of them. The time between plays is time to discuss what just happened with your buddies, and what the team should try next. If we are with our kids, to explain what just happened and why…build their knowledge and appreciation of the game and pass the love of hockey on to the next generation. We don’t need to be artificially stimulated (boy that comment taken out of context could open a can of worms!) every second we are at a game.

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 7th, 2009
10:04 am

There’s not many players who would like to work their butt off for 20 minutes to come down the hallway and be asked by a reporter “why did you suck?”. Most would simply ignore him/her and walk to their locker room, and the reporter would never be granted an interview by the coaching staff again.

I’m not excusing the fluff questions EVERY reporter asks between periods, but there is no chance in hell that someone can ask what Rawhide wrote above and truly keep their job as a reporter.

KLS1

October 7th, 2009
10:08 am

The last bubblehead who knew nothing about hockey doing Thrashers games was Erin Andrews. Now I have to watch her do everything from football to the Stanley Cup games….good grief.

Remember one time she did highlights between periods and pronounced Simon Gagne (Simon, like from American Idol)…nice homework.

Buzilla in CT

October 7th, 2009
10:23 am

off topic…

Jets trade for Brandon Edwards….

ranallo10 (in AT)

October 7th, 2009
10:24 am

To be honest the only person I have actually enjoyed listening to during a hockey match at Philips was Billy Jaffe, even though the people I knew claimed he was an arrogant jerk. He definitely came across as a well knowledged hockey mind with the ability to be personable with the players while not having that “best buddy” appearance that so many reporters try to purvey to the audience (like Kincade used to do).

Darkhorse

October 7th, 2009
10:44 am

ranallo10(in AT)-Every time Jaffe’s on NHL Live the last few years and the Thrashers come up, his comments about the team, city or players come across with a bitterness or slight in his body language. He doesn’t trash the team, but his tone seems to say otherwise. Maybe he left here with a big chip on the ‘ole shoulder.