Thrasherville 2009 reflections and looking ahead to 2010’s possibilities

Well Thrasherville, calendar year 2009 is all but a memory now and CY2010 is upon us. When the Thrashers take to the ice in Boston’s TD Garden tonight…the second time during this seven-game road trip…it will be the 80th and last game played by the team in CY2009.

Rich Peveley found a home in Atlanta in 2009 (AP/Gregory Smith)

Rich Peveley found a home in Atlanta in 2009 (AP/Gregory Smith)

As you may recall, it all began with a thrilling 4-3 shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks on January 2 in front of a raucous and rowdy Friday night crowd in Philips Arena. Unfortunately, that was then followed up two days later by an abysmal 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay.

Since that time, Ilya Kovalchuk was named team captain… we parted ways with the likes of Jason Williams, Nic Havelid, Erik Christensen, Mathieu Schnider…we stole Rich Peverley off the waiver wire from Nashville…played to a winning record in the second half of last season…watched the Penguins hoist the Cup…brought in Rick Dudley to be associate GM…had a very good draft in June, highlighted by the 4th overall selection of Evander Kane…traded Garnet Exelby to Toronto for Pavel Kubina…signed free agents Nik Antropov and Maxim Afinogenov…seen “Kari Down ‘09″ begin early after his back surgery in July, and only recently has he even taken to the ice…survived the flooding rains of late summer…watched the team get off to a tremendous start this past fall…and most recently seen them slump to 0-4-1 in the past five games and 4-9-1 in the month of December going into tonight’s game in Beantown.

It’s been quite a year, eh?

The Thrashers used their 4th overall draft pick on Evander Kane. He earned a spot on the squad and has (AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

The Thrashers used their 4th overall draft pick on Evander Kane. He earned a spot on the squad and has 9 goals, 6 assists and is a +7(AP Photo/Gregory Smith)

Regardless of the outcome against the Bruins, Atlanta will end the year with a winning record, as they are currently 40-34-5 in the 79 games played so far in CY2009. That would equate to 85 points earned out of a possible 158…a .538 points winning percentage. Even if they lose their fourth straight in regulation tonight, a 40-35-5 record still amounts to a .531 PW%.

Yes, I know, some will say any overtime loss is still a loss and therefore losing tonight amounts to a break-even record of 40 wins and 40 defeats. But in the NHL, points are what matters in the current scheme of things, so if one wins more that 50% of the possible points available…that amounts to a “winning” record. Maybe one of these years the league will move to simplify matters and go with just Ws and Ls.

Anywahooo…the current year’s record, whichever way you slice it, is better than what we were looking at 12 months ago. A 3-1 loss in Carolina last New Years Eve finished off 2008 on a losing note…which wasn’t much different than most games played in that calendar year as they went 27-41-12 in 80 games played during CY2008…a .421 PW%. That year included the crash-and-burn second half of the disastrous 2007-08 campaign as well as the 13-23-5 beginning of last season.

The year prior to that, CY2007… which straddled the back end of the 2006-07 season and first part of the 2007-08 season…saw the Thrashers play to a record of 39-37-5 over 81 games, which is a .512PW%. 2006, the first full calendar year after the lockout, had the Thrashers playing 92 total games. That was a very good year as they went 48-27-17, earning 113 of a possible 184 points, which is a .614 PW%.

As for predictions for 2010…here are a few for ya to chew on over the next couple of days.

Ilya Kovalchuk's contract status is the big story from 2009 that will carry over into 2010 (AP photo)

Ilya Kovalchuk's contract status is the big story from 2009 that will carry over into 2010 (AP photo)

First off… and this is really the biggie… I do believe that Ilya Kovalchuk will re-sign with the Thrashers. However, I won’t predict when. Don Waddell did himself no favors last September when he indicated that we wouldn’t be talking about the Kovy contract come Christmas time…so I won’t make the same mistake.

But needless to say, it needs to be soon.

Personally, I think it’ll come down to one night, while sitting with his family over dinner, Nicole Kovalchuk… belly swollen with child and helping the two other little tax exemptions with their meals…is gonna look over the table at her husband and say something like, “Ilya…honey…I love you. And I love our family. And I love our home. And I know the kids love it here, too. Our life is pretty good here and I think we can raise our kids on about 9 or 9 and a half million a year”.

Wiping little Carolina’s mouth she continues, “Now, you do what you think is best, hon. But I just thought you might like to hear that”.

Wives can be pretty persuasive with that calm, reassuring, gentle, loving voice.

Secondly…I will predict that Todd White will indeed score a goal in CY2010. Yes…I’m serious…stop laughing.

Also, just prior to the beginning of the season I predicted that the Thrashers would finish this season with a record of 39-33-10 for 88 points, third in the Southeast Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference. I see no reason to change that forecast.

With "Kari Down '09" coming around early this year, it's been Opie and the Moose manning the nets since the beginning of the season (AP/Gregory Smith)

With "Kari Down '09" coming around early this year, it's been Opie and the Moose manning the nets since the beginning of the season (AP/Gregory Smith)

I think they’ll tease us with some good play…even flirt with a playoff position…but fall short in the end.

I hope I’m wrong… that they’ll earn a half-dozen or so more points to make the post-season dance…but look at the five games to be played in April. Two dates with Washington, two against Pittsburgh and another one versus New Jersey. Not the kind of teams you wanna be facing if you’re on the outside trying to get in going down the stretch.

To earn a spot in this spring’s great hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup, I would suspect that the Thrashers need to be north of 90 points by the end of March. My guess is…they won’t be.

One last prediction…John Anderson will sign a contract extension to remain behind the Thrashers’ bench beyond the 2010-11 season. This is something that  general manager Rick Dudley will announce sometime in the fall.

103 comments Add your comment

Dwayne

December 30th, 2009
7:59 am

Riceowls8891

December 30th, 2009
8:03 am

“pretty persuasive”, “calm, gentle, voice.” You are almost British in your understatement. :)

I told a friend at the start of the season Atlanta would be 6th in the East, but December has made me doubt that prediction. Putting April on my work calendar made me doubt it more.

I think now that the playoff run dies on the shores of Jersey and Pittsburgh in April.

Kovy signing announced at Casino Night. (PLEASE)

Dwayne

December 30th, 2009
8:09 am

I’m still optomistic that we will make the playoffs, we have stunk the past couple of weeks, but are still in 8th. Thank goodness the East’s bottom 8 are somewhat stinking too. Thanks for the CY2009 numbers, marked improvement, I hope DW is showing those numbers to Grossman. I feel at some point we will be talking about AK2010, (After Kovy), that will be sad, but hockey life goes on. Lets hope Boston has there mind on Philly and the winter classic, we get us two points and move on.

Russian

December 30th, 2009
8:19 am

Oh, man I like this one:
“Ilya…honey…I love you. And I love our family. And I love our home. And I know the kids love it here, too. Our life is pretty good here and I think we can raise our kids on about 9 or 9 and a half million a year”
It might be big point, Russian man always listen their wives. I am not saying follow wives wishes, but just listen. I read Kovy interview in Sport-Express (russian newspaper). He said that His Family and he like hot and warm weather. Also he said that it will his last contract as Professional Hockey player. I know we went down in December so badly, but things can be changed. IF:
1. Kovy sign contract with Atlanta
2. Kovy did not sign contract with Atlanta and we get good players
3. Kari will be back
4. White and Slava will play good.
January 2010 will be very important month for Kovy. I hope he will stay here as Capitan and then Thrashers can make a push to Play OFF. :-)

Toby

December 30th, 2009
8:22 am

It’s tough now because of the current funk, but we’ll turn it around the second half. I still think we’ll be playoff bound.

Not Blind

December 30th, 2009
8:34 am

14th by Saturday night.

HonkyTonkHero

December 30th, 2009
8:44 am

I predict that Kari will come back and be on fire. Kovy signs for 10 years. White & Pavs get traded and we get a top 6 forward plus pick/prospect. Thrashers start clicking like they did last year in February. Only this time they didn’t screw up the first part of the season so bad that they steadily maintain a playoff spot. Coach Anderson grows more of a temper and starts putting the fear of baby Jesus in the players (descriptive words used in post pressers like “fragile” are replaced with “pansies and nancys”).

R. Stroz

December 30th, 2009
8:49 am

I will predict that Todd White will indeed score a goal in CY2010.

Air Hockey doesn’t count.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 30th, 2009
9:26 am

I am so tired to hearing and talking about Kovy’s contract. What the heck is taking so long in determining if he will or will not sign?

Don’t the idiots that run this team see what the distraction is doing to the club?

Alan R.

December 30th, 2009
9:38 am

Secondly…I will predict that Todd White will indeed score a goal in CY2010. Yes…I’m serious…stop laughing.

I predict Ondrej Pavelec will score a goal before Todd White in CY2010.

Stan Drulia

December 30th, 2009
9:43 am

I do find it kind of interesting that pretty much around the time Waddell announced the infamous “SNAG” in negotiations with Kovy – We started losing every game and looking pretty scattered overall. Brings back painful memories of Hossa leaving and basically killing the season.

Alan R.

December 30th, 2009
9:47 am

Stan, we also started playing harder and putting in a more complete (albeit still not a full sixty minutes) effort. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, in this case. Our big problem has been defense, especially these last five or so games, where we have a few brain farts and the puck ends up in our net.

Goalies can only do so much, as the last line of defense. Those players in front of him must do all they can to prevent the opposition from having chances.

Not Blind

December 30th, 2009
10:05 am

As I said in the other blog, there is no chance of seeing sustained physical play from Kotton Kandy until after the Olympics [ and probably no sustained physical play even after the Olympics ]. The question is will he still be a Thrasher by then ? Personally I hope not. I hope Atlanta doesn’t become a destination for players that want to live in a nice [ warm ] area and get paid lots of money for playing soft hockey. Right now at least half the team fits that description.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 30th, 2009
10:29 am

$10M / years need to dominate every shift, every game.
They also need to be able to take the heat, like #8 does in Washington.

Chris

December 30th, 2009
11:17 am

Nobody’s even noticed the very last sentence of your article, Bill.

Well done.

Rawhide

December 30th, 2009
11:38 am

Chris – Looks like you win the prize for noticing it! Well done on your part for catching that little ditty.

Miami Screaming Eagle

December 30th, 2009
11:55 am

Chris-I did not becuase I believe this is a forgone conclusion.
D-Wad will be moving to the TSA.

StateBird

December 30th, 2009
12:03 pm

Unfortunately Kovy will listen to Grossman more than Nicole. Grossman’s only goal is maximizing his 10%. He will be gone.

I also believe that the franchise will be on the move in 2010. Probably not during the season and perhaps not by the start of the 2010/11 season but an announcement will be made before the end of the calendar year.

Playoffs? Where is Jim Mora when you need him. Can someone please indicate if there has ever been a playoff team that failed to win a game in regulation for an entire month? (Unless there is a miracle in Boston tonight the Thrahsers will be 0 for December.)

Riceowls8891

December 30th, 2009
12:35 pm

According to Ben Wright, White sits tonite. Looks like you get your wish, Bill.

And the Thrashers get to face Rask.

LAC

December 30th, 2009
12:37 pm

I tend to agree with Statebird, I do NOT believe the team will be here after next season. Why, these owners can only blame THEMSELVES, they think they are so damn smart, but they are a collection of misfits from Hell itself…

When the team returns 1/9 I believe, I bet maybe 5,000 show up.

Just think what “could have been”. Look at Nashville and their sucess !

Look at Phoenix this season, all the mess they have been through and they are one of the TOP western teams, 10 game HOME WINNING STREAK,
that would NEVER happen here, and just think… THEY MADE CHANGES, yes they ushered out the Greatest NHL player ever as coach and look at the results ! Like I have said CHANGE IS GOOD, this Atlanta bunch NEEDS MUCH Change… I question WHY will they NOT make changes ASAP ?

Reason they are stupid, dumb, idiots when it comes to sports, they believe others who BS them like waddell and it only gets WORSE.

Las Vegas ? Kansas City ? Saskatoon ? Houston ? I bet $100 right now at the start of the 2011-2012 season the Thrashers will have a new home and new name.

Hockey has not died because of we the fans, it has died because of mismanagement, hiring the WRONG people, and NOT changing things so the team could improve. It all will fall at the feet of these inmature owners, sure they will get millions, and we the FANS, will, like the Flames, get the SHAFT ! I just look at all the other teams who made changes and cannot figure out WHY this team will do nothing and sink to the bottom of the standings once again.

Just a sad outlook, but what can we all do ? Nothing !

Rawhide

December 30th, 2009
12:40 pm

According to Ben Wright, White sits tonite. Looks like you get your wish, Bill.

Riceowls8891 – It’s about damn time!

Russian

December 30th, 2009
12:46 pm

OK. This is a first step that we were asking for. White took a break. Boston wants to rest Thomas or they just think that Atlanta is easy going team. We will see it tonight.
I hope Anderson make lines:
Kovy-Antro-Max
Kane-Pever-Little
Slava-Rizon-Armi
Bolts-Slater-Trambon
Please do that and we can win. :-)

Wayne stuck in AL

December 30th, 2009
1:02 pm

1. Eel-ya will not be here next season.
2. Another reason hockey is dying here is because blacks and white Southerners cannot and will not root for a team whose stars are European/Russian.

Hockey Biltong

December 30th, 2009
1:35 pm

uuuuuuuuurp!

lilibeter

December 30th, 2009
2:25 pm

I predict the Thrashers will discover that there are a whole 40 minutes of hockey that take place prior to the third period and that they will begin injecting some measure of their last-20-minute intensity into those first 40 minutes of hockey too. I also predict that, once they start doing so, they will suddenly find themselves in the role of serious playoff contenders. Moreover, I truly hope that these predictions aren’t just wishful thinking!

I hope more than anything that those predictions of the franchise leaving Atlanta in 2010 (or ever!) are wrong. As Brendan said in the other blog, “…BAD hockey is better than NO hockey.”

Paminski

December 30th, 2009
2:26 pm

Predictions

Kovalchuk: NOT resigning here. Maybe it’s just a defense mechanism kicking in to keep my psyche undamaged, but my expectations on this are low. If we are not at least 8th in the East three quarters of the way through January, he will be traded. Then he will sign elsewhere. It seems to me if he were thrilled to be here, he’d put a little more effort into playing for the team. If I could apply only one word to his play of late, it would be “petulant.”

Location: The team is not moving anytime soon. Economic concerns and contractual obligations make moving or selling unlikely for the near future. Unfortunately, ownership instability, the mediocre size of the fan base and the fact that this is a non-traditional hockey market will keep this a constant issue. If the team is in Atlanta for another decade or another century, this will be discussed every one of those years.

Goalies: Kari returns. He plays his naturally-talented butt off. It’s a difficult choice, but Pavs gets traded. We finish the year outside the playoffs and Kari is injured early next season.

Coach: I can’t see Anderson getting an extension unless there is some radically improved play coming up quickly here. No idea about the players, but fans are losing faith in his system. Essentially, it’s not a bad system. It just needs tweaks. Also, I’m not sure Anderson is very good for individual player development. He has a good conception of team development, however, individual skills also need to be honed. We’re not currently seeing results here with Bogosian, Kane and Little.

Playoffs: I don’t think so. There is still a chance, but it requires fixing the Kovalchuk situation and the aforementioned tweaking.

Dudley as GM: Sure, I’ll buy that.

Rawhide: He will continue to provide a fine blog product and promote hockey in the Atlanta area. Also, he will buy me a pitcher of Newcastle next time at TJ’s.

Jimbo

December 30th, 2009
3:05 pm

With this five game losing streak, “negativity” is running rampant. But, JA and DW seem oblivious to it and also the need to make some changes. White sits. Big deal. The streak reaches six tonight, 4-1.

Alan R.

December 30th, 2009
3:17 pm

Bill, for what it’s worth, Mathieu Schneider cleared waivers.

That’s right, guys. You are free to exhale now.

NorthStarsDave

December 30th, 2009
3:21 pm

OK…a few predictions from THE State of Hockey…..

1) Kovy re-signs….he isn’t going anywhere…the NHL can not afford to have him leave the 9th largest media market…he is the only marquee player we have at this point…and you will see why below….

2) Todd White will only score on February 14th….and the Thrashers do not have a game…chicks love hockey players….ask Carrie Underwood…

3) Playoffs…I want to know if anyone predicted that the Thrashers would be 8th in the East at the 1st of the year….I know I did not…but because they are, the WILL make the Playoffs….as the 8th seed…beating out Tampa Bay, Philly and the Rangers…

4) Coach…take a look at the results…since the 1st of 2009 he has a winning record…no Coach that has been in Blueland can say that…so he re-signs…

5) Dudley will be GM because….

Waddell will be a minority partner with New Owners…who will build a hockey arena where the GM Plant used to be in Doraville….the crowds will turn out because the new Arena (known as The Kontinental Hockey Locale or KHL for short) will be on the North side of town…where, naturally, most of Atlanta’s finest hockey fans live!

And the Thrashers will live long and prosper!

Russian

December 30th, 2009
3:28 pm

**to NorthStarsDave**
BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO
You are a BEST Optimistic Person. I like your way. :-)

Lee

December 30th, 2009
3:29 pm

I just put in a long comment and it didn’t show up!!!!

Lee

December 30th, 2009
3:36 pm

I’ll write it over again:
-I know this sounds crazy, but I really think Kovy will be signed. Now, I can tell you right now, It won’t be a smooth ride getting there. We may have to release some players that we don’t want to, but we got to do what we got to do. Everyone blames Don Waddell for no signing kovy, but really folks, it’s a hard desicion. He could either sign Kovy and release some players, cough cough Todd White, OR he could let kovy go and sign some players. It’s not any easy choice. Let the man think.
-Kari will return in Mid February, will be hot, then injure himself in the begining of next season.
-As for moving, maybe. If Kovy is signed, probably not, if he isn’t, maybe. It’s though ignorant fans that think Kovy is the whole team……Anywayz, we have only had this team for 10 years, NOT LONG FOLKS! Our team is almost all young players. We need to let them develop and gain experience. In another 10 years, we’ll be pretty good.

Smoothie

December 30th, 2009
3:46 pm

Paminski – I pretty much agree with everything you wrote in your post. Thanks for summarizing my predictions. Here are a couple more:

Todd White develops some mysterious lower body injury and does not play again until after Casino Night, 2010. Machacek gets the call and Salmela gets sent down to keep the roster at 23. Lehtonen comes back by the ides of January and helps the Thrashers win 6 in a row starting with Toronto and Carolina on 1/19 and 1/21. Kovy stays but White, Pavelec and Valabik get traded to Philly for Briere, Coburn and a prospect. Thrashers’ Kovy and Max lose gold medal to Toby Enstrom and the Swedes in a 2 OT final whereby Nabakov is bested by King Henry. Russians take down Canada in their semi-final in which Kovy knocks out Dany Heatley’s top two teeth. Czechs led by Pavel Kubina and a resurgent Ondrej Pavelec stun the Americans in their pool, but get knocked off by the Swedes on their way to gold. Canada wins the bronze. A rejuvenated Kovy comes back with a glint of determination in his eyes the likes of which we’ve never seen. He scores 29 goals in the month of March and the Thrashers win 13 of 17 games on their way to the # 6 seed. From there, we take down Ryan Miller, still reeling from the Olympics, and the Sabres in an epic 7-game series. The city of Buffalo riots and a certain infamous blog poster is seen breaking windows on Chippewa Street out of frustration. Kovy signs the most lucrative contract in the history of hockey, but Waddudley manage to tack on 5 extra years to the end of the deal to make the cap hit $9.5 M / year. But despite this, the Thrashers go on to lose in 6 games at the hands of the New Jersey Devils who then go on to upset the Washington Capitals in 6 games after they take down Pitsburgh in 7. Marty Brodeur wins one last Cup before riding off into the sunset of retirement. Jacques Lemaires retires also and asks that the trap be outlawed so nobody ever coaches it better than him. Bettman gives in and removes a defenseman from the game and makes the goalies shave an inch off of each pad. The average goals scored goes up in 2010 by 3 goals per game and Kovy, Ovechkin and Gaborik all score 70+ goals. Thornton, Savard and Backstrom all record 140+ assists and an all-out assault begins on Gretzky and Lemieux in the record books. Kovalchuk finishes his career as a Thrasher at the age of 41 and he still manages to pot 23 goals to go over 800 for his career. In 2013-14, the Thrashers led by Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Kari Lehtonen and Ilya Kovachuk’s 78 goals lift Lord Stanley’s Cup in front of a raucous SRO crowd at Philips setting an attendance record with 19, 234 squeezed into the Bulb.

Oh yeah, and I predict that I will buy a new car sometime in 2010.

NorthStarsDave

December 30th, 2009
4:08 pm

Thanks Russian….BTW….Rask beat the Thrashers in OTL in late November….

Glovesave29

December 30th, 2009
4:20 pm

I felt a lot more confident that Kovy would stay prior to reading Jay Feaster’s blog on THN. He has first hand experience in dealing with Grossman, and his “its all about the money” negotiating style. He was not willing to work with the Lightning when Khabibulin was up for a new contract coming off of a SC winning season. All I can hope for is for Ilya to step in and tell Grossman to find a way to work out a deal, or he will find someone else who will. If it is truly all about the money, he should want to stay in a market like Atlanta where your money goes a lot further. Let’s face it, we all live on a fraction of what Kovy brings home, but we appreciate the fact that a home here that costs $500K would be triple that in NYC, LA or SJ.

I cannot see Bettman letting Atlanta lose a second team. He fought tooth and nail to heep the Yotes in Phoenix, and their situation is far worse than ours. I could see teams leaving NSH, TB and FLA before the Thrashers give up and move away. This market is just too big. Let us recall the death knell was sounded for the Canes and Pens in the past few years too. Both seem to be just fine now.

If our wingers don’t start forechecking to slow the opponent rush and force it up the boards, and then come back in the defensive zone to help the D with weak side support, the slot will remain wide open and goals will fill the nets behind Opie and Moose.

Red Light

December 30th, 2009
4:45 pm

Beware, it’s a long one.

Does the fact that the Thrashers roster, currently with five (possibly six if Hainsey or Bogo were chosen) Olympians (including Pavelec who isn’t playing well according to some posters on this blog), say more about the coaching during the last month, or does it say more about the organization’s lack of depth when no one can be summoned from the AHL to provide a spark for the listless ones, such as White, Kozy, Bogo, et al?

Or, does the fact that given the right circumstances, the current roster could include six more Olympians, if you include former Thrashers such as Heatley, Hossa, Hnat Domenichelli, Herberts Vasiljevs, Lubos Bartecko, and Ilya Nikulin, all of whom were named to 2010 squads. Of course, I’m not being totally serious, so before you start piling on, keep it to yourself.

NS Dave: Unless Grossman and Kovy buy the team, Waddell won’t be an owner nor a GM, and the only thing certain to prosper near Doraville is cockfighting!

The Serious Commentary:
Why would anyone want to own an NHL team in a non-traditional NHL market? You get less from the league’s national TV contract per year than what whipping boy Todd White’s makes this season. It’s easy to credit Arthur Blank when he opens the doors every season with $80 million from TV revenues, or even the NBA, whose TV contract is $7.5 billion over the next eight years, which means the Hawks get about $30 million per year (if my math is correct).

Now, at 13,000 paying fans per game shelling out $100 each for tickets and food (if we’re tee-totalling that night) for 41 games means the Thrashers “generate” $1.3 million per game, or $53.3 million for the season. Not taking into consideration non-skating personnel, and with the current cap hit of $52.565 million, that gives you a whopping total of $735,000 plus the approximate $2.5 million in national TV revenues and you’re left with $3.235 million to offset all other expenses.

If your team doesn’t make the playoffs, where you can jack up ticket prices by twos and threes, and can actually help offset the losses, your goose is cooked. There are no fewer than 500 posters to this and other hockey blogs during the past 10 years serving Thrashers fans who recognized the shortcomings of both GM and ownership groups of this team. That being the case, the revenues generated by the Thrashers for 41 nights at Philips Arena is obviously better than having no tenant at all during those 41 nights. I can assure you that if the Atlanta Spirit could replace the Thrashers on those nights with the same type of revenues, they would. Unfortunately, concert goers want able to smoke their unfiltered doobs indoors and the smoking laws at Philips prohibit that somewhat. The point being, the Thrashers aren’t the worst tenant for a very profitable part of Atlanta Spirit’s business, that being the Arena itself. That means the Thrashers aren’t going anywhere just yet, unless the group finds some other entity to take its place.

The best we can hope for is a change in personnel management, a proactive manager rather than a reactionary, which has always been the case, with a full-time professional, knowledgeable scouting staff. I’ve said it before, as have many others, and the proof is in the pudding. This franchise is in no better shape going forward on the ice than it has been for much of the current regime’s tenure. The last time we had a high-priced, soon to be free agent entering the free agent market we got a forward faster than the speed of wet sand (Army), a center who couldn’t break a pair of fresh eggs in his pants if he went into the corners with them, a former #1 draft pick who peaked at the age of 16 (Esposito) and Daultan Leveille (13 goals and 18 assists in 59 career games at Mich. State).

To paraphrase what they used to write on bathroom stalls: “The joke’s not up here, it’s in Waddell’s hands!”

Smoothie

December 30th, 2009
4:47 pm

I know Pavelec has been playing better of late (and congrats to him on making the Czech Olympic team), but he is still giving up 5 goals / gm. If you look at his last 7 games played, his SV% is a woeful 86.6% and his GAA for his 5 full games plus 2 partials is a whopping 5.03!! In his last 4 games, he has given up 17 goals on 131 shots for a very pedestrian, no make that weak, .870 SV%. Let’s hope the announcement to play in the Olympics sparks him tonite. We need to win 3 – 2 or 4 – 3 at worst. Let’s go boys! Make it happen!

Larry

December 30th, 2009
4:57 pm

Ah predictions…. Long time lurker and first time poster – the topic was irresistible. So here are my 2010 predictions for the Thrashers and the NHL.

Kovy does not sign with us and is traded before the Olympics for a youngish roster player with upside top-6 potential, a top prospect, and first round pick. to a Western conference team. He is traded as a rental, not a sign and trade. Thrashers unsuccessfully try to include Todd White in the deal but no takers. In FA in the Summer Kovy signs a 10 year, $9.0M cap hit contract with someone other than Atlanta.

Thrashers narrowly miss the playoffs (by 3-4 points) because they only win 1 of those April games against tough opponents.

Kari comes back in late January after a rehab stint in Chicago, looks sharp. He gets injured again in March. Thrashers finally cut bait with him over the summer – trade his rights at the draft for a second or third round pick.

Max signs a 3 year contract with Atlanta for $2-2.5M per year.

Kubina is offered a multi-year contract by Atlanta for $4.5M or so but he signs instead with a team he feels is closer to Cup contention.

John Anderson is kept on board for the 2010-2011 season (though I’ve lost faith in his ability to coach a defensibly responsible scheme/system). Defense wins championships, and right now the team has no clue what it’s doing defensively. But he’s given one more chance.

DW keeps his job for at least another year. Utterly Amazing.

Pittsburgh gets knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by whomever – Pens have played a LOT of hockey over the past three years and that eventually catches up with a team. NJ wins the East, defeating the Caps in the CF.

In the West San Jose loses in the first or second round, again. To their long history of early exits, they now have bad, bad Karma due to bringing on board number 15. Chicago wins the West, and advances to play NJ in the Finals where….

They lose in 7 games to the Devils. MaryAnn Hossa is on the ice at the end (again), and sites dejectedly looking at the Devils celebration. Hossa afterwards demands a trade to a contender.

Colby Armstrong goes UFA in July and re-signs with Pittsburgh or if not, then one of the Canadian teams. Good Canadian boy and all that. Don Cherry will love it.

Thrashers off season moves (other than those above) include…

Overpay for a Kubina replacement – a strong shut down defenseman…. something in the $4.5-5.0M range for 5 years. Hopefully at least he’s young.

Trade Todd White at the draft for whatever they can get for him – the proverbial bag of pucks.

Slava retires. Kane is penciled in as the 1st or 2nd line LW. Thrashers take Kovy’s money and Slava’s and go after a 35-40 goal scoring winger in FA. Not sure who. Whoever it is, he must be at least 6 feet 200 pounds…. no more smurfs.

Little gets a new contract for 3-4 years – substantially less than what we would have gotten after last year… maybe $2.5-$3.0M per year. Thrashers wise up that Little is a natural center and move him back to that position. Little gets 15-20 goals and 30-40 assists next season.

Thashers keep Pavs and ask Moose to play one more year, with a promise of a coaching position the following year. Moose agrees.

On year from today we are still talking about when the AS, LLC will settle the Belkin matter. (Sigh….).

Happy New Year everyone!

Red Light

December 30th, 2009
5:13 pm

Blasts from the Thrashers’ past make Olympic rosters: Hnat Domenchelli (Swiss), Herberts Vasiljevs (Latvia), Lubos Bartecko (Slovakia), Niko Kapanen (Finland) and Ilya Nikulin (Russia).

Brendan

December 30th, 2009
7:03 pm

My prediction over the summer for the 2010 Thrashers seasons was 85-points, 3rd in SE Division, and 10th in the Conference. I am sticking with that. Hands on hips. “Oh c’mon. That’s incremental progess, I thought you people LOVED that.”

If Rick Dudley assumes the GM position, I’m reluctantly fine with that. But hear me out, okay? Rick Dudley would NOT have been my personal choice to fill the GM chair. And that Waddell, effectively, got to name his own replacement, should stir some concerns. He’s already named 3 head coaches, plus given it a shot, himself, not once, but twice, and then, *gasp*, gets to name his own successor as GM? Who ELSE does business like this? I want an example. Perhaps, it has happened before. And if it has, I’d love to know the results of it. I wish Rick Dudley the very best, if he does become our next GM. He has horrible ownership with which to endure. And, I suppose, he also has to answer to Don Waddell, who I suppose will have some oversight role over the Hawks and Thrashers, budget-wise. That is, if any of this is even remotely true.

Beeee honest. Are those the things that make a person do cartwheels?

Okay Brendan, what would make YOU do cartwheels? Aside from 17 shots of Tequila, try these on for size: AS, LLC sells the team, and some of the rights to Philips Arena, to a local investor interest, that has a robust hockey interest, and who keeps the team in town. The new ownership installs a new GM, after a long, thorough, and very careful review of candidates in May, giving the new GM time to hire scouts and Coach, if need be, etc. The GM then ANNOUNCES what the IDENTITY and STRATEGY of the team will be, moving forward. Then they go draft players to fit that mold at the end of June. Then it’s on to Free Agency to get more of those “types” of players, etc. And then, there’s the waiver wire in the Fall to see what can be found there, as well.

Those aren’t predictions, I do realize. That’s a “wish list.” If the Thrashers can make the playoffs this season, that’d be a bonus. But they’re not really built for any sustained playoff success. For me, it’s more important NOT to make any stupid trade deadline moves, especially moves made in DESPERATION, that cripple the franchise for the coming years. Nobody makes good moves in a panicky mindset. If Kovy re-signs with us, I think it will not be before June 30, 2010. Waddell has said, “Kovy won’t be traded, no matter what.” Kovalchuk may not sign with anybody until July 5th or 6th. This way, he has a better idea of what the team he ISSS signing with is doing, roster-wise. If it’s just about the money, he’ll take all GROSSMAN can finagle on July 1, from the stupidest GM that offers it. If Kovy gets more than a $10 million cap hit, that team BADLY overpaid for a player with as many defensive lapses as Ilya has. Crosby’s cap hit is $8.7M. Ovechkin’s is $9.5M. Kovalchuk is neither of those players. And I love Kovalchuk and dearly want him to stay. If Kovy would take 10-years/$80-85 million, I think we could all live with that. And so could he, frankly. He’s already made $37 million from the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL. Before we tack on another $80-something million. What’s left for him to buy? Don’t say, “a pet dinosaur.” Because he just can’t have that. Kovalchuk could charter his own private rocket to the moon, establish a summer home there, and still have enough moolah left over to buy his own private island somewhere, while declaring himself, “King, Czar, CEO, CFO, and Executive VP of Island Operations.” Kovy says “I want to play for the Stanley Cup.” He says, “I want to play my whole career in one city.” Well Ilya … here’s your chance to prove those lovely quotes are more than political posturing. Take an $8.0 to $8.5 million cap hit for us, forsake the league max non-sense, and let Atlanta try to build a cup winner around you. If not, then … I’m terribly sorry you’ve chosen to leave, but I don’t begrudge you that decision. And I wish you the very best. And let’s take that $8.0 to $9.0 million cap hit to go get three 22 goal scorers, replacing Ilya with an entire line.

Smoothie

December 30th, 2009
7:41 pm

WE EFFIN SUCK!!!!!!!!!! I GIVE UP.

Lee

December 30th, 2009
7:42 pm

Ya and the way they’re playing tonight, ugh, just awful.

Russian

December 30th, 2009
8:03 pm

FIRE ANDERSON!!!
It will be late. Don, Do it now.

Tom

December 30th, 2009
8:06 pm

Tonight reminds me of the immortal line, “It is deja vu all over again.”

I also figured out that if the Thrashers don’t give a crap about showing up for a full game, why should I worry about watching them for a full game. I am thinking that NHL on the Fly covers about the same amount of time that “our boys” put into play hard per game.

See ya’ll next year, maybe…

stendec

December 30th, 2009
8:37 pm

Predictions? Atlanta is home to the WORST National Hockey League team. F#ck records! The Yardbirds suck with a capital S and are completely worthless oxygen wastes. PERIOD! Will say more later. Only player I respect at all is Moose Hedberg. Trade sieve Pavs Lehtonen and uncaring bestard Russian Ilya “Maryann Hossa” Kovalchuk for whatever the Hell they will fetch! Total bullshet! ++STENDEC++

LAC

December 30th, 2009
8:49 pm

I have officially had it whit this pavlac HE simply STINKS, another pull job, stops nothing and talk about nothing in the tank at ALL, this kid is awful.

If ANYONE out there can say anderson still has any control over this team, PLEASE SPEAK UP !

If ANYONE out there thinks #17 will resign here, PLEASE SPEAK UP !

If ANYONE out there thinks the team will REMAIN in Atlanta after next season, PLEASE SPEAK UP !

Why is bryan little still here, a one season wonder, nothing more.

zach b. WORST defenseman on team, TRADE HIM NOW, PLEASE, who cares if he is 19, he $UCKS.

Waive white, trade #17 while we can get “some” decent return.

Like I said, we will have a 9 game losing streak when we return home,
and one last season of NHL hockey will be played here next season, then it is OVER, all thanks to Stupid sprit and don waddell the liar with NO brain, I’d love to go a round with waddell, he’d turtle in an instant the LYING COWARD !!!!!!

Where are all you people who say we will win NOW ?

Cornbread

December 30th, 2009
8:59 pm

4-0, Simply Putrid. This is the worst game I’ve seen all year. After the decent enough game they lost in NJ, I expected a much better effort. The only one that looks good is Moose. Boston is looking like a good team that has come together at the halfway point like all good teams do. The Thrashers look like a bad team that have yet to figure it out. They look like the Canes! They suck on the breakout, they suck going through the neutral zone, they suck sustaining any offensive pressure, they suck going to the net, and they suck on the forecheck.

It all starts down in their own end. Since they can’t get the puck out, they run around, get tired, turn the puck over, dump it softly into the neutral zone, and get shots and goals against. When they do get in the other end, they are too tired to do sustain any pressure and easily get shut down.

Early in the season they got great goaltending to make up for their lapses. That is very hard to keep-up when you are continually being bombarded. The Thrashers run and gun offense took advantage early on when teams were not as tight as they are now. They did not tighten-up like other teams did and we are witnessing the ugly results.

Boston looks like a very good solid hockey team. They are where I expected the Thrashers to be right now. But reality has set in. My predictions, No playoffs, an early draft pick, No Hedberg, No Kubina, No Kozlov, No Kovalchuk, and No fans in the stands.

Smoothie

December 30th, 2009
9:00 pm

How did this team ever manage to win more games than it lost in this calendar year??

Lee

December 30th, 2009
9:09 pm

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
UGH!!!!!!! THIS TEAM SUCKS SOOOOOOO BAD!!!!!! MOOSE DESERVES TO PLAY ON A BETTER TEAM THAN THE TRASHERS ( YEP, TRASHERS) THIS IS ALL TRASH!!!!! I CAN’T TAKE IT!!!!! PAVELEC, YOU SUCK!!!!!!! IS THERE A SUCH THING AS A PLAYBOOK??!! REALLY??!!! THERE IS??!!! MAYBE THE TRASHERS SHOULD USE IT! OH, WAIT, I DON’T THINK JOHN ANDERSON HAS ONE IN THE LOCKER ROOM!

Lee

December 30th, 2009
9:10 pm

Cornbread-After this game, there’ll already be no fans in the stands