Thrashers need to ‘Just Win’

November 30, 2009…34 days ago. That was the last time the Atlanta Thrashers won a regulation game. Since that time they have played to a record of 4-10-3, earning 8 points in the standings while surrendering 34…29 to teams in the Eastern Conference.

Since their last win of any kind…a 6-5 overtime victory against Dallas…they are winless in eight consecutive going 0-5-3.

After starting the season with a road record of 9-2-1 in their first 12 away from Philips Arena, they have stumbled to a record of 1-8-2 outside of Thrasherville since. The last time they won on the road was on December 14 when they downed the Rangers in a shootout. The last time the won in regulation outside of Philips was back on November 27 when they lit the lamp 5 times in the third period up in Carolina.

Ahhhh…these are indeed the times that try mens souls. At least, if they are Thrashers fans.

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates Saturday's game-tying goal with Toby Enstrom and Rich Peverley (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Ilya Kovalchuk celebrates Saturday's game-tying goal with Toby Enstrom and Rich Peverley (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

The Thrashers wake up this morning tied with Tampa Bay and the Islanders for ninth place in the east with 42 points. When they began this little seven-game excursion on the road, the held the sixth spot and looking to leap over the Bruins for the fifth spot with a win in Boston to start the trip.

Looking back over the six games played so far on this roadie from hell, only once have they been totally destroyed in a game. That was the 4-0 B-slappin’ they suffered from the hand…er, paws…of the Boston Bruins last Saturday. They lost 4-3 in Tampa, 3-2 in New Jersey and the 6-4 loss in Beantown to start the trip was 5-4 prior to the empty-netter at the end. Most recently are the back-to-back losses in OT to the Sabres and Islanders to begin 2010.

Now, the only thing they have to do in order to avoid an Oh-fer the road trip is travel up to western Pennsylvania and beat the defending Stanley Cup champs…something they haven’t been able to do to the Penguins in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27, 2006.

It’s tough to put a finger on one single thing that has one wrong over the past seventeen games given that there are several options to chose from…defensive lapses, lack of full 60-minutes worth of effort, goaltending not being able to keep up the torrid pace of October and November, forwards failing to backcheck regularly, intensity level, etc.

Which quote is best applied to the Thrashers now?

  • "Just win, baby" - Al Davis (37%, 45 Votes)
  • "Change" - Barack Obama (11%, 14 Votes)
  • "Try just a little bit harder" - Janis Joplin (14%, 17 Votes)
  • "Playoffs?...Pl...Playoffs?" - Jim Mora (38%, 46 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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And of course, there is this little matter of the Kovalchuk contract issue looming over the team’s head that will just keep growing in size and importance as each and every day that passes between now and when the ink gets put on paper or…or….or…Well, just “or”.

So what is the answer to what ails this team? Well…I’ll echo what radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal said prior to the Islanders game in his “Key to the Game”

“Just win”.

They need to find a way to piece together 60-minutes of effort…find a way to work through the adversity…man-up to the situation and get the job done. The talent is there, I believe and I still have faith in the coaching staff.

But like Kamal said…they just have to win. Sometimes that’s the entire breakdown needed. And they’d better find a way to do it…and soon…because the second half of the season is now upon us.

105 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

January 3rd, 2010
10:06 am

FIRST, for 2010

The Real Thrash

January 3rd, 2010
10:24 am

The definition of insanity: The Thrashers doing the same things and fans expected a different result.

Matt

January 3rd, 2010
10:32 am

I have taken to hitting myself in the head with a ballpeen hammer every time I even THINK about watching the Thrashers play. Far, far less painful than the real thing. I really would like to have something positive to write about, but after this latest swoon, I find there is nothing to say.

Smitty

January 3rd, 2010
10:41 am

Bill, I would like to point out the difference in our respective IQs. You went to South Florida. Probably sunny and 80 degrees. I came up to see the Thrashers and Sabres. At present it is 10 degrees and we have had almost a foot of snow since last night. Talk about insanity.

Darkhorse

January 3rd, 2010
10:43 am

Whomever cursed the Falcons franchise years ago is doing the same to this one it appears. They must also be the parents of Waddell because he’s been here through all this misery.

Rawhide

January 3rd, 2010
10:49 am

RStroz – I think technically speaking, Brendan “won” first of 2010 shortly after midnight Jan.1 during the last blog entry.

Smitty – LOL!! :lol: but the lakehouse is in north Florida…between Stark and Palatka where it was cloudy, rainy and mid-50s…and I spent my time felling a tree with the boys New Years Eve. Yesterday I spent 9 hours driving home…a trip that normally takes 6 hours. Traffic was a nightmare all the up I-75.

stendec

January 3rd, 2010
10:52 am

Good morning Rawhide. Priming to watch Falcons. Sincerely wish best for you and yours in 2010. God bless all of you. Nice article. You are far better than this team deserves. Cheers my friend. ++STENDEC++

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
10:56 am

Bill-oh no, now we are quoting Obama. I am having a tough time keeping my breakfast down.

Smitty-you obviously have not learned from your past. I avoid going to Buffalo until “real Buffalo Summer” apprears. Real Buffalo Summer is July 3-7. Fall begins July 8. My friends in Buffalo didn’t even take their pool covers off this summer, to swin in their balmy 72F pools.

You cannot win in this league if you can’t play defense and this team cannot play “D”. There’s no leader on defense, nobody to lean on. That’s why I advocated signing Chelios. Chelly is a winner, a guy who can guide a defense through a tough game. Our best defenseman is 19 years old and he’s showing the strain of the current situation.

Smitty, you are in Buffalo; the Sabres have Craig Rivet to settle the defense. He’s not the best defenseman, but he’s a leader.

Why not re-acquire Steve Staois from Edmonton? Another leader who can be had for a draft pick.

HookyBob

January 3rd, 2010
10:57 am

Rawhide: I too have looked back and broken down reasons for each of the last 7 games. In the 1st 5 of those games the problems were widespread, with the offense, defense, and goaltending all having lapses. Special teams were anything but,…special.

We did play well in the last two games and still failed to get the W. That happens,..but the timing couldn’t have been worse.

I am at a loss as pick one thing that they need to focus on / improve to get going again. Seems like something not being focused on will lead to a costly lapse. Anyone recall an old Kurt Frasier quote about the “water pipes always breaking somewhere else” (or some such notion). How many years ago would that have been?

On the Kovy situation,..other blogs have noted that the Blackhawks may be interested if moving Kovy omes to pass. Kris VerSteeg and Dustin Byfuglin for Kovy has been suggested. I like both those players and that deal, if possible, might be in our best interest. Since that would be about a wash in salary,…maybe the Hawks will throw in another player.

I’m sure other teams might be interested in getting Kovy,…and reducing cap issues at the same time. So, a Kovy trade could net us 2, or even 3, proven players. This could prove to be a benefit to our Thrashers, but it might not be so good for some of our existing players.

stendec

January 3rd, 2010
11:04 am

Morning LAC. Getting primed to watch Falcon finale. Since I was an investigative reporter for almost four decades I want to clue you in on something. The most untrustyworthy folks I ever had to deal with were politicians. They lie, cheat, back stab and would betray their own mothers if they knew who they were and it suited their purposes. Don Waddell is a politician. I know what the deceiver would say before any question is even asked. Master politicians, like a certain jerkoff on Pennsylvania Avenue, can talk for hours on end without ever saying a damn thing! The Yardbird GM would never respond honestly to a question from anyone. Enjoy reading your insightful posts. Keep on keeping on my friend. Peace. ++STENDEC++

stendec

January 3rd, 2010
11:07 am

Anyone else see what happened in Plains? Funny as Hell to me. Sure needed that laugh after watching more Yardbird follies! ++STENDEC++

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
11:07 am

Hooky-Eklund (if you can believe his fairy tales) has a few more players coming to Atlanta. Kovy AND Mary Anne Hossa in Chicago? The ex-Thrasher club?

The rumors are all over the place. Take proven players over draft picks. We might need to toss another player in to sweaten the deal. White or Colby may need to go with Kovy, if the deal is going to be made.

I have given up on ESPN after watching them circle the wagons around Craig James and his little boy. What a sham.

five_hole

January 3rd, 2010
11:16 am

When I saw they were starting Hedberg back-to-back; I thought that was a huge vote of no-confidence in Pavelic. Just tell the kid to his face, “we don’t want you on the ice”. And I think the Moose looked a little tired last night.

In fairness, I have seen a 100% effort on the ice. The PK has dramatically improved the past 2 games, and you can’t tell me that Kovy is “dogging it” out there. Did you see him after he scored? However, it is evident that Kane is struggling right now. It might do him some good to send him to the press box for a game or 2, just to “catch his breath”. Of course, so is Slava and several other Thrashers.

Rawhide

January 3rd, 2010
11:23 am

five_hole – I agree 100% on the “vote of no-confidence” in Pavelec. To go with a “tired” Hedberg over a “rested” Pavelec says a lot about how far this kid has slid from grace in Anderson’s eyes.

When I heard Kamal say the Moose was starting last night, I have to admit that I said “YES”!!!!

Another thing that is telling about how Anderson feels about Opie is that when the team fell behind 3-0 on Long Island, Hedberg was not pulled. This is in direct contrast to when Pavelec let in 3 goals during the first period last week in Boston as well as the week prior. Both times, he got the hook.

36-year old career backup or not…Moose is the number one goalie right now.

Brendan

January 3rd, 2010
11:51 am

Rawhide, I believe that defense is the problem, over the losing streak, and since inception. Another blogger posted about “run-n-gun” offense as being the strategy that never works in the playoffs. And I have to agree with that. Forgive this transgression, but in football, the team that always passes to move the ball is the team that has NO SHOT at winning the Super Bowl. It takes a solid running game, the ability to eat some clock, and above all, to play great defense.

Well, in hockey, what’s our “traditional” blueprint for a Stanley Cup Champion? The time-tested formula, with EXCEPTIONS THAT PROVE THE RULE, are 250 or more goals for … while giving up 200 or less. While Atlanta, in some years, has the offense down, they’ve never been “close” on the defensive aspect. And yet, of course, no change have been made in terms of OVERSIGHT of the franchise. It’s still Don Waddell.

Look, watching Devils hockey might not be all that exciting. But they went to six CF since “Sweet Lou” took over in 1988. The Devils went to 4 Stanley Cup Finals, and won three of them. I’d take that, over a “no huddle offense,” Thrashers-style, every time. What sells tickets? No, not goal scoring. The real answer … is WINS! Wins put butts in seats. “Faith,” they tell me, is the belief in something for which there is NO PROOF. It simply does not apply here. There’s ample PROOF and EVIDENCE that “winning works.” In any sport you can name, “Winning Works.” That’s the cure. We have a lifetime GM record on the southside of .500, through a DECADE. Trying the same thing, over and over and over again, expecting different results, as The Real Thrash says, is the definition of insanity.

Coping an insanity plea might be a good idea, if you’ve killed your spouse in the boudoir, catching them IN THE ACT with someone who isn’t you. But it’s not such a good strategy if you’re running a sports franchise. What’s the SHELF LIFE for an “insanity defense,” for a GM in hockey? I might actually allow an insanity defense if DW was “temporarily insane” when he made those four trade deadline deals back in 2007. But what’s the excuse for the rest of it? “I had a greybeard fetish back in 2005?” I mean, seriously. What’s the defense? There isn’t a defense. There’s just the hard-nosed belief that, one fine day, this “run-n-gun, offense-first” strategy will work. Well, so far, it hasn’t even placated the biggest CHERRY PICKER in franchise history. (That’d be Kovalchuk, lest anyone miss that one.)

Rawhide

January 3rd, 2010
12:01 pm

Brendan – Continuing on that thought…I belive it was Bob who posted the question, “How many times will te Thrashers have to score 6 goals to win games?” last October.

Seems like that question was spot-on.

Solid defense and the Thrashers have no been the best of friends over the years. Good offense has been the only stregth the team has had on a consistent basis…and what have we gotten in return for that?

Now…in all honesty, at the beginning of the season I thought the overall team defense was goingt o be improved just enough to allow the O-fense to carr the day more times than not. I was wrrr……I was wrrr….. I was wrrrr…..

I was less correct than normal.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
12:15 pm

The best penalty killer on your team is your goaltender. I don’t mean to sound so simplistic, but it is the truth.

Brendan

January 3rd, 2010
12:41 pm

Yes, even Hasek would appear “sucky,” in the Thrashers style of PK. The goal should be to deny the opposition time and space. It forces the opponent to make hurried decisions, and to cough up the puck, so that it may be iced by our penalty killers.

Yes, goaltending is criticially important, too. But a “firing gallery” thwarted by flawless goaltending is no solution, either.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
12:42 pm

Sorry stendec, but we need Kari back and FAST!! WBF is right, ur best PKer is the goalie. Moose battles but can’t take up enough space when screened. Ondrej is too prone to flopping around when getting square and back into position are more important.

WBF – glad to see u back posting in earnest. Time to strike up the “bring Cheli in” band once again. Salmela and Boris, I think, have AHL options and won’t need to clear waivers. Bring up Kulda too and see who responds. May need to cut Schubie for flexibility as the late acquisitions of Max and #16 have really hamstrung their ability to move guys up and down when Slava, Little and White and Boulton need to sit.

Barry

January 3rd, 2010
12:58 pm

This team needs to fix and do alot of things to get back on the winning ways but the problem is they haven’t been able to do it since the season started. They are almost unable to be ready with intensity from the drop of the first puck. They are almost unable to give 60 minutes of consistent effort and pressure. They are still having the defensive breakdowns with piss poor coverages and leaving players wide open. Unfortunately our goalies are mentally wore out from having to bail out this team time and time again and those chances are ending up in the back of our net now. I hate to say it but I think the Thrashers will be in a dog fight to the end of the year for the 8th and final playoff spot. They are really not showing any signs of improvement of the issues that’s holding them back and we are officially halfway through the hockey season. I’m beginning to believe Anderson’s system will not work in the NHL. Yes it’s a great offensive pressure system but the players look to be Ad Libing on defense in their own zone with no real idea or clue of where to be and how to get the puck out of their own zone.

Tincup9

January 3rd, 2010
1:02 pm

7 Stages of Grief…

1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
They can’t really be down 3 goals a night after blowing a 3 goal lead

2. PAIN
How could they do this to us. Aren’t we good fans? Aren’t we watching them instead of bowl games

3. ANGER
How can we be here after a decade? Just make the playoffs.

4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
We are going to lose Kovy and if we aren’t careful, the NHL.

5. THE UPWARD TURN-
Holy Cow! They tied the game. We might actually pull this off. This could be the start of something…

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
OT baby, and Moose in net for a shoot out – we got this one…

7. ACCEPTANCE
Pass the adult beverage please.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
1:43 pm

Tincup9 – funny post man! I laughed until I cried…oh wait, where’s my mommy?

Anyway, the problem with JA’s system isn’t the system per se, but it’s the players we’ve assembled to run it. Most of them aren’t puck possessing cyclers, which is what you need to execute this hi-risk system. If you can’t keep the puck in for any length of time, it puts too much pressure on the D-men and the weak-side forward to rotate.

However, too often the weak-side forward is just getting into the play deep in the zone when the puck is already getting chipped out past our pinching D-man. They don’t get the puck deep enough consistently enough to execute this strategy effectively. The D-man is getting caught way too often due to the fact we either don’t get the puck deep enough to begin with or the strong-side forward is too weak or tentative trapping the puck along the boards. The Todd Whites and Slava Kozlovs of the hockey world are not good for this system.

And with a free-lancing Russian Front line, there really is no reason for the D-men to ever pinch since they rarely get more than one look and then its back the other way. Believe it or not, the Colin Stuarts and Eric Perrins (yes, even Eric Perrin last spring) were better forecheckers and thus executors of the John Anderson system. Signing Max seems great on paper, but when White and Kozzy are just cashing checks, it doesn’t allow you to have the other two grinding forwards you need to run this system well.

R. Stroz

January 3rd, 2010
2:35 pm

After watching the Schubert penalty in overtime last night, I wish White and Kozlov would start banging their sticks into their own heads the way the Islanders play did, in that way, White and Kozlov could contribute to the team by drawing penalties and knocking themselves out of the game.

sisu

January 3rd, 2010
2:49 pm

Happy new year and welcome back to the ATL Rawhide! I must say I was thinking the same thing about Moose being in net. It was sort of a no brainer but what do we do for a second goalie? If Pavs is so done and will not play will it be so that the team calls up someone from Chicago? I am thinking of Drew MacIntyre? Not good since I felt that the goalies were ok at the beginning of the season. The biggest issue right now is what to do with Pavs? Do you put him in a game and stay with him no matter what????

Blessing in disguise is that the team has 42 point at the halfway point, so the season is not over but if a win is not in the next two games will the coach be the one to take the blame and will he be fired? Who would replace him?

Also, now that the team is loaded with players that Kovy wanted what happens if he leaves? Will these guys be still here?

d

January 3rd, 2010
3:02 pm

Would it not make sense for JA to change his defensive system to one that emphasizes reducing shots allowed, rather than pinching in to create more offense? It appears a NJ or Detroit scheme provides a better chance of winning games on the inevitable “off nights”. Obviously JA’s system worked in the AHL – but is not demonstrating consistent success in the NHL. Remember, doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results is ridiculous.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

Interesting to note that during this current 8 game (0 – 5 – 3) skid, Dicky Pevs is a combined -10 over those 8 games. Since his game-ending heroics against Dallas (who wouldn’t necessarily have a good scouting report on Pevs), Rich went scoreless for 6 straight and only recently has he netted a goal and dished an assist (to Kane). Perhaps he is starting his resurgence that will get us going in the right direction again. When we were winning, he was leading our team in scoring and we weren’t entirely reliant on the top line for scoring. We need much more than 1-1-2 (-10) from Mr. Peverley. Afterall, he is our silent assassin and team catalyst, is he not?? :wink:

Darren

January 3rd, 2010
4:01 pm

I wonder what the team’s record has been since they split up Bogosian and Enstrom…

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
6:20 pm

Smoothie-I needed some time away with the “fam” for the holidays. Truth be told, I an recovering from the Wii I received for Christmas. My son is kicking my a_ _ at baseball. Wonder what Stendec will have to say about your Kari support.

It’s clear Curly and Larry can’t hold up in the nets any more, they need Moe. Stoogies reference is curtousy of AMC and the New Year’s Stoogies marathon. My favorite Stoogies eposide – “Disorder in the Court”.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
6:30 pm

Also Smoothie-right on with your suggestions on moving guys and signing Chelios. Thought I have to say I like Schubert, I’d have a tough time setting him aside. Bryan Little is a total disappointment, I have lost my patience with him. The boy has to grow a pair.

Buffalo 1, Montreal 0- They seem to be winning without Max, so his departure from Buffalo to Atlanta has worked for both teams.

d-I have advocated for some suble changes in this system for weeks, most notably the team’s coverage in their own zone. You can’t leave your defense and goalie out to dry. Edmonton did that in the 80’s, but they had Grant Fuhr to bail them out. Neither of our current goalies resemble Fuhr’s abilities.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
6:32 pm

Stroz-this team needs more cowbell

Chris

January 3rd, 2010
6:35 pm

My only question is that now that the Falcons have ended their 40+ years of not having back-to-back winning seasons, will the Thrashers be able to top that?

Ah, the wonders of being born an Atlanta sports fan.

Miami Screaming Eagle

January 3rd, 2010
6:45 pm

Here’s a possible trade scenario with Chicago-

Versteeg/Sharp + Brouwer + Barker + 1st for Kovalchuk

Make the deal before they change with minds!

Smitty

January 3rd, 2010
8:04 pm

Would like to see big Dustin B included in a trade with the Black Hawks. We still need a power forward to protect our little guys.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
8:30 pm

WBF – too funny man, we got a Wii for X-mas as well. Lovin’ it so far…like crack sometimes. Just got NHL 2K9 so look out. Hear 2010 is where it’s at but we don’t even have a 2nd controller yet. That will be next when prices come down, Kovy is gone and I’m feelin’ nostalgic to play with Kovy and the Russians like “old times”. Did anyone read Pagnotta’s tweet? This contract stuff may be coming to a head as soon as early this week. http://twitter.com/ThefourthPeriod

Hockey Biltong

January 3rd, 2010
8:30 pm

still having adult bevs, after watching the team slowly fade from my failing eyesight….someone needs to shift the goalposts and fast……

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
8:33 pm

Would be perfectly happy with Versteeg and Sharp for Kovy. But while we’re at it, give them Army & Pavelec for Niemi, Brouwer and Barker. I wouldn’t even expect any picks back for that complement of players…are you kidding me? Sharp will be gone next year anyways so he should definitely be included in a deal.

Brendan

January 3rd, 2010
8:34 pm

Chicago can’t keep Kovalchuk beyond this season in that trade. The contract they’d love to be rid of his Brian Campbell’s. Campbell would actually “fit” Anderson’s system here in Atlanta. But he’s just so horribly overpriced, with a cap hit of $7.4 million, I believe. I’d be seriously interested in Cam Barker. I think he’s only a $3 million cap hit. But he’s only under contract for 3 years. Two, after this one. Then he’ll leave. Which is why I don’t like trades. Players who don’t want to be here have interests that lie ELSEWHERE.

In the case of a “salvage” job, there is no way to “salvage” Kovalchuk. You either keep him, or you don’t. But if you can’t keep him, I want the draft picks or prospects. Unless there’s actually a player who says, “Trade me from this CONTENDING team to Atlanta; that’s where I want to be.” Occasionally, that is true. Huh? Yeah, well … it occurs when a team is too laden with depth. The only way such a player will see Top Six minutes … is to be traded to a lower echelon team, where he’ll get to play those minutes, and try to establish himself. Then, when he hits UFA status, he can once again try for a contending team.

sisu

January 3rd, 2010
8:43 pm

Smoothie, another Finnish goalie here? Love it! Nice thing about this season is that Kane and Peverley will get a much needed break to get on their horse so to speak after a few weeks off, neither player is used to playing this much!

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
8:57 pm

Indeed sisu, Pevs and Kane must be reelin’ a bit from all the action. Pevs, until the last 2 games, hadn’t gotten on the score sheet for 6 games and he is a -10 over the last 8 since his heroics vs Dallas. Hopefully he’ll pick it up when they get settled back at home. And we might even be able to do some damage vs Pittsburgh who lost their 5th straight at Florida. But we’ll need some ‘tending.

Brendan – you’re right, but perhaps Dudley can use some of his connections to pull off a rare blockbuster that would help both teams. At this point, I’d rather have Campbell at $7.5 M than Ron Hainsey at $4.5 M. That’s a $ 3 M swap for Chicago and they only need Ron to play 2nd line mins.

Correction on Sharp, he has 2 years left after this. Thought it was one. At any rate, he is a likely candidate to get moved.

Miami Screaming Eagle

January 3rd, 2010
8:59 pm

Smoothie-I agree, I think the Kovy stuff will come to a head this week; the longer this goes, the more likely he’ll be gone. Wii is incredible, though the bowling is messing with my hip. Old hockey injury; have to get the hockey version.

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
9:06 pm

Hey Smoothie, did you see any of the Sabres game? I totally forgot they played early today. Second in the east now. The boxing is a REAL workout! Now I know why I never boxed when I was a kid.

Smitty-Dustin B is a monster, about 257#. Defensemen would think twice about turning their backs on the Big B.

Brenden-we would need another teaser from Chicago to take Campbell’s contract, alot like what Philly was supposedly offering with Briere’s deal prior to the season. Briere, Drury, Campbell-two things in commo-all ex-Sabres that are so overpriced their teams would give them away. Darcy Regier not looking that stupid after all.

Biltong-back to work tomorrow? Still have Canadian brews at this hour?

Brendan

January 3rd, 2010
9:49 pm

WBF, in total honestly, I blame Larry Quinn for ALLOWING these players to reach UFA status, where they could be so badly overpaid. I certainly think Drury could have been had for 5-years/$25 million on July 1, 2006, with a proactive contract. And once signed, Briere would have come for about the same. And had that PROACTIVE, economical approach been taken, it might have sent the message to Brian Campbell, and other potential Buffalo free agents, that the Sabres were committed to reaching the CF for a third straight year. Bygones.

The results? Ex-Sabres were horribly overpaid in UFA pricing, by overzealous GM’s. But, it’s likewise true that the Sabres failure to improve in the CORE AREA of “player retention,” caused them to miss the playoffs for the past two seasons. Right or wrong?

Who’s responsible? Before you scream, “Darcy Regier,” he doesn’t own the team. Golisano and Quinn do. And Quinn holds the power of decision-making. And, let’s be honest, he’s a moron. And the Sabres will suffer for as long as he has anything to do with oversight of that team. And there it is, in a nutshell, with no sugarcoating. I actually think Darcy Regier is a good GM. He just needs good ownership to get better results.

LM

January 3rd, 2010
9:57 pm

The Atlanta Thrashers will miss making the playoffs by a point, two at the most.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
10:01 pm

Okay, just screwin’ around, but this might just work for Chicago, bear with me and see what I mean:

CHICAGO gets Kovy’s rights ($6.4 M), Hainsey ($4.5 M), Moose ($1.1 M) and ATL’s # 1 pick in 2010 and a prospect in return for…

ATLANTA gets Campbell ($7.15 M), Sharp ($3.9 M), Brouwer ($1 M) and Chicago’s first round pick this season, which won’t be that great, but that’s the price you pay for enhancing your overall depth. Dudley should be able to squeeze a prospect and / or 2nd pick out of them too since they are getting a) Kovy, b) Cap relief, c) goalie depth and d) other good players back.

Chicago would save roughly $1 M this season and then have the following line-up:

Kovy – Toews – Kane

Ladd – Bolland – Hossa

Versteeg – Madden – Buffy

Eager – Fraser – Kopecky

Keith & Seabrook / Hainsey & Barker / Sopel & Hjalmarsson

Huet / Moose / Niemi

If they can re-sign Kovy for $8.5 M per season, they can afford to keep these players together assuming they don’t re-sign Madden ($2.75 M), let Burish ($713 K) and Moose ($1.1 M) walk. If they can get Buffy and Seabrook to re-up for small raises, like $500 K each for two years, it buys them time until Huet comes off the books. Perhaps by then Niemi will be ready for # 1 duty.

Let’s look at the Thrashers line-up under this scenario:

Kane – Antro – Max

Sharp – Pevs – Little

Kozzy – White – Army

Brouwer – Reasy – Thorbs

Kubes & Campell / Tobes & Bogo / Schubes & Valabik etc

Lehts & Pavs (and perhaps McIntyre for a time if Lehts isn’t ready)

Everyone is happy with this scenario….especially John Anderson!

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
10:20 pm

Swedes just scored again to make it 2 to 1 now. US will really need to dig deep now as they seem to be getting outworked and certainly out-skated…damn the Swedes can skate!

WBF / Eagle — no doubt about Wii! A great investment if you’re serious about using it a lot as it is good exercise. The boxing for sure will make you sweat and a combo plate of bowling / golf and tennis will kick your butt as well. My elbow actually gets sore since I can get some serious top-hand action going when I whip that thing. Yes, I’m a dork. Look at the entry I just posted. But that trade scenario might actually work. And if they would rather throw in Buffy than give up picks and prospects in order to free up more money, so be it. The deal may actually make more sense if Chicago just uses Kovy as a rental and keeps all but Sharp, Campbell and __________ ($1 M) player. A better scenario would be a healthy and effective Lehtonen so we can entice them with Pavelec as a goalie prospect to replace the albatross of Huet and his contract.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
10:21 pm

D’Amigo!! Five-hole wrister on the break!! Knotted at two!

World Be Free

January 3rd, 2010
10:38 pm

Brenden-what a great post, you have the Buffalo situation with past free agents correctly and accurately. Very good. Of the 3, I would have kept Drury. He’s still a money player. Larry Quinn needs a real haircut too!

Smoothie, let’s hope this is all a bad dream and we get a contract from Kovy this week. Casino Night is 1 week away!

Brendan

January 3rd, 2010
10:42 pm

It’s 2-2, now!!

Smoothie, it’s always fun to play around with trade scenarios. There’s a website that let’s you play amateur GM, making trades. I think it’s at hockeybuzz.com, under their Cap Center link. I once played with trade possibilities between Atlanta the NY Rangers, either last year or the year before. By the time I was done, I’d moved 7 Thrashers for 5 Rangers. And when I looked at the trades, OUTSIDE of the cap ramifications, I laughed my butt off at my own prospective trade. “As if” the Rangers or Thrashers would actually pull off such a trade at the deadline. The reality is … GM’s don’t want to tinker too much with team chemistry. Imagine gaining 7 players, or something like that, at a deadline. It’d be like October/November all over again, in terms of team unity. They need sufficient time to gel.

In my view, the trade deadline is meant to ‘tweak’ a roster, not OVERHAUL it. I hold the same concept for unrestricted free agency. It’s not meant to be a SOLUTION, but rather, an enhancer.

When I look at the Kovalchuk situation … I realize there it’s complicated. There are many issues on the table. A “face of a franchise.” Salary cap ramifications, either with or without him. Team chemistry issues. Philosophical strategy issues, moving forward. And CORE AREA of “player retention.”

Okay. Ya know, that should tabled. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the 2010-11 Thrashers take to the ice in October without Kovalchuk or Lehtonen on the roster. As in, they play ELSEWHERE. Still with me? Well, then … what WAS the purpose of being in the lottery draft all those years? If that scenario winds up true, then Stefan, Heatley, Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, and Coburn (not a lottery pick, but a high-end 1st rounder,) will have been LOST by this franchise.

Is that NOT cause for concern? And how confident would it make anyone feel that Bogosian and Kane will stay? Granted, that’s YEARS away from becoming an issue, but this organization has GOT TO IMPROVE on player retention. They could “start” with Bogosian, eligible for a proactive contract July 1, 2010, and Pavelec, a pending RFA, along with Bryan Little, another pending RFA. I really don’t think RFA offersheets are coming for Pavelec and Little. But I wouldn’t be surprised about Bogosian, if Zach is actually permitted to reach RFA status without being locked up. Imagine, if that actually happened. And Atlanta wound up with compensatory draft picks. At what point … does a franchise just … scream “Uncle!”

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
10:49 pm

Indeed Brendan, our player retention has pretty much sucked an egg.

Huge 5 min major P here for the US! C’mon! Down to 3 minutes and no goals yet.

Smoothie

January 3rd, 2010
10:53 pm

Well, that PP sucked. Now they go on the PK after a SH breakaway. C’mon USA!