Well, as sure as hell is hot, one thing that a nine-game losing streak will spawn is calls for a coach to be fired.
“His system doesn’t work”…is what we’ll hear.
”He’s losing the locker room”…will be the reasoning.
”Someone has to be held accountable”…people will demand.
Certainly, it’s to be expected from paying customers and passionate followers of a team mired in the type of slump the Thrashers find themselves in. This is especially so here in Thrasherville given the fact that not too long ago one coach was axed the day following a sixth-consecutive loss to begin the 2007-08 season.
That man was Bob Hartley and, as many will point out, the losing streak that cost him his job was not six but actually ten games dating back to the four-game sweep just the spring before during the one and only playoff appearance in the franchise’s history. And John Anderson, along with the current edition of the Thrashers, are but loss one away from that magical ten-game slide…albeit, there have been three charity points given them for at least getting a few games into overtime during this frustrating string of losses.
Now, as I stated above, with this nine-game nightmare comes the inevitable and no-so-surprising calls for Anderson’s ouster. But don’t count me in that number…at least, not just yet.
Personally, I put far more of the blame for the current predicament the Thrashers are in on the players than he or the current coaching staff. You can disagree with me if you wish…but I’ve seen what his system can do when players are where they are supposed to be and doing the things they are supposed to do. So, I’m not ready to give up on the good coach at this time.
However, if…IF…IF the Atlanta Spirit gang actually does decide that “enough is enough” and move to make a change, then they need to decide that simply changing just the coach… again… is not “enough”. They need to also give careful consideration to the notion that the man who has hired the first three head coaches in the franchise’s history should not be given the opportunity to hire the fourth.
In short, if a firing of any kind is in order here, this time it simply has to be Don Waddell that is shown the door…whether or whether not the coach is on his way out as well.
There’s a couple of reason’s why I opine in this manner…beginning with the previous statement that Waddell has already been given three chances to place a coach behind the Thrashers bench. Seriously…can anyone out there tell me when the last time is that a GM has been allowed to hire that many coaches…fire that many coaches…then been given the opportunity to try yet again with the same team before being asked to gather his personal effects and turn in his ID badge?
And I’m not just talking about the NHL…but any professional sport.
Thus, if an “accounting” for the team’s performance is in order, then shouldn’t the person who has been in charge of the operation of the franchise for over eleven years also be included in that action?
I mean… at least this one time?
Don Waddell has been the one consistent with this team since day one. Well, that… plus consistently not making the playoffs. The Thrashers have played nine and a half seasons with no playoff victories and as each game passes without the benefit of actual points in the standings it becomes more and more clear that that number will reach ten.
Whose backside should be feeling the most heat?
Total Voters: 164
The only tangible evidence of any sort of “success” to be seen in Thrasherville is the 2006-07 Southeast Division Championship banner that hangs in Philips Arena. But given the fact that zero playoff wins came from that “success” …and that we now have three years in which to assess the overall effectiveness of the Waddell’s moves to sure up the team leading up that “success”…it’s pretty clear that the “success” that banner represents came at a very, very heavy price for this franchise.
But being in charge of the on-ice personnel is only part of the issue here.
Have you been to a Thrashers game at Philips Arena lately? Give the number of empty seats each game, chances are very good that you answered “no” to that question…that, or 8,000 or so of you show up disguised as empty seats most nights.
But contrary to the yammering that spews forth from the “Make-It-Seven” types… this is not because Atlanta is a bad hockey market or that the NHL simply cannot survive in this area of the country. There is a great fan base in the metro Atlanta area…many have relocated from traditional markets that grew up loving the game as well as many, like myself, who are natives of the area and have learned to love the sport.
Nope, it’s not the fans nor is it the market. Rather, I suggest, it is that most of the potential paying population simply isn’t buying what Don Waddell is selling anymore. And it doesn’t matter if there are going through a winning stretch…as they did last spring and this past fall…or, as has been the case of late, losing nine straight games.
In essence, if it’s thought that the coach has “lost the locker room”…then it’s crystal clear that this general manager has “lost the market”.
And in this fan’s humble opinion, that’s worse.
Given all of that, I would contend that if a change once again is needed…this time Don Waddell could should needs has to be a part of what gets change.
Otherwise…what really gets “changed”?