Waddell could face a cranky crowd Saturday night

Thrashers fans have had a rough week, (duh1).

It started with the 4-3 loss in Nashville last Saturday night…continued with a lack-luster performance Tuesday during a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay…then came the news that general manager Don Waddell had informed Ilya Kovalchuk he’s going to be traded…the promised trade Thursday and we saw yet another star player depart Thrasherville…all of that was then followed by Friday’s 5-2 loss in Washington to the Capitals, the Thrashers third straight defeat and fifth in the last seven.

So it’s understandable that Thrashers fans might just be in a cranky mood as they enter into Philips Arena for the first home game post-Kovalchuk.

And Waddell won’t have to wait for Saturday night’s  game to begin gauging the mood of his paying customers. Nope…he’s extended an invite to season ticket holders to attend a town hall meeting an hour prior to face off. And I’m sure there are some who are just chompin’ at the bit to tell Don just exactly what’s on their mind.

I’ll give the man this much…he doesn’t shy away from standing up in front of a crowd of people, many of whom that may be looking for his immediate firing, and take it. Regardless of what you or I might think of his performance as GM, that isn’t an easy thing to do…especially given what the fans of this team have been through recently.

I’m sure later on we’ll hear from those of you who will attend about what was said and discussed in the meeting…but what I would like to know now is what you are thinking of saying to/asking Waddell, should you get the chance tonight.

Are ya planning on telling him you are still behind him regardless of the circumstance?

Are you going to tell him you are sick of the constant “re-building” with little to show for it?

Are you planning on telling him just how much you think the team is closer to the Cup after the trade with the Devils this week?

Will you ask him if he thinks Rick Dudley will make a good replacement general manager?

Inquiring minds want to know…

Oh, And There Was a Game Tonight

As for the loss to the Caps…look, the Thrashers ran into the proverbial buzz saw. In beating the Thrashers, Washington has now won 13 straight and 16 of their last 17…the lone loss coming in Tampa Bay back on January 12. They didn’t seem to be bothered at all from playing in New York the night before, beating the Rangers 6-5.

Washington is now 40-12-6 and are making a joke out of the Southeast Division…their 86 points are tops the NHL. With the loss, the Thrashers are now 24-24-8….and Don Waddell along with the Octocluster are making a joke out of this franchise.

rim-shot…thank youuuuuuuu.

Ondrej Pavelec started and saw 4 of the 31 shots he faced get past him.

Johnny Oduya make his Thrashers debut Friday night (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Johnny Oduya make his Thrashers debut Friday night (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Rich Peverley had a multi-point night, assisting on Toby Enstrom’s goal that put the Thrashers up 1-0 early on. He then scored on a breakaway in the third to make the score 4-2. It looked like Washington goalie Kichal Neuvirth had stopped Peverley’s attempt…but his defender helped to knock the puck over the line following the play.

The newcomers that came over in the trade with New Jersey were able to see action with their new team on this night. It’s really tough to judge them after one game…after traveling to D.C. in the morning and having no real practice time with the squad.

Johnny Oduya had no points or shots and was a –1 during his 20:38 TIO. He, along with Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Zach Bogosian and Pavel Kubina were called on to play more given the fact that Boris Valabik left halfway through the game with what was described as a “lower body injury”.

Nicklas Bergfors had no points and was a –1, but was able to get off 4 shots during his 12:53 TOI. Those four shots tied him with Rich Peverley for second most on the team…Zach Bogosian and Slava Kozlov each had 5.

Nik Antropov and Todd White were each a –2 on the night…White is now a –17 for the year.

228 comments Add your comment

Eileen

February 7th, 2010
12:54 am

Brendan, with all due respect, and I really do respect your hockey knowledge, the accounting of the STH is for another day. I said Levenson admitted mistakes to let everyone who was curious about the STH meeting to know that ownership at least stood up and faced the fans. Tonight was a pat on the back to the team that without Kovy, we are still Thrashers fans.

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
12:54 am

Sage – “meaningless win”?? You think every loss or mistake is meaningful, and every win meaningless. Mr Lysiak gives some good reason why the win had meaning. Would you care to respond with logic, solid points, anything, Mr. “Sage”? Brendan at least backs up his points with facts. Get a life.

Wayne stuck in AL

February 7th, 2010
12:55 am

Dear MAX CAP:

“Because apparently there’s a dozen or so of you who routinely meet and post at the AJC and you can’t find anything good to say about Waddell, the Thrashers, etc.”

Okay, tell me what there’s to say good about only 1 playoff appearance in 9 (going on 10) years, and NO individual playoff games to boot?

Also, tell me what good there is to say about every talented player, starting from Andrew Brunette all the way up to Eel-ya, leaving this franchise.

The only reason Eel-ya did not put pen to paper was that he didn’t see much of an immediate future from this franchise, either in Atlanta or in The Great White North. If he had seen a future, he might not have asked for a max contract.

If the Thrashers were any other franchise in town where people actually knew the sport, you’d see and hear comments far more vicious than mine on this site and on sportstalk radio.

As for now, stop playing Little Miss Gretchen Sunshine and realize the problem starts with Waddell.

BTW: They played the Florida Panthers tonight, not the San Jose Sharks or the Pittsburgh Penguins.

–Wayns stuck in AL

Nikita (in PA)

February 7th, 2010
1:00 am

I didn’t say we’re a team now, but I have been — for at least a few months this year and at some points in previous years — pointing out the positives and negatives of maintaining Cherrychuk on our team. I didn’t think he should be captain and I didn’t think we should pay $10+million for him. I think the team will be better off without him, assuming that they can buy or develop sufficient scoring and defensive capability not to be overpowered. The maintenance of Cherrychuk has likely cost us many things, not least of which are: the development of Toby Enstrom and Bryan Little, the full implementation of Anderson’s system (which, unlike Hartley’s system, is a comprehensive system — having people decide they’re too good to put any defensive effort means the damn thing fails). So…we have work to do. But there’s no reason we can’t do it and compete.

Headberg Fan

February 7th, 2010
1:03 am

The Thrashers played a great game tonight. To me it was the best game of the season. So far I do not miss Kovy. I feel we needed a fresh start and now the other players can shine. Instead of everything being left up to Kovy. I hope New Jersey loses a lot and the Thrashers win.

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
1:03 am

Jason, I’ve been posting through thick and thin (though formerly as KovyRules, a name I retired for obvious reasons). I’ve been a STH through thick and thin. Did you watch the last two games? Can you tell when players are trying? Their level of effort is something we haven’t seen since, um, November. Coincidentally, about the time Kovy said “I’m ready to sign”, and then didn’t. That’s evidence that perhaps the contract talks were negatively affecting the players.

I’ll be posting even if we go 0-3. I have NEVER said keep Waddell, but I do try to help beat back the idiots who say things like “Make RD the GM” – a sure way to lose him. I have called for the Octocluster to mercifully sell the team, but even they seem to be getting there act together a bit. I still don’t like them, but I’ll be fairminded if it looks like they are changing their ways.

Previous Commenter

February 7th, 2010
1:06 am

If the Thrashers would win a Stanley Cup, someone on this blog would find fault. Done!

Sage of Bluesland

February 7th, 2010
1:14 am

Just wait until we beat the Lightning–the weak-minds will be in a real frenzy then!

Keep ‘em coming, sheeple! The humor is good for me!

Wow–it simply proves that P.T. Barnum’s belief was true and timeless…He had the wittle Bwuewanders pegged to a “T”…

(But it’s good knowing that good ol’ Don is a real “stand-up” kind-of guy…snicker…)

Max Cap

February 7th, 2010
1:18 am

Wayne stuck in AL

Actually, YOUR problem starts with Waddell, not mine. I don’t sign his checks and he doesn’t directly report to me. If he does report to you, then fire his @ss tomorrow morning….Otherwise, just STFU OK?

There is something POSITIVE going on right now in what has been a very difficult week. Then again, if you’re “stuck in AL” you can’t really participate very often and enjoy the atmosphere that was Philips Arena tonight. And that just makes you somewhat ignorant of what you speak.

As far as the past, live there if it somehow gives you and “the Sage” and others a way to bond with each other while you obsess over failure and try to project that into everyone else’s future. Why didn’t YOU call Waddell on the post-game show tonight? Why didn’t YOU show up at the THM before the game and voice your extreme displeasure in a “vicious” manner? Nut up or shut up dude!

And for the record, Waddell is CORRECT. It was all about money with Kovalchuk. He would’ve signed a max contract for a 10 or 12 year term. He wouldn’t sign a contract for less than max money. He demanded $136 million to stay, he was offered $101 million and declined. It’s all about the money.

If it wasn’t about the money, then why would he “give up his Stanley Cup dreams” and play out the rest of his career with a team that doesn’t have “much of an immediate future” for $136 million?? Make no mistake, he was ready to sign as a Thrasher for the rest of his career (to age 38) for $136 million. But he wouldn’t accept anything less. That’s a MONEY thing, pure and simple!!

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
1:19 am

Sage – I ask for facts, you give us drivel. Post on, oh wise Sage! Us sheep are waiting for your next words of wisdom. Our weak minds stand ready to be bent to your way of thinking.

Max Cap

February 7th, 2010
1:20 am

Sage, are you a teenager yet?

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
1:21 am

Sorry, Max Cap, it is now past Sage’s bedtime.

Max Cap

February 7th, 2010
1:27 am

Sage of Bluesland: The only blogger I’ve ever seen that has a lisp in his posts.

Have you thwaught pwofessinal help wif it Thage?

Whitaker

February 7th, 2010
1:27 am

Great game!! Great Game!! There was definitely a different team on the ice. Without Ilya, I think the team looked at the game as a way to prove that they did not need Ilya to win. They played like they had something to prove. This was great.

My highlights from the town Hall meeting. Yes, as a geek I took notes.

When Don walked into the square arena, to much of my surprise he was met with cheers, not many if any boos. I guess the boo birds were the ones that decided it was not worth going… shame their voices were not heard.

On Ilya:
We got the same lines from Don that he has been saying all along, Ilya is a good man, Don does not want to be negative, and it was all business. The facts that Don stated were that back in April Don met with Ilya and his agent to get the ball going informally. Ilya wanted “to see where the team was headed”. Before the free agent period Don met with Ilya to go over a list of players Ilya would like to bring have on the team, and see if any were possible and likewise compare his list of players to Ilya’s. When Ilya was reluctant to discuss a contract Don and the front office were taken back. Ilya wanted to “see how the season was going to start, what the chemistry was going to be like.” When the team was above 500 Ilya told Jay that he had the green light to start talks about a contract. The rest is what Don has said in the media over the past few days:
Ilya wanted more money than Ovechkin.
Want the max, 11.3 mil for 12 years
And so on…

What I took away from this was:
Ilya had a great deal of input into making the team what it is today. In my humble opinion, I think they gave him a bit too much input. I do not think roster players should plan the line up. As in the case of Ilya bringing Max to Atlanta, the “hey I know this guy who might fit our needs” approach I am all for it. But Ilya did not do too badly at picking guys. Ilya like everyone else knows that what looks good on paper may not be that good on the ice, so he wanted to see what kind of a monster he, Don, and the Ownership built. When the team started off good Ilya was willing to have his agent talk about a contract.
Then the story about the money, Don REALLY pushed the money issue home, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.

As I said before and was quoted, I do not buy it. Playing hockey is a JOB for NHL players. In this line of thinking there are people everyday (less now than a few years ago) who weigh different job offers against each other, some have a better salary but the benefits are not that good, some have great benefits but the salary is not that great, and a few have great benefits and a great salary. Now apply this to Ilya, if the benefits are the play-off and the Cup. He was at a job with good pay (current contract around 7 mil.) but felt the benefits were lacking. To make up for the benefits and to start negotiations Ilya asked for as much money as he could (wouldn’t we all??). He boss did not like this so Ilya was moved to a sister company till his contract is up. Ilya is not happy about this move because the benefits have been majorly upgraded. When he has to look for a new company to work for he may take a lower salary if the benefits are as good as he is currently receiving.

People may laugh but that is my stance and what I choose to believe.

Don and the owners have admitted to building the team around 1 player. Any educated fan knows you cannot plan a team around 1 player, in hockey there should be at least 3 goalies, a defender, a forward. If you pick only one to build around the team is going no where unless that player is VERY good and can carry the team by themselves. I do not think there is 1 player in the league that can carry a team on their own, not Crosby, Ovechkin, no one.

The locker room has welcomed this change, some are very happy about this change as they felt Ilya needed to be more of a leader. [Don] “They felt like at times they were not getting enough from him.” This is not something new this happens from time to time on teams, hey think one player would be a great leader and they promote them too quickly being the captain. I think Ilya is very much like Thornton in this regard. Thornton was giving the ‘C’ in Boston too quick. He knew how to lead, how to be a presence on and off the ice, but at times he did not want to be in the limelight, avoiding media after a bad lost. I never got the feeling that Ilya enjoyed the media or would get used to having to answer for the team. It is a tough task and only a select few can handle it and want it.

Let’s face Ilya wore the ‘C’ because the Thrashers were using it as a carrot in the hopes of keeping him here.

On the goalie situation:
Don all but confirmed that Kari is the goalie that they want to trade [Don] “There really is not much of a market for a goalie who has not played much hockey.” “We are looking to see how we can get him into games.” When asked why Kari, do did not shy away from the question by much, but one had to read between the lines. He compares Kari to Moose. “Moose has never missed a practice, and he has been here for what 4 years. Moose is the first one on and off of the ice. The players know that they can trust him in net to give the same performance night in and night out. The players in the looker room like playing in front of Moose.”

OK, So Kari is a slack butt and the players do not trust him to play well.??? Ok I seem to remember a goalie that looked like Kari (he wore 32) facing the amount of shot each night that goalies in the play-offs with over times sometimes see, playing VERY well. On night where he face 54 shot he would on average only give up 4 goals, I will take that save percentage.

Don made it clear that he has no intention on carrying 3 goalies for the rest of the season, so someone is going, going, gone and it is not Moose. So who should it be? The Goalie that starts off great each year he plays for us, but hit a wall and cannot play a full 60 minutes, or the goalie that acts a bit like a rock star and is a bit injury prone but has proven he can play 60 minutes under a hail storm of rubber? I am sure you can guess which I would pick out of these 2 options. My true pick is simple but going to be very well liked. Trade Moose, keep the 2 young goalies, have a 1 – 2 punch, and have them fight it out in net for who is number 1 and 1a.

The owners:
We were told how much the owners are involved and want the team to be successful. Bruce stated that yes, they have made some very bad mistakes, but they have learned from them and he is hoping the future will be better.

The Owners are 100% behind Don and the decision he makes. [Bruce] “I have heard from current Season ticket Holders that if we do not fire Don that they will stop supporting the team. I have heard from former season ticket holders that say if we fire Don they will come back. Well at the risk of financial lost I am going to state that Don is going no where.” So folks no matter how much people complain it really will do no good.

The lack of fans and how to bring them back.

Both Don and the Ownership are of the mind that at the end of the day the only way to get fans in the seats is to win it does not matter who the owners are or the GM people do not care about that stuff when a team is winning. True, the fans that come because you are winning are the fans that will not be there when you are loosing. Don broke it down this way: They believe there are about 5,000 hard-core Thrashers fans, 3,000 hockey fans that they lost that come to a few games a season, 3,000 fans that were thrasher fans but have decided not to return to the arena, and 7,000 (most fans) that do not know much about hockey and will not till the team is winning.

When ask to give a reason for STH that might not want to renew to renew Don, thought about it and said to support the team that is on the ice. “Fans should support the crest on the front of the jersey not the name(s) on the back.”

One season ticket holder said that he was unsatisfied with the way he was being treated by his rep. “I have spent over $100,000 in the past 10 year on premium seating, and I feel I do not get anything back for that.” Don said he was right that they do owe him something, he never said what. Don did say that he is very disappointed that STH do not feel like their reps know them or have a good relationship with them. He went further and said that any person who feels that their ticket rep is not treating them well to email him [Don] and he will make sure that it is fixed. I have had 3 (Kat, Barry, Brian) reps over the years and I feel none of them treated me well nor took the time to figure out what make me tick.

It appears their solution to the STH not getting what they want is to next year giving us a menu of options…. Does this mean we will be paying more base on the options we want? No one asked.

The only time Don lost his cool was when a fan brought up Hossa, Savard, and a few of the other top tear players that have left Atlanta. I was a bit shocked at the reaction as the question was asked very politely, no cursing, no anger words. Just how do you explain these players leaving and what will be done in the future to try to stop this? I am not sure if Don is just sick of us bringing this up or if he feels that these were personal failures and he hates to think of them.

This is getting wicked long, so let me end with some tidbits or quotes.

“A defensive system like Minnesota is boring to watch.” – This was in reply of why not switch to a much more defensive system while rebuilding. I say if wins are all you want then who cares if the system is boring you get wins fans come back right?

“We knew from day one that [the] Hossa [negotiations] was not going to work out.” – Really!!??? That was not the story back then.

Oh one more thing there will be more Molson Beer in the upper level since there keep running out.

Thanks

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
1:28 am

I appreciate that, Eileen. And, I think you’re right. The STH thing is best left for another time. Tonight’s win was a great one, and an important one, if the team is really going to remain competitive down the stretch.

For what it’s worth … I really think there’s a tremendous opportunity here, before this franchise, to embark on a whole new concept. Why not try a “depth” strategy? Atlanta might be one of the most IDEAL markets in which to try it. If anyone is wholly unfamiliar with a depth strategy, this is how it works. You basically have 6-8 forwards who will each score 18 to 20 goals. Some will pot 24, and other 16. The other 4-6 forwards score about 12 goals. Some will get 14, others will get 10. The goal is … to have your 4th line about as apt to score as your 1st line, rolling with something close to equal ice time. It presents a difficult challenge for the other team’s coach as to how to defend that. They cannot play their checking line all night. Eventually, the depth strategy catches the other team (with a tremendous payroll disparity) in a mismatch. Suppose the other team only plays their 4th line for 6-8 minutes a game? Well, maybe our coach sends out the 2nd line or 4th to match up with that. And in those 6-8 minutes, manages to score twice. Or even once. And that becomes the difference in a 4-3 win. The other team’s top line scores two goals, and their 2nd line scores one. That’s three goals for them. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s 1st line scores one goal. Its second line scores one goal. Its third line scores one goal. And its fourth line scores one goal. The whole equals the sum of its parts. It’s a “depth strategy.” It involves a “team concept.” Or “team identity.” Sometimes, it’s a “team speed,” or “team toughness/grit.” Or “team defense.” It can varied up any which way. But the only SUPERSTAR on the team … in such a strategy … is the goaltender. Every forward makes between $2.0 and $3.0 million. And has to be continually restocked, because every year, a few of them can hit the market and start to make $4 to $4.5 million as UFA’s. And, unfortunately, the depth strategy doesn’t really allow you to make that sort of pay adjustment to keep them. And if any of the guys wind up scoring 30 to 40 goals a season, they’re gone, for sure. Well, once their contract comes due, anyway.

I have always believed … that hockey is the ultimate team game. And I further still believe … that it’s a “thinking man’s game.” As in, the smartest players prevail, for they read and understand the play, and anticipate it, better than those around them.

But, I suppose, talk of the “depth strategy” is best reserved for the offseason, when the team can truly be reshaped.

Thrasher Mom

February 7th, 2010
1:33 am

Poor Sage. He needs his meds so he can go count sheep and fall asleep.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
1:46 am

Let’s say the Columbus Blue Jackets offer 12 years/$136.5 to Kovalchuk on July 1, 2010. Does Kovy take the deal?

I say, “not a chance.” Columbus doesn’t know how to run its team. It’s not about money. It’s about playing for an organization that’s committed to winning … and knows what it’s doing. And that’s not the definition of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Or the Phoenix Coyotes. Or the Atlanta Thrashers. But I still hold out hope … that a new day of accountability is forthcoming. That continues to be my wish, along with this one. I want the Atlanta Thrashers to gain a foothold in this market. I want the Atlanta Thrashers to win the Stanley Cup. I think it would be HUUUUGE for this city. And I think the fans deserve it. They’ll sit through bad hockey, if there’s end goal in sight. But the ownership now has a very uphill battle to sway public opinion, that it knows what it’s doing. They say, “wins are the way.” And while I think that’s basically true, it’s really much MORE about competence and understanding the dynamics of running an NHL franchise. And if these owners need help in that regard, the league should provide it. I can’t imagine that this is how they saw the Atlanta market, when they commissioned a “think tank” to decide which cities would be best for expansion. I don’t it was wrong, by ANY stretch, that Atlanta made the list. The product should thrive here. It should. But it cannot be annually mismanaged. Without accountability. Once a strategy and identity for this team is found and implemented, I think it can become as popular as the Braves or Hawks. Really, truly. I don’t expect my team to win the Stanley Cup every year. That’d be wholly unreasonable. But I do expect it to be TRYING to win the Stanley Cup. Or at least be headed in the right direction, implementing Core Areas of “player development” and “player retention.” That much is “reasonable” to demand.

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
1:48 am

Good points, Brendan. And I think depth is the direction Dudley would have us go. We will have a potentially nice situation in July, with a decent core of dmen and young guys signed and perhaps $12 – 15M to spend on 3 or 4 forwards.

Whitaker, thanks for the THM rundown. I chose not to go thinking there wouldn’t be anything of substance said. Sounds like I was wrong.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
2:13 am

Whitacker, thank you for that indepth post. You did cover a lot, and in some good detail. The goaltender segment of your post piqued my curiosity, as I agree with you. Moose is the goalie to be traded, UNLESS someone can really offer the Thrashers a package or deal that is just too good to pass up for Kari Lehtonen. Look, I don’t blame Waddell for wanting to trade Kari, if that’s what he wants to do. Obviously, this is NOT what Waddell envisioned when he drafted him in 2002.

I see Kari as a goalie who still brings some sort of value to the table. And Pavelec is just 22. I think it’s irresponsible to trade him. Moose is 30-what? And having a GREAT year. Meaning? His trade value will never be higher than what it is now. So, as much as I like Moose Hedberg, I agree with you, Whitaker, that he should be the goalie who is dealt. I think the return will be a whole lot better than some 7th round pick. I think it could be a 3rd rounder, especially if some team out there gets “thin” in net.

I like Pavel Kubina. Earlier in the season, I think in mid-November or so, we each cast our early MVP balloting. At that time, Moose, Kubina, and Peverley were all “neck-in-neck” for the balloting. Surprisingly, Kovalchuk was nowhere to be found on that list. Max Afinogenov got some votes, too. But I picked Pavel Kubina. If Atlanta can really get a playoff berth, they have to hold on to Kubina. But if the opportunity for playoffs diminishes, Kubina will fetch a nice 2nd round pick. Maybe more. Max will garner interest at the deadline, this time around. Colby Armstrong should probably be moved at the deadline, too. I’m not too sure how much more the Thrashers would be able to package beyond that. There won’t be interest in Slater, Thorburn and Boulton.

And, in my humble opinion, there could be an opportunity to do a 9 game audition with some of the Thrasher prospects in Chicago. I always like to see what some of the young kids would do with their 1st opportunity to try out the NHL. Whitaker, again, thank you for such an indepth post about the THM.

Tom

February 7th, 2010
2:16 am

Me thinks some Astro-turfing is going on tonight on the site. Lots of new posters all on the same point.

Rawhide, can you check the IP addresses of these new posters? My guess is they might all be the same and share the IP address of the Atlanta Spirit main offices.

#justsayin

Max Cap

February 7th, 2010
2:24 am

Forget hockey team names for a second. Forget perceived failings of ownership/management, as real as they may be. Forget team history and imagined team futures. Now consider this:

A hockey player currently plays for a team, but becomes an UFA on July 1st. He publicly says he wants to stay with his current team for the rest of his career. He states he will sign a contract to keep him with his team for the next 12 years if it includes max money at $11.35 million per year. He won’t sign an extension for anything less. He’s offered $10 million per year for 7 years. He still demands $11.35 million per year for 12 years to sign. Is it all about the money or not?

Everyone has their own opinion and here’s mine. Joe Johnson is the pure “I want to go somewhere else where I can win a title” UFA, not Kovalchuk. Joe Johnson pretty much said before the season started that he won’t be back in a Hawks uniform next year. That’s a guy you can’t sign for ANY amount of money. Offer him $20 mill, he walks. $50 mill, he still walks. $100 mill, he just walks away faster.

The fact that Kovalchuk would’ve signed for 12 years at $11.35 mill per year is different than JJohnson. Pay Kovalchuk what he wants, basically $136 mill, and he signs. Offer anything less and he walks. Offer JJohnson anything and he won’t sign. One is about MONEY, the other is about leaving for a team that he believes can win it all. Clear as night and day, to me at least.

Long night……I’m out.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
2:37 am

Tom, of course I do think the employees of the Atlanta Spirit have the right to be flustered and angry, too. Who, at the offices of the team, wants to be bashed? Yeah. They don’t want to hear it. I can respect the fact people don’t want to be criticized and nit-picked.

The one thing … that I just cannot support … per Whitaker’s post, is the unconditional backing of Waddell, by Levenson. That’s just utterly exasperating. That’s wantonly and brazenly irresponsible, at this point. What has that man done … to deserve MORE TIME in the GM chair? It is an indefensible position, from a sports perspective. Is it the laundry list of marquee players who all thought their futures looked brighter elsewhere? Is it the isolated playoff berth in 2007, that set the team back 4-5 years in its progression, with a series of regrettable trade deadline moves? Look, I’ll just stop right there. It’s a broken record, at this point. But I just cannot see … how Bruce Levenson is going to convince people out there … to spend money, in a BAD ECONOMY, on a team run by a GM … without a playoff victory in decade’s worth of seasons. I don’t mean to come off mean-spirited. Or flippant. Or rude. But John McEnroe said it best, “You CANNOT be serious.” And well … I don’t see how Bruce can maintain this, “We’re 100% behind Waddell, even if the STH’s don’t re-new” policy. As is with any business, if you don’t move the inventory … you don’t make any money. And if HALF or even a THIRD of the STH’s say, “See ya. If Waddell’s still here, I’m not.” In time, like it or not, Bruce may have no OTHER CHOICE but to relieve Waddell of his duties. STH’s are the PAYING CUSTOMER. I think anyone and everyone in the world of business … understands the word, “Cancellation.” There is just no denying what “cancellation” means … in business.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
3:37 am

Max Cap, for as painful as it is for both you and me, Kovalchuk’s salary demands were a “smokescreen.” He just didn’t want to re-sign here. In short, he lied about wanting to be a Thrasher-for-life. He misrepresented himself, and his interests/intentions, publicly. Here’s where Kovy can technically get a pass. “I Love Atlanta. I want to stay here.”

Huh?? Well, is there a “for sale” sign on his house? No. Is he moving his family away from Atlanta? No. Does Kovy have the right to live in Atlanta, while paying in Los Angeles or New York or Boston, or Detroit, Chicago or Toronto? Yes, he does. Where he maintains residences … is … well … entirely his call. I can’t blame him for liking Atlanta, in terms of where he lives. He enjoys something close to total anonymity in this town. That’s part of the reason Kozlov lives here, stays here, never wants to leave. The press doesn’t hound him. He has a great life, good weather, low taxes, magnificent home, and an accountability-free job, etc.

Did Kovy “lie” about loving Atlanta? No. Did he “lie” about wanting to stay here? No. Did he misrepresent his intentions to remain with the Thrashers? YESSSSS! He lied!! He and his agent played Don Waddell like a fiddle. Strummed ‘im like a guitar. His wife was pregnant. The last thing he wanted to do was uproot himself early. He figured that if he could commandeer the GM chair … to get himself the pieces he needed, that he could even keep the Thrashers in contention for a playoff berth … to the very point where … Atlanta couldn’t trade him without jeopardizing its playoff berth. And then … he could sign with his true intended team in July. That was, quite possibly, Kovalchuk’s line of thinking.

As painful as it is for me to say … but I believe … that Don believed … that Kovy would really sign. Waddell “bought it.” Waddell really thought Kovalchuk would ignore zero playoff wins over a decade. Waddell really thought … that Kovy would ignore that Hossa and Savard left, too. Waddell thought … that Kovy would ignore that Eric Perrin and Todd White or Steve Rucchin were the team’s solution up the middle. Waddell really thought … that Kovy would just ignore that Waddell coached 76-games in 2008, without naming a Head Coach. Waddell believed … that his offseason moves of Antropov and Afinogenov would convince Kovy about how SERIOUS the team was about winning. Waddell really believes … and still does … that he’s a GOOD GM. And that Kovy “thinks” he’s a good GM.

When the reality is … here’s what players think of GM Waddell and the ownership. Savard said, “no.” Kaberle said, “no.” Hossa said, “no.” Potential free agent acquisitions Manny Malhotra and Brian Campbell said, “no.” And now, Ilya Kovalchuk has given his “no confidence” vote.

This negotiation was never about money. It was about buying time with his family, so he didn’t have the spend the year apart from his wife, during her pregnancy. He probably hoped that he could stay all year. If you really think about it, who wants to spend a year … “God knows where?,” apart from your family … before you really get the chance to pick which team you want to play for.

Seriously, Waddell could have traded Kovy to Edmonton or Phoenix, way back in July or August. He really could have. Like WBF and others posted, Waddell could have said, in July or August, “Here’s the final offer. $101 million over 12 years. And this offer expires on July 14, 2009. If you don’t take it, you’re gone. To where I say, for the BEST POSSIBLE DEAL for Atlanta. Sorry Ilya, but that’s the way it goes.” Instead, Don … who is a very nice man … patient, tolerant, conscientious … let Kovalchuk hold the cards. He tried his level best … to get Kovy’s signature on that contract. No doubt about it, Waddell tries as hard as he could. But even if he had offered 12-years/$135.6 million … Kovy would have passed on it. Don’s face would have turned white as alabaster. For in that moment, Don Waddell would experience his LONG OVERDUE epiphany … that Kovy just doesn’t have faith in him or this organization to win the Stanley Cup. No matter how much he might like Don Waddell, the man, PERSONALLY.

Stop. We all know people we like very much. Truly, we do. But we’d never hire them. And if already on the payroll, we’d FIRE them. Irrespective of how much we like and care for them. Business is business. And for Ilya Kovalchuk, he’s in the business of trying to win the Stanley Cup. He’s actively looking for a franchise that’s close. Maybe he’s found it in the Devils. Maybe, he hasn’t. We’ll know on July 1, 2010. But, really … truly … it won’t be us. It won’t be the Atlanta Thrashers. And Kovalchuk has a 101 million reasons not to believe in this franchise. And truly … he’s putting his money where his mouth is. I don’t have the constitution to do what Hossa and Kovalchuk did. Then again, I’m not an established millionaire, who doesn’t need to make another DOLLAR in life. Kovalchuk and Hossa alike … turned down TENS OF MILLLIONS of DOLLARS … just to pursue their Stanley Cup dreams. For they knew … none would be forthcoming here. That’s what it boils down to. Nothing more. Any “talk” of, “I would have signed for the MAX” … is just a smokescreen. Nothing more. It was to avoid being traded to the barren, frozen wasteland of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for the 2009-10 season. Don tried to work with him. And Kovy paid him back in SCORE! It wasn’t “right” for Kovalchuk and his agent to do that to Waddell. But at the same time, Waddell had to know, like Miami Screamin Eagle said, “the longer you wait, the worse the return will be.” And MSE … and WBF … and Bob and Russ and Red Light … were all CORRECT, Max Cap.

If you’re angry at Kovalchuk, I think you’re right to be flustered with him. He should have been “honest” with Waddell. Waddell was honest with him. Waddell tried to work with him. Waddell tried to appease him. But in the end, Waddell never really took stock of the situation. Perhaps, just perhaps, Don Waddell really BELIEVES all the spin he pushes about the state of this franchise. That, “we’re close, REAL CLOSE,” to being a playoff team. To turning the corner. To making a DEEP RUN into the playoffs. Maybe Waddell is, in fact, this delusional about himself and this franchise. Maybe Waddell just ignores … that his star players all walk away. And that free agents only use his contract offers to drive up the expense for their true, intended destination. God Bless Don Waddell, if that’s the truth. For it means that he’s William Hung, the “American Idol” wannabe, who truly thinks he’s a talented singer. Nobody’s been “kind enough” to tell ol’ William, “You’re uhh … you’re not GOOD. In fact, you stink. You’re awful. And people are laughing at you.” Who wants to be the one to tell William Hung that?

Not Bruce Levenson. That’s for sure. Bruce is the guy who is ALSO USING Waddell, Kovalchuk-style. For Waddell is useful (idiot) for his means. He’s the perfect Patsy. Waddell is the ‘yes man’ who carries out his every whim. Keep the payroll low, Don. Keep us in striking distance of the playoffs in February/March, Don. We gotta sell tickets, Don.” But don’t feel too terrible for Waddell. For unbeknownst to Bruce Levenson, in this parade of idiots, Waddell is USING HIM, too. Waddell’s getting paid $900,000 to $950,000 a year. Maybe more. And he’s a GM who has as many playoff victories to his credit as any blogger here, after a decade at the helm. You tell me. Who’s usin’ who, WORSE?

Don’t say Waddell. Don’t say Levenson. For the biggest Sucka is the innocent fan, caught in the crossfire. The Atlanta hockey fab deserves NEITHER Bruce Levenson as an owner, nor Don Waddell, as a GM. But we love our hockey. We love it so much … we’ll take steaming pile of excrement after steaming pile of excrement … and BE GRATEFUL the NHL is here. It’s maddening, folks. Just maddening.

Sage of Bluesland

February 7th, 2010
7:55 am

It IS funny how there are a bunch of silly new sheep around these parts after such an emotional week…Dollars to donuts they are from the ASG or associated in some way, however remote.

Brendan is absolutely and obviously correct–the Kovy “jilting” was NOT about money; my goodness, how dense some of you are! I’m of the opinion that a part of Kovy did indeed want to be a “Thrasher for life”–the idea of playing for one team your entire career is an enticing thought on many levels.

However, if he would have done that, he will NEVER win a cup–which, sheep, that IS the ultimate goal. The money–after so many millions–is irrelevant compared to legacy. How many yachts can one ski behind? How many opportunities do you have to get your name on the Cup?

Oh well, I recognize these ignorant tools for what they are…they’ll be gone when the emotional “high” of our “coming-out” victory against the woeful Panthers is replaced by ever-increasing losses…

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
8:55 am

I guess Sage’s mommy woke him up early. Still no facts in your statements, man! (or boy). See Tom Lysiak’s last post and take that on, point by point, or just shut up. My emotional high has passed and I’m still here, asking you to post something meaningful.

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
11:32 am

Sage, had Waddell offered Kovalchuk $201 million, his answer would have been the same. “Nyet.” And then what would Waddell do? He’d throw his hands up in the air, proclaiming, “I had NO IDEA of the BOUNDS of Kovalchuk’s greed!” Which means?? That’s right. That Waddell just doesn’t get it. It’s not about the money. And it never was.

Thrashers27

February 7th, 2010
1:56 pm

Great game last night! The crowd was excellent and the team played as a team. Great to see!

Anyone else notice that the talked about the prominent olympic teams…went through the Canadian Olympians, the Americans and the Russians making mention of the NHL stars who were set to participate, but not a single mention of our dearly departed figure skater.

How incredible would it be for the Thrashers to make the playoffs and sweep the Devils out in the first round. That would be hilarious!

Brendan

February 7th, 2010
2:21 pm

Thrashers27, I would love it!!! But first things, first. Atlanta has to make the playoffs. And chances are, they’d draw the Capitals, not the Devils.