Don Waddell is right about the Thrashers needing new identity

For those of you who have been regulars around here since I’ve been hosting this little online forum for the past three seasons, you know I’ve not been shy about dipping the pen in poison ink before opining about the Thrashers general manager on occasions. But tonight, I happily write about something I totally and completely agree with Don Waddell about…and that is his statement recently about how this team needs a new identity. As he said, the roster for the longest time had been constructed around him.

But with Kovy’s departure, the organization is in a bit of an identity crisis…and I think Don was correct in pointing it out.

For too long, whatever identity the Thrashers might have had was based on icing a team that formed from the idea of winning 4-3 and 5-4 games almost every night. As we have seen over the past several seasons…that simply does not work. If you have to rely on 4 or 5 goals every night, you aren’t going to win more games than you lose.

Given that, I have to say that I hope…I pray…that the type of team Waddell is thinking about as he sits down again at the drawing board is one that takes the form of a tough, physical, defensively responsible, hard-nosed squad that is made up of quality character guys who fight for each other each and every shift. A kind of team that opposing players simply do not want to travel to Atlanta and play because they know they are going to have a fight on their hands win lose or draw…OK, win lose or overtime loss.

In short, the new identity needs to be, in a word…tough.

The kind of Thrashers team I would love to see in the future, to be honest, was on display during Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. I hope I see it more often…and that style of play is what Don builds around, not just one player.

Thrasherville celebrates with Niclas Borgfors after he scores his first goal for Atlanta. It put the Thrashers ahead 3-2 in the third period (AP Photo/John Amis)

Thrasherville celebrates with Niclas Bergfors after he scores his first goal for Atlanta. It put the Thrashers ahead 3-2 in the third period (AP Photo/John Amis)

This was a gut-check night for the team. They had departed Atlanta with Kovalchuk, said good-bye to him later in the day, and then were beat by probably the best team in the league…their third loss in a row. Adding to their misery was a commute back home Saturday that resembled something out of the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”…departing Washington D.C. that was in the midst of a snowstorm by bussing themselves to Richmond where they caught a flight to Atlanta.

I believe Don Waddell even mentioned that the airport closed shortly after they got off the ground. Regardless, they arrived at Philips Arena around 6:30 or so…and there was some sort of fender-bender along the way.

The game was pushed back to allow time to dress and adequately warm up…but they found themselves down 2-0 after the first period. Honestly, if they had been blown out of the barn on this night, I think most people would at least understand why.

However…instead, what emerged from the locker room was a group of players that decided they might was well play hard since they were there anyway, put some bodies on opposing players, busted their collective humps in the defensive zone and evened the score before heading back in for the second break.

It lead to an eventual game-winning goal by new Thrasher Niclas Bergfors with 4:26 remaining in the game…and what a wonderful way to introduce himself to Thrasherville…but it all began with the gritty, tough, focused, edgy attitude that accompanied the team when they came out for the second period.

The team played tough tonight…worked themselves out of a funk, they did.

The Ilya Kovalchuk era in Thrasherville is over. With that is a chance to rethink and retool this organization…to actually start building a team from the goal-out and put ice a team that will bring the hurt with them night in and night out.

That’s what I hope Don has in mind.

One Jacked-Up Crowd

I wasn’t planning on being at Saturday night’s game. I spent know I was spending the entire day at Ft. Benning down in Columbus…and would need to get up at O-dark thirty to get down there. But once it became clear this was going to be the first game of the post-Kovalchuk era, I know I needed to be there.

So…I broke a few speed-limit laws on I-85 to make it by 7:00.

What I was most curious about was what type of mood the fans were going to be in. As was the subject of my last blog, it looked like Waddell and the ownership could face some tough questioned at the town hall meeting and the assembled masses could be loaded for bear given the current state of things in Thrasherville.

What I witness, however, was an emotional welcome to the team as they took to the ice…and all through the game they were loud and raucous. A lot had to do with the game itself and the way the home team played…but it seemed as though most came to the arena with the mindset that they wanted to show full support for the players on the ice and even welcome Bergfors and Johnny Oduya, whom the Thrashers picked up on their trip to D.C.

My impression was that Thrashervillians were ready to move on from this whole Kovalchuk drama and get back to simply pulling for their team. We can discuss and debate the trade and reasons for it…but in the end, when the game is on, that stuff gets put aside.

From what I understand, the THM was mostly civil…a good two-way discussion between fans and management.

As I said at the top of this entry…I can be tough on Don Waddell, but I’ll give the an kudos for not shying away from standing up there and answering the to the paying customers.

188 comments Add your comment

Tim

February 7th, 2010
1:46 am

First? Whatever…

Tim

February 7th, 2010
1:54 am

I’m proud of the fans and the team. My wife and I are regulars (BTW… she’s been to 13 or 14 games in her life, starting last season, and they’ve lost ONE, and that was last season… can we get her some tickets please?). Anyway, I was proud to take 4 new fans to the game tonight. I expected a smaller crowd and I personally saw ZERO negative signs and whatever negativity people came with was squashed by the great vibes.

Observations:

1) Kane gets ZERO love from the officials.

2) Olduya (spelling?) is a stud

3) If you weren’t there you have to go to NHL.com to see #4’s fight. OMG!!! I don’t recall who that player was but he won’t be dropping gloves with Bogo again. WOW! Actually, I’m not sure that there’s solid food in his immediate future.

Ron Mexico

February 7th, 2010
2:07 am

Well said Bill!! From what I saw on the highlights Kane really hustled his tail off. The boys started off slow and given the travel, that’s understandable, but they really fed off that crowd tonight. Lets keep it up boys!! As for the Kovy trade, I really think that while we lose some firepower, we now have the potential to reshape our identity and be a gritty and more defensively responsible team without the aforementioned Captain turnover who is allergic to backchecking around anymore. Great to see the new guys chipping in too, all around a great day. I’m gonna miss Kovy as much as the next guy, but you can put me among the group who is guardedly optimistic about the future as now guys like Little won’t have to defer to Kovy as much anymore and I think his production will take off. The trade is of course a bitter pill to swallow, but honestly it had to be done. If tonight’s game is a true indication of things to come, we’ll be a more united team than ever before.

Smoothie

February 7th, 2010
2:20 am

Bill – thanks for posting this blog and in so doing, featuring the main topic of our discussion throughout the evening perched above the ice in our “customary” nose-bleed seats. The only way to ressurrect this foundering franchise is to not only change the identity of this team, but to foster hope by emboldening hard-working players who care about each other by empowering them with more opportunities to excel and play as a team and not so much as complementary parts supporting a star or stars.

I can only hope and believe that this is a step in the right direction. Does tonite’s inspired, hard-fough win mean we won’t suffer more bumps along the road post-Kovalchuk. No, of course not. But you had to be in complete denial to not recognize the passion with which the team played tonite. I am positive that the players could not have ever imagined (even in their wildest dreams during a long bus-ride induced slumber) the outpouring of support they received tonite. It’s almost as if people decided to show up in order to see if the management REALLY DID TRADE the face of the franchise. But I’m more inclined to believe that the majority of the 15,000+ (felt like 17,000) came to the arena tonite to show athlete prima donnas everywhere that a team is worth supporting if they play hard, play for each other and leave every ounce of their will on the ice after 60 minutes. Even had they lost tonite, I could not have been disappointed with the effort.

I’m getting too old (and to think I’m only 36) to live and die with every win and loss and only watching sports for the fulfillment of some wonderful fantasy that my team will win the big game or hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. I simply want to enjoy the game for what it was intended to be: a passion-filled, hotly contested battle of wills between two worthy opponents who both want the same thing. If you root for a team simply for the wins and the glory, you will be sorely disappointed more often than not. Pull for the players because you appreciate the effort they give and for the aplomb with which they conduct themselves in executing their dream job. Or the passion and fervor they exhibit when defending a teammate’s honor with a series of upper-cuts and right hooks in skate-to-skate combat.

I want to be a fan because I care about the players and because I want them to succeed and realize the fulfillment of dreams they’ve had as kids. The same ones I had growing up and which drove me to play home-run derby with tennis balls against my father’s church, or tennis by myself against a wall who was the Borg to my MacEnroe, or break windows in the basement of my parents house with plastic pucks I fired on a cardboard cut-out of Bartles & James to see if I could beat Roy top shelf where momma hides the cookies!

What am I trying to say? Simply that it was such a refreshing pleasure to see so many enthusiastic people at a hockey game just days removed from one of the darkest moments in our beloved franchise’s history who came out to support their TEAM and the new members of that team. The ones most casual fans have never heard yet embrace and welcome with open arms in the form of hearty applause, raucous chants and pure unadulterated jubilation when one of the new kids on the Blueland block roofs a bullet over the shoulder of the goalie who has owned us the last 2 times we’ve played against him. That is reason to cheer. That is reason to celebrate a new beginning and again begin to dream about what it would be like for this group of individuals unite as one and realize collective goals and dreams that fermented in their minds as children — the same dreams that carried them here to Atlanta. Like it or not, their YOUR ATLANTA THRASHERS.

Smoothie

February 7th, 2010
2:29 am

Apologies post-posting for the numerous grammatical errors, typos and run-on sentences. But it’s very late and I’m surprised I can still formulate one sentence let alone 50 after the night of bourbon-infused fun I had tonite down at the Bulb. Great job fans! Way to give Ilya “let me wait and see if my teammates are worthy of my hard work” Kovalchuk the big 1-fingered salute…keep it up. This team will need every ounce of support it can soak up to be “successful” and make a true run at the post-season. Why not believe? It’s more fun than arguing with the LAC’s, Sages and EastPointBobs of the blog world I can tell you that!

Sharon

February 7th, 2010
3:48 am

Smoothie… That was a wonderful post. Thank you :)

Let`s Start the Season

February 7th, 2010
3:48 am

Sure is nice ole Smoothie spouting off with a dose of humility. Tonight, we`re all proud of our team. Haven`t been able to feel this good about Le`Thrash in I don`t know when. Don`t let it rub off.

GBiscuit

February 7th, 2010
6:10 am

not a nefarious question, but how many games have the Thrashers started out down 0-2 this season? I cannot find the stat. Does anyone know?

GBiscuit

February 7th, 2010
6:25 am

Mike Milbury from the Hockey Channel’s Saturday night broadcast and Chuck Oliver from 680TheFan both let Don Waddell have it this week over the Kovy trade and his carrer missteps. Good to hear word getting out on this guy on a larger stage!

jimbo

February 7th, 2010
7:55 am

Donnie Brilliance- DUH. It took you ten years to recognize that toughness and defense are part of the NHL. You’ve been asleep too long. The game has passed you by. Move on. You may have lucked out on the Kovy deal- Bernfors and Oduya are certainly not in the Christensen mold. Two good hustling, skilled players. Way to go guys.

Putting On The Foil

February 7th, 2010
8:02 am

Rawhide-4th paragraph of your write up just described the old Atlanta Flames.

HookyBob

February 7th, 2010
8:08 am

The team played a fine game tonight. Maybe we should bus them to Athens or something before every game.

Two things caught my eye. First was that we did seem much more physical. And I think it contributed to the victory. Hainsey even got in his first fight as a Thrasher.

Second, the refs missed calls, and made-up phantom, penalites. Of course one of them was none other than Stphan Auger (recall a recent dust-up between him and Alex Burows of the Canucks?). Perhaps he didn’t have time to inform the players beforehand of what his calls would be.

Bergfors and Oduya looked good last night. The way this team played I feel better about our play-off chances. Sad to say there have been rumors about more trades coming. Does anyone have an update on contract talks with Kubina?

Tom F.

February 7th, 2010
8:09 am

The Red Wings talked about it being time to trade Yzerman and “get a new identity” back around the mid-ninties. The fans were in an uproar, owner Illitch stepped in and stopped all the trade talks between the GMs and the rest is history, Wings won back-to-back cups a few years later and again shortly after that — all with Yzerman wearing the ‘C’.

Sorry, I for one cannot buy into Don Waddell’s face-saving campaign he’s been on since the trade. I have never seen an NHL GM meet personally with the fans to explain a move–I look at it as a desperate move to save face and one that reeks ‘amateur’. Gotta say though smart move by DW, now he has some of the bloggers and media writing things in his favor and cooling down from the shock of his franchise-destroying move. ‘Smooth move, Teflon’.

The Kovy trade will destroy this franchise–wait and see and it was totally unfair for the fans who have supported this team through DW’s awful run as a GM.

Finally, players of the caliber we got from NJ are a dime-a-dozen and DW could have easily found a slew of guys like that in the off season–should have kept him and tried to make a playoff run.

Also with Kovy not in a Thrashers sweater, dont expect to attract any more established players like Antropov or Kubina any time in the near future. These guys must alreadybe packing their bags. Sorry to say but that move has the boat sinking fast.

Sage of Bluesland

February 7th, 2010
8:14 am

God, P.T. Barnum must have had the wittle Bwuewanders in mind all those years ago–some of you never fail to disappoint me!

Wow, so after over a decade, Donny figures out that his team needs an “identity”? Really? Too bad the head coach HE selected is an offense-only minor leaguer?

Yeah, don’t let that thought get too deep in your collective minds. Donny is a real revolutionary in thought on considering building a “tough” team! (I wonder if he reads the blogs around here sometimes for ideas–as Brendan has been saying the EXACT thing for how many months now).

Laughable “admissions” from the “braintrust” in the form of these Sara-Specials seem to be occurring every year lately–and the “fans” buy it more each and every year! Now THAT is funny!

I wonder how long it will take to build this new “vision” of Waddell’s? Another ten years? Or, is Donny being reasonable with a mere “Five Year Plan”? I’m also going to assume we’re going to “Build through the draft”? Hmmm, next will be the new round of playoff “guarantees”?

And, then, surely there will be more “town meetings” to recognize all failures and assure the “fans” they weally, weally want to win a Cup…

Wow. It really is Groundhog Day in the proverbial joke otherwise known as Blueland…

Rawhide

February 7th, 2010
8:22 am

Bill – thanks for posting this blog and in so doing, featuring the main topic of our discussion throughout the evening perched above the ice in our “customary” nose-bleed seats.

Smoothie – The Thrashers are 3-0-0 when I join you and the Blueland Chronicle in their perch.

Just sayin’…

Rawhide-4th paragraph of your write up just described the old Atlanta Flames.

POTF – Thanks for recognizing that. I had actually typed that in…that what I saw last night resembled an old Flames game…but I wanted to see if I wasn’t alone in that.

Second, the refs missed calls, and made-up phantom, penalites.

HookyBob – Yeah…it was frustrating…but I don’t like using refs as an excuse. Sometimes teams have to play through bad calls or bad no-calls. It’s called character.

Whitaker - I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to post your comments from the last blog that you posted last night. Good recap of the THM…

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

Get The Puck Out

February 7th, 2010
8:25 am

Kovy didn’t want to be here. Period.

Matt

February 7th, 2010
8:26 am

Can someone help me out. On Kane’s goal, was it awarded to him due to throwing stick and there being an empty net?

NHL.com highlights showed Bogo’s fight. Nice.

Rawhide

February 7th, 2010
8:30 am

Matt – Yes…that is why Kane was awarded the goal. It was an empty net on a breakaway and if a defending player throws the stick to knock away a shot…it’s a goal.

Ward

February 7th, 2010
8:39 am

Goodbye Kovy….you and your agent used the system to get your non-checking style into a Stanley Cup contender’s jersey. Now that the issue is settled it appears to fans have made their “statement”. Last night’s crowd was solidly supportive of two-way hockey, grit and a “team” concept.Hockey is a great sport and Atlanta has what it takes to support the team. The Waddell and Spirit issues will be there for an undetermined time but what we see on the ice will bring us back for more.My family and I will be back….and those two rookie goals last night were “sweet”. Thanks Moose for being the “face” of our team through all this with your class act.

Putting On The Foil

February 7th, 2010
8:41 am

As much as the Kovy trade has brought out the bloggers the last few days, maybe it will also bring out the fans. Rawhide surely must like his blog attendance these days. As Thrashers management keeps us, the fans, confused, we, the fans probably keep them a little confused also. Bottom line, there is a lot of fair weathered posturing going on. I’m as guilty as anyone at times. But it’s kinda like bitching about politicians and not voting. I vote. Fans can make a difference. As Smoothie said, these are our Atlanta Thrashers. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I’ll support them. Mainly, because I’m a home team guy and also in hopes of keeping hockey here in Georgia. Done lost it one time, don’t want to feel that way again.

LAC

February 7th, 2010
8:58 am

So, levenson was at this STH meeting ? Saying waddell is going nowhere.
Typical, Their choice and I will not be at Philips until waddell is gone, MY choice… And I have not missed it all that much !

thrashville

February 7th, 2010
9:07 am

I was not expecting that type of crowd last night… thank you fans for your support!

thrashville

February 7th, 2010
9:08 am

and for those that missed the town hall, there was quite a bit of positive energy in there … for those that missed the game, you missed the valentine’s puck surprise!

thrashville

February 7th, 2010
9:09 am

LAC – and i for one do not miss your negativity there … you are not a true fan as it is

Badger Bob

February 7th, 2010
9:12 am

Great blog, Rawhide! You do a nice job calling it as you see it without going over board one way or the other.

Two notable examples of the new (hopefully permanent) grit and determination: Bogo ripping his arm out of his sweater so he could start pummeling Moore. Kane flipping the puck toward the empty net, then outracing the FIVE Panthers between him and the puck. That’s the stuff the wins games, wins over fans and changes identities.

Lee

February 7th, 2010
9:16 am

Bergalisious
Definitious
Make them ‘Cats go loco

Putting On The Foil

February 7th, 2010
9:17 am

On a side note. Kovy attempted a hit along the boards last night, but missed.

Tincup9

February 7th, 2010
9:20 am

Several of you already made these observations, but I went last night as much to see the crowd reaction as anything. What a shock. Pleasant for a change. Darren Elliot said it best in his “Keys to the Game” when he told the crowd to KEEP IT LOUD AND KEEP IT PROUD. The played with pride. That hasn’t always been the case.

I also think Hainsey wears the Captain’s “C” next season. Already a team leader, he was obviously fired up by the crowd during warm ups and it carried over to his leadership on the ice.

Rightshot

February 7th, 2010
9:25 am

I made a couple of observations myself last night.

1. Todd White has played well over the last two games, even throwing some good checks. I’m upgrading him from “Charmin” to “Two ply”

2. (My friends observation) Kovy has left the building, Don should follow.

3. The team showed hussel, determination and a true desire to win as a team, not defer to a “superstar” and see if he can win the game for them.

4. Obviously, to many penalties, otherwise I would think we would have had about 2 more goals.

5. Bill, you are right as always. This team ,IMHO, should be know as a tough, skilled team that never quits and opposing players do not want to face, especially at home ’cause the arena is so loud. (With Thrashers Fans, not other teams fans)

Good win and hopefully many more to follow.

Rightshot

February 7th, 2010
9:43 am

The Jimmy, Armstrong, Kane line. The JAK line.

thrashville

February 7th, 2010
9:48 am

Rawhide – you forgot the portion in the Town Hall meeting where one fan called for the firing of Jeff Schultz, but i guess you can’t report that considering he works for the ajc … that was the loudest applause i heard at the Town Hall

Also, the comment made by one of the other season ticket holders regarding heatley/savard/hossa/kovy was more of an attack on Don b/c that season ticket holder was the same one who asked don to resign … i didn’t have to take notes to see that was a personal attack which fell mostly on deaf ears there. That season ticket holder did not represent the thoughts of more than 80% of the people there, including the 500 or so of us in the fan club that were there to support the thrash in nashville last weekend. The rest of your notes were dead on though … i’m personally ready for a change to this franchise and i would like to see a new identity b/c what we had before wasn’t working …

WoodstockDave

February 7th, 2010
9:53 am

Of course, it’s way to early to determine if the trade has been a negative OR positive in the near term, but I was really encouraged by what I saw last night. This team played like a team for the first time since the first month of the season.

The power play looked different as the game wore on and that a good thing! While at first they had Bogo and Kubina stepping into the left circle, they hit the net, which 3 out of 5 times Kovy didn’t do (and out of the zone the puck went). That would kill so much time and take the rhythm out of the PP.

The TEAM looked like a team. Guys like Enstrom, Slater, and Little skated with the confidence that they are being relied on to work, bang, and put the puck in the net. Again, a good thing.

I think focusing on star power is what got this team into this mess, and hopefully getting rid of the guy who wasn’t necessarily the best team player will get them out of it.

World Be Free

February 7th, 2010
9:58 am

To add on to HookyBob and Smoothie’s comments-

I was sitting in the end and saw the Bergfors goal right in front of us; man that was a sweet goal! The kid has goal scorers hands.

What a difference in a team, playing physical, old time hockey. Hainsey and Bogo I fights, Jimmy playing VERY physical and watching Evander Kane come out again. I thought Kane was the best player on the ice last night on both teams. Why? Because of his drive; that kid had his motor working last night. He had the “John Tonelli” going on with a little more speed. You must drive to the net. Believe me, defenseman HATE players and teams that drive the net.

What was more evident last night, in the team and the crowd was the exorcism of Kovalchuk. We have exorcised the Great Russian Elephant (sorry to OUR Russian). Screw Kovalchuk AND his agent for their “I love Atlanta” BS. Enjoy the Chemical Dump State.

Hey Don, if we are so committed, it’s time to resign some of these UFA guys NOW.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

February 7th, 2010
10:08 am

For what it’s worth, I am not buying into Don Waddell’s realization of what we need, after 10 years of losing and failing to resign so many key players. This guy is as close to “Rasputin” as I have seen since Wayne Fonts in Detroit a decade or so ago. Again, here we are talking about comparing the Detroit Lions to the Atlanta Thrashers, not a glowing comparison.

The Thrashers may become a success someday, despite having Don Waddell. We may be that lucky. Until then, I will continue to support hockey in this town, despite having the “Teflon Don” running this operation.

Sabres’ fans have to deal with Darcy Regier. Ranger fans with Glen Sather. Braves’ fans have to deal with idiot Frank Wren (i.e. Bird Brain). All 3 GM’s make more stupid moves than good ones.

We need to keep the heat on Donnie, don’t let up.

Hockey Biltong

February 7th, 2010
10:10 am

We won, with about 17000 friends. Was it worth the trip last night ???
Hainseys first fight, Bergfors scoring and Kane being screwed by the refs again!!! Hell yes….
I didn’t go to the sth meeting, but heard from R.Stroz about it.Thank you R. Stroz for what you asked!!!
When we started winning last year around this time, you will recall the team finally picking up on JA’s system. They are re-acquiring it again , albeit with JA a year wiser.
BTW Dudley is the ‘man’ now and will be in the future. This bodes well for us.
Rawhide, good to see you again and sorry to hear about Valabik. I hope Schubie heals quickly, cause we are gonna need some of his grit back there….

rob

February 7th, 2010
10:18 am

Awesome game….about damn time the boys in blue ran somebody outta town with an all around whoopin’. It was fun, it was loud, and the game wasn’t decided until the very end. They checked, fought, and fore checked hard. It was a fun game to watch (even though I was worried at end of 1st).
That being said, it sounds as though some of you are thinking as long as that happens, all is well. Anyone who was there should have recognized that the final 2 minutes, when you know Fla. is gonna try to press and you better have your STRONG D on the ice, Mad Max was on. I like the guy a lot and he played pretty well last night, BUT HE IS A DEFENSIVE LIABILITY, and Kozlov out there with him too. HORRIBLE COACHING choice, and not just a mistake by him because if you go back a few games prior, he did the same thing with #17, which nearly cost us the game when Nik couldn’t clear the zone cause his winger was cutting figure 8s. Time for a new coaching philosophy. They are CRAZY if they think Pavs is the future, cause let’s be frank here, Moose probably isn’t here more than maybe 1 more season. He might fare longer as back up. Sounds as though the Wolves goalie is doing nice and that is well, but Kari has to be the goalie and it will be a mistake to let him go.
WADDELL IS RIGHT…… we do need a new identity, starting at the top with someone who won’t lie, mislead, and not talk to the FANS until it is way too late. The ASG was at the meeting you say? Heard from a fan while he was laughing about my FIRE WADDELL tshirt and ASG=Taking the “SPIRIT” out of Atlanta Hockey they were there and that the “Owner” said that they were on top of things and “very involved”. If you buy into that, then why has the team been in the shape it has been in for SO LONG?!?!?!?!?! Don’t fall for this again people. Support the team, cause they are dam sure gonna need it, but it is time for wholesale change, not just cosmetics!
Finally, LAC, I agree with some of what you say, but if you say you don’t miss being able to see a live hockey game, then frankly, it is time to stop blogging about it.

Ice Daddy

February 7th, 2010
10:24 am

Here are some random thoughts…..or maybe just a stream of consciousness (unconsciousness?)

Kovy trade – when you think of this in the short term, this was an amazing trade for the Thrashers and I have to commend Don for making it. You don’t trade players, you trade player contracts/rights and the Thrashers made out great. In the long term view, this trade would not have been necessary if Don had been able to put together anything resembling a team that at least has a chance at the playoffs year in and year out. I firmly believe Kovy would have signed (and not for the max contract) if we were even making the playoffs every other year.

Last night – from everyone’s comments, last night’s crowd was bigger and louder than usual. I just thought it was because I haven’t been to a weekend game lately. It definitely was a lot of fun although it did get a little quiet when we went down 2-0. The physical play and especially the fights brought the noise back and the Bulb was at full wattage by mid second period. Now if we could all just make it out to the mid-week games.

New guys – I’m glad they made the 3 stars of the game because they both deserved it. This was definitely not some “give the new guys the stars to make this trade look good” thing. They earned it with hard work and skill and I look forward to seeing them push us towards the playoffs.

Refs – for awhile there, I was thinking that maybe there was a new emphasis on goaltender interference when we picked up two of these penalties on plays I’ve seen 100 times with no call. If there was such a directive, the refs should let both coaches know before the game. However, I realized there was no such emphasis when TWO Panthers crashed into Moose in the third at the same time with no call.

I am really energized with how our team looks right now. I think Kari will be gone soon and I just hope we get value for him. I’m thinking we will most likely stock our system and keep the big club as it is right now. I’m okay with a trade if it happens, but I just wish he could have stayed healthy because he is a great goalie when he can stay on the ice.

I’m glad to hear the THM was civil. I didn’t get to go, but someone near me who went said it was a blood bath and Don was getting hammered. While many believe he deserves it, that is really not the point of these meetings. I also think Don has some big ones to have the THM right after the trade and also to show up at the post game show.

Zoomo

February 7th, 2010
10:24 am

So far, it looks like Bergfors knows how to get his shot off. That is something we need more of from all players. I like that trait a whole lot.

GaVaHokie

February 7th, 2010
10:26 am

I’ll just say… that was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve attended in Thrashers history, when I expected it to be one of the worst.

One of the biggest crowds I’ve seen this year… especially for the Panthers.

I didn’t see one “Fire Waddell” sign in the building… for what it’s worth.

World Be Free

February 7th, 2010
10:29 am

Biltong, that was the best game of the year last night, despite the refs.

On the refs-we should use the new rules in periods 1 and 2 and goal back to the old rules for period 3. Let the players play! I don’t pay a dime to see a referee. #15 from last night had his arm up so much, he is going to need shoulder surgery tomorrow.

Yankee

February 7th, 2010
10:31 am

Disappointed in our STH – he was met with cheers, not many if any boos. I don’t want to hear one more STH complain about spending money if that is your reaction. Once again, this is why the team will not change. If ownership hears cheering from the most loyal then they will think all is OK. You guys are idiots! Keep flushing your money down the toilet and stop whining!

BTW – I WAS a STH but I got smart with what money I do have.

HookyBob

February 7th, 2010
10:36 am

Following up on refs,..they were just plain bad,..to both teams. My apologies to anyone who read my comment above as an excuse. However, I do concur w Tim’s earlier comment on Kane. That kid really coming into his own.

To para-phrase a classic post from last month. “That Bergie feller can really shoot the puck.” His getting open, picking up the pass, deking a defender, and rifling the puck topshelf was a thing of beauty. Hope to see more. (Just wait til he gets to practice with his teammates.)

Oduya makes our D better too. They kept the puck to the outside and didn’t give up too many shots. Perhaps Florida normally doesn’t take many shots though.

Also, concur with comment on Hedberg being a stablizing influence who brings his “everything” every start. Sounds like he does it in practice too.

Twisted Wrister

February 7th, 2010
10:40 am

The exchange between Don Waddell and the fan that asked Don Waddell to resign was very interesting. First, I would not consider the banter a personel attack. The fan posed a fair question based on facts in a polite manner.

This is my best recall of the discussion between the two.

The fan had a rather long winded opening, which went something along the lines of:

“Staios, Brunette, Savard, Hossa, and Kovy, we have never retained a top tier UFA, Mr. Waddell you were quoted as saying that Kovy has been with the team for eight years and the Thrashers have only one playoff berth and zero playoffs wins, so its a time to change the identity of the team, with that in mind, Mr. Waddell you have been with the organization ten years with the same number of playoff berths and playoff wins, as part of the identity change shouldn’t you step aside and let Rick Dudley take over as GM?

Mr. Waddell replied, “If you’re asking me to resign, I’m not going to.” At this point many fans clapped their hands, I’d estimate about 25% of the audience. Mr. Waddell continued asking the fan, “If I had re-signed Kovy at his asking price, which player, Kane or Bogosian, would you rather not keep when they are due for a contract extention?”

The fan replied, “Mr. Waddell, at this point, it doesn’t really matter because, as history has shown, you’ve not been able to keep any of our top tier players in the organization.” At this point, many fans, I’d estimate about 25% again, cheered, acknowledging the fan had a solid point based on Thrasher history.

Mr. Waddell, asked the fan, “could you name that list of players again”, the fan did so, “Staios, Brunnette, Savard, Hossa, and Kovalchuk.” Mr. Waddell asked the fan if he said “Heatley”. The fan said, “No, Heatley is not on the list due to the circumstances of the situation.”

At this point, “Mr. Waddell admitted making mistakes along the way and hoped a change in identity, winning, and making the playoffs would address the retention issue in the future.”

I’ll give both the fan, and Mr. Waddell credit, the discourse remained civil, yet a lively interaction between the two.

Bob

February 7th, 2010
10:57 am

That’s because they got confiscated on the way in, Hokie. What did stroz ask at the meeting?

Let’s pray that Levenson just gave Waddell the proverbial vote of confidence/kiss of death last night.

Last night’s was a great game to watch. Friday night’s game also was good to watch as the guys really hustled. Keep in mind that over a 82 game plus playoff season, you can’t bring an effort like that every night (well, in the regular season), or you’ll burn out. The guys simply outhustled the Panthers as they outhustled the Caps Friday night, problem with the Caps’ game was that club is so much more talented, it rose to the top.

They need 4 out of the 6pts in these next three games, and then rest over the break and see if they can’t just try to hustle their way into a playoff spot, that would be great to watch.

The main underlying problem remains as long as Waddell is in charge (anyone suffer under the delusion that either Armstrong or Kubina will re-sign here?), but I’d love to see these guys hustle their way into a playoff spot.

Mrs. Zoomo

February 7th, 2010
11:04 am

Great piece Bill. Now I wish we were there last night, sounds like a great crowd.
On a side note, this is what happens when you play for a “World Class Organization” Welcome to NJ/NY Kovy!
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=516652&cmpid=fb:wallpost:averykovy

English Teacher

February 7th, 2010
11:18 am

Last night’s game reminded me of the Toronto game last year when things turned around for the Thrashers. Same energy in the building, same determination on the ice. I’ve said it before, hustle and hard word trumps raw talent, and I think the team we saw last night proved that.

The new guys looked really good, while Thorbs and Marty were outstanding on the PK. I LOVED seeing blue jerseys crashing the net and the gritty work along the boards. Hainsey and Bogo both dropped the gloves…the only thing that was missing was a shorty during the 2 Minute Drill!

It took long enough, but I think we are starting to get a sense of “the hockey way” in Blueland.

rob

February 7th, 2010
11:27 am

You can’t sustain that kind of play for 82 games?!?! Um, I beg to defer. There will be nights when we are out worked/outplayed, or when a guy is flat, but the only way a winning team happens is to bring that kind of effort day in and day out. I think the long ride on the bus may have been a blessing in disguise. Hopefully it gave the team time to hash it all out amongst themselves and come to the conclussion that it is time to make hockey fun around here again. As for Kubina/Armstrong, only time will tell, but if you don’t want to stay here, then get the f276 outta here. No need to have people who don’t want to play. But secretly I think Colby might have seen the light, said it before. Slater/Kane are on fire and playing FUN hockey, and that may be what Colby needed cause I think he has been much better since being put with them. As for the refs….UGH. LOL but what do you expect, we are the Trashers, and we have a LONG way to go before we start getting the benifit again, and I am sure that all of Kovy’s crying about “missed” calls when the opposing team wouldn’t let him get to the slot to shoot will be with us for a while. Oh well, just BOO them too.
Next month will be crucial. How many people are gonna show up for the week night games? How many people will support the team and question owners/gm/coaching? I hope enough to make REAL, LASTING changes here, both for the NOW, and for the FUTURE.
LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!!

Hockey Biltong

February 7th, 2010
11:39 am

Enjoyed talking to you last night rob!!! Loved your shirt….lol was sitting right in front of you.

Albert

February 7th, 2010
11:42 am

I’d love to see that stat for the Won/loss when Kovy sat out for suspensions or injuries vs how the team performed overall with him. My recollection is that the team never really seemed to miss him and played just as well without him.

Until ownership is fixed the team will have to be built through the draft or trades. Signing free agents will be much harder until then. I wasn’t a fan of the David McDavid sale but miss it now. Why did Ted have to sell out to Time Warner or can we blame this on the AOL merger?

Ted, please come back!!!

Schultz and Bettman Talk

February 7th, 2010
11:51 am