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

Thrashville

February 8th, 2010
7:46 am

Best crowd i’ve seen all year … normally, you’d expect that type of crowd with a long break in February most years but that really caught me off guard … Thrashers could use that type of crowd every night to help them win and Cup Guy, i agree with you, most teams feed off the crowd (of course, it doesn’t help when half the crowd is wearing Caps jerseys like 1/9)

Tough road trip coming up before the break, lets hope they can at least get 3 points!

Yankee

February 8th, 2010
7:56 am

Brendan – Completely agree with ya about the GM. You couldn’t be more on.

Pittsburgh Pirates Fan – As I may be able to tell from your moniker and you may be able to tell from mine, I am a lifeling Steelers fan and even with 6 Super Bowls we still boo when necessary (Mark Malone? Bubby Brister?). When change is needed, change is needed.

J-man

February 8th, 2010
8:13 am

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan – The Hawks are 20th out of 30 in salary in the NBA, so while it seems that the ASG spend more on the Hawks, it’s really not much better. The Thrashers were 23rd in salary prior to the trade. Joe Johnson rejected a 4 or so year extension and seems determined to leave. I cannot say whether he might stay for a better offer or if he just wants out. His offer was not bad, but it also wasn’t very much above his current contract, so it could just be that he thinks it’s not enough. I don’t know.

DW’s plan to remake the team as a tougher team is likely to fail. Instead of losing games 4-3 and 5-4, they’ll lose games 4-2 and 3-1. And with all the love that DW and the ASG got from the fans on Saturday, that was just a complete vindication of every bad move they have ever taken. I have a feeling that by the beginning of April these same fans that are happy now will be just as puzzled as to how the team could fall so far out of the playoff race and they won’t understand why it happened.

Yankee

February 8th, 2010
8:32 am

J-man – you are correct in your statement about the Thrashers and the happy fans.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

February 8th, 2010
8:53 am

Yankee-good to hear you follow a true winner in the Steelers. I changed my name to Pittsburgh Pirate Fan to mirror the Thrashers’ success with another loser team, the Pirates. And I remember the Pirates when they were very good, Willie Stargell-Chicken On The Hill was one of my favorite players.

J-Man-thanks for your numbers on the Thrashers and Hawks. It seems like ASG favors the Hawks. Maybe they don’t favor either!

R. Stroz

February 8th, 2010
8:59 am

it doesn’t help when half the crowd is wearing Caps jerseys like 1/9

Over half, no way…based on your capacity to count and compute percentages, I’d suggest a remedial math class at an elementary school, or possibly a psychoeducational facility.

Red Light

February 8th, 2010
9:16 am

PPF: The Hawks, along with all other NBA teams, start with $30 million of National TV money in their coffers, while NHL teams are lucky if they get $2 million from their current deal with VERSUS/NBC. Hockey is more dependent upon attendance and local TV money, so both franchises are hamstrung. Consider a local TV contract in Metro areas such as NY, LA, Chi, San Jose, Bos., Miami, Dallas and Philly rank higher than Atlanta because of the sheer population numbers and potential viewers, but if only 11 NHL teams and only 10 NBA teams have a larger local viewership base than Atlanta, than there really is no reason both teams shouldn’t be a little higher ranked in salary unless there is a problem with ownership. Oh, it couldn’t possibly be that?

LAC

February 8th, 2010
9:55 am

Does anyone remember several years back in Raleigh, when things were not going all that good, they had a Q & A session with THE Owner and Gary Bettman. They took the glass down and fans sat in the stans and asked questions of the Owner and League. This was NOT for Season Ticket Holders ONLY, anyone could attend.

Why do STH’s get invited to these little meetings and everyone else does not? It would be a breath of FRESH air to have the OWNERS and Gary Bettman here for one of these. ALL owners show up , not one or two,
and NO don waddell, for this he would be OUT of the equasion, he has said enough.

Then ALL fans could have the chance to voice their thoughts & questions
and it would be very interesting to see the answers the “owners” would
give, given The Commissioner was there.

Then ALL fans could attend, not just the STH’s who get special treatment
all the time, a LOT of others go to a lot of games and they deserve the right to ask questions too !

Is THAT Asking too much ?

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
10:16 am

Fire Waddell, don’t fire Waddell, whatever. If he was still picking the talent, I’d be all with rob and Brendan and LAC and those posters who actually bring some insight. But he’s not picking the talent; Dudley is, and it gives me great hope.

The Thrashers have a terrible name among the players, so we’ll have to overpay to attract talent – no doubt. But there is no doubt that every player in the league took notice of what Kovy was offered and perhaps they’ll say “Let me at least explore my options there, because obviously there’s some money being thrown around”. Octocluster is still FAR from ideal, but perhaps they are turning a corner. I dared Rutherford to be in his seat all game – he was, for once, so that’s at least something.

There are a dozen good angles to talk about in the last two games – some have been brought up, but shouted down by the fire Waddell crowd; some haven’t even been touched on (like Max, the player most likely to call it in after Kovy leaves – based on his reaction to the collision with Bogo in Wash, I’d was worried he might have an attitude problem. Based on his play Saturday, I’d say he’s in step with the team).

Brendan, you have good insights, but to claim STH who aren’t demanding DW’s resignation are saying “everything’s SUPER. Stay the course” is ridiculous. Again, without Dudley, many more would. With Dudley, most of Don’s past mistakes won’t be repeated. And your Jerry McGuire 10 waste years reference may be more on target that you realized – remember, Jerry repented, or “changed his identity”, and got the girl. So you can be Renee, demanding the change, and DW can come to you, tell you how you complete him, and it will be a beautiful ending. Okay, maybe not.

Finally, I owe Sage an apology. Sage, you know I’ve asked repeatedly for you to post insight and wisdom rather than chaff. Then I realized, you chose your name not because you are “wise, judicious, or prudent”, but for the other meaning: “a plant or shrub with greyish-looking leaves”. We sheep know exactly what to do with shrubs.

Pittsburgh Pirate Fan

February 8th, 2010
10:57 am

LAC-great idea, but you are asking way too much of these owners. They would have to come down from the ivory tower and get involved. DW is their “messenger”.

Sage of Bluesland

February 8th, 2010
11:10 am

Wow, a “funny” from Badger-Sheep!

Your comedic gold with your, umm, “thoughts”–I beg you to keep posting your sunshine!

I’ll be sure to laugh at it whenever I visit here!

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
11:13 am

Badger Bob, I hope so. All I want … is what’s best for this team. And if Dudley is the answer, why not make him the GM? Ya know? To merely take some of Waddell’s duties away … doesn’t, to me, feel like ‘real change.’ Real change would be, “We thank Don Waddell for his years of service. But we are announcing the interim selection of Rick Dudley as the new GM of the franchise, at this time.” Or heck, just promote him and NAME HIM the next GM. So long as you have accountability for Dudley’s performance.

drajax

February 8th, 2010
11:37 am

Rawhide, you took the words right off my computer. Well done.

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
11:50 am

Brendan, I hear ya. I’ve just always heard RD prefers the role he has now, where he can spend his time in rinks evaluating talent and helping build franchises rather than the other crap that comes with GM-ship. While that avoids the accountability of a GM spot, I wouldn’t want to lose him by pushing him into a spot he doesn’t want. That would be really bad personnel management. Holding him accountable is an issue, though. Perhaps a contract with incentive clauses? He’d be more inclined to speak up or take charge when he sees the inevitable future DW or Octocluster screw-ups.

And in another attempt to change or at least expand topics, anyone want to talk PP? I like adding Bergie (after he actually gets to practice with his new team), but we can’t be relying on Hainsey as the puck handler on D like the last 2 games, even on the second unit. He’s not brutal, but we’ve got better options (Enstrom, obviously, and even Bogo).

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
11:59 am

Ray Ferraro has some interesting thoughts on Washington (except for missing the fact that the Devils have won two Cups since 1998) and on Kovy:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=309433

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
12:20 pm

Badger Bob – appreciate your comments and the “sunshine” sentiment expressed above. I could not agree more. The problem with the constant pissing and moaning by certain posters on here is that most of the fans who take the time to post on this blog KNOW THE PROBLEMS OF THIS FRANCHISE ALREADY AND DO NOT NEED TO BE BEATEN OVER THE HEAD WITH IT!! Enough already. Can we not just discuss the events that unfold without having to constantly think about the specter of abject failure that is the ASG and to an extent Don Waddell? I’m sick of it. Just like you Bob, I’d much rather talk about what needs to be done to improve out PP. Because the only way this team will be able to have any shot of winning 55-60% of their games the rest of the way is through 1) great goaltending and team D and 2) a reinvigorated PP that can score clutch goals when needed.

In my opinion, there is enough talent on this team to make the playoffs. Will we do anything once there? Meh, probably not. But doesn’t that beat the hell out of lamenting the fact that we are stuck with the ASG in the immediate near future? Seems to me that both the ASG and Don Waddell are much more willing to admit their mistakes and own up to past failures. A key for me will be what happens with Kubina, Armstrong and Finny. Personally, I’m okay with the second two departing, but convincing Kubina to stay for 2 or 3 more years would be a huge step in the process of making up for Kovy’s departure. The big Czech has been there, done that, and can step into the leadership void left by a certain Russian defector.

Alan R.

February 8th, 2010
12:22 pm

LAC, I would be all for the idea of a Q&A session with the ownership (all of them) and Gary. I would even pay admission to get into such an event, as I’ve got a few questions of my own I’d like to ask both parties; however; I’d settle for listening to the questions and answers.

World Be Free

February 8th, 2010
12:24 pm

Good stuff Badger Bob.

I am not totally sold on Washington in the Stanley Cup playoffs, because of the quality and depth of their defense. Who is their shutdown defensemen? Poti, Erskine and Pothier have played on multiple teams. Schultz? When will Simeon be ready to play? How long will it take for him to get up to speed? Washington has the offfense, but I am concerned about their team defense.

I STILL like Pittsburgh; they are great down the middle, they have goaltending and a sound defense. Ray Shero will pull the trigger on a deal near the deadline. Watch out for Ottawa too, if they make a deal.

rob

February 8th, 2010
12:30 pm

Badger,
Good content to your posts there, I agree if Dudley is comfortable where he is, don’t push that part and hope like heck ASG gets a “comeupance” by Bettman. Gotta thank Schultz for that article, there may be hope for the FANS here yet.
As for the PP Smoothie had a post on vivs blog along those same lines. White needs to be removed from PP until he can show he has earned it again. Kane and Bergfors would gain some invaluable knowledge with Kozlov now before there is a chance he walks. And while I haven’t done much looking does Oduya have any PP experience? I think we have to get back into a 2 D men on the PP scenario and let them bring the shots.

World Be Free

February 8th, 2010
12:33 pm

On Dudley-I think his job, what he is doing today is what he wants. Duds does his best work talking to scouts and evaluating talent. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a full time GM? He may be happy with what he’s doing.

Side note-I thought he was a pretty good coach when he was in Buffalo. Duds is highly respected by the players, he had their attention. Just something to add becuase I like John Anderson.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
12:49 pm

stendec

February 8th, 2010
12:34 pm
Was on a natural high after Saints beat arrogant Colts in Super Bowl. Then I read this shet! So much for that feel good frame of mind. One cancer is eradicated (Ilya Kovalchuk) only to have another resurface (Kari Lehtonen)! I am beyond being disgusted and nauseated. Liked Thrasher playoff prospects. Now believe they are shot to Hell! Well, all you damn apologists got what you wanted. Sori Letemin? Sori Letemin! Tell the new guys they should have remained in New Jersey. The Atlanta hockey club only has one legitimate NHL caliber goaltender! It damn sure is not that untalented LaLa Land quitter from Finland. Enjoy the four and five goal nights apologists! You have damn sure been clamoring for them! ++STENDEC++

stendec

February 8th, 2010
1:04 pm

Hi Bill. Forgive my omission to delete tag lines on post. Just so damn mad and frustrated right now! Team was ready to got on a run! Dang it.

Want to get your opinion on sport other than hockey. On Saint interception return was not Peyton Manning hit/shoved in back by a Saint? Penalty? Glad it was not called! Wanted Saints to win. Told everyone I knew Saints (probably every other NFL team) would win a Super Bowl before Falcons. Getting to one first and losing does not count! Oh well. Awaiting your comment. Best. Peace my friend.

++STENDEC++

World Be Free

February 8th, 2010
1:17 pm

Stendec, I wanted everybody but New Orleans. They are a bunch of loud-mouthed cheap shots. They should have never beat Minnesota. Cheap shot or 2 on Brett Favre, slamming the guy to the turf after a hand off.

Can’t say I like the Colts either. They packed up and left Baltimore in the middle of the night like a bunch of cowards. Baltimore is the real home of the Colts.

stendec

February 8th, 2010
2:00 pm

Kudos WBF. I actually did not personally favor either team. Falcon fans (like me) will never live down fact that Saints hoisted Super Bowl trophy first. Agony beyond comprehension! Have despised Colts since they departed Baltimore like thieves in the night. Are we both that old? Just got piSSed off when everyone conceded invincibility to them! Glad the blue boys decided not to finish the regular season undefeated. Makes them just another top echelon NFL team. Nothing more! Also sick of hearing/seeing Peyton and baby Manning all the damn time! Enough is a freaking enough. Chose lesser of two evils. At least New Orleans is located in the South! Regards. Peace. ++STENDEC++

LAC

February 8th, 2010
2:12 pm

If you did not hear Bob Gainey is OUT as GM in Montreal, gee I guess
so-so preformances by the GM there get you FIRED, what a novel idea for Atlanta… But Montreal has SOLID ownership, who not only wants to win, but needs to in that market. Here it’s just another day at the beach with waddell & company, WHO CARES is their Logo !!!!

I was thrilled to see Gary Bettman IS watching how the problems in Atlanta are not getting better, but worse, we the fans see it, but these owners REFUSE to listen to those who support their product.

Well owners, now someone ABOVE you has checked in on your issues and you BETTER get things turned around or you WILL BE OUT by your own making. You people need to quit thinking you are so high & mighty,
because you are not, there is always someone higher than you and we can only hope The NHL pulls the plug on your circus sooner… Rather than later, so we CAN start to win and be Proud of our team.

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
2:31 pm

Smoothie and WBF – no illusions about how ATL stacks up even if we make the playoffs. vs Washington, its 4 and out. Washington may have weaknesses, but Ovy can will them through the first round or two. vs any of the other 4, I could see us winning a game or two, especially with good goaltending. Either way, playoffs exceeds most every blogger and reporter’s prediction of where we’d be, so for now I’ll cheer just to get there. Baby steps (yes I know, stendec, we shouldn’t be thrilled when our ten year old takes a baby step, but I guess I am just Mr Sunshine… baaaa).

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
2:42 pm

Lord knows I’ll regret giving the “Fire Waddell” squad any encouragement, but here goes… some quotes from Montreal’s owners about Gainey just two months ago:

“We have a group of managers, the big leaders of this team (general manager) Bob Gainey and (president) Pierre Boivin, and I have a lot of confidence in them” and “I think Bob Gainey has done an excellent job rebuilding this team” Geoff Molson, 12/1/09 (when the Habs were in 12th place; they are now in 6th place).

Nate

February 8th, 2010
3:12 pm

Town Hall Meeting…

Thanks for the notes. Same old, same old though. It’s funny that both Levenson and Waddell mention winning as a cure all since those two parties have yet to produce one. Seems like they would figure out that they don’t know how to build one and so the franchise/attendance will continue to suffer until new a new GM and ownership are brought in.

But I guess we’re talking about two of the most well-paid morons in the entertainment industry aren’t we…

Gary Bettman

February 8th, 2010
3:27 pm

Atlanta has solid ownership and a great GM. I could not be happier. Lets go to another caller….Stendec, your on the line.

World Be Free

February 8th, 2010
3:49 pm

Stendec-I am old enough to have seen Johnny Unitas play in person.
I think about all the guys I have seen play (hockey and football) that are dead; confirms my age and my lack of tolerance for BS from GM’s.

Bill-the undertone in Montreal was that even though Gainey is a “Montreal Great”, he’s not French Canadian. See who took his place? The expectation in Montreal is to win a Stanley Cup, just like with the Yankees. Safe to say the current Hab team is nowhere near be a Cup contender.

Adios Mr. Gainey

jwizzle

February 8th, 2010
3:51 pm

Smoothie: “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.” I could not have said it better myself. I am REALLY hoping we finish STRONG this season sans Kovy. He stopped being a Thrasher quite a bit before he was traded.

Rawhide: I noticed your positive section 317 record before you even posted it. I think its something worth repeating! Also, we could have carpooled from Benning as my brother and I had business down there. Glad you made it back for the game.

Badger Bob

February 8th, 2010
3:55 pm

Who wants that Habs job right now? Having to do a “rebuild” with $45M in salary already committed next year for just 13 players (so less than $15M available to sign 7 – 9 guys). Some speculate Patrick Roy. Good luck…

Red Light

February 8th, 2010
4:12 pm

Gainey simply wasn’t a good GM in Montreal. That being said, if I had lost one of my daughters at sea in a tragic accident and my wife to cancer, I’m not sure I could remain focused on the job either. You have to issue him a pass just because of those factors. But, BB made a great observation, they should be an active trading partner because they need some flexibility with their cap space. They have to deal Plekanec, one of their two goalies: Halak or Price, and hope someone will take one of their defensemen off their hands: Gill or Hamrlik, and Laraque. It won’t be easy!

Smitty

February 8th, 2010
4:57 pm

Like to see what Dudley can do with two first round picks even if they are late in the round. Add to that an additional 2nd round pick for one of our goalies which will give us 4 picks in the first two rounds. I do believe that is a good start for Dudley to rebuild or retool.

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
5:46 pm

Look at the situation in Montreal. After a series of miscalculations, perhaps the worst of which was hanging the fate of the franchise, when it was the #1 seed in the East in 2008, on rookie goaltender Carey Price, Bob Gainey is out. Gainey decided to move netminder Cristobal Huet to Washington for a 2nd round pick at the 2008 deadline … when he should have kept him. They still have Jaroslav Halak, though. And if they ultimately decide to make Halak the #1 keeper, what does that do to Carey Price? Is this where Waddell comes in? And what about Halak? He’s not terrible, either.

The thing, to me, about Kari Lehtonen is this. He was a former 2nd overall pick. J.S. Giguere was 28 years old … before he showed so much as a “spark” of ability. Goaltenders mature at the rate they do. Is Kari immature? Well, frankly, the signs point to “yes.” But that doesn’t mean he cannot become a star goalie, if healthy, at some point. If Waddell is thinking, “Yeah, but I can’t waste anymore time than I already have waiting for him,” he’s got to make a move. At least, ON PAPER, Lehtonen for Price looks comparable, since Price was a 5th overall pick. Read: High-end, first rounder.

Of course, ladies and gentlemen, Montreal might laugh hysterically at the mere suggestion that Carey Price might be on the move. And they might be right to laugh, in that regard. But right about now, Montreal seems desperate. An “icon” in their midst (Gainey, multiple-time Stanley Cup winner, 4-time Selke Trophy winner, perennial all-star, and Hall of Famer) has just stepped down or been “quired.” (Quit/Fired = quired) Tanguay, acquired via trade with Calgary, along with Calgary’s 5th round pick, didn’t work out. The Habs coughed up their 1st round draft pick to the Flames, #25 overall, who turned out to be a sniper prospect name Greg Nemisz. Montreal had 10 pending UFA’s last season when they snuck into the playoffs at #8 seed, and they let them all walk, including Kovalev. Christopher Higgins, along w/3 other players, got traded to the NY Rangers in the offseason for Scott Gomez’ monstrous contract and Tom Pyatt. On June 1, 2009, GM Bob Gainey felt that Jacques Martin would be a good choice as Head Coach. As you know, and in case you didn’t know, naming a Head Coach is the MOST IMPORTANT THING a GM does. Was Jacques Martin the best choice out there???? Beeeeee honest. Yep, that’s why he’s not the GM of the Montreal Canadiens anymore.

Did it help Montreal that Gainey’s other offseason moves included overpaying for Mike Cammalleri (Calgary castoff), Jaroslav Spacek (Buffalo castoff), Brian Gionta (NJ castoff), and Hal Gill (Pittsburgh castoff)? They also acquired D-man Paul Mara and LW Travis Moen in free agency. They re-signed Guillaume Latendresse, but then they traded him! I think he’s in Minnesota, now. At least Gainey had the good sense to re-up Tomas Plekanec.

Enough of that. This is an interesting call with Kari Lehtonen. Trade him or keep him? He’s a pending RFA, so … he can’t walk for nothing. Atlanta still controls his rights, not that I think some RFA offersheet might be coming for him. Pavelec is not ready now. Not really. But why throw him away, at the tender age of 22, in some pointless trade? But if Kari Lehtonen has GOT TO GO, then the return had better more than a “song and dance.”

Old Time Hockey

February 8th, 2010
6:09 pm

Bag of pucks for the fat, lazy goalie is all you’re going to get. Don’t be shocked that was all DW could get for him.

They played as a TEAM Saturday night. It was nice to see some guys step it up and show a little more of what they have. What has Hainsey been waiting for? Thought he would look like that every game when we signed him. Kane’s going to be huge. Bergfors impressed me with his speed and passing. Love seeing the D jump into the rush. If they continue to play with that level of intensity they will win more than not.

Bring back Hartley? Pleeeez don’t inflict that again. He was so well thought of he was immediately picked up by…ummm…uh…no one. With the constant rotation of coaches in the NHL, that says something.

I would not enjoy watching my team play like the Wild. 2-1 games with a trap? ZZZZZZ I’d rather watch soccer (not really).

Nikita

February 8th, 2010
6:31 pm

*Trade him or keep him? ? But if Kari Lehtonen has GOT TO GO, then the return had better more than a “song and dance.”*

I’m not sure he’s got to go. He’s pretty cheap, and may yet rally. Plus, of the three, he has the best technique.

As for the others…Moose is serving us well, so I’d hate to see him go in the middle of the season. But I don’t think he should be resigned. I think his next role should ideally be goalie coach.

And Pavelec, well…kinda sucks right now. He’s just not good enough to play as our #1 yet — it will probably be a few years before he is. If he is. He’ll have to fix his tendency to play out of goal and flop on the butterfly. Which he can do, but not immediately. Given his age, I suppose I’d like to see him go back to Chi-town.

World Be Free

February 8th, 2010
7:14 pm

Brendan, you know I have been all over teams that try and build a winner through free agency. As you stated, you overpay for castoffs, many of whom are on the decline. Add to this the fact that Montreal DOES have players in their system. They keep holding them back, for reasons unknown until sunday. The Habs brought up 3 guys from Hamilton which made up their fourth line. So the new guy in Montreal has to figure it all out, wtih so much money already commited to roster players AND their top scorer coming up on UFA status. And you think we have it tough in Atlanta

J.S. Giguere is an intersting comparison, drafted by Hartford and came of age with the Ducks. I have said this before, no way Kari gets any better until he learns to train and stay in shape. Pulled muscles (his issues in the past) happen to old farts like me, not young guys that stay in shape! He has to stay healthy or nobody will bother to give him a dime.

Back to Duds-if Dudley can generate good talent from the draft and validate trades, that will be good enough for me. It’s the personnel decisions that have been killing us the past 10 years. Staois was supposed to be over the hill when he left, but he’s still around.

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
8:14 pm

Unreal! Did yall just see what Jeff Carter did to Anssi Salmela as he was scoring his goal? Gosh I hope he’s okay.

ben

February 8th, 2010
8:15 pm

I’m listening to the Devils. Salmela just left w/ a vicious knock to the head.

ben

February 8th, 2010
8:17 pm

2-0

Kovy quiet so far

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
8:38 pm

Carter’s hit definitely treads dangerously along the line between dirty and irresponsible. He essentially hit Anssi from behind right after he released his wrister. He caught him just right on the back of the shoulder and may have caught him in the face. Anssi’s body was off balance so he spun 180 degrees a la Nat Moore of the Dolphins vs the Jets back in the day. His face / head hit the ice hard and he seemed to be knocked out cold. There was a preety large pool left in his wake after being put on the stretcher.

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
8:43 pm

I hope Salmela will be okay. What was goin’ on in Carter’s cabeza?

GaVaHokie

February 8th, 2010
9:17 pm

Sage is also a spice I put on my spaghetti… I take the time to digest it, but ultimately I crap it out and flush it.

Anyway, I’ll take the momentary lapse in doom and gloomers to discuss some potential positive moves that might be coming. As I’ve said, I think the stage is set for more moves.

Reading the Falconer’s take on the Town Hall, he seems to think Armstrong might be requesting a trade… I’m seeing rumors Atlanta is interested in Ponikarovsky to play with Antropov… I know Burkie likes Armstrong.

Also, as I hoped, Atlanta is interested in Peter Mueller from Phoenix.

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
9:41 pm

Kovalchuk, with the game on his stick, and a chance to help his old team, screws the pooch going high and wide as time expires. Thanks Devs for blowing a 2 goal lead and letting Philly put two more points between the Thrash and the playoffs. BTW, sounds like Anssi was okay and did not need any extensive treatment.

Brendan

February 8th, 2010
9:45 pm

Smoothie, right on, bro. The Devils tried to set up Kovalchuk 8 times in the final four minutes. He’s commandeered that team, too. Jacques Lemaire is going to have to tell them, “If you’ve got the shot, don’t pass it up, to feed Kovalchuk. Take it!”

Stay Thirsty My Friends

February 8th, 2010
10:03 pm

Brendan, you are totally right on. And, just to add another movie reference for you. I think Kovy is like that chick in Something About Mary. It appears that wherever he is everybody falls in love with him and defers to him. It’s like he has Kovysciples everywhere!!! I really thought I was going to miss him, but after watching the game tonight and seeing him continue to skate figure 8’s, take the puck from behind his own net to only lose it at the opponents blue line and miss the net the far too often – good riddance!!!

Yung JB from MTL

February 8th, 2010
10:08 pm

Yeah Kovy is HIV, just catch it without knowing (no personal experiences reference ;) )

Btw, i just hope we get through that tough schedule and i hope we play Leths to see where hes at

Smoothie

February 8th, 2010
10:11 pm

Update on Anssi, per his agent: broken nose and several lost teeth. Carter should get a suspension. Had he been against the glass, it would have been obvious boarding. Carter was late getting there and didn’t have to lower the shoulder in my opinion.

17 SOG for Kovy and no goals. Thanks for giving us your best for the last couple of months Kovy!

Nikita (in PA)

February 8th, 2010
10:22 pm

Agreed, Smoothie. Th result was worse than I would have expected, but it was still a late-blind-side hit.