Is there anything better to do on a chilly winter weekend morning then to remain between the sheets with the Sunday paper to peruse through? Well, this morning you may do just that. Yes, just sit back on your pillows, nestle yourself between the flannel sheets, sip on a nice hot copy of morning nectar and enjoy this morning’s Thrasherville Times… written, published and editorialized by yours truly.
And the best part of this is, given the publication’s web-based nature, you didn’t even have to wander outside in your robe to pluck it off the driveway…something I am certain that your neighbors greatly appreciate.
I just hope my online editor doesn’t have an issue with the AJC online sports page hosting my little startup cyber-publication.
Anyway…headlining this morning’s rag…
WAKE UP ATLANTA!
That’s right, its Sunday morning…the last day of February. And as the calendar flips over to March tomorrow, the Atlanta Thrashers will be preparing to play 12 of the 17 games scheduled during the month inside the friendly confines of Philips Arena. In light of this fact, the team will awake to greet the sun as it rises tomorrow as to kickoff of their “Wake Up Atlanta…for the March to the Playoffs” campaign in the streets of Thrasherville.
The Thrashers have partnered with AM/PM to carry out this mission. As such, players, coaches, Thrasher and Blue Crew members will be at select locations handing out free coffee, prizes and tickets to upcoming games. Here’s the list of scheduled AM/PM appearances…so if you find yourself nearby, please drop in and take part of the festivities.
610 Spring Street in Atlanta, GA: Scheduled to appear between 8:00 and 9:00 am are Rich Peverley, Bryan Little, Niclas Bergfors, Jim Slater and Tony Borgford.
5018 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Chamblee, GA: Scheduled to appear between 8:00 and 9:00 am are Nik Antropov, Slava Kozlov, Christoph Schubert and Steve Weeks.
10965 Medlock Bridge Road Duluth in GA: Scheduled to appear between 8:00 and 9:00 am are Johan Hedberg, Todd White and Todd Nelson.
2001 Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, GA: Scheduled to appear between 8:00 and 9:00 am are Eric Boulton, Chris Thorburn, Mark Popovic, Zach Bogosian and Randy Cunneyworth.
As well as the above-mentioned scheduled appearances, there will also be players and coaches taking to the airwaves to “Wake Up Atlanta” tomorrow. Evander Kane will be on 95.5 The Beat between 9:00 and 9:15 am. Marty Reasoner will be on 790 The Zone between 9:00 and 9:15 am. Ron Hainsey will be on 680 The Fan from 8:00 to 8:30 am. And Jim Slater will be on DAVE FM from 8:00 to 8:30 am.
Coach John Anderson and Thrash can be seen on WXIA with “Commuter Dude” at the AM/PM on Pleasant Hill Road. Thrash is slated for the 5:30 to 6:30 am timeslot while the coach will be in later, starting at 6:40 and going to 6:50 am.
Friday Night Follies at the Duluth Ice Forum
I don’t know who was the brainchild behind Friday night’s 3 on 3 game/skills competition held at the Thrashers’ practice facility in Duluth, but whomever they are deserves a big pat on the back. It was a lot of fun to watch and it really looked as though the players and coaches were having a good time out on the ice as well.
All of the Thrashers who were not a part of the Olympic games in Vancouver…or injured…participated in the exhibition. Peter Mannino, who practiced with the squad this week before being sent back down Saturday, was also on hand and was the acting keeper for the Blue team.
For me, it was well worth the drive out to Duluthland from the twin cities of Acworth/Kennesaw. And I wasn’t alone as the rink was completely packed to beyond capacity with fans. If the place ”seats” 500 officially in the bleachers, then I would say there were a good 600-650 people in there.
Thrasherville Set For Many Moose Sighting in March
Head coach John Anderson told AJC Thrashers beat writer Chris Vivlamore that Johan Hedberg should see the bulk of work between the pipes from here on out. Pavelec will assume the role of backup.
“If [Hedberg] continues to play that well, he’s probably going to get the majority of the games”, Anderson recently told C-Viv. “Right now, it’s not about [Pavelec] or him. It’s about who is winning and we have to get as many points as we can”.
Continuing, the Thrashers bench boss added, “Whoever is going [well], is going. It’s the same with the power play or penalty kill. Whatever is going, we have to use it at that point”.
Hedberg is 14-9-5 with a 2.56 GAA, .920 SV% and one shutout for the season.
Despite a very strong start last fall, Pavelec is now 12-15-5 with a 3.45 GAA, .900 SV% and a pair goose eggs left on the ice.
Now to some of us, giving Hedberg the lion’s share of work down the stretch doesn’t come as too much of a surprise as there have been calls to “Ride the Moose” to victory for some time now.
Schubert Looks ready to Re-join Blueline That Could Be Changing Soon
Defenseman Christoph Schubert participated in Friday’s event, so it appears that his recovered from the lower body ailment that has kept him out since the January 16 win in Carolina. Thus, the current slate of blueliners at the ready for Atlanta are…Olympians Kubina, Enstrom and Oduya along with Hainsey, Bogosian, Popovic and Schubert. Valabik is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
So, what do you think of that defensive corps heading into a playoff push?
Uh-huh…well, something tells me it might not be exactly the same in about three more days.
There is little matter of the trade deadline that looms ahead of us this week…Wednesday at 3:00 pm to be exact. So the question is, what will that mean for that defensive unit makeup? With Kubina slated for free agency this summer…as well as Schubert and Popovic…there’s been a swirl of discussion regarding his trade value. Last I heard however, Don Waddell is discussing a possible extension for the Czech veteran.
As discussed above, with the return of Schubie we have seven defensemen ready to go at this time. Add in a healthy Boris Valabik next fall and one Arturs Kulda…who did absolutely nothing in his two games played but show his is ready for serious consideration for one of the D-slots here…and you come up with nine.
That’s too many.
Therefore…one has to be prepared for some sort of deal this week. Given that, here are the “hands off” players…players that under no circumstance do I want to be dealt away… on defense. These players we selected and endorsed officially by the editorial staff of the Thrasherville Times…me.
Bogosian, Enstrom, and Oduya. I’ll add Kulda as well.
Next are players that, if traded, would have to bring in return NHL-proven talent that would help the team right now…Hainsey, Kubina, Schubert and Popovic.
That leaves Boris…who is scheduled to be an RFA in 2011 and could be running out of time on the development patience clock. But given his injury status, it would be tough to get much in return right now. He might get some decent offers next summer during training camp if he can show he’s 100% healed.
Thrasherville Prepares for Trade Deadline-A-Palooza 2010
Which pending Thrashers free agents do you NOT traded this week? (Pick three)
Total Voters: 199
As we look forward to Wednesday’s trade deadline, there are a number of players on the Thrashers roster that will certainly get their fair share of attention. As mentioned in the previous section of today’s fish wrapper, Kubina, Popovic and Schubert are two blueliners that could possibly be facing trade winds head on given their pending UFA status. But forwards Maxim Afinogenov, Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater, Slava Kozlov and Eric Boulton will also be UFAs come July 1 as well as goaltender Johan Hedberg.
Niclas Bergfors, Bryan Little and Ondrej Pavelec will be RFAs.
Now to me, the trick Don Waddell and Rick Dudley have is…how do you deal with these pending free agents while at the same time keeping a roster of players that give the best shot at making the playoffs this spring. With no less than nine players that will be UFAs this summer and another three that will be RFAs, thats a lot of talent to allow slip away with nothing in return, should the team chose to keep a number of them around. On the other hand… many of those players can help the team in the push for post-season play right now/
So, which ones go and which ones stay? I have a feeling this is going to be a very interesting three days to come.
If I had to pick just one who is almost certain to remain, my guess is Moose. He’s is too valuable a commodity given the trading of Kari and Pavelec’s yet-to-be-proven reliability. And if I had to pick just one player that is an almost certainty to go, that would be Kozlov…if there is a team that will take him. After that, I would say Armstrong.
We will have a special Trade Deadline-A-Paloosa blog posted first thing Wednesday morning to track, announce and discuss all moves made on that day. Until then, today’s fan poll question is… which of the above listed Thrashers pending free agents, both of the restricted and unrestricted variety, do you NOT want to see traded away this week.
Trade Deadline Not The Only “Big News Day” in NHL This Week
Remember, Thrashervillians…Wednesday the 4th is not the only really big news day for the NHL this week. The very next day, Thursday the 5th, is the date we’ve been told that a press conference is to be held in Winnipeg announcing the sale and relocation of the Thrashers to that city.
I asked Trixie if she’d be willing to head up there to cover this major sports news event for me. It will considered business travel, of course…totally expensed.
Yeah, I know. To Winnipeg… in late winter…to cover an event this isn’t going to happen.
She laughed so hard at me that she almost dropped her nail file…almost.
Bergfors Making Friends Fast in Thrasherville
Since coming over from New Jersey with Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors has been making himself quite the popular fellows with his new teammates. He’s been place on the Thrashers’ top line with Nik Antropov and Bryan Little and has accounted for 3 goals and an assists as well as a +2 rating. The three have 7 goals and 9 assists in those five games played since Bergie’s arrival and are a combined +5.
Of his new linemate, Antropov was recently quoted as saying, “We’ve played five games together, but it feels like we’ve been playing forever”.
Indeed…let’s just hope that the “forever” type feeling will last another six weeks or so.
Oh, and one last thought on the subject of the Bergie, Little, Antropov trio. For those of you into naming lines, try this one on for size…the “Dull Razor” line. Uh-huh…it’s the one that gives you…ahem…a Little ‘Nick’ twice.
sigh…OK, maybe not.
Trade Request from Kozlov Just Another Example of the Veteran’s Class
As we learned a few days back, Kozlov has requested a trade and is willing to drop his NTC to facilitate one, if that is Don Waddell can arrange a swap with a team of interest. His reasons are very simple and straight forward…he doesn’t want to end his career sitting in the press box.
“I asked [general manager] Don [Waddell] to find a team,” Kozlov said per Chris Vivlamore. “I don’t know if I’m going to be on this team or another team. If we can find a team which I like and which is good for me and my family I will go. If not, I’m going to be here”.
Continuing he added, “With coach [John Anderson] not playing me, what can you do? That’s why I feel I could go play for somebody that needs my help. If so, I’ll waive my no-trade clause”.
Personally, I see this as a very classy move on Slava’s part. He sees that he is the odd man out, spending most of his time in the press box while the other twelve plays. He knows he is in the latter portion of his playing days and the only way the organization can do the best thing for both he and the team is to allow him to move on…so he informs his GM to see what he can work out and he’ll discuss any such deal with his wife and family.
Honestly…can you ask any more out of the man?
If in fact we have seen Kozlov’s last game in a Thrashers uniform, I would like to thank him for his years of service and for his professional attitude. You’re a class act Slava…good luck in all of your future endeavors.
Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics
And for our final entry in today’s daily grind…here’s an interesting stat for you. The Thrashers are currently 26-24-10 for 62 points. That record amounts to a .517 points winning percentage, which is 21st in the NHL.
However, in the Eastern Conference…that ranks as the eighth highest.