Before we spread this morning’s Thrasherville Times out all over the bed or breakfast table…or wherever else you take the Sunday morning paper… I’d like to take this opportunity to give a couple of shout outs to a pair of “Bobs” that frequent this little on-line forum.
Friday night I had the chance to meet BadgerBob as well as Bob…yes, the original “Bob” of this blog…while attending the game at Philips Arena. Oh, and I also had the distinct pleasure of also meeting the lovely and charming Mrs. Bob as well.
It was wonderful to have met ya all…and I certainly do hope to see you again soon.
And now, the March 14, 2010 edition of the Thrasherville Times…
Working On A Thrasherville Six-Pack
This afternoon the Thrashers will entertain the Phoenix Coyotes, who are 41-22-5 after winning in Carolina last night and currently hold the 4th position in the Western Conference. The Thrashers on the other hand are 28-29-10, only two points away from the Southeast Division cellar and three points north of 14th place in the Eastern Conference.
Also, as you are all also very aware of, the home team is currently mired in a five-game losing streak…and not one of those loses brought with it even a single loser consolation point taking an opponent to overtime. Earlier in the season, the team suffered through a nine-game losing streak, but at least three of those defeats earned an overtime loser point.
But such is not the case during this latest slide as they have five losses with zero points. That being the case, a regulation loss today to the Coyotes would bring with it the possibility of having a Thrasherville Six-Pack cracked open.
What’s a Thrasherville Six-Pack, you ask? Well, that’s when you lose six consecutive games in regulation…and then someone is sent packing.
You know, like was the case with Bob Hartley in October of 2007.
If you want to compare this current streak of un-success with that of the first half-dozen games in the fall of ’07, back then the Thrashers were outscored 26-8 in the six losses…22-8 in the first five. In their current losing streak…the “Free-Fall From the Playoffs 2010 Edition”… they have been outscored 19-6.
As you can see, the goals for/goals against difference was pretty near the same…-13 now and -14 then.
So much for “incremental progress” and all that jive.
Kiss-Cam Couple For Seventh Man Award
I was once told that the most hard to attain status symbol in America these days is that of a long-term, happy, successful marriage. The reason being is that in order to achieve such, you have to have someone else in your life equally as dedicated, driven and devoted to obtaining it. You can gain riches and fame on your own, theoretically, but to achieve successful marriage status…well, that is something you simply cannot do on your own.
I’m reminded of this beautiful though many times throughout the hockey season when I see that wonderful elderly couple that appear so often on the Kiss Cam during intermission breaks. They always receive a wonderful ovation from the crowd and I can’t help but don a broad grin each and every time they are shown. And I know so many of you enjoy seeing them on the big jumbo screen above the ice of Philips as well.
The other day I, along with a few of my fellow Thrashervillians, came upon the topic of the two charming Kiss Cam favorites and an idea popped into my head. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this season this lovely couple were honored with the seventh fan award, which is presented at the end of each season?
Personally, I think it would be a great way to honor their devotion to not only each other…but the Thrashers as well.
They have weathered life’s storms, endured hardships, troubles and tribulations…something we Thrashers fans case certainly relate is some measure to…as well as shared many wonderful moments in life as well along the way. And they still find a way to make it to so many home games…together.
I wish I new their names…and to that measure, I’m in the process of trying to learn them. But I thought I would throw the idea out there to the masses nonetheless so that when it comes time to decide who this year’s seventh fan recipient will be, they will be in the forefront of your minds.
Ya know, come to think if it…this may very well be the first-ever official endorsement by the editorial staff of the Thrasherville Times.
Has Anybody Seen My Old Friend John…or Tom…or Jim…or Anybody?
Back on February 6… as the Thrashers were making their way back to Thrasherville from D.C. in the midst of a blizzard … Executive Vice President and general manager Don Waddell, along with Atlanta Spirit partner Bruce Levinson, held a town hall meeting with season ticket holders to discuss the state of the Thrashers organization and the future of the franchise. By most accounts, there were about 250-300 fans in attendance.
Waddell fielded a few direct questions from some who were very disappointed that he was yet again forced to trade away another star player because he was unwilling to re-sign and stay. But from what I have heard of the event, most their seemed more than willing to express support for the only GM the team has ever had by giving him a giant pat on the back with “we’re behind ya, Don” and “Keep doing what you’re doing” type of comments.
Given that, a lot of people came away from the THM thinking that Waddell, Levenson and the rest of the Great Octocluster did indeed have the support and backing of the fan base in Thrasherville. I mean, if most of the crowd did not come to the meeting demanding a change in the front office, then surely the brain trust of the organization can take heart in that…right?
Umm…maybe, maybe not.
See, while it’s true Waddell and Levenson did not have to face the kind of angry mob that many thought they would, the real concern to me is that there were so few who were there to even take part in the event in the first place…250-300.
What does Philips Arena hold for a hockey game…18,000-plus? Uh-huh, and how many season ticket holders were there over a decade ago when the franchise came into the NHL? If I’m not mistaken, that number was 12,000 in March 1999… an NHL mandated minimum.
But only a couple hundred STHs were on hand to discuss the state of the franchise fresh off the most meaningful transaction in the club’s history. Which begs the question… just where did the rest of the season ticket holders go?
So that you don’t have to put too much cerebral activity to that question, I’ll answer it for you…they are indeed still around. It’s just that those fans…fans that greatly outnumber those who remain…have simply stopped pulling out their wallets to shell out thousands of dollars a season for a product that they have completely and totally lost faith in.
Oh, they haven’t lost faith in the Thrashers or NHL hockey in this community per se. But they have lost faith in the current ownership and one other person, Don Waddell…the man that has promised them so much over the course of a decade-plus, but has delivered on so little.
What should be Don Waddell's fate at the end of the season?
Total Voters: 146
And these people are not coming back, or at least not willing to become season ticket holders again, until there is a change…and I’m talkin’ a serious change…coming from this Thrashers organization. They will not give this team any more of their hard earned dollars unless and until the Spirit Group shows the intellectual fortitude…the intestinal fortitude…and the testicular fortitude…required to actually part ways with Don Waddell and set this franchise on a different course.
Now, we can sit here and argue about “this trade” and “that signing” and “this player not re-signing” as reasons why the Waddell-era of the Thrashers has or hasn’t been a complete failure until we’re all blue in the face. But there are two cold-hard facts here that simply cannot be ignored.
One: The lack of success. Their overall record going into today’s game is 301-396-63-45. That’s a points winning percentage of .441. In the last two seasons, both ending with 76 points, that PW% has been .463. Right now, they are once again a sub- .500 hockey team. Nine complete seasons, seven with losing records, one playoff showing and zero post-season wins. And as the Thrashers continue to slide closer and closer to the land of lotteryville, it is clear we are really no closer to that first playoff victory than we were three years ago following the four-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers.
Second: The vast expanses of empty seats in Philips Arena on any given night. Take last Friday for example…a Friday night game in March. The team in the middle of a “March to the Playoffs’…and the building wasn’t full. Officially they say 15,000 +, but there were maybe 12,000 in the house.
And don’t even get me started on what weeknight attendance is like. Simply put, this is nothing short of embarrassing, folks. But it is also the most damning evidence pointing to the fact that the vast majority of potential paying customers have 100% totally rejected what Waddell and the Octocluster are selling.
So again I will say, this organization simply must change course and do it now. Not with just new players, or a new “thinking” of how to construct a team…not with just a new coach, as that has been tried before….not just with a new season campaign slogan or lower ticket prices, although that would be a good start as well…and not with new promises coming from the same source.
No…this organization needs a change in the fundamental foundation of it’s very existence. And that change can only come from the general manger’s office.
If the Thrashers ownership do not finally and once and for all move to make such a change…then those 250-300 season ticket holders that bothered to show up on February 6 will be all the Thrashers sales and marketing department can ever hope to collect revenue from on a season ticket basis.
And pretty soon…they’ll also be the only people showing up to the games at all.
Classy Way To Say Good-Bye
We here in Thrasherville are well accustomed to seeing players leave for other teams. Many times, we also have to endure a backhanded slap from them on their way out the door…a “it’s nice to play in a real hockey town”, or “it’ll be nice to play in front of so many fans each night” is not uncommon.
Certainly we are not alone in this, as many fans of all sports have felt the stinging rebuke of a departing athlete. But here is a case where the direct opposite occurred.
The New Orleans Saints, as you may have heard, recently won the Super Bowl…something many thought was as likely as the Thrashers winning a Stanley Cup. (And hey, it only took the Saints organization four and a half decades to do. So, using that as a measuring stick, we are about a quarter of the way there).
Anyway… recently, the NFL began their free agent signing season and, much like in the NHL, many players found new employers. One such player, linebacker Scott Fujita, left New Orleans to go play for the Cleveland Browns.
How did he depart Louisiana? Well, he gave the community a big virtual hug by donating half of his Super Bowl winnings to charity. Half of his generous gift went to the post-Katrina coastal restoration project in New Orleans and the other half to the relief efforts underway in earthquake-ravage Haiti.
“The people of this city and region have been so good to me and my family that we just felt strongly about doing something to protect the city we have come to love so much”, Fujita explains. “And helping on the coastal issues has been on the back of my mind since I first got here”.
Now that is a classy way to say good-bye. The sports world needs more people like that.
Quotes of the Week
“I think they were a little sharper, wanted it a little more” – John Anderson after last Saturday’s loss in Tampa Bay.
“The power play and the penalty kill are not doing a good job right now. It’s the difference in the game and being in playoff position or not” – John Anderson after the 4-0 loss to Carolina last Sunday.
“We’re not out of it. We’ve still got some games left but we’ve got to start putting some wins together instead of losses” – Chris Thorburn after the 2-1 loss to Nashville on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we were ready to play the first period and a half” – Nik Antropov after the 2-1 loss in Columbus on Thursday.
“This was a huge game for us. We knew how big of a game it was and we didn’t perform how we wanted to. It’s definitely deflating” – Jim Slater after the 5-2 loss to the Rangers Friday.