Thrasherville Six-Pack & Seventh Man Suggestion in Today’s Thrasherville Times

Thrasherville Times

- If it isn’t in the Thrasherville Times, it didn’t happen -

Sunday March 14, 2010

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?

  • Keep him as GM. He's doing a fine job so far! (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Fire him! The record speaks for itself! (25%, 37 Votes)
  • Keep him as EVP but take GM from his title (18%, 26 Votes)
  • What do you mean "at the end of the season"...FIRE HIM NOW! (56%, 82 Votes)

Total Voters: 146

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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.

106 comments Add your comment

Sage of Bluesland

March 15th, 2010
1:42 pm

Smoothie–Hmmm, let’s see, since you’ve “read” three economics books…based on your drivel I’m guessing you’re “public” education (as opposed to private).

Yep, that’s what I thought. Having 1,000 sheeple in the stands wouldn’t cause a ripple-effect? You don’t even know what you’re talking about, son.

Go back and re-read them big books. It’s quite humorous, someone ‘else’ stated the facts–and you sheepily agreed with him/her with a quick turnaround of opinion!….Now that was funny!

(oh, and Badger: I told you so–a long time ago…it must hurt to be so wrong so often?)

Trixie (Rawhide's Secretary)

March 15th, 2010
2:02 pm

:!: NEW BLOG POSTING ALERT!! :!:

Mr. Rawhide would like to dedicate this latest blog entry to the memory of Peter Graves and his portrayal of Capt. Oveur in the movie Airplane.

Bob

March 15th, 2010
2:08 pm

“The ebb of STH is completely mitigated as long as they keep selling out suites and club seats to corporate big whigs and business entrepreneurs in Atlanta.”

Nice rant, but completely wrong in that they are not selling out suites nor club seats. Those of us that were in there abandoned this team because of Waddell, and continue to do so each year.

The fact is that there’s one thing the owners will understand, and that is non-renewal of ticket plans. As long as there’s people that keep buying the product, they’ll keep mismanaging the team. Like what they’re doing? No problem, re-up your season tix, and expect more of it to come.

World Be Free

March 15th, 2010
2:50 pm

Bill-on Kane
Which is why he may be captain someday, assuming he stays that long.

Brendan

March 15th, 2010
7:03 pm

DWTOO & ben, I certainly welcome a diversity of opinion regarding the defining moment of failure for this franchise under Waddell. I also gave some thought to the Heatley crash. But let me tell why I definitively rejected that as my choice.

1. We traded Heatley for Hossa and deVries. With them, we won a division and made the playoffs. It seemed to be a relatively good exchange for Heatley. Dan Snyder was a 10 goal-per-season player. That’s not impossible to replace.

2. Many years and much opportunity later, the crash is but a distant memory. Most of the today’s Thrashers never met Dan Snyder to know him and miss him.

3. Had Dany Heatley been forced to stay and play, I fear what happened in Ottawa would have happened here. Namely, that Heatley would have said, after seasons of losing, “I’m not being properly utilized. I want to be traded.” And even if that didn’t work, he’d just refuse to re-sign here, once he reached UFA status.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Heatley crash was something terrible for this team and its fans. But I’d counter-argue that by 2006, Waddell had assembled a team capable of making the playoffs and winning a round of playoffs. Imagine if Kari Lehtonen had been healthy? And Pasi Nurminen hadn’t blown out his knee. There would be no need for Steve Shields, Michael Garnett, Adam Berkhoel, or Mike Dunham. It would have been Nurminen and Lehtonen. Plus, we had Bondra. Holik was at his youngest point as a Thrasher, and Holik was signed, in my opinion, for his playoff resume, not his regular season one. Mellanby would have provided the senior leadership, as Captain.

Here are some of the other times I considered, before deciding on April 2007, standing pat. I gave some weight to the 2002 Draft. I saw no need for drafting a goalie who would take 5 years to develop at that juncture. To me, that reflected a fundamental error in judgement, at a critical time in the evolution of the franchise. There are precisely two (2) scenarios in which I would have permitted the Lehtonen draft, as a fan or owner. One, if we were flat broke, and our financial outlook wasn’t any better for the coming seasons, such that we couldn’t afford a goalie out on the open market. And two, that the plan was to snare a Tier I goalie out on the market, but that we’d only sign that goalie for 3-4 years. And just as the Tier I free agent goalie’s contract was expiring, Kari Lehtonen would be developed to the point where he could step in as the new #1 goaltender. But I’m not particularly buying either scenario there. To me, drafting a goalie in 2002 didn’t make any sense. And it hamstrung the franchise for years.

I also considered the 2008 offseason, where we couldn’t come to terms with Hossa. That was a severe blow to the future of the franchise. Not that losing Marc Savard wasn’t. In fact, that’s where I’d headed next. Letting Marc Savard walk for nothing may have been a necessary risk to take, but … to me … having Marc disinterested in staying was cause for MAJOR CONCERN. Marc was on the NHL leaderboard for assists. His winger was Ilya Kovalchuk. And yet, Savvy didn’t want to stay here? That’s a very telling and disturbing sign. It was the snowball that created the avalanche of departures.

But still, to me, anyway … the UNCONSCIENABLE ACT … was standing pat, doing AB-SO-LUTELY NUTHIN after the playoff sweep. Shaking my head, in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that THAAAAT was the response. No Hartley fired. No Waddell fired. No Dan Marr fired. It was … theatre of the absurd.

And I just can’t and won’t accept that … tax liabilities being an act of SERENDIPITY for the ownership … is what keeps Waddell here. Someone once wrote a book called, “Useful Idiots.” I wish I could recall the author’s name. But Waddell very well may be such a “useful idiot” to the ownership. The most distasteful thing of all, however, is dismissing ANY fan, I repeat ANY FAN, because they don’t sit along the glass, at $200 a seat. Or $150 a seat. Or $125 a seat.

To me, being a GOOD FAN … AT PHILIPS ARENA … has EV-ERY-THING to do with how LOUD and how INVOLVED you are with the action. It has NOTHING to do with HOW MUCH MONEY YOU PAID FOR YOUR SEAT. If you paid $175 for that seat, but you’re silent as a church mouse during games, you take YOUR NAME right out of the hopper for the 7th man award. You didn’t do ANYTHING but overpay for a seat. And that fan, sitting in section 413, screaming his or hear head off, is the one that matters. Ohh, not to ownership. But to the players on the ice, seeking inspiration. That’s what the players say, anyways. When you ask a player, “what do you want from a fan?” They don’t say, “for them to PAY A LOT for their seats.” They say, “We want the fans to be loud and to give us the edge. We want a hostile environment for the opposition.” It’s true. That’s what they say. So, paying a lot for a seat, only to wear white gloves, to politely clap, using doiles, isn’t cutting it. Try tennis, instead.

In my decade of experience at Philips Arena, I have NEH-VERR, EV-ERRRR heard the SUITES chant, “Let’s go Thrashers!” NEVER. EVER. EVERRRRR. Please do explain it. And yet, that’s the MONEY that counts??? Pfft. Well, that’s economics for you. And it’s also why you never want businessmen or corporations running your team. They just … DON’T CARE. When the truth I want to see as REALITY is … “every fan, even the $10 seat fan, should MATTER to ownership.” Every last one. Every person is another voice … to cheer on the Thrashers and to be part of the experience. It’s a shame, really, that ownership doesn’t see it that way. There are 18,545 seats at Blueland. If I were the owner, I’d want each and every seat cheering. Just like the suites, I’ve never heard an empty seat cheer.

J-man

March 15th, 2010
8:15 pm

You have a point, Ice Man, about the Town Hall, but what exactly are the owners and Waddell supposed to think? 16,000 fans cheered like it was game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in the first home game after the Kovy trade. And the Town Hall was filled with Kool Aid drinking and hand holding and “Keep up the good work!” messages from those assembled. Sorry, but I cannot fault the owners for doing EXACTLY what they were told – to keep doing what they were doing. Anyone who went to that game has no business to complain. None. Had 10 or 11 or maybe even 12 thousand people come to the game, yes, a message could have been sent. But 16 thousand people gave a gigantic high five to Waddell and the owners. Too late now.