Thrashers in grave danger of crash landing in Lotterypickville…again

Like a doomed airplane spinning out of control due to its pilot and co-pilot becoming sick to the state of unconsciousness after eating tainted fish, the Atlanta Thrashers have fallen from the lofty altitude of playoff contention and are in grave danger of crash-landing into Lotterypickville.

Ah, Lotterypickville… It’s a rough place, the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It’s worse than Detroit.

Most NHL franchises avoid this place at any cost. But not the Thrashers…they actually have a P.O. Box in the local post office.

Just a week and a half ago the Thrashers were riding a 4-0-2 wave after a 6-3 win over then Islanders on March 4, were resting in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 66 points and many were telling me that surely they were ready to make a run at the post-season.

Well, it appears they weren’t…and don’t call me Shirley!

Since that time Atlanta has gone 0-5-1, coming just shy of cracking open a Thrasherville Six-Pack by at least taking Phoenix to a shootout before losing their sixth straight. In doing so, they’ve sunk into 11th place in the east with but 67 points and only six teams in the league have gathered fewer…Edmonton, Toronto, Columbus, Carolina, the Islanders and Florida. However, the Panthers are but a point in back of the Thrashers while New York and the CBJs are two behind…and Columbus plays the Oilers tonight.

I was asked recently by a friend of mine how it felt to be a Thrashers fan recently. My response…” Do you know what it’s like to fall in the mud and get kicked… in the head… with an iron boot? Of course you don’t, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, that’s a dumb question… skip that”.

Anyway…all this means, of course, is that we in Thrasherville may once again be looking at our logo on a certain amount of draft pick lottery ping-pong balls shortly after this campaign comes to an end. Depending on how they drop, we’ll begin anew the time-honored tradition in these parts of discussing just who the Thrashers should select with that early draft pick when the 30 NHL teams gather in L.A. on June 25.

But I say, why wait…let’s get the ball rolling right now.

Here is a list of the top five prospects available in the draft as ranked by TSN.com back in September 2009. Tell me what you can make of this. I mean, besides a hat or a brooch or pterodactyl…

Taylor Hall: 6’-1”, 185 pound Canadian left wing playing currently for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

TSN Insider’s Take: Prior to the 2009 draft, several NHL scouts told me that if Taylor Hall were eligible they would take the Kingston, Ont., native ahead of John Tavares, Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene. Hall’s forte is as a tenacious goal-scorer who does everything at a high speed. He’s a dynamic game-breaker who is an excellent bet to be on Canada’s national junior team this year.

Cam Fowler: 6’-2”, 190 pound US defenseman playing currently for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

TSN Insider’s Take: The scouts often refer to the young American as the “total package.” He has size, speed and skill and can be a force at both ends of the ice. Originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers, the graduate of the U.S. national development program went back into the OHL draft when he didn’t report to Kitchener, only to be selected by Windsor, where he’s playing this season.

Tyler Seguin: 6’-1”, 186 pound Canadian centerman playing currently for the OHL Plymouth Whalers.

TSN Insider’s Take: I watched him play minor hockey in his very early years in Whitby. Along the way, he moved to Brampton, Ont., and the Plymouth Whaler centre has now fully blossomed as an elite offensive force who looks like a lock to be a top five pick in this draft. He’s probably viewed more as a playmaker than a goal scorer but he has an outstanding shot. Playing on a line with John McFarland and Tyler Toffoli, Seguin was outstanding at the U-18 tourney in August in the Czech Republic. Scouts raved about his play and he may have done enough there to get an invite to Canada’s final national junior camp in December.

Kirill Kabanov: 6’-3”, 176 pound Russian right wing currently playing for the KHL’s Spartak Moscow.

TSN Insider’s Take: The Russian, who is awaiting the transfer paperwork to allow him to play for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec League, is a highly-skilled, offensive minded lanky centre. Whether he falls victim to the so-called “Russian factor” remains to be seen, because his skills are elite and he’s one of several Russians this year who have Top 10 potential. He was, however, shut down by his future Moncton teammate Brandon Gormley in the U-18 championship game.

Brett Connolly: 6’-1”, 153 pound Canadian right wing currently playing for the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.

TSN Insider’s Take: Injury limited his effectiveness for Canada at the U-18 tourney in August – he got hurt in the first game, sat out the next two before dressing for the gold-medal game — but his excellent production for Prince George in the WHL last year has demonstrated he’s a smooth and polished offensive performer who plays the game with a great deal of confidence.

Here’s a link to the site if you care to review and discuss those further down the list.

Elsewhere, the NHL Scouting Bureau’s midterm rankings show Hall, Seguin, Fowler and Connolly as the top North American skating prospects while Mikael Granlund…a 5’-10”, 176 pound Finnish centerman tops their list of Euopean skaters.

There is also a list of top goaltending prospects at the NHL Scouting Bureau, but if the Thrashers waste another top pick on a goalie like they did in 2002, I think I just might shout out at the person responsible for such a decision, “Jive ass dude don’t got no brains no-how”!

OK, you all chew on this for a while…seeing that it’s better for you than the fish served on flight 2-0-9’er from Los Angeles to Chicago. Meanwhile, I’ll be be doing some light reading….a couple leaflets titled ”Famous Thrashers Playoff Legends” and “How to Succeed as an NHL GM” by Don Waddell.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated in memory of Peter Graves and his portrayal of Capt. Oveur in the classic cinema comedy “Airplane”.

136 comments Add your comment

n8

March 16th, 2010
1:12 pm

Kabanov has been playing junior in Moncton, he’s not in Russia anymore

Diego from Lilburn

March 16th, 2010
1:15 pm

A.P. Press Release *** For general distribution ***
The office of Don Waddell today released an announcement that Mr. Waddell intends to run for re-election as Mayor of Lotterypickville. Mr. Waddell is quoted as saying, “It has been my pleasure to serve as Mayor of Lotterypickville for all these years and I would be doing a great disservice to the hockey community as a whole if I were to leave now. Especially hockey fans in other towns. When their team arrives in Lotterypickville they know their team will emerge victorious and flush with confidence as they continue their push for the playoffs. The staffers here in Lotterypickville will continue their same level of performance under my continued leadership and I will continue to trade them away or let them walk at the end of their contracts. I would like to thank the ASG for their continued support of my campaign as Mayor of Lotteryville. And we’re raising taxes on all you STH schmucks. Have a good day and I’ll see you at the polls!”

rob

March 16th, 2010
1:15 pm

Rightshot

March 16th, 2010
1:17 pm

“Flying a plane is just like riding a bike. It’s just alot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.”

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2010
1:36 pm

WBF and Smoothie, the Vazquez-Cabrera trade was a simple salary dump IMHO. They also swapped relievers and Cashman threw in the possible winning piece in Vizcaino. Yankees win short-term unless Vazquez sticks to his every-other-year-sucking routine. Braves win long-term if Vizcaino pans out. Think Smoltz and JJ….

Back to hockey though….Smoothie, I think you are mostly correct in your last paragraph about the owners and the lawsuit, economy, etc. I believe ASG will NOT sell the team. I think they will get additional owners/infusion of cash after the suit is settled, permanently. I also think everyone is about to be very happy. I think DW will be moved upstairs as has been rumored and will no longer have GM duties. The question is whether Dudley moves up or stays in the background, as he prefers. Why else would he want to leave the Blackhawks and come to this scenario? Unless he knew the plan in advance and had some assurances. That, or the Bowman regime was not palatable. What if they brought in someone like Dale Tallon and he and Dudley worked together here as they did in Chicago (minus the little offer deadline snafus)? Or someone else altogether?

Of course, my disclaimer is I could be completely wrong, but I just see the stars aligning in that direction….

English Teacher

March 16th, 2010
1:44 pm

D-Wad kiss of death? Does that mean we’ll hear this conversation in the future:

“Who’s that?”

“It’s Coach Weeks. Severe shell shock. He thinks he’s Ethel Merman”

(Weeks singing) “You’ll be swell! You’ll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate! Startin’ here, startin’ now, honey everything’s comin’…up…rowwww…zezzzzz…”

“Thrashers hockey is hell.”

World Be Free

March 16th, 2010
1:53 pm

Smoothie-I hear the pitching prospect we received with Melky is top notch. Still, you give up a 200+ inning horse who pitched well in Turner Field for a backup outfielder and a prospect.

Rob-Totally agree, Buffalo is a nice place to be from. Those people that gave you heck need to come to grips with the fact that they live in a new city. You wanna be a Buffalo die hard then you need to move back. Not for me!

Schoeder-good one, I think we could go on for hours with quotes.
“Stewardess, I speak jive”

World Be Free

March 16th, 2010
1:55 pm

Lysiak-thanks for the additional info on the deal. and you are correct, it was a $$$ dump cause we couldn’t resign Vasquez after this season anyhow.

Smoothie

March 16th, 2010
2:00 pm

Tom L — thanks for reminding me about Vizcaino, forgot about that part of the trade. Overall, you’re right, the pitching staff should be better. As for the Thrashers, I hope u r right and some type of change happens as I’m ready to celebrate the end of Stooge of Blusterland’s ridiculous and tired routine. Its like arguing with Jeff Schultz! Oh wait, he IS Jeff Schultz!!

Red Light

March 16th, 2010
2:40 pm

Not sure if you all realize that the Buffalo Sabres have a 300-member strong fan club group, part of the Sabres Road Crew, here in town that held a reception last night at the Hudson Grill in Midtown with Ruff, Regier, Jeaneret and others. Now, I ask you, outside of the so-called Sun Belt teams, where else in the NHL could that happen?

Imagine, a Rangers fan club in Philly? The place would be bombed!

World Be Free

March 16th, 2010
3:03 pm

I heard about that gig. I met Ruff when he was a player and Jenneret at a benefit softball tourny in the mid 80’s.

Yup, alot of us escaped Buffalo, went over the wall at Midnight and rarely look back. I think of Buffalo I think of a quote from a Neil Young song- “It’s better to burn out, cause rust never sleeps!

EA

March 16th, 2010
4:24 pm

Red Light, thanks for the info. I was wavering on whether to use my tickets tonight. No way. The Atlanta turned Buffalo fans for one night already give me a migrane. I can’t imagine having 300 natives in town sitting near me. Go Thrashers! A win at the least, would quiet those obnoxious fans.

Badger Bob

March 16th, 2010
5:02 pm

WBF, good on ya for wearing the Thrash jersey tonight! And if you see someone in a Sabres jersey fly over the glass out of Section 102, you’ll know my son and I finally had enough of their obnoxiousness…

Badger Bob

March 16th, 2010
5:08 pm

Red Light, the same thing was happening in Calgary when the Flames first got there, with throngs of Hab fans and fan clubs. What finally ended it? Success by the Flames. By the last half of the 80’s most of the Hab faithful in Calgary had converted. Two or three years of success will decimate the ranks of the fans of other teams. At the rate we’re going, we can look forward to that some time after the next census arrives.

fes

March 16th, 2010
5:10 pm

The main group of Buff fans that descend on Philips are part of the Bills Backers of Atlanta (my ticket rep sells to them, so I know first hand).

The Vazquez move wasn’t really a salary dump. The Braves had 6 legit starters and no room for them all. Someone had to go and there were no takers for Lowe’s huge salary.

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2010
5:53 pm

fes, I guess we could argue over calling it a salary dump. As you said, they couldn’t find anyone to dump Lowe’s contract on. They could have kept a 6th starter in the pen, but contracts and performances wouldn’t allow that. Hanson and JJ are untouchables, Huddy is solid. Kawakami did allright, but 3 years at $23 million made him tough to move. So, they moved the 2nd highest salaried pitcher who only had one year remaining anyway. That freed up $9 million. They got marginal return on the trade. Kinda smells like a salary dump…..

Either way, Go THRASHERS!!!

Brendan

March 16th, 2010
6:35 pm

Reality is, players are forced to move and change teams all the time. I doubt successful GM’s factor player’s feelings into making trades they think will improve their teams. It’s just assumed that they will accept the move and eventually embrace the situation, or leave the team when their contract expires.

But therein lies the difficulty, Tom Lysiak. If you trade for a player with 3-years or less on his contract, he starts to eyeball the exit. Trading for a player who is plotting an exit strategy on his way into Hartsfield isn’t a good situation. Even though, the player could change his mind. And like you said, he has no choice but to report. Wayne Gretzky got traded, so anyone can get traded. But I think GM’s do factor into consideration what a player might do the chemistry and dynamic of the lockerroom.

For example, Sean Avery might be skilled player, for his role, and what’s expected of him. But bringing in an “Avery-type” player might really cause disharmony to the room and the fanbase. I wouldn’t think a GM would totally discount that. But, each GM is different. Chicago actually signed Theo Fleury, hoping he had one last flap of his wings left in him.

I prefer to draft my own players, develop my own players, promote my own players, so that I don’t have to bring in outsiders, who must learn the system, and who never asked to be here. If I sign a guy from free agency, no one put a gun to his head. He came of his own free choice. If I trade for him, I need 4-5 years left on the deal, so that the guy has to resign himself to being here.

Dan Boyle face that prospect of a waiver claim, with six years remaining on his contract. He feared winding up in Atlanta, so he waived his no trade clause to accept a deal to San Jose. Now, most guys who get waived don’t have six years left on a contract. That’s very unusual. Any player who gets waived has to report to the team that claims him. But he sure doesn’t have to re-sign there.

I think the player’s know that professionalism dictates that they try their hardest for every game. But, trying your hardest can be linked to your happiness level. Who does their best work, flustered? If you follow what I’m saying. I don’t think any player really embarks on a campaign of “sucking” so as to facilitate a trade or being waived. It’s just the natural progression of not being where you want to be, being frustrated over ice time, and situational play. Maybe the player is in the coach’s dog house, big time. Who can say? But I do believe it affects the player’s morale. That’s how I see it, anyway.

rob

March 16th, 2010
7:13 pm

LMAO, dam obnoxious Sabres fans!!!! Dealing with that much snow for so long does strange things to a person….that is why they are so rude (and why I left as well) LOL Can’t believe you wouldn’t go just because of them though, it’s always good to see the game when you have the chance. Though I am sure there will be more than one drunken altercation both inside and outside…oh well here’s to hoping the boys can play a good game tonight!
LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!!!

Lee

March 16th, 2010
7:14 pm

Whoooo! 33 seconds baby!!

Just curious where’s Brendan???????

Lee

March 16th, 2010
7:16 pm

Wow, I’m stupid, I found Brendan.

Little scored!!

Sunny

March 16th, 2010
7:30 pm

OK, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve left a comment, but that blog was just too fabulous NOT to post, Bill!! Excellent job! That was really great – and sweet =). I’m sure none of you remembers me but I am the Canes fan (don’t shoot!) that used to occasionally drop in. Atlanta fans, I come in peace. I really & truly want the Thrashers to make the playoffs. The main reasons are 1. I hate Florida (as do all Canes fans) & would like to see you know them out & 2. I feel like Atlanta fans have gotten such a raw deal it’s almost a joke…except it isn’t funny. Following the Canes @ Thrashers game 2 Sundays ago, I stumbled upon some great pics a female Thrashers blogger had posted on her site after attending the game. I’d like to share w/ you all the same thing I left in her comments section (of course I can’t remember the name of her blog, I’m so sorry! I’ll find it & post here when I find it I promise.)Anyway a couple years ago the Thrashers booster club attended a game here at the RBC Centre. The Atlanta fans were enthusiastic, loud but not obnoxious (unlike some – *COUGH* Buffalo *COUGH*) & also very knowledgeable. The thing that impressed me most was that after the game, every single one of them stayed at their seats, stood & applauded all 3 stars – even tho Atlanta lost & all the stars were Canes players. That was such a classy & awesome display of sportsmanship!! I can’t tell you how well that speaks to your fan base. I’m no fool, I know all fan bases have their jerks – but that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. No Panther fan would do that, I can assure you!! Anyway, I know times are tough but I just wanted to say I hope you guys make the playoffs & shove it in the faces of those snobs who say places like Atlanta & Raleigh don’t “deserve” hockey teams!!

One last thing: a few months ago some blowhard was spouting off about that whole “Make It 7″ crap (which actually makes fools of canadians, but that’s for another day). well I may be a Southern Belle but I was so angry. So I said “You know what? That’s so funny you should say that! Because I’ve actually been thinking about how to start a campaign & website demanding all indoor pools & tennis courts removed from Canada & moved back to their rightful place down south; you know, where people really ‘get’ what those sports are about. Not like in places where you have to do both INDOORS most of the year!! I mean, sure – a few people up there may like them, but c’mon – they just don’t belong in places where they’re not TRULY appreciated. Maybe we could work together!” The look on his face was worth a million dollars =)

JB

March 16th, 2010
7:40 pm

Are there any GMs available in the draft?

rob

March 16th, 2010
8:09 pm

Give you our lottery draft if you just take ASG and DW!!

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2010
8:49 pm

Brendan, I don’t disagree with your logic. Free agency definitely offers a player little opportunity to complain, because they made their own bed. It’s just that trades happen all the time and players have to be professionals and fulfill the contract. Basically, suck it up and play.

Tom

March 16th, 2010
9:40 pm

Unhappy slug fans tonight.

I do think though that everyone watching the game said “That’s why we got rid of Max” after watching his play in the last minute of the game. Passing it offsides with no goalie in the last minute of the game? The man has a 50 cent game with a 10 cent brain…

stendek

March 16th, 2010
9:50 pm

Glad that overrated piece of commode residue Ryan “Sieve” Miller surrendered a trio of goals on only five shots! Loser must have had flashbacks of being back in the Olympic gold medal showdown against Canada. Heartless cur! My only regret is that the jerk did not get saddled with a well deserved defeat. Johan Lehtonen allowed the first loser at Olympics to wiggle off hook! Was not impressed with Moose impersonation of Michelin marshmallow man. Goal impotent Thrashers staked him to an early 3-1 lead for the love of God! Losing streak is over. Guess that is slight cause for meager jubilation. Rah. A win is a win. Especially one in regulation! Too little too late for these prima donnas. Such is life for Atlanta professional hockey fans! ++STENDEK++

R. Stroz

March 16th, 2010
9:57 pm

I would like to thank the female contingent of the local Buffalo Sabres fan club who met in Buckhead last night for taking Ryan Miller’s legs out from under him.

R. Stroz

March 16th, 2010
10:17 pm

Tom – How is your wife taking the Buffalo loss?

Nikita

March 16th, 2010
10:31 pm

Welcomes, ‘Canes fan!

I just watched the recap on Versus, while also watching the Rangers-Habs game and the Florida-whoever-just-killed-them game. Boy, am I glad I didn’t go down to the BOA center. Since I just watched the recaps, I don’t have anything insightful to say.

Except:
1. Anybody know why Thorburn was scratched? That got changed last minute, or anyway isn’t what the line combos suggest would be the case.
2. Yay, Little Jimmy MacElroy!
3. Kozlov was a -2. Seriously. WTF?

Tom Lysiak

March 16th, 2010
10:42 pm

Nikita, I believe I heard JA say in the post-game that Thorburn was sick tonight prior to game time.

Tom

March 16th, 2010
10:48 pm

She is more of a Thrashers fan these days. Of course, not sure if that is a good thing.

She also mentioned to me that the Slug fans are the rudest to come to Phillips and that has turned her off.

Told you I married well. :)

Badger Bob

March 16th, 2010
10:57 pm

Sunny, good to hear from ya! I’m with you on the Canadians constantly talking of relocation (includng most of my famiy still stuck in the frozen tundra), and my shot back is that we’ll revoke their CFL rights for all the same reasons they whine about SE teams (attendance, TV, overall interest). That always pisses them off. Then start talking Stanley Cups and they all shut up. When the Caps give the Southeast conference their third cup in six years we’ll all have the last laugh.

About tonight, has JA just completely given up on the idea of a powerplay? PP Unit 1: Max, Antro & Bergie. Doesn’t that sound a bit like our first line? Hmmm… PP Unit 2: Pevs, Little and the General. Wait, that sounds like our second line! Did JA even notice when we had powerplays? How about parking Arty in front of the net? How about throwing Kozzy a bone and seeing if he’ll spark something? No imagination, no discernable system, no chance of long term success.

But Moose is now 12-2-2 lifetime against the slugs – gotta love that!

O'Rawhide

March 17th, 2010
12:09 am

Brendan

March 17th, 2010
12:13 am

I’m here. It’s nice to get a win. 1-0-1 in the last two games. Okay, I apologize for that, when the team is facing a nearly mathematical elimination. It’s just that … it’s nice to be able to post something positive.

JB cracked me with that, “Is there a GM available in this year’s draft?” I’ll do ya one better. “Is there an owner available at the draft?”

Tom Lysiak, I do agree with you. I think every player with a contract knows that he’s playing for his NEXT contract. And if he gets traded, he’s still expected to perform at the NHL level. For some players, like a Marc Savard, he merely fell out of favor in his camp. Savvy came to Atlanta and blossomed. He and Kovy had great chemistry. Some guys just need a change of scenery. I think Clarke MacArthur is one of those guys. Sometimes, a GM needs to bring in a player. And he has no other medium but a trade to accomplish it. It’s just risky. Whenever there’s a deficiency on the roster, one must examine WHYYYYYY it exists. If the GM is doing everything right, there should depth in the system. Where more serious help is needed, that’s the ‘tweak’ that free agency can fulfill. Or the trade deadline. But I think everyone understands what a “rental” situation is.

Brendan

March 17th, 2010
12:21 am

Kari Lehtonen got the win, 8-2, for Dallas over San Jose. What’s going on with the Sharks, lately?

Okay, so in the past two games, Moose has surrendered 7 goals. Three more games to go, to see if the 5-game total is 10, 15, or more like 20.

In the past seven games, the Thrashers have been outscored 25-12, going 1-5-1, for three of a possible fourteen (3/14) points. It feels good to get a win. For Sabres fans, they can take some consolation in knowing that the 28th or 29th ranked team, Toronto, upset Ottawa in regulation time tonight.

Ron Mexico

March 17th, 2010
1:06 am

If we end up with a top 10 pick, and that’s looking like a good possibility now, it’s gotta be Nino Niederreiter or bust. If you haven’t heard of him, remember that name. He was the standout for the Swiss during this past World Junior tourney. He singlehandedly kept the Swiss in contention against way superior competition, and supplied some highlight reel plays every now and again. I think he can be somebody really special over time.