Stanley Cup Finals dredges up Thrasherville ghosts of trade-failures past

As we await the start of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals Saturday night, no doubt many of you have already taken into consideration the connection the Thrashers have with both the Flyers and Blackhawks.

Namely…Marian Hossa for Chicago and Braydon Coburn for Philly.

Both of those players used to wear Thrashers uniforms and both represent painful chapters in Thrasherville history.

First Hossa…who as you know came to Atlanta when Dany Heatley told Don Waddell he wanted out just prior to the 2005-06 season. He came this way from Ottawa along with Greg DeVries and played a major part in helping the Thrashers qualify for their one-and-only post-season appearance in 2007. But as the “Epic Fail” that was the 2007-08 season played out, it was clear he wanted nothing to do with this organization after his contractual obligation here ending that summer.

Marian Hossa will be playing in his third straight Cup Finals since being traded from Atlanta (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Marian Hossa will be playing in his third straight Cup Finals since being traded from Atlanta (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

He was traded to Pittsburgh along with Pascal Dupuis and the two of them played in the SCF the next two seasons… Dupuis and the Penguins winning it last year. Now, Hossa will play in his third straight Cup Finals with his third different team hoping this time will be more successful than the previous two.

The team he and Chicago beat in the Western Conference Finals…the San Jose Sharks who now employ Heatley.

As for the Thrashers, they received in return Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, prospect Angelo Esposito and the Pens first round draft pick. With that selection they took Daultan Leveille, a center that has just finished his sophomore year at Michigan State.

Atlanta has utilized these returns for Hossa and Dupuis to finish with 76 points, 76 points and 83 points.

Now, given that Christensen was traded a year and a half ago to Anaheim and it looks more and more like Armstrong will be seeking employment elsewhere…what Atlanta has left to show for The Great Hossa Saga of 2008 is prospect Eric O’Dell, (gained in the Christensen deal with the Ducks), Angelo Esposito, (who has suffered two ACL tears in as many seasons), and Leveille, who will be a junior at MSU this fall.

Then there is Philadelphia’s Braydon Coburn, who was selected by the Thrashers with the eighth overall draft pick in 2003. He was traded away to Philly on February 24, 2007 when then-GM Don Waddell pushed the panic button during the playoff drive on the verge of sputtering out.

Coming this way…veteran defenseman Alexei Zhitnik.

Now, this transaction has been debated continuously over the course of the last three years by Thrashers fans. Some argue the deal “necessary’ to help get the team over the hump and into the playoffs as Zhitnik played a big role in that effort. And after all, as these fans still contest, Coburn was not getting a fair shake to develop properly here.

Others, myself included, still refer to this trade as the beginning of the end of the three years of serious progress the Thrashers were making up to that point. True, they won the Southeast Division that spring… but since that time they have played to a record of 104-115-27 finishing in 14th place, 13th place and 10th place in the Eastern Conference. In doing so, we have seen the Thrashers show two head coaches the door.

Braydon Coburn...seen celebrating his goal against Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals... has scored 24 goals, 66 assists and is a +16 in 259 regular season games since being traded to the Flyers (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Braydon Coburn...seen celebrating his goal against Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals... has scored 24 goals, 66 assists and is a +16 in 259 regular season games since being traded to the Flyers (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

As for Zhitnik, he played in 65 games during that forgetful 2007-08 season scoring 3 goals and 5 assists and was a –8. After spending the last month of that season in the press box, Zhitnik was waived and his contract bought-out just days after Waddell said he would play a big part in the Thrashers future.

Since that time, the Thrashers have paid him $1.16 million to not play for them.

The Zhitnik Buyout Fund, however, is set to expire come July 1…freeing up that money to spend elsewhere. That mil-plus could be added to the $800,000 Maxim Afinogenov was paid last season to keep him around for another year or two. Or maybe it could become the Todd White Buyout Fund…who knows.

So why am I dragging us all down these dark alleyways of Thrasherville and dredging up the ghosts of trade-failures past? Well, it could be because these players were involved in two of the highest-profile and most debated trades in the Thrashers history…and now they are facing off in the SCF. That alone allows for the digging up of buried bones.

Also, I do find it a tad ironic that Braydon Coburn could quite possibly lift Lord Stanley’s Cup right about the same time that the Thrashers finally shake off the financial ties that still link them to the players they traded him away for. Also, if Hossa and the Blackhawks win it all, then we will watch him skate the Cup while the Thrashers watch the second NHL caliber player brought over in that deal skate out of town…leaving the Thrashers with three prospects to show for it all.

And finally, it normally it takes a few years to adequately determine which team “won” a trade…or if it was a co-beneficial transaction, as each side will always claim it is. I have contended for some time that Don Waddell and the Thrashers came out on the losing end of both of those deals. I further contend that where Hossa and Coburn are, where their teams are, (including Pittsburgh), and where the Thrashers are today…simply solidifies that point.

Now…is the Hossa trade along with the Coburn for Zhitnik deal the sole reasons for the Thrashers un-success in the past three seasons? Absolutely not…but it does highlight the type of decision-making that finds us where we are now. It also underlines why the moves made in the front office last month was so long overdo.

Only time will tell how successful Dudley will be in his GM duties here. But I certainly don’t expect him to hit the panic button the way Waddell did at the trade deadline of 2007. That, plus I think he’ll better create an environment in Thrasherville that will make players think about re-signing and sticking around…and not just feeling like they’re stuck here until they can sign elsewhere.

And with all that being said…enjoy watching the Finals!

112 comments Add your comment

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
8:18 am

Oh Bill, these deals make me sick. How is Daultan Leveille doing at Michigan State?

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
8:20 am

Sabres’ fans are watching the same thing, having lost Campbell for very little and Danny Briere for nothing. Add insult to injury-both players wanted to stay with the Sabres. Now we get to watch one of them raise the Cup. Thank you Darcy Regier, Larry Fine (Quinn) and Mr. Florida, Tom Golisano.


May 28th, 2010
8:25 am

Jeez, thanks Bill. Why don’t ya come on over and pee in my breakfast cereal too?


May 28th, 2010
8:28 am

If you look at it from Pittsburgh’s point of view they got Dupuis for Esposito, Christensen (O’Dell), Leveille and Armstrong because Hossa thought the grass looked greener in Detroit and then Chicago. You can argue we should have gotten more for Hossa than we did, but Hossa is not the kind of player we could have built a team around. The Coburn deal sucked and there are no excuses for that deal.


May 28th, 2010
8:32 am

Doesn’t bother me… Coburn is a dime a dozen these days.

Red Light

May 28th, 2010
8:42 am

“but Hossa is not the kind of player we could have built a team around”

Maybe not, but watching him play every night is light years better than watching career second- and third-line guys trying to play on your top line.

Rawhide: Well stated!

While we’re here, if you had to pick your all-time favorite Thrasher, who would it be? Consider those guys who played 3 or more seasons with the team.

Sage of Bluesland

May 28th, 2010
8:47 am

Maybe we’ll be saved with all of the “Legends of Blueland” being touted these days?!

(I’m sorry–I had to stifle a chuckle just then!)

You know the old saying, “The more things change…”



May 28th, 2010
8:58 am

I did think it was humorous (in a Fargo kinda way) that even in the Conference Semi-finals every team had a former Thrasher playing for them.

Bill will there be a draft party at TJ’s again this year?


May 28th, 2010
9:09 am

Reading this is NOT how I wanted to start the last day of work before a three day weekend! :P

RL- my favorite player still is chicken parm Ray Ferraro. The time he was here no one could ever question his heart or dedication. Also centered what I consider the first “true” line in Thrashers history (the FAB line of Ferraro, Donald Audette, and Andrew Brunette).

Joe Friday

May 28th, 2010
9:51 am

“Hossa is not the kind of player we could have built a team around”

au contraire, mon ami. I think Hoss is precisely the kind of player we should have built around. Complement him with a center who can dish the puck and a sniper (never understood why we didn’t skate Kovy with him), and voila.

I also don’t think you guy’s should diss Coburn. And I was leading the lynch mob of those riding him out of town on a rail as I thought he was a bust. Dmen take forever to develop, usually. Coburn is how old? I think we’re going to lament that trade for many years to come.

I see Coburn having a fantabulous Finals, Leighton being a wall, Briere showing the true leadership he brings to the table, Pronger shutting down the Kane-Toews line, those guys are so overhyped anyway, couple of overrated pansies if I’ve ever seen them. Go Orange, Phlyers in 5!


May 28th, 2010
10:00 am

Rawhide… by the way, Happy Birthday! Enjoy the weekend!


May 28th, 2010
10:08 am

“Hossa is not the kind of player you build a team around” because he did not want to be here and quit on the team inspite of making millions of dollars playing a game he loves! I want players that want to be an Atlanta Thrasher and be team players. Hossa is probably the most talented player ever to put on a Thrasher uniform, that I will not argue. He just would have preferred to put on another teams uniform instead of Atlanta blue.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
10:12 am

Thrashdog-agreed on 2 counts-Hossa is the most talented player every to wear a Thrasher uniform AND he wanted to be somewhere else. Can’t blame him, based on what we have seen over most of the first 10 years, can you?


May 28th, 2010
10:18 am

I was getting ready to write an almost identical post to the one ThrashDawg wrote above.

In retrospect, I consider the trade deadline score against Pittsburg and against Philadelphia to be 1-1.

And guess what – I think this year’s matchup against New Jersey is a BIG win!


May 28th, 2010
10:31 am

Its being reported there will be two Winter Classics next season – the “traditional” Jan 1 game, which will be at Heinz Field in PIT between the Caps and Pens…and a second in February in Commonwealth Stadium in CGY between the Flames and Habs.


May 28th, 2010
10:34 am

Gee, that was excruciating, RH! lol Though Sage, LAC, et al should have fun b!tching about those past events.

I have a question for the folks that follow/have followed other teams that were bad for a few years: Do the posters on blogs about those teams tilt toward irrational negativity as on these Thrashers blogs? Just wondering…


May 28th, 2010
10:42 am

Hossa is a solid utility player in Chicago. He is too predictable to be the guy who can take the team all the way to the top by himself. But Chicago has a few others who aren’t and who will – in all likelihood.


May 28th, 2010
10:44 am

These two trades are a part(albeit a big part) of the total mismanagement of this team. I think the Coburn trade was the greater evil due to the fact that IMO Hossa never really wanted to be here.

The Coburn trade exhibits the poor player development that this team has. As someone mentioned before, It takes a little time to develop a defenseman even if he is playing with a couple of quality defensemen Take a look at Bogosian and even Little as examples. I hope that Kane does not follow this example. When is the last time a quality prospect came from the Wolves? When is the last time a middle or late round draft choice came up through the ranks? I like Dudley a lot but he has his hands full.

Mrs. Zoomo

May 28th, 2010
10:54 am

Happy Birthday from the Zoomos


May 28th, 2010
11:03 am

In our home, we have the signed wall of Thrasher shame. A Dion Phaneuf framed picture (who the Thrash passed over to draft Braydon Coburn) A Braydon Coburn broken stick. And to top it off, a Zhitty Alexei Zhitnik puck.

We could have had Dion and now we have nothing, zilch…Holy Zhit.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
11:08 am

kracker-most of the fan blogs I have seen have a fair amount of negativity on them, so ours are no different. In fact, I think this blog has more depth and information than any I have seen.

As a Sabres’ fan, I can tell you the BuffaloNews blog is totally negative towards the club, even though they won their division this season AND sat 3rd in the east going into the playoffs.

We are not the only ones and let’s face it, Thrashers’ fans have valid reasons for their negativity.


May 28th, 2010
11:31 am

The Canadian blogs are the funniest. Its all hatred against Bettman and the southern teams. It’s amazing how much better the hockey talk is here in a “non traditional hockey market” then up north of the 49th. Toronto is by far the most entertaining. They can be 30 points behind the Thrash and we just beat them 5-0…but the blogs will classify us a moribund, or losers – while the Leafs are young, exciting and full of potential! Rose colored glasses to the nth degree!

Red Light

May 28th, 2010
12:06 pm

World Be Free: Couldn’t have stated it any better! Let this franchise give its fans a reason to be positive without the incessant sugar coating, excuse-ridden diatribe we have had to listen to for the last decade plus. And while we’re at it, lets just say that blogs are a direct descendant from all of the negative reporting sports in general have received during the past three decades (the ESPN intrusion began in 1979).

We, as fans, have allowed the pervasive negativity to creep into the way we view our teams and players. Everyone is a critic these days, and the few players I criticize are the European money-grabbers, and the others are management, league officials and talking heads who can’t see the forest for the trees.

Few fans wear rose-colored glasses these days because it’s not fashionable to do so. You can’t be heard or taken seriously unless you bash someone or some team, so while we’re in that mode: Scott Hartnell is a cheap-shot piece of crab who should be skating with Tonya Harding rather than Danny Briere!


May 28th, 2010
12:32 pm

Happy B-day RH!!!

I can attest that the Chitown blogs of the early to mid 2000’s made ours look tame in comparison. Then shortly after Dollar Bill Wertz kicked the bucket meaningful changes across the board were implemented, almost immediately, by his son.


May 28th, 2010
12:45 pm

By the way. I truly believe things are going to be much better in Thrasherville from this point forward. Why you ask? Well you see I bought my house in Duluth the summer prior the the 1st drop of the puck at Phillips and this April, for the 1st time since I’ve lived there, a Brown Thrasher pair setup shop in a tree behind my house. Shortly there after we learned the news about Dudley being promoted. ;)


May 28th, 2010
1:02 pm

JF, I remember your harping on Coburn well…glad to see your memory is clear on that one. ;-)

As for him being a dime a dozen, GVH, here’s 10 cents…heck, I’ll even double it for a crowd of 25-year-old defensemen who stand 6′5″, 220 and have averaged 28 points and 22 minutes on ice over the past three seasons (with a +18 over that same time period). That said, he has had a rough season…we’ll see if he regains his form of the previous two years or if he continues to stumble.

As for the Hossa deal, Pittsburgh made it to game 6 of the Finals that season while we’re still waiting/hoping/praying for three prospects to develop. Tilts it pretty heavily to the Pens in my mind.

Saw stats that said only 10-15% of players born in the last 60 years have won a Cup and that only 90 or so players currently in the league will win one. And you wonder why we have trouble keeping free agents with our track record.

Will Hossa finally get his name engraved, or is he destined to join the likes of Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, Dale Hawerchuk, and Pat Lafontaine as a great player who never took home the prize?

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
1:08 pm

Red Light, this is probably one of the better blogs anywhere, even with the negative guys, who have a point that none of us can argue with. I think the rest of us are trying to put the past behind and move forward. If Dudley have the authority, which I think is likely becuase of his past.

Glovesave-LEafs fans are getting ready to welcome Raffi Torres and Colby Armstrong as their next saviors. And they call us poor judges of hockey talent!. Nothing every changes in Toronto, at least folks in Montreal know their hockey!

There has never been an NHL President that the Canadians have liked, so Bettman is not alone. They all believe the guys who run the NHL are out to get Canadians!

Good news-all Stanley Cup finals games are on at night instead of that stupid 3PM!


May 28th, 2010
1:32 pm

Coburn is dime or dozen player? A top 4 d-man playing over 24 minutes a nights in the play-offs, including playing 30+ minutes game 5 against the Canadiens. That’s a dime or dozen player? That’s a pretty stupid observation. I guess you haven’t been watching the play-offs much. Coburn just turned 25 and most should know that d-men don’t typically enter their prime until their late 20’s. So Coburn still has some development to do but he has looked very good in the play-offs. That was a bad trade for the Thrashers, no matter how you look at it.


May 28th, 2010
1:40 pm

Would you trade this year’s 8th pick for Brayden Coburn?

Red Light

May 28th, 2010
2:07 pm

Hokie: Not if I’m running the Thrashers, but If you like 25-year-old defenseman who can skate and have a long reach, 297 games of NHL experience and 37 career playoff games with a +13 rating, then the answer is a definitive yes. There’s no guarantee that this year’s No. 8 pick will be a proven NHL player seven years from now like Coburn is today. He’s no star, but he can play for me, particularly at $1.4 million.

Aren’t the Thrashers paying Hainsey $4.5 million a year for basically the same type of game Coburn has?

While Hainsey has 19 more assists than Coburn during the past two seasons, he is -22 while Coburn is +1. I know it’s apples and oranges but has Hainsey really been worth $3.1 million more per year than Coburn?

I don’t think so.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
2:45 pm

I disliked the Coburn trade a great deal. He is a good defenseman, not a great one nor will he ever be. I won’t trade #8 for him this year, maybe #24 but not #8.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
4:23 pm

Just to make everyone feel better, here are some bad trades not associated with the Thrashers-

Eddie Shack for Rene Robert
Ken Hodge for Rick Middleton
Andre Savard for Peter McNabb
Andrew Raycroft for Tuuka Rask (we could do an entire blog on bad Leaft trades)
A 3 – way disaster Stephane Beauregard for a draft pick & Christian Ruutu in exchange for Dominik Hasek.

One of my favorites-

Tony Tanti for Curt Fraser!

Red Light

May 28th, 2010
5:01 pm

Don’t get me started World Be Free!

New York Rangers traded Curt Bennet (529 games) to Atlanta for Ron Harris (146 games)
New York Rangers traded Bill Fairbairn (122 more games) and Nick Beverley (214 more games) to Minnesota for Bill Goldsworthy (68 games)
New York Rangers traded Bill Goldworthy to Indianapolis (WHA) for Frank Spring (never played a game)
New York Rangers traded Mario Marois (plays 797 more NHL games) and Jim Mayer to Vancouver for Jere Gillis (61 games) and Jeff Bandura (2 games).


May 28th, 2010
5:25 pm

GaVaHokie, Mrs. Zoomo and Adam – Thank you very much!!!

Red Light – I saw your question this morning and thought about it all day while sipping drnks w/ umbrellas at the pool. I’m having a tough time choosing between Hedberg and Kozlov as my favoite all-time Thrashers…with a close second to Savard. But if pushed…I think I’d go with the Moose.

Ooooh….and now…where is that aloe?


May 28th, 2010
6:18 pm

Rawhide, my favorite Thrasher of all-time is Ilya Kovalchuk. 2nd favorite is Moose Hedberg. I liked Audette and Parm (Ferraro), too. When he first broke onto the scene, Garnet Exelby quickly became a favorite.

As for Rawhide’s blog topic, I see nothing wrong with it. It’s just an observation of events as they actually are and were. Generally speaking, that’s summed up by saying, “It is what it is.” I want to touch on something WBF said, about Dudley taking the reins and being in charge.


Ric Dudley must become the polar opposite of Don Waddell. Meaning?? Oh, not what you think. I know what you’re thinking, that Dudley must turn into Scotty Bowman. That’s not where I was headed. I don’t expect miracles from Mr. Dudley. But here’s what I DO EXPECT from him.

1) It’s hiiiiigh time to educate the ownership about the dynamics of running an NHL franchise. In the past, the ownership simply deferred to Waddell in such matters. Waddell was more concerned with maintaining his paycheck than educating the ownership about the CORRECT way to run the franchise. In that regard, Waddell did considerable damage to the franchise.

2) Dudley must do #1 without FEAR of losing his job. Stand up for yourself, Ric!! Tell those trustfund babies the score. Explain it, not only from a GM position, but a Coach’s position, and a player’s position, since you’ve been all three. Explain to them that the next occupant of the GM chair would tell them the same thing. I think, this time, they’ll listen. I honestly do believe that this very ownership would PREFER to be in the playoffs, making 100% pure profit, than to be blustering about the team’s failures. Really, truly.

3) Once you’ve got their ear, make the necessary changes. Create the winning atmosphere. Remove the minor-league “habitus” that permeated the walls and hallways of the franchise. Drop the non-sensical ‘Blueland’ motif. Clean up the Game guide. Get rid of that ‘legends of Blueland’ crap. Give this team an injection of ‘oomph.’ Pazzaz! Energy. Put up mantras. Announce what the team IDENTITY and philosophy will be. You’re the man. You’re in charge.

4) If Dudley’s not in charge, he should resign immediately. That would be a statement, too. Real change takes courage. And winning takes commitment. There. That’s a mantra to plaster all over the lockerroom walls.

Tony C.

May 28th, 2010
7:39 pm

Waddell=horrible GM. durrrrrr. I’m fully convinced that I could have done a better job or at the least no worse than he did.

Coburn deal=not good, but what most people gloss over that happened at the same time was the Tkachuk deal – that little gem is what I believe was the most egregious “burn the future for today’s sake” move of Waddell’s tenure with the club to date.

For real, the Coburn-for-Zhitnik deal was bad, but honestly, we all know Hartley wasn’t going to play the kid unless he HAD to… He’s a guy who likes his veterans, and Coburn hadn’t grown into his body and talent yet (I’m sure he’ll tell you how much having Darrien Hatcher mentor him has helped). Zhitnik was money down the stretch-I recall some very clutch goals and plays, including a fantastic GWG. Bad trade, but it did produce the desired result: playoffs.

Now that Tkachuk trade-wheeeewboylemmetallyawhut-horrible.
(You may want to get pepto bismol and some salve handy before you read the next line)

February 25, 2007, Tkachuk was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Glen Metropolit, a 1st round pick in 2007, a 3rd round pick in 2007 and a 2nd round pick in 2008.
On June 26 of the same year, St. Louis reacquired Tkachuk along with a conditional 4th round draft pick for a conditional first round pick in 2008. If Tkachuk had resigned with the Thrashers, the Blues would have had Atlanta’s 1st round pick in 2008.

-From Tkachuk’s wikipage

That’s a mighty steep price tag for a two-and-half month rental and clearly informed Waddell’s actions in the Hossa trade (going for players over picks).

Did Walt help? Immensely, but when you couple that with the loss of Coburn-you see where Waddell set fire to the winter wheat as well as salting the fields. We lost a young “can’t miss” prospect as well as the ability to replace him via the draft. Tkachuk was clearly a rental and the fact that St. Louis got us to throw in another 1st-rounder as the conditional pick proves it-wow. In some places they call that rape.

Now, I can appreciate the fact that his boss’ told him “get into the playoffs come hell or high water” and so DW did. but wow, what a price. I mean, just think if he’d been allowed to set-up the #17 trade (landslide win, on that one BTW) alone????

Anyway-let’s hope it’s the last time we get it with no vaseline.

Tony C.

May 28th, 2010
7:50 pm

P.S. Those picks eventually turned into Mikael Backlund, John Negrin, and Philip McRae.

Alan R.

May 28th, 2010
8:01 pm

Now that Tkachuk trade-wheeeewboylemmetallyawhut-horrible.
(You may want to get pepto bismol and some salve handy before you read the next line)

I didn’t need any pepto, but I needed an interpreter for this one. :P

Alan R.

May 28th, 2010
8:11 pm

Its being reported there will be two Winter Classics next season – the “traditional” Jan 1 game, which will be at Heinz Field in PIT between the Caps and Pens…and a second in February in Commonwealth Stadium in CGY between the Flames and Habs.

I’m not watching the one in January. I’ve seen Pittsburgh once already.

I’ll watch the Feb game, though. Go Flames!

Hokey Clisters

May 28th, 2010
8:39 pm

How bout a game of ghoul, goblin or ghost?
Hossa – goblin
Coburn – ghost
Kolvachuk – ghoul
Heatley – goblin
Zitnik – Grim Reaper

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
8:52 pm

Tony C-nice work
You look at this year’s rentals? Virtually none of them made any difference for their new clubs. If fact, a number of the rentals were bombs. MacArthur is not a rental, but he sure looks like a 4th liner next season if at all. That deal may make this list eventually, though the trade for Arty was a good one.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
8:57 pm

Red Light-I was hoping to broaden the list of trade busts.
Leave it to the Rangers to bomb on a continual basis.
Remember-Doug Weight, Tony Amonte and Marc Savard all got their starts with the Rangers.

World Be Free

May 28th, 2010
9:06 pm

Brendan, nice post, as usual. I agree with everything you have stated. The only thing I can add is review Viv’s piece on Dudley and how he fought his way to the top. I knew he was a fighter long ago, which is why I can’t support the notion that he’s a yes man. That’s never been his style so why start now? He is a known NHL commodity who could have had jobs in other places, or just stayed hwere he was if he was not up to the challenge.

Also, I hope he’s not like Scotty. Bowman did a poor job assembling a quality team in Buffalo, despite having a combined 6 first round picks for the Sabres in the 1982-83 drafts. Scotty needs to be surrounded by vets, not youngsters. He was better in Pittsburgh.


May 28th, 2010
11:37 pm

Good blog; Rawhide, I couldn’t agree more. The movement of those two players, plus the Tkachuk trade cost the Thrashers a bundle. It was the beginning of the end for me as far as Don Waddell is concerned…

WBF, I am from Buffalo and always read your comments with special interest. I agree with you on the fan base up there. It goes to show the expectations for the Sabres compared to here. They win their division, lose in the first round and the natives want Ruff and Reiger’s heads. BTW, the Campbell trade netted Buffalo Tyler Ennis, who may turn out to be a really good player (picked right before Waddell drafted Daultan Leveille ).


May 29th, 2010
4:23 am

Tony C., nice post at 7:39 PM. Here it is again. I enjoyed reading every last word of it. For many Thrasher fans visiting Philips Arena, they look at the 2007 Southeast Division Championship banner with admiration. Shrugs. They have every right to that sentiment. When I look at it, I see a warning beacon of ownership incompetence. What a hefty price we paid for that banner to hang from the rafters.

I understand that Waddell was facing an ultimatum. The press conference he held while announcing the Coburn-for-Zhitnik trade … was perhaps the WORST I’ve ever seen Don Waddell look. And by that, I mean that he looked depressed and sleep deprived. And not sayyy, that his hair wasn’t combed properly. You could see in his face that he didn’t want to make that trade. For the “short-term gain” of it, it did work out. Atlanta desperately needed some stability on the blueline and a QB for the PP. Zhitnik provided that. But when the team got swept out of the playoffs, Zhitnik could see, very well, the writing on the wall, and who would be blamed for the trade deadline moves of the club, moving forward. I think it demoralized him. And who does their best work “demoralized?”

Before we leave the topic of trade failures of the 2007 trade deadline, let’s not forget that we acquired Center Eric Belanger, from Nashville, at the expense of Vitaly Vishnevski. So? So what? Well, Waddell coughed up a 2nd round pick in 2007 to get Vishnevski from Anaheim, when the Ducks failed to pay the arbitration decision on Vishnevski’s contract. Then Ducks GM Brian Burke flipped him to his buddy Waddell, for a 2nd rounder. So, I think of the Belanger trade as coughing up Vishnevski and a 2nd rounder for Eric Belanger. But that’s not the “ouch” part. The “!Ay, no me gusta!” part of that trade is that Belanger walked in free agency, for nothing. Had Belanger re-signed with Atlanta, that deal doesn’t resonate so badly. Waddell made a 4th trade deadline deal that year, in acquiring the speedy Pascal Dupuis for former 1st round pick, # 16 overall, Alex Bourret. As Sage of Bluesland might say, “the player Waddell wanted all along at pick # 8.” But, Atlanta did get a 3rd round pick from the NY Rangers for Dupuis, which Waddell then converted into depth forward Chris Thornton, in a trade with Pittsburgh. I have forgotten the contractual status of Thornton. I think he’s a pending UFA. But I can’t rightly remember.

Not all Waddell trade deadline moves were utter blunders. There is one trade I like to reference as being ’somewhat decent.’ In 2006, when the team was at a maxed cap situation, he managed to get Steve McCarthy, a former 23rd overall pick from Chicago from the 1999 draft, for … I think it was Tommi Santala?? In any event, McCarthy scored something like 7 goals down the stretch and was a real infusion of energy down the stretch-run. His later years were less fruitful. But, I think, given the ‘totality of circumstance’ at the 2006 deadline, Waddell did rather well on that one. He gave up nothing to get a player who didn’t cost much, but yet still contributed in a meaningful way. If Waddell has a ’strength’ as a GM, it’s that he can evaluate minor league talent, at bargain barrel prices, and get a modicum of NHL results from it. Waddell had virtually no budget in those early years, and yet the team never approached San Jose’s 71 losses in a season, still an NHL-record today. Waddell’s budgets projected to a bottom-five club, and that’s just what Waddell delivered. At just above the Mendoza line. What I blame Waddell the most for … was not standing up to ownership to say, “You cannot continue to run the team like this.” Shoe-string budgets are fine for the early, developmental years of a franchise. But especially AFTER a salary cap is introduced, a team should not be run on a league-minimum mandated payroll. I understand what you’ll say. “In 2005, Waddell went to ownership and got them to GREENLIGHT a maxed cap.” Yes, but despite sitting on the Rules Committee, which should have given Waddell an insight that “the new NHL” would favor “youth, skill, and speed,” Waddell fielded the 2nd oldest roster in the NHL, and hamstrung it for the 2007 season, as well. As highlighted by the Bobby Holik (3-years/$12.75 million) contract. That’s when ownership should have fired Waddell. He misjudged the landscape of the NHL. Instead, ownership saw a GM who missed the playoffs by two “measely” points and Kari Lehtonen’s torn groin. That’s a “wow” on the major disconnect scale. And adding players like Steve Rucchin and Glen Metropolit to backfill Marc Savard’s contributions is quite another.

chicago wins cup

May 29th, 2010
6:56 am

well waddell should be happy on hos 10 year plan again the flyers goalie was a thrasher also see where he is in stanley cup and by the way i believe wayne messer will sing the natl athem tonight ought to shake the new place apart!….and NBC will have a killin in ratins also 24 million viewers will tune to all games.


May 29th, 2010
8:35 am

Buried at the bottom of Bettman’s state of the league talk to reporters yesterday he said the salary cap is not going down, but instead will be going up by about 2 million dollars.

I wonder how that will impact the Thrasher’s attempt to land players from salary cap strapped teams?

World Be Free

May 29th, 2010
9:26 am

Doug-good to have you aboard the ex-Buffalo group on the best blog in hockey. Fogot about Ennis being the prize in the Campbell trade. Ennis’ play has made Plastic Tim expendable to whatever team will be foolish enough to fall in love with his moves.

Sabres were great in the 70’s but have not come close to that greatness since. Shows what a real architect like Punch Imlach can do, even with the WHA nibbling at his heals. But we keep the faith. I have only a few issues with Ruff, but Regier has got to go.

Brendan, your latest post supports everything we (and Sage) have said about the past. Oddly enough, I am going to give Sage credit for sticking to his guns about the past, cause the more we converse, the mor we prove his points and posts. An odd statement, but true.

World Be Free

May 29th, 2010
9:42 am

Bettman kinda blew off the notion that “a number” of NHL teams are for sale. Kind of a slap at those media outlets, especially those in Canada that are constanting claiming specific teams, especially those in the southeast are boomed to failure. The recent hiring of 3 experienced GMs in our division improves our region’s creditabiity, if the GMs are give the resources to make the right moves. That’s a big if, especially here.

More news about the cap going up is relief for those teams up against the current cap, and bad news for teams like Atlanta that are posed to poach the cap-stressed teams. There will be less NHL-ready players available at the end of the month.

Sounds like San Jose is looking to keep Nabakov. They do not have a replacement for him in their system close to his talents. In addition, there’s no worthy replacement available in the upcoming UFA market. Or would San Jose focus on Cary Price? That would work for both teams, since the Sharks have offensive depth to trade if they want to move on a replacement for their # 1 goalie and have some $$$ left to try and keep Marleau.

Happy Memorial Day weekend folks-time to fly the flag


May 29th, 2010
10:37 am

Anybody have the lines for Chicago?