Archive for August, 2010

Looks like we made it Thrasherville

This past weekend I was rummaging through the cabinet that houses my CD collection. I needed to swap out the half-dozen or so that had been hanging out in my car’s glove box, so I brought those in and looked for a couple to replace them. These CDS are arranged in alphabetical order by name of artists…and in the case of multiple CDs from the same artists, I arrange them in chronological order based on the date of release of that particular album.

OK…so I’m organized.

Anyway, I’m flipping through the jewel cases, selecting the ones that I wish to have at the ready when…what do I see, smack dab in the middle of the second row? Why, none other than a Barry Manilow CD.

I’ll give you a moment to regain your composure

Yes. There, to my horror, nestled in with my Beatles CDs, my Pink Floyd CDs, my Rolling Stones, Rush, Dire Straights, Led Zeppelin, U2, Janis Joplin, Elton John, (pre-1980s stuff, mind you), REM, Peter Gabriel, B-52s and other fine assorted CDs was …

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Could Byfuglien back on blueline be bad news for Kulda?

One of the more interesting things that came from Chris Vivlamore’s recent chat with Rick Dudley was the suggestion that Dustin Byfuglien could wind up playing defense.

“It’s a position that he likes to play”, Dudley told Vivlamore. “It’s a position that I thought he was well on his way to being a top, top defenseman in Chicago”.

Goalies around the NHL might not be upset with Dustin Byfuglien moving to defense. As Vancouver's Roberto Luongo can attest, his large frame can be quite a problem (AP photo)

Roberto Luongo and other goalies around the NHL certainly wouldn't mind seeing the large frame of Dustin Byfuglien moving to defense (AP photo)

Continuing the Thrashers GM added, “We moved him to forward because we had no size up front. Obviously, he proved to be a very effective forward but that doesn’t mean he’s not an effective defenseman. Ultimately, if [coach] Craig [Ramsay] says he doesn’t want to play him at defense, it’s unlikely he’ll play on defense. Truthfully, I want to see [him switch]. He can score. He can score 15 goals as a defenseman. He’s got one of the hardest shots in the game”.

The 6’-4” 257 lb …

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Could Stempniak be heading to Thrasherville?

Craig Custance informed us recently that Thrashers GM Rick Dudley has “touched base” with the agent of Lee Stempniak. The 27-year right wing is still an unsigned UFA who is coming off a three-year contract that paid a total old $7.5 million.

So, is this a “where there is smoke, there is fire” situation? I mean, why would Dudley & Co. let something like this leak out if there wasn’t not any “there” there? And certainly general managers “touch base” with agents all the time…right?

Lee Stempniak, seen here in action against the Nashville Predators, scored 28 goals last season (AP/Frederick Breedon)

Lee Stempniak, seen here in action against the Nashville Predators, scored 28 goals last season (AP/Frederick Breedon)

Adding some fuel to the flames of speculation is that the Thrashers are looking to replace the two-dozen or so goals that boarded a plane with with Maxim Afinogenov and flew off to Russia. So, it reasons that the 6’-0” 190 lb Stempniak could conceivably fill such a void.

Between Toronto and Phoenix last season he amassed 28 goals and 30 assists during a total of …

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There is more to the Blue Crew than meets the eye

They are there to welcome us as we enter Philips Arena, they greet us in the concourse, we see them on ice during time outs and fans are sent into a screaming frenzy at the thought of getting free Thrashers stuff from them during games. They are the ladies that make up the Atlanta Thrashers Blue Crew.

Donni Frazier is the coordinator for both the Blue Crew and the Hawks A-Town Dancers, and recently she invited me to spend some time with her and the Crew during one of their practice sessions at The Cooler in Alpharetta.

Donni grew up in Panama City, Florida and attended the University of Florida, graduating with a degree in telecommunications. Frazier worked for the athletic department at the University of Florida between 1996-2004. Then she was hired on by the A.S., L.L.C. and has been here ever since.

While we observed the proceedings from the bench, Donni explained to me just what they look for from a member of the Blue Crew when candidates come to audition for spots on the …

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Who would you put on Thrasherville’s Mt. Flushmore

Throughout the month of August Sean Leahy of Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy has invited bloggers, fans and writers of each NHL team to select four people that best define the face of their franchise and helped shaped its history. Those players, coaches and/or team executives would then have their images sculpted into and enshrined upon that team’s “Mt. Puckmore”.

Earlier in the week, Aaron Brown and Laura Astorian of Bird Watchers Anonymous guided us on a tour of Thrasherville’s Mt. Puckmore State Park. There they unveiled the images that they carved upon our mountain monument. Three players…Ilya Kovalchuk, Dan Snyder and Dany Heatley…were included as well as former GM and now team president Don Waddell.

The Kovy and Snyder selections are two that I would also have made. However, I would have chosen two others instead of Heatley and Waddell…Slava Kozlov and radio voice of the Thrashers Dan Kamal.

Kozlov played in 537 games as a Thrasher scoring 145 goals and 271 …

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What change to NHL rules would you be in favor of?

John Grigg recently posted his Top10 list of rules changes that changed hockey. Among them are the advent of video replay, icing and the mandatory wearing of helmets. Topping Grigg’s Top 10 list was the introduction of the forward pass in 1929.

Gotta admit…it’d be kinda tough to play/watch ice hockey without players being allowed to pass the puck up-ice.

As you can see, rules changes have been a part of the game pretty much since the game has been around. Recently, there were a number of rules changes that have shaped the NHL game in the post-lockout era. Two-line passing was permitted and players having to remain on the ice after icing the puck were two changes I personally like the most.

That stupid trapezoid behind the net, well, I don’t much care for that at all. If goalies have the skill and ability to play the puck in the corner, why take that away from them? Also, I still am not a big fan of the shootout. I just don’t like having the outcome of a team sport …

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Buff with Cup in Thrasher blue – Bad karma or good omen?

First off, I’m going to say up front that today’s topic probably is much ado about nothing…mountains vs. molehills and all that. But seeing that we are still in the middle of August – we are still awaiting the latest chapter in “As The Kovalchuk Turns” – it seems as though this summer’s version of the “Will Tomas Kaberle Be Traded?” game will end up like last year’s – and, let’s face it, we have just done possible Thrashers lineups to-freakin’-death…I figured what the heck.

Dustin Byfuglien sports his new Thrashers jersey while spending his day with the Stanley Cup (TwitPix/Ben Hankinson)

Dustin Byfuglien sports his new Thrashers jersey while spending his day with the Stanley Cup (TwitPix/Ben Hankinson)

Anywhoooo…have you seen these photos of Dustin Byfuglien spending his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Roseau, Minnee-SOH-Tah. His agent Ben Hankinson posted them recently via TwitPic.

Nice shots. But at first glance at these photographs, something just didn’t seem ’right’ to me.

An NHL player…with the Stanley Cup…wearing a Thrashers jersey.

If …

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Why are sports fans so…fanatical?

Sports fans, or more accurately stated…the sports fanatic. They came in all shapes and sizes, all backgrounds and differing walks of life. From those who stand shirtless and sporting body paint in sub-freezing weather at football games… to those who bang wildly on the glass in hockey arenas… to those who loyally only purchase products whose logos are affixed to the car of their favorite NASCAR driver… to soccer, (football), fans who’ll span the globe in support of their nation’s team…to those who simply gather at the local watering hole to enjoy the game and a beer with others…the sports fan is as much ingrained in human culture as any tradition, religion and ritual.

Sports fans will follow their favorite team anywhere. Here, Atlanta Thrashers fans travelled to Carolina for a game against the Hurricanes

Sports fans will follow their favorite team anywhere. Here, Atlanta Thrashers fans traveled to Carolina for a game against the Hurricanes (Stacy Garguilo)

So what is it about sports that will bring out such emotion, dedication and passion from otherwise “normal” people? I mean, let’s face …

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Kulda should be in Atlanta this fall, but who else would, could, should?

During the course of the summer we’ve occasionally paused to examine just where the Atlanta Thrashers roster stood. Since we last performed such a review, we have learned of three players that will definitely not return to the lineup. Clarke MacArthur and his $2.4 million arbitration award was given a one-way ticket out of Thrasherville . Maxim Afinogenov left for the KHL, taking his 24 goals & 61 points with him. And Todd White was traded and he took his…well…he took his milk carton to Broadway.

So with that, let’s once again see where the Thrashers are in regards to on-ice personnel. But this time, we’ll concentrate on which prospects might have the best chance to make the NHL squad this fall.

Barring any other transactions, Hainsey, Enstrom, Oduya, Bogosian, Sopel and Valabikshould man the defensive corps. But that leaves one more to provide a healthy scratch in the press box. Conventional wisdom would point to Arturs Kulda to fit the bill, though some will be …

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Thrashers ticket office getting flexible with fans

The puck will drop on a new Thrashers season in just under two months now, but there are already many in Thrasherville who are already hard at work preparing for this the eleventh NHL campaign. Among those already in mid-season form is the team’s ticket sales department.

One of the new features that has been rolled out recently is the Thrashers Flex Plan in which fans can not only purchase partial season ticket packages, but they can pick and choose the games they want to attend. It’s a plan that Thrashers VP Ticket Sales and Service Kyle Brunson believes will be very popular with the team’s fan base, especially given the fact that it was they who helped formulate the idea.

“Overwhelmingly we heard fans wanted to choose their own plans”, Kyle told me recently. “They didn’t want us to say ‘Here’s your seven games option, here’s your thirteen-game option’. So we listened and decided to give them the choice.”

The new Flex Plan has been available for a …

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