Wake up Thrasherville, I think I got something to say to you. It’s late September and…sing it with me… I really should be back at school.
Well…OK, maybe not me. Long gone are my days at Schmartazz University where as a young skull-full-of-mush I studied underwater fire prevention and was a proud member of the fraternity Ata Mun Pi.
Like so many of you, I learned so many life lessons on and just off campus. Among them, just what it is a lady wants in life…security. Yes, security is what women want. Or at least that’s what they would scream for anytime I approached one at an off-campus bar…”SECURITY!”
Uh-huh, blonde, brunet, red head…I don’t want to brag, but I was turned away by some of the best looking girls around. Just sayin’…
But while those days are just hazy memories for me now, we find ourselves again at that time of year when many youngsters gear up to begin their experience at institutions of higher learning. Some will be off to the campus of a major university and some off to a technical school.
And then there is the select group of young men preparing for a course in Advance Placement Ice Hockey at the Duluth campus of Thrasherville U. There, they will find Craig Ramsay waiting to school them in his way of playing the game. He’s made it clear that his main job here is to teach these players how to deal with situations on the ice and instill in them the skills required to properly perform their duties.
These skills are both of the physical variety as well as the cerebral.
For some, however, one brutal lesson that may be taught is the basic truth that, just as in life, sometimes hockey ain’t fair. In this instance, there is a good number of fine, outstanding young talent that will be on display during this 2010 training camp…numbers that, unfortunately, far exceed spots on the roster. This means that there’s certain to be a several who will fall just short of the cut.
I was thinking about those players Thursday as I was watching the final rookie 4 on 4 game. There were a few out there that are really exciting to watch and maybe…just maybe…they would have made some Thrashers teams of years past. But this fall, well…
For instance, take into account the following prospects: Patrice Cormier…Alex Burmistrov…Arturs Kulda…Spencer Machacek…Fredrik Pettersson…Paul Postma…Andrei Zubarev…and Angelo Esposito.
I’m sure there is an argument that can be made in favor of any one or group of these players making the team. However, there is enough quality on this team’s payroll already that could possibly keep most, if not all, of these guys down on the farm.
This is especially true on the blueline. With Dustin Byfuglien making the transition back to defense, one could imagine the Thrashers breaking camp with Hainsey, Oduya, Buff, Enstrom, Sopel, Bogosian and Valabikas Atlanta’s defensive corps. Maybe even Freddy Meyers steals a spot…shrugs…who knows?
Either way, this would keep a very strong candidate like Kulda on the outside looking in.
Up front, conventional wisdom would have such players as Antropov, Bergfors, Little, Peverley, Kane, Slater, Ladd, Eager, Thorburn and Boulton taking up ten forward line spots. Add in Freddy Modin, Patrick Rissmiller as well as Nigel Dawes, and the fight could narrow down to one last spot if the Thrashers opt to carry fourteen forwards. And that’s not even taking into account Enver Lisin who has been invited to camp on a professional tryout basis.
So as you can see, classes have filled up quick prior to the beginning of the semester.
All this prospect talent on campus naturally adds fuel to the belief that there could be a trade coming sometime between now and the dropping of the puck on October 8. For who and for what is anyone’s guess.
One could speculate that someone like Boris Valabik could be packaged with a prospect to bring in a top six forward… say on right wing. That would open up a spot for Kulda and help balance out Bergie, Kane and Ladd on the left side of our offensive lines. Maybe a trade for a center, moving Antropov out to the right wing could be in order.
Given either scenario, that would clear the path for Arturs Kulda to more easily make the squad.
I’ve felt all summer that Patrice Cormier was going to be on the team, and nothing during prospect camp or rookie camp caused me to reconsider that belief. But there’s some possible bad news for the 20-year old gritty forward. He took a shot off the foot in the closing minutes of the 4 on 4 rookie scrimmage Thursday while blocking a shot. He left the facility on crutches and X-ray results should be known sometime today.
How that turns out could have a lot to say about who breaks camp in a Thrashers jersey in about 20 days.
That’s right, just 20 days…and it all starts this weekend, Thrasherville. Training camp opens this weekend and the preseason begins Tuesday night. Three weeks from today is opening night.
Ah yes, it’s late September and I really should be back at…back at…well, back at Philips Arena.