Bergfors learning Ramsay finds press box acoustics perfect for delivering message

There’s this hockey player that seems to have gone missing around Thrasherville. He’s Swedish…about 5’-11”, 190-pounds-ish…was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the 2005 draft…came to the Thrashers last February along with Johnny Oduya and Patrice Cormier in exchange for Anssi Salmela and…and…snapping fingers…oh yeah, Ilya Kovalchuk.

Maybe you’ve heard of him…dude goes by the name Niclas Bergfors.

Rumor has it he still is on the Thrashers roster, however his presence on the ice has been quite scarce of late. Since the 4-2 loss to the Avalanche back on December 10th, he’s suited up for all of one game in the past seven played. But in the one game he was allowed to participate in…the 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina…he spent all but 7:40 with his backside affixed to the bench and was limited to only a couple of his 11 shifts late in the game.

For the season, he’d been averaging over 14 minutes TOI and just under 19 shifts per game.

Because of this, there has been some speculation that he’s fallen out of favor with coach Craig Ramsay…even to the point that general manager Rick Dudley might be shopping the forward to interested teams. However, while it is clear he’s found himself in Rammer’s doghouse, I don’t think the team is about to give up on the kid anytime soon.

At the bottom of this Craig Custance piece that deals primarily with contract discussions with Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien…which in and of it’s self is good news…Dudley admits that he’s fielded calls from other GMs about Bergfors. But he also added, “We have assets but we’re not inclined to give people away”.

Nic Bergfors heard lots of cheers coming from the Thrashers fans last spring. Now his new coach is trying to get him to hear his message...and is more than willing to use the acoustics in the press box for it to be heard (AP Photo/John Amis)

Nic Bergfors heard lots of cheers coming from the Thrashers fans last spring. Now coach Ramsay is trying to get him to hear something else...specifically, the message he's trying to get through to the 23-year old forward. And the coach is more than willing to use the acoustics in the press box for that message to be heard (AP Photo/John Amis)

Taking those comments under consideration, one could get the impression that they aren’t looking to kick Bergie to the curb…not just yet, at least. But if Dudley and Co. are indeed intent on keeping him around, what then do we make of the lack of playing time?

Well, as I said before…it’s quite obvious he’s drawn Ramsay’s ire. And the good coach has made it clear that playing time is directly linked to effort and hustle. However, if you take into account his numbers of late, Bergfors isn’t suffering from the infamous sophomore slump. In fact, he’s “playing” at the same level he was last spring after coming to Atlanta. And as you’ll recall, that was a level that had us all singing the kid’s praises.

Consider the following…

Back then, Bergfors scored 8 goals and 9 assists in 27 games played with a –3 rating. Now, he has 7 goals, 11 assists and is a +1 in the same amount of games. That’s one more point and an improvement of +4 in the +/- column.

His 18 overall points in just 27 games are equal to those accumulated by Nik Antropov and Bryan Little. They’ve played in 35 and 30 games respectively. Plus, in his last game played before finding his way to the press box buffet for six of seven games he actually netted his seventh goal of the year. In his last eight games he has 2 goals, 2 assists and is a +2.

Also, Bergfors isn’t prone to taking silly penalties in games. For the year he has one minor to his credit, a holding call out in L.A. back on October 12 and the Kings didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

So as you can see…if viewed strictly from a statistical perspective… he’s not exactly dropping heaping, steaming piles if FAIL out there. So it has to be something more.

Based on a couple of conversations I had recently with a few individuals close to the team, what’s going on here is that coach Ramsay is trying to get Bergie’s attention…trying to drive home a point or two with the young forward. And he feels the acoustics found in the press box are just right for that message to come through loud and clear.

What’s the message, you ask? Well, among other things, the coach feels he’s not playing “tough” enough and not “battling” for pucks along the boards.

As to just what it is Ramsay is looking for from Bergfors, look no further than what he told Chris Vivlamore earlier this week about one of the players who is getting some of the playing time that Bergfors is missing…Tim Stapleton.

“Stapleton is very good without the puck. He’s going to score, but he’s been good defensively. He made a couple of solid plays the other night”, Ramsay said to the AJC’s fine Thrashers beat writer..

“The first game [Stapleton] played was in Washington and he ends up out against [Alexander] Ovechkin a couple times and got the job done. That helps a lot”, the Thrashers head coach went on to say. “ When you see that he participates defensively, you feel good about putting him out there.”

Ramsay then concluded his comments by saying, “The pucks along the wall, he wins the wall battle. He didn’t turn it over. You can see that if he can play along the walls, and he can play at any time against anybody, that’s a key issue.”

Playing hard on defense…battling along the boards…being smart off the puck…working hard even if you’re matched up against one of the premier players in the league. These are qualities Ramsay sees fit to use for a player like Tim Stapleton and is why he continues to use him… even though he has zero points to his name this season. It’s also fairly easy to read between the lines that these are exactly the same traits he feels Bergfors needs to display in his game.

How long will it take for Bergie to work his way out of the press box? I guess really that depends on how quickly his work ethic improves to his coach’s liking. But both Ramsay and the Thrashers have time to teach and mold the kid into the type of player they are looking for him to be.

And it appears they will give Bergfors ample time to receive the message in coach Ramsay’s own little sound booth…the press box.

70 comments Add your comment

HP Drifter

December 23rd, 2010
8:32 am

HP Drifter

December 23rd, 2010
8:33 am

Fools gold ! ;-)

waffleboy

December 23rd, 2010
8:49 am

Great post, Rawhide. You gotta love a coach that’s willing to try and help out Bergfors to the point that it may be costing the team a goal here or there. While Bergfors play offensively has been pretty good this year, I have to agree with your assessment that his game is not where Ramsay wants it to be. I hope the message gets through, because I think Bergfors has a ton of upside. When he plays responsibly, I think he can be a pretty solid two-way player in this league. Add that to the 20-30 goals he can contribute and you have a guy that will be in this league for a long time. I hope Bergfors realizes that and doesn’t pine away the press box.

HP Drifter

December 23rd, 2010
8:50 am

Bergie definitely has the scoring skills and hopefully he will accept Ramsay’s vision because others have been stepping up and he is stepping back. A full-time, focused Bergie would make the team even stronger. I have a feeling that there just might be a personality/chemistry issue with Bergie and the coach or team/players. Or possibly what Bergie offers is not what this team needs right now and some other element is needed so that leaves Bergie as odd man out.

Shawn@GSG

December 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

Rawhide – althought I don’t post frequently, I do read everyday and for that I thank you and wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. I’m thinking as long as the Thrashers continue to score at a good clip that we could see or “not see” Bergie for quite some time. Have you heard any reasons for Eager being “punished”?

Big Momma

December 23rd, 2010
8:59 am

How does Bergfors acknowledge “message received” if he doesn’t get in a game to show it and they don’t have time for practice? It may well be January before we see this kid again.

Brendan

December 23rd, 2010
9:02 am

Bergfors should play. But, I’m not the coach. And I have zero, with no threat of that figure escalating, professional victories to my credit. I didn’t want Byfuglien to play defense. He’s the team leader in almost every category.

To Nic Bergfors, stay the course, bro. You’ll get your time. And when you do, make the most of it.

Tincup9

December 23rd, 2010
9:18 am

Scores but is lazy on defense and doesn’t work on the walls. Sounds like the guy we sent to the Devils.

Rawhide

December 23rd, 2010
9:25 am

Shawn@GSG – Thank you and same to you and yours. As for Eager…I can’t speak directly to that as I have no real inside knowledge to it, but it seems obviouos that there is a ‘chemistry’ issue going on. I don’t know much more than that.

moriler

December 23rd, 2010
9:29 am

Tom Lysiak

December 23rd, 2010
9:30 am

I’m confident Dudley and Ramsay know how to handle players. They obviously see things in his game that most of us don’t see. They know what he can do, but he is not delivering. Sometimes these young guys stick with what got them to the “bigs”, and don’t accept any coaching. Ramsay is simply waiting for the kid to get the message. He may or may not, depends on his stubbornness and work ethic. Glad to see Dudley mentioned him in the list of players to sign and is not just going to take the best offer for him.

LAC

December 23rd, 2010
9:39 am

Glad the owners “WAR” is over. But the comment by drunk old bruce, of being, Get This…
“Proud” of what they have done here ?????? I’d hide under a BIG Rock if I ever came close to the disgusting way they have run these teams. They are an embarrassement to the city and The NHL,
and should sell ASAP to a respectable owner who will keep the team here and make it a WINNER,
something these Stupid Lying sprit clowns will NEVER be !!!!!!!

Tough game tonight, but Boston has not been tip top lately, Hope Mason is NOT in goal.

JLH

December 23rd, 2010
9:42 am

I trust Ramsay, but the one thing that bothers me about this situation is Bergfors comment that “the coaches have not talked to me” about the benching, about what he needs to do to be better. Is it Ramsay’s style to depend on a player to be smart enough and motivated enough to figure it out for himself? Or is Bergfors simply lying when he says this? I can’t say I understand the silent treatment, especially from a teaching coach like Ramsay.
………And, who else out there is willing to join me in the campaign to nominate Ramsay for the “Best Dressed Coach” award? Who shall we name the award after? Those ties are outrageous, but always with the perfect understated shirt, and he’s got a few flashy jackets too….. They remind me of his dead-pan humor style ……..

J-man

December 23rd, 2010
9:46 am

Stapleton is playing only 6-8 minutes most nights, maybe 10 if he is lucky. Ramsay is not using his 3rd and 4th lines much in recent games so whether Stapleton or Bergfors plays, at 10 or fewer minutes a game, they are not going to contribute much offensively. I have to say that this strategy works against Bergfors because Stapleton has that “just happy to be here at all” thing going for him and he’ll gladly do the grunt work for no offensive results. I like Bergfors but I’m just not seeing him as being happy or productive in a grinder role. If that’s all Ramsay can use him for, perhaps Dudley should be more open to the thought of trading him.

Good point by Big Momma. At some point this just becomes another NHL self-fulfilling prophecy where player X doesn’t play for some reason and he is never given the chance to show that the reason doesn’t apply any more.

Russian

December 23rd, 2010
9:56 am

Berg has to play. I liked Antro-Burmy-Eager line. Also I liked Berg-Pever-Ladd line. They do more attack than Modin and Tim. Tim is simple suck and he is AHL hockey. Modin is OK for 4 line. We lost Blues, because major plaeyrs were out of gas. Rammer did not use whole team. He played only 2 lines.
I hope Berg and Eager will play in Boston. Also I watched Burmy played lately. He did not get help from Tim and Modin. This line did not make any chemistry.

Steve

December 23rd, 2010
10:10 am

Tincup, I agree. Speaking of lazy. What about Antro?? He may be the slowest, lazyest, guy on the team. I may be missing something.

dwayne

December 23rd, 2010
10:14 am

Right on Russion. Burmy’s talent is being wasted on Simpleton and Slowdeen.

Rawhide

December 23rd, 2010
10:14 am

………And, who else out there is willing to join me in the campaign to nominate Ramsay for the “Best Dressed Coach” award? Who shall we name the award after? Those ties are outrageous, but always with the perfect understated shirt, and he’s got a few flashy jackets too….. They remind me of his dead-pan humor style ……..

JLH – How about the “Don Cherry Award”?

:lol: HAR-HAR-HAR-HAR-HAR-HARDY-HAR-HAR!! :lol:

dwayne

December 23rd, 2010
10:15 am

That’s the anti-Don Cherry award.

T

December 23rd, 2010
10:36 am

I would rather have bergfors play than Stapleton

Matt

December 23rd, 2010
10:47 am

Don Cherry is the Anti-Christ!!!

Russ

December 23rd, 2010
11:11 am

I certainly can’t complain about the decisions the coaching staff has made this season because the results speak for themself, but I don’t see a whole lot of difference between Bergie’s game and Little’s. Maybe I’m missing something, but those two seem pretty similar with Bergie being a little more of a shooter and Little a passer? So, I don’t understand why Bergie is in the doghouse. Oh well, the team has been playing well and hopefully will send us off to Chirstmas with a W over the Bruins tonight. GO THRASHERS!!!

Red Light

December 23rd, 2010
11:20 am

There isn’t one forward that won’t get his hands dirty in the corners and along the walls, and shows hustle and determination. Even Antropov will do it (although sometimes it doesn’t look like it) and I think that is THE reason Bergfors has been benched.

Comes down to work ethic. Ramsay must have plenty of evidence.

Nice piece Bill!

cousin Eddie

December 23rd, 2010
11:20 am

Rammer would look awesome in some Don Cherry outfits. That would complete the process of being an elite team. jk.
P.S.- I heard the other day the Boston Bruins have nominated Brian Burke for “GM of the Year”.

cousin Eddie

December 23rd, 2010
11:26 am

Holy cow! Devils fire coach. Ilya must be making decisions over there at the Rock.

Hockey Biltong

December 23rd, 2010
11:27 am

2 way playing is the key for this coach.You don’t have to wonder any more than that…

Dwayne

December 23rd, 2010
11:33 am

Here is what i think, coaches get together after a game, grade the players on certain criteria and Bergs and Eager sit. maybe it’s just that simple.

razorneck13

December 23rd, 2010
12:15 pm

I don’t really see what Ramsay sees I guess in so far as scoring production being outweighed by things like digging for pucks along the boards, but at this point I trust him. Dunno if Bergfors is slacking per se, but I’m clearly not as sharp as Rammers.

If Ramsay wants, no frills, intelligent, heart forward, grinding efforts, so be it, I can’t argue I dig that the most too. Regardless, I’d rather see Eagers and Bergfors in over Modin and Stapleton, seein’ as I can’t call either of the first two guys slackers, but I can describe the latter two as something like “fading in the twilight” and “not quite ready for prime time”.

razorneck13

December 23rd, 2010
12:21 pm

Having said that, I should expect Modin and/or Stapleon to score a hat trick and have a breakout year. That’d be fitting. Foot in mouth AGAIN!!! Welcome to another dimension.

LET’S GO THRASHERS!!!

razorneck13

December 23rd, 2010
12:22 pm

Having said that watch Modin or Stapleton have breakout years making me look silly, AGAIN!!!

Wayne stuck in AL

December 23rd, 2010
12:22 pm

Name the best dressed coach award after the late Roger Nielson.

razorneck13

December 23rd, 2010
12:23 pm

Sorry, AJC just tricked me up with duplicate post stuff.

Red Light

December 23rd, 2010
1:00 pm

OK, gentlemen. Here’s a question for you, and then an answer.

How many NHL forwards since the lockout have scored 25 goals or more, had an equal number or more assists than goals (25-plus) and also had 60 or more blocked shots in a single season?

The answer is 10, but I’ll bet you can’t name half of the players who have.

The results are pretty interesting and your own Rich Peverley has a chance to do it this season.

http://sportssoutheast.com/index.php/red-light-report/59-nhl/238-the-nhls-best-all-around-forwards

Michael

December 23rd, 2010
1:22 pm

If the team was underperforming, I could understand fans questioning Rammer’s lineup decisions. However, the team is one point out of first and playing really good hockey lately so why are there so many people complaining? The main point differential to look at is us and 9th place. The going back and forth with Washington and Tampa doesn’t mean much as long as we maintain a nice gap on 9th place.

Plus, we only see Bergie in games. Is he not working hard in practice? Could that be part of the reason he is being benched?

All I know is I am thrilled with this TEAM and believe we are headed in the right direction. If we continue to trust Rammer and Dudley, I’m pretty sure we will be headed back to the playoffs this year.

Dwayne

December 23rd, 2010
1:39 pm

Best dressed coach? Tom Landry?, Dick Nolan? Jimmy Duggan?

R. Stroz

December 23rd, 2010
2:00 pm

Kovy has turned into a Koach Killer.

Hoof Arted

December 23rd, 2010
2:21 pm

R Stroz, let’s see. First there was Fraser, then Hartley, then Anderson. Now MacLean.

Yes. Koach Killer.

Hoof Arted

December 23rd, 2010
2:23 pm

Seems the only man to ever head coach a team played on by Ilya Kovalchuk and not be fired is Don Waddell. Maybe we should send him up to New Jersey too.

jimbo

December 23rd, 2010
2:48 pm

Rawhide- you or someone posted a comment from Bergfors that he had no idea why he wasn’t playing and that the coaches had not said anything to him. Do we really have to rely on the silent treatment to get a message across. I’d much prefer a coach who spelled it out and exactly what someone had to do to improve their performance. This Banishment to the Press Box is childish.

Cornbread

December 23rd, 2010
3:25 pm

For those of you who can’t for the life of you figure out why Bergfors is not playing, read Rawhide’s post again. And Again! Everyone with an ounce of hockey sense knows why he’s sitting. If Bergfors – an NHL pro – can’t figure it out, he’s one of the senseless. Quit you whining Bergy. Anyone who has ever laced them up knows what you aren’t doing.

It is clear that Coach Ramsay will not have soft floaters on his team. This team is about battling hard for every inch of the ice and right now Stapleton and Modin are battling harder than Bergfors with and without the puck.

Hockey is more than just scoring goals. It’s about what you do when you are not on the attack and the puck is not on your stick. Battle hard and everyone scores more goals and keeps the other team from scoring. The Atlanta Thrashers just got rid of the biggest figure 8 floating goal scorers in the league. Ramsay and Dudley are not going to have another, especially one named Bergfors.

Golara

December 23rd, 2010
3:42 pm

This Bergfors situation is classic NHL politics. He was brought in by the previous regime, so he is not seen as a Ramsay-Dudley guy, nor is he an established player with the club. The other thing going against him is his contract situation, as the Thrashers will have some major problems locking up their star players while staying under the cap. If Bergfors plays regularly on the top 2 lines, he will probably finish with around 50-60 pts and his agent will be asking for big money. Right now he is a luxury player, a “nice to have” if you can sign him on the cheap, but not a priority for the club as they are doing quite nicely without him. This is why New Jersey included him in the trade (although they probably regret it now).

Dudley probably thought the other GMs would bite off his hand for Bergfors, but if a guy is rotting in the press box, NHL GMs will smell blood and will offer next to nothing, hoping to pick up a real steal. This just shows Dudley’s naivete as a GM (he does not exactly have a sparkling record in management as a coach or GM). Anyone knows that if you want to generate interest in a player, you have to showcase him to other teams by playing him, not leaving him in the press box. Bringing him back for one game and seven minutes of ice time is not exactly a promotional master stroke. And if you’re going to shop a guy, do it closer to the trade deadline when his value is higher and other clubs more desperate.

Additionally, the owner will not like the idea of paying good money for his players to be sitting in the press box, it’s not like the Thrashers are rolling in revenue. So they will eventually have to play him (which may not suit Ramsay) or trade him for less than they expected to get from him.

kracker

December 23rd, 2010
4:56 pm

waffleboy….You don’t live in Toronto, do you?

mike

December 23rd, 2010
5:07 pm

kovy also responsible for firing two coaches in Russia national team and bad feeling from fired coaches in Russia toward kovy for lazy behavior well known.

Joe Friday

December 23rd, 2010
5:20 pm

If Coach thinks it’s right for him to sit, fine by me, he’s earned my respect. IRWT.

Merry Christmas, all. Go Thrashers.

Badger Bob

December 23rd, 2010
6:57 pm

Can the Devils fire Kovy? I bet they wish they could!

Stellar write-up as usual, Rawhide. And great article, RL.

kracker

December 23rd, 2010
7:08 pm

Sole ownership of last place is on the line tonight at the Prudential Center. Lemaire returns to kick some Devil arses…too bad they can’t still end it in a tie!

kracker

December 23rd, 2010
7:36 pm

Buff needs to freakin stay on his point position!

kracker

December 23rd, 2010
7:50 pm

Islanders lead NJD 3-0 after the 1st.

Michael "the abbreviation"

December 23rd, 2010
7:57 pm

I dont buy into this crap at all play bergfors..if we lose tonight to boston im gonna b super pissed he wasnt in the lineup, again

Puckhead

December 23rd, 2010
8:20 pm

A disaster in the making at Boston. I was concerned the loss to St Louis was the start of a bad stretch. Boston in a must win situation, Thomas in goal and the schedule next week is not lined up well for a tired team.

Sunday’s game against Tampa is shaping up to be a must win.