I wonder if Vince Lombardi could have motivated this Thrashers team

Maybe you’ve already heard this, but there was this little football game played Sunday out in Arlington, Texas. It came complete with Roman numerals attached to it’s name, the Black Eyed Peas played during it’s one and only intermission after Christina Aguilera sang our National Anthem beforehand.

And she almost even got all the words right and in their correct order.

In the end, it was the Green Bay Packers getting the better of the Pittsburgh Steelers by the score of 31-25. As such, the Packers will return home with the trophy named after their great, late coach…Vince Lombardi.

As I watched the closing moments, my thoughts turned back to our hockey team and wondered if Lombardi…one of the greatest coaches and personalities in all of professional sports… would have had any words of advice and/or encouragement to offer up to the Thrashers were he still with us. They are struggling through some very difficult times and if there was ever anybody who might be able to properly motivate this squad, I’m sure he could have.

To the players themselves, Lombardi might remind these guys that, “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit”.

Too many times this winter we have witnessed a number of players in Thrasher blue mentally fold up their tents and break camp long before the final horn. This usually happens sometime in the mid-to-latter stages of the second period when faced with adverse situations. As such, all it takes is s bad goal or an ill-advised penalty to turn a 2-1 game into a 9-3 or 6-1 disaster.

Maybe these guys are of the mindset that they have to play a perfect game in order to win. Thus, when one mistake, miscue or bad break occurs…they allow that to become the beginning of the end. But, as Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”.

Chasing excellence. Now that’s a fine model to use as an example, I’d say. It sure beats the heck out of what they tend to chase now… forwards who just beat them with the puck while carrying it through the defensive zone. And if they did actually apply this to their work ethic, then maybe they’ll find out for themselves what Mr. Lombardi discovered so long ago, that “the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender”.

While other professional sports franchises are owned by those who show a burning spirit to win, the Thrashers are owned by the Atlanta Spirit, LLC (Curtis Compton)

While other professional sports franchises are owned by those who show a spirit to win, the Thrashers are owned by the Atlanta Spirit, LLC (Curtis Compton)

“Winning isn’t everything”, Lombardi also once said. “But the will to win is everything”. And if coach Craig Ramsay feels he has anyone on this squad that lacks such will, then they should never see the ice in a Thrashers uniform again.

Speaking of the good coach… Like Lombardi half a century ago with the Packers, it’s his duty to actually lead and motivate this Thrashers team. In the latter half of his first season as an NHL head coach, Ramsay seems to be having his share of difficulties getting 60 minutes of play from those suiting up for games and maybe some words of wisdom could be of help here as well.

”Coaches who can outline plays on a chalkboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate”, Lombardi opined. And I’m sure that’s true for coaches on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field as it is for the man behind the bench near the frozen ice of Philips Arena.

On more than one occasion, Ramsay has indicated that the biggest stick he has to get his players attention is ice time. You work hard and give full effort, then you play more minutes. Logic would dictate that the opposite is true as well. But given some of the recent mid-game surrenders, threatening to place them on the bench for more minutes than usual doesn’t seem netting the desired effect from some.

Coaches must be good motivators. And it’s a part of the job that I feel coach Ramsay needs to find a new sense of enthusiasm for if he’s to be successful at his job here. If not, then another quote by the former Packers coach could come into play.

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”.

To general manager Rick Dudley, I think the best piece of advice that he could draw from Vince Lombardi is “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have”.

Now, at face value, that might seem like I’m saying the Thrashers GM should expect this team to find it’s ay back to winning with the players currently on the roster. But that would not be less than correct.

In fact, it is painfully clear that even with the return of such key players like Toby Enstrom and Jim Slater, this Thrashers team needs some help. It’s the kind of help that can only come via a trade and Dudley simply must find a way to sure up the defense and bolster the offense.

But Dudley and Co. are limited in the fact that the current ownership is hardly the kind to open up the checkbook and give the man they’ve charged with icing a contending team the full means to do just that. Like the man who held the post before him, Dudley will have to find a way to make due with the resources availed to him…which is much akin to trying to dine at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on a Burger King budget.

Regardless, he simply must get the job done…and done to a degree far better than his predecessor.

Impossible, you say? I’d remind you of another phrase credited to Lombardi: ”We would accomplish more things if we did not think of them as impossible”.

And finally, as for the owners we in Thrasherville have been “blessed” with…maybe Lombardi could have dropped this little piece of 411 on their collective consciences.

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

See…the most aggravating part about being a Thrashers fan during the current reign of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, (Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt), is that they don’t seem to have entered into this business with the will to be winners. To any sports fan, that type of apathetic disposition is simply unacceptable.

After all, “If it doesn’t matter who wins and loses, then why do they keep score?”

Adding to the spirit of angst toward the ownership cluster is the info-bomb that was dropped on Thrasherville just last month. In the filing the paperwork for their latest legal excursion, they admitted that they have looked to sell…or to use their words, “dispose of”… the Thrashers for six years.

Of course, the only thing around here that needs to be disposed of and kicked to the curb is this out-of-touch, sue-happy cluster-flop of an ownership group. But I digress…

However, as long as they do hold the title to the Thrashers, I don’t think it’s too much for what’s left of the paying fan based they haven’t yet chased away to expect…no, demand…that they actually display an ounce of intestinal fortitude required to be in the professional sports business. They need to man-up now and allow Rick Dudley to make the upgrades needed for this playoff push…even if that means parting way with some of the money stashed aside for their lawyers.

I know that runs counter to what the Spiriteers seem to think professional sports franchises are purchased for, buying and then quickly flipping them for a quick profit. But hockey fans…like basketball, baseball and football fans… all share the belief that sports are played to win. And owners who lack the testicular fortitude to do whatever is required to see to it their teams are winners need to find something else to invest in.

Deal with that, Mr. Levenson.

By: Bill Tiller – AJC.com Thrashers Fan Blog

157 comments Add your comment

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
4:58 pm

Smoothie – Actually, I think they are putting lipstick on Modin, since he plays like a wuss.

Cliff Fletcher

February 7th, 2011
5:04 pm

even peverly’s name is coming up in trade rumors, creditable ones too. you wonder if the rumors will be motivating factors guys like pevs and hainsey. just don’t trade thorburn whatever you do-the guy is a hustler every shift.

glovesave29

February 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

No way do you get rid of Peverly. He’s a blue collar guy, the type this team desperately needs more of.

Still in on Kessel. The guy has the type of offensive prowess we need. Every league is littered with stories of guys that were failures on one team, then move on an have a nice career. Phil’s won the Masterton for his dedication to the sport. He’s only 23. And its not his fault that the Leafs overpaid to get him. He’s become the ire of the silly Leafs fans because of it. Burke is a pretty arrogant guy. He’d sooner dispose of the issue rather that constantly be lambasted in the press. I can see him letting him go for less. Phil may do well in a “non traditional” market. Some players thrive being the center of all of the attention – and some do not. Players have lives outside of the sport – and I am sure they appreciate going to the mall or out to dinner without being overrrun by fans.

ThrasherTim

February 7th, 2011
5:13 pm

Why all the hand-wringing? We moved closer to the 7th place Rangers with the point we picked up Saturday night. We are “moving in the right direction”.

LAC

February 7th, 2011
5:15 pm

Look at the Thrashers this way… If you owned a car made by brand X and you had problem
after problem with it, traded it in and got another brand X car and had more and more problems, Would you continue to buy/support brand X ? NO. The Thrashers are the same way in retrospect.

Year after year they break down, yearly, just look at the record. After awhile, you have to say, Why does the company/ownership, fix the mold and make this product work ?

This ownership does NOT deserve any support, They have ALL lied to the Hockey fans in Atlanta, They have LIED to The NHL and they have lied in Court I am positive of that. They have lied so much they do not know where the truth ends and the stories begin.

Everyone has the right of choice, Men & Women have died to protect that right in the U.S.A.
It is the right of every hockey fan here to go or not go to games. I had season tickets for the firest seven years, until the little liars started really screwing it up and now I choose not to go, because of them, NOT the team.

Which leads to the continued purchase of a brand X car, look at it in context and think to yourself…

glovesave29

February 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

LAC – I think your comment is exactly the point everyone else here is trying to make. We all have our own budgets and decide how to spend our entertainment budget as we see fit. Where Sage is making all the enemies is constantly pointing out the obvious (that the ASG is a set of bumbling idiots) and for railing on those who choose to spend money to see NHL hockey. If my daughter gives me the doe-eyes and asks to go to a game and have a daddy – daughter date, I am not going to miss out on that opportunity just because I despise the ownership group.

Red Light

February 7th, 2011
5:59 pm

Going into tonight’s game, the Thrashers record during the months of January and February during the past five NHL seasons (2007-11) is 42-50-18.

Brendan

February 7th, 2011
7:05 pm

Red Light, so … what you’re saying is … league minimum-type budgets resulted in a 42-68 record for January and February for the Thrashers, for the past four years. Who, I ask you … WHO … would have possibly thought might happen.

Geez, I’ve never seen so many hands go immediately up in the air, out there in cyberspace. But I guess the real problem is … we need Toby and Slater back, right? ‘Cuz … dramatic pause … that would FIX everything. Wonderful.

I do appreciate Red Light’s presentation of research here. He does a great job. We take him for granted. Just out of curiosity, what are the Top 5 GM’s for playoff wins, since the lockout, in 2005? Gotta think Burke makes the list, just for those years in Anaheim, despite these past few in Toronto. I think, but am not entirely sure, that Toronto and Florida are the only teams, since the Lockout, not to make the playoffs.

Do we have a list, Red Light, of the teams that have made the playoffs EVERY YEAR since the lockout? Gotta think Detroit and San Jose are on that list. But who else?

Brendan

February 7th, 2011
7:10 pm

Thrashers-Maple Leafs is on CenterIce, channel 773, on Comcast.

Rightshot

February 7th, 2011
7:14 pm

Don’t have center ice, any place online I can watch the game. BTW, ATDHE.net got seized by the govt, so no go there.

D3

February 7th, 2011
7:21 pm

Great Job Bill! — Don’t get to peruse the site as much as I want to, but keep doing d@mn fine work my friend. Maybe they can break out of this mini-slump. Go Thrashers!

Red Light

February 7th, 2011
7:21 pm

Thanks Brendan. Gotta run but here’s what I found so far.

Detroit 19 straight playoff appearances
New Jersey 13 straight playoff appearances
San Jose 6 straight playoff appearances
Pittsburgh 4 straight playoff appearances

Curly

February 7th, 2011
7:48 pm

LAC

February 7th, 2011
7:53 pm

2-0 for The Good Guys after the first period, Buff on The Power Play !!!!!

Leafs looking more like the Loafs…. so far.

Got a kick out of the Toronto announcer, when the teams skated off, He said, “And after the first period, the Leafs trail The Atlanta FLAMES. 2-0.”

Hard to believe after 30 years in Canada this Canada announcer could tell these are not the Atlanta Flames… So Funny, But Wish it WAS true, Don’t You ?

Rightshot

February 7th, 2011
8:02 pm

Thanks Curly!

Puckhead

February 7th, 2011
8:16 pm

After blowing a 2 goal lead in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd period Vince might have killed everyone on the bench as a warning to those on the ice

LAC

February 7th, 2011
8:36 pm

Why in the heck can we NOT get the puck out of our zone ?

It has cost us tonight ????!!!!

Puckhead

February 7th, 2011
8:44 pm

A terrible period.

Tom Lysiak

February 7th, 2011
9:09 pm

I would make a copy of that give away for Buff’s agent. That nonchalance is unforgivable.

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
9:28 pm

The only good thing about tonight’s game is that it convinced me that we are sellers and not buyers. Mortgaging the future to prop up this team would be a disaster.

Can’t score
Can’t defend
Can’t get the stop when you need it anymore-Pavs is wore out
Kulda got his pocket picked for the 5th goal

Get what you can Dudley and start over, again

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
9:34 pm

My plan looks better as each game passes.

Put a fork in this season. Dudley waited TOO long to address the shortcomings.

How about another Groundhog Day Blog?

Curly

February 7th, 2011
9:35 pm

WBR – I believe that was Stapleton who was picked for the 5th goal. Kulda won his battle and got the puck to Stapleton. Stapleton was then stripped of the puck…. and Goal Leafs. Stapleton also took a bad hooking penalty which cost the Thrashers a goal as well. Not a good game for Timmy playing against his ex-team. Stapleton was traded to the Thrashers with Kubina for Exelby and Stuart.

Puckhead

February 7th, 2011
9:39 pm

Aaaaaaaaaaagh! The Thrashers are Like Bad Medicine – you know you shouldn’t care but you do and you end up grabbing for the medicine in a bottle. If medical marijuana was legal in Georgia. thrasher fans would qualify.

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
9:39 pm

Curly-Stapleton has no business being in the NHL. I would rather have Ex or Stuart

Joe Friday

February 7th, 2011
9:42 pm

This team is poorly coached. Ramsays inability to teach the guys how to play defensively is killing us. Wide open pond hockey every night. Only difference now from earlier this year is that Pavs is playing average now and was standing on his head earlier in the year keeping them in games.

There’s some good young core pieces here to build around, but Ramsays not an NHL head coach and we can see now why no one ever gave him the keys before. Get a new coach and pray we get someone local to buy this club or they’re gone. Problem is they’ve been looking for someone local for 6 years and no takers.

LAC

February 7th, 2011
9:42 pm

We are no one bit different than the John Anderson team of last season. We CANNOT play defense, CANNOT !Forget the defensemen headmanning the puck, the heck with it ! PLAY DEFENSE !!!!!!!!

They have scores 17 goals against us in 9 periods, 17 people. I now say if Stupid DUD dudley cannot do anything… RESIGN !!! You are NOT doing anything…. oh I forgot Eager for a fifth rounder, GREAT dudly THE DUD !

LAC

February 7th, 2011
9:44 pm

Right Joe Friday, 100% Correct !!!!

Tom

February 7th, 2011
9:47 pm

I am truly sick after this game. Can the Thrashers find a way to give away a game anymore???

If I was Pavelic I would go into the locker room and kick the Sh#t out of Buff. That turnover was criminal.

And how many times did we fail to clear the zone…

Craig Ramsay

February 7th, 2011
9:50 pm

In order to teach a team to win, you have to teach them how to lose first.

It took me a while to teach this team how to lose, but right now they are about as good as any in the league.

Buff-n-stuff

February 7th, 2011
9:50 pm

Rawhide, Brendan, World Be, Stroz – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE???

If there are not trades by tomorrow, this team is either out of money, moving to another city, or is just going nowhere.

We need new bodies in here tonight/tomorrow, to have 3 days of practice, before Friday’s game.

Uggghhhh…..

Curly

February 7th, 2011
9:50 pm

WBF – You’re right. Pavs looks like he’s worn out. Coach needs to start rotating Mason back into the lineup. Can’t hurt at this point.

Too many mistakes in this game. This really doesn’t look like an NHL team. I agree we should not be Buyers at the deadline, to mortgage the future to try and salvage this season. I think we are done.

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
9:52 pm

Tom – I know why Kari took up the bottle while goaltending for the Thrashers.

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
9:52 pm

Joe Friday, as much as it pains me I am forced to agree with your latest post. I have been alluding for weeks to the lack of changes in coaching, especially in-game. Tonight, a real good 1st period let way to the second period slumber which happens every game. So yes, I do agree with your contention that coaching really is the issue here.

LAC, Dudley has had leass than one year to fix what took 10 years to break. The issue here is no depth of talent and no money to build with. To put it plainly, your ass is up against the wall in this situation. The cupboard was bare when Dudley took over, poor drafting an development for 10 years. If I were Dudley I would identify the players that need to go and get something for them with 2 more long monthes to go before this agony is over.

Buff-n-stuff

February 7th, 2011
9:52 pm

Dare I say it – Trade Buff NOW, while we can get the mother-lode for him. He is not going to sign anyway…..

Chris16

February 7th, 2011
9:53 pm

This team is done I am done with this team. By the end of the season we should be behind the Devils.

Tom Lysiak

February 7th, 2011
9:56 pm

I have to say I am wondering about Ramsay too. I commented around the first of November that I thought he had gone about it a$$ backwards. He was such a defensive player, I just thought that would be the thrust of his teaching/coaching. Then, work on getting the puck in the net.

Thrash played great for six weeks and then they lost it. We have had some injuries, but who hasn’t? If Jimmy Slater makes that much of a difference, his agent needs to be on the phone right now. The team looks lost and has no confidence. 180 degrees from December, and I don’t mean fahrenheit.

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
9:57 pm

Warning this is a re-post from Sunday afternoon, but it applies even more now:

Although I realize this will be a rather unpopular assessment: Here it goes.

1) Unless this team is 100% healthy, which most teams never are, the Thrashers don’t have a playoff worthy roster.

2) So, a pragmatic approach would be go into all out SELL mode while the market is more favorable for the selling teams versus the buying teams.

3) Trade as many older players as possible for draft round picks, think Sopel.

4) Send Stapleton back to Chicago as he has NO upside.

5) Bring up Esposito, Machecek, and Postma to see what they can do at the NHL level.

6) Over the summer, use the accumulated draft picks as RFA offer sheet collateral and make RFA offer sheets pointed at the salary cap troubled teams.

7) Use the rookie call-ups, such as Esposito, Machecek, Kulda, and Postma as low cost trade bait to salary cap troubled teams over the summer.

It’s time to put the screws to the Wolves by pulling out as many possible NHL players as possible. It’s also time to put the screws to the other GMs that have painted themselves into a salary cap corner.

Things may be uglier for a few months, but then again as Thrashers fans, we are used to ugly.

And last, for the love of hockey, get Modin out of the line-up and put Boults back in.

Sage of Bluesland

February 7th, 2011
10:04 pm

Folks, I hate to break it to those who are ready to sell of all assets…Uh…We DON’T have that much that anyone else likely covets and will give anything meaningful for…

Sell? Sell WHAT?!

This franchise is an abomination. Always has been–always will be (with uncaring ownership and incompetent management).

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
10:10 pm

If you remember stroz, I agree with your post, even thought it was odd that you were totally serious for once. No NHL depth, you cannot last an entire season.

B. Thenet

February 7th, 2011
10:15 pm

R. Stroz: You speak like someone who doesn’t have to trick people into being season ticket holders next season.

Blowing this team up would be the death knell for the franchise. STH are at rock bottom after losing Kovy and coming up short last season. Management has said repeatedly that this was a playoff team last season, and a playoff team this season.

You have to look at this from a business perspective. You cannot lose for nearly decade straight, and keep selling people on “building a team”. At some point you have to start to turn the corner.

But I would agree on one thing, put Tim Stapleton on bus leaving town tomorrow. I can’t really figure out what his upside is. He can’t PK, so he takes a spot from someone who could. He can’t score. He is not a playmaker. Not a guy who can throw the body. Other than looking like a 14 year old, I really can’t identify why exactly Dudley signed him or why Ramsay keeps playing him.

Buff-n-stuff

February 7th, 2011
10:17 pm

Stroz – Well, scratch one thing off your list: “The Thrashers lost forward Fredrik Modin to an upper-body injury”

…sad to say, but that is good news.

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
10:25 pm

B. Thenet – The answer to your Stapleton question is simple:

The ASG is cheap…cheap…cheap…and so was Stapleton.

Besides, most STHs read the lawsuit and will not renew unless Ladd and/or Buff re-signs. FUBAS destroyed STH renewals two weeks ago with the “timeliness” of their lawsuit.

LAC

February 7th, 2011
10:26 pm

WBF, I realize that point, you are correct, However, he recently stated in an interview, He was Good at doing his job. I hate to say it, but if all you can get for Eager is a 5th rounder, then you are failing and failing BADLY !

I simply fail to understand why this team can’t and never has played solid defense ???????

Other teams do it, why not Atlanta. I would much rather have Cam Fowler on the blue line than Burmistrov at forward and we could have had him… Big up side, and Burmistrov…. Another in a never
ending line of LOST first rounder picks.

Either way, if dudley fails to improve the team within say, two weeks, at season’s end, he should resign and go back to Chicago or wherever the Hell he came from, He is looking like waddell junior…
OMG !

Cliff Fletcher

February 7th, 2011
10:26 pm

thenet-dudley signed stapleton because he plays cheap.

let’s face it bloggers, the only thing that is going to save this franchise now is if the league steps in and takes over. get the idiots out of the way and let the league right the ship as it did in phoenix. this is no longer a situation that can be solved from within, it is too far gone. no investors have stepped up in 6 years becuase nobody wants to do business with these guys. we know atlanta is a good hockey town, but the fan base can only take so much. we are not the kc royals or pittsburgh pirates because both teams won world series championships.

this franchise has done nothing in 11 seasons and yet people still show up. canadian media should salute atlanta fans for showing up at all, if they were honest.

R. Stroz

February 7th, 2011
10:26 pm

Rawhide – I triple dog dare you to repost the Groundhog Day blog.

LAC

February 7th, 2011
10:29 pm

Would SOMEBODY inform Mr.vivlimore we are NOT tied for 8th place, we are in 9th place…
All the more reason to replace him, constant mistakes, Just like the Thrashers….

Buff-n-stuff

February 7th, 2011
10:32 pm

Not Only have: “The Thrashers lost forward Fredrik Modin to an upper-body injury”…….but Stapleton was just seen boarding the trans-canadian railroad to Edmonton….

Puckhead

February 7th, 2011
10:33 pm

Sage I agree with your last post. Nooo I’ve gone to the dark side.

michael

February 7th, 2011
10:41 pm

adthe.net switched to adthenet.tv dont go to adthe.me its run by another group that i think puts spyware or something on your comp. some players looked lost to me tonight surprisingly bogo wasnt one of them I thought he and hainsey had great shutdown game. Buff seems extremely frustrated to the point of pushing himself too hard and making errors and sopel was just a slow turnover machine. seemed like at one point we started just rolling 2 lines in the 3rd as far as offense goes. stapleton and modin need to go big time, kudos to cormier on the blocked shot.

Thrashy Thrashy

February 7th, 2011
10:46 pm

The funny thing is that Dudley’s inaction helps us understand more about Waddell’s inaction. This is really about the ownership. As it stands, we have a lot of good young pieces in place on the team, but WE DO NOT HAVE OWNERS WHO ARE WILLING TO SIGN VETERANS (with a considerable amount of ability left, of course) WHO CAN GET THIS TEAM INTO THE PLAYOFFS.

That’s the problem. These bums will not do what it takes to win. Therefore, we have to rely on doing it on the cheap. That means draft picks and getting lucky with cheap free agent signings. I don’t blame Ramsay. I don’t blame Dudley. I blame Waddell, of course, but that’s more for being a stooge for so long now that any man with a backbone would have high-tailed it eons ago. Ultimately, it’s on ownership. If they don’t give a damn, the team will play like it doesn’t give a damn.