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

World Be Free

February 7th, 2011
10:49 pm

LAC, let’s face, this is a bad situation for any general manager or coach to step into. I still feel the real issue with Dudley’s inability to improve the team is all about money. I do not see the commitment to get us above the minimum salary cap. Without the money, we are just the Pittsburgh Pirates or other clubs lacking the commitment. Toss in the lack of depth at the farm team, the inability to control the development of your players at the NHL and 10 bad seasons of drafting. Not an enviable position to be in as a GM and as you stated, he hasn’t been able to make a deal.

Sage-The Flyers were in a bad way a few seasons back and used the trading deadline to improve themselves and recover quickly. Teams have a tendency to overpay at the trade deadline and the Flyers took advantage of that. Now we all know we ARE NOT the Flyers as an organization. I think tonights 3 period performance defined our season and the team needs to look forward, embrace YOUR next 5 year plan hopefully with better results. But if any GM can’t spend about the cap floor, I doubt we can expect any better results. As bleak as a Buffalo winter day.

Brendan

February 7th, 2011
10:58 pm

Well, another 4-point swing in favor a team beneath us. Losses to the Islanders, Calgary, now Toronto, and an OTL to Carolina. What’s it add up to? 0-3-1 since the All-Star break.

Time for another “Onion New Network” update??? I think so. Let’s go to Brooke Alvarez on the set at ONN, take it away Brooke.

Brooke Alvarez: “Thank you, Brendan. We have a BREAKING NEWS story. Today is still AMAZINGLY not over yet. We’ll check back in on this story at midnight. In other EQUALLY SHOCKING NEWS, the Thrashers continue to FREE FALL in the standings, inching ever closer to the # 10 and # 11 slots in the standings. Our field reporter, Jane Carmichael is there, live on the scene, at Blueland with the latest. Jane?”

Jane Carmichael: “Thanks, Brooke. The arena here at Blueland is eerily silent, just like most games when the Thrashers play, in the midst of a prolonged losing streak.”

Brooke Alvarez: “Tell about about the wins and losses, Jane.”

Jane Carmichael: “Well, tonight, the Thrashers lost their 16th in the past 21 games. It’s still a streak that puts anything the Pittsburgh Pirates achieved this year to shame.”

Random Pirates fan: “Yeah, it’s true that we suck pretty bad. I mean, five wins in 25-30 games, is about our pace. But our ownership says, ‘we’re moving in the RIGHT direction.”

Jane Carmichael: “Yeah, but as Pirates fans, haven’t you been hearing that same sentiment from the Pirates ownership for the past 18-years running?”

Pirates fan: “Yeah, but THISSSS Year, unlike all the OTHER years, it’s TRUE that we’re moving in the right direction. It’s not just the same ol’ lies and spin.”

Jane Carmichael: “I see. So, do you have any advice for the fans of the Atlanta Thrashers hockey club?”

Pirates fan: “Well, since we’ve had losing seasons for the past 18 years in-a-row, what I can tell Thrasher fans is … you’re more than than half-way now, at 11 years without a playoff win. These next seven years will just fly by. You’ll be AMAZED at how quickly times passes when you TOTALLY DON’T CARE about what happens to your team. You find other things, hobbies. Kids come along, and then they need braces-n-stuff. Little league and ballerina classes, too. Don’t forget the cost of diapers in those EARLY years. You won’t even think TWICE about not going to games anymore.”

Jane Carmichael: “Wow. A vivid accounting, from a fan who knows. Back to you, Brooke.”

Brooke Alvarez: “Thanks, Jane. And remember, eyeliner can work wonders.”

Jane Carmichael slams down the microphone, screaming “That B1tch did not just GO THERE!!”

Brooke Alvarez: “I understand we have Bruce Levenson, part-owner of the Atlanta Thrashers, live on the ‘FACTZONE’ hotline. Welcome, Bruce. Any comment about the debacle that is the last 21 games for your team?”

Bruce Levenson: “Uhh, Brooke. Let me be clear, to borrow a phrase from President Obama, the Atlanta Thrahsers Hockey Club is having a FABULOUS season. Did you know that our cap situation is the ENVY of 28 General Managers in the league?”

Brooke Alvarez: “And will still be, in April right?”

Bruce Levenson: “You got that right, Brooke. We’ll still be $18 million under the cap in April. Maybe more, depending on what the league decided to do with the cap for the 2011-12 season. It’s conceivable that we’ll be $20 or more million under the cap next October.”

Brooke Alvarez: “Well, I’m sure Thrashers fans will be looking forward to that. It never stops being the same misery for them.”

Bruce Levenson: “Well, that’s our plan. We hate this team, its fans, and the NHL, in General. If the league opts for contraction during the next lockout, I’ll be sure to nominate our market for extinction.”

Brooke Alvarez: “A chilling thought for normally warm Atlanta. Thanks for dropping by the ‘FactZone.”

Bruce Levenson: “Any time, Brooke. God, you’re … you’re just sooo hot. Can I call you, again, sometime? How often do you get to Atlanta? Or even Boston?”

Brooke Alvarez: “Oh Bruce, if you’re gonna STALK me, better get in line. I’m the most stalked News anchor on Cable TV news today. It’s just part of being the greatest news anchor of ALL-TIME. And I thank you for your interest. Coming up next, some New England fishermen claim there’s at least some element of sport by fishing inside an aquarium. But they DEFINITELY feel that hunting a deer with MACHINE GUN is totally ‘unsportsmanlike.’ Stay tuned for more of the ‘FACTZONE.’ We’ll be right back.”

Smoothie

February 7th, 2011
11:58 pm

WBF – you know its bleak when you’re forced to have a late night “come to jesus” conversation with the bedeviling Sage! Time to get out the paper bags and become the Brown Paper Bag Brigade. Eff being the Brown Thrashers!

Good thing I’ve already started working on my golf swing!!

Cornbread

February 8th, 2011
12:02 am

OUCH! That one feels like a 2×4 across the back of the head.

I only saw the 3rd period and I saw 2 horrendous plays that absolutely can not happen in the 3rd period. Buff what the Hell man? You’re an All-Star and there was talk about you getting the Norris. All that talk is gone now. The only saving grace is you finally put one in after more than a month. Pavs you can’t take your mind off of it and relax for a split second until you know it’s gone. Stapleton I said a few days ago that you don’t hurt the team with and without the puck. You blew it tonight. You are quick. That’s the only thing you have going for you at this point. You have got to get the puck to Sopel quicker. He was there and you were too slow. It’s Sopel! He was ready before you were! Kulda if you want to stay in the NHL you better come off that wall a lot quicker. NHL defenders do not let forwards beat them to the net from the wall.

Bad Bad Mistakes late in the game, how does this happen? Tonight they were egregious. Pretty sad when Zach Bogosian is your best defenseman. And yes, once again, he played a great game. Starting to look like the mobile D-man of old. Toby Buff misses you Big Time. Get your heads out of your collective butts and start putting together some complete games that you are capable of.

Rawhide

February 8th, 2011
12:23 am

These Thrashers losses are getting harder and harder to swallow. But here’s a new blog for you all to chew on nonetheless…

Tasty turnovers in toronto continue Thrashers tumbling trend“.

R. Stroz

February 14th, 2011
8:15 am

Rawhide

February 14th, 2011
10:01 am

R. Stroz – Nope.