Tim Stapleton knows he has to keep proving himself

When Tim Stapleton reported to the Thrashers squad last fall he knew he had a chance to prove himself. But he also knows he cannot afford to take his playing days in the NHL for granted.

After 25 games played, things weren’t going quite as he’d hoped. He had zero goals and only one assists…a secondary helper on a Nik Antropov goal during an overtime loss to the Rangers in January. Then, late last month, the Atlanta Thrashers placed Stapleton on waivers.

But the 5’-9”, 185 pound native of Illinois didn’t hang his head about the situation. Instead, after going unclaimed by the other 29 teams, he just decided to play his best and see what happened.

Tim Stapleton understands he'll have to work hard to earn a spot on this roster again next season. But he likes the Thrashers future (Photo Michell Rivers)

Tim Stapleton understands he'll have to work hard to earn a spot on this roster again next season. But he likes the Thrashers future (Photo by Michell Rivers)

“I didn’t really blame anyone for that”, Stapleton told me recently regarding being waived. “I mean, it’s part of the business. If you had to look at my production, I was working hard but wasn’t really [producing].”

“It was kind of a situation where I just had to not worry about it”, he continued. “I was just kind of like, ‘OK, I’m going to play like I can play’ and that was the game I scored against Toronto.”

That goal tied the score at 2-2 late in the third period and the Thrashers went on to win 3-2 in overtime. Four games later, he’d double his goal production for the season with an OT winner in Carolina. Including those two tallies, he lit the lamp four times in a stretch of nine games. Prior to that time, he had all of three goals in 35 NHL games.

His scoring spurt helped the Thrashers to a record of 5-3-1 during that stretch. That’s the best string of games the team has experienced during the second half of this season, and for the time gave them another chance at a final postseason push.

Stapleton credits his run to more playing time and his teammates.

“I think I started playing a little bit more, and was kind of put in more of a scoring role, and just tried to take advantage of the opportunity”, he explained. “I was just put with some good players and was in the right place at the right time.”

One thing that’s always struck me about Stapleton is the fact that he works hard every shift. His lack of offensive numbers weren’t due to any lack of effort or hustle. And if there is one thing he clearly understands, it’s that his spot on the roster is anything short of a guarantee. So he plans to work hard to remain at this level.

“I do have another year [left on the current contract], and I’m going to treat it like I’m still trying to make the team”, Stapleton said. “The thing about this business is anyone can be replaced at any time, so it’s a situation where I’m going get in the best shape I can this summer, and come in [to training camp] and look at trying to make the team first, and just go from there.”

As for what he can do to help his cause in the mean time, that answer is very simple.

“Hopefully I can keep scoring”.

78 comments Add your comment

Zoomo

March 29th, 2011
9:08 am

Gotta like his attitude and perspective

World Be Free

March 29th, 2011
9:09 am

I was never a big Stapleton fan, until recently. But Timmy has been using his speed to create chances, he has little or no fear about going through the center of the ice and has shown the willingness to give his body to make a play. The kid goes to the net-always a good trait in my book.

AtlFlamesFan

March 29th, 2011
9:17 am

Great skater, great attitude, great hustler, good stick handler. But he does not possess an NHL caliber shot.

LAC

March 29th, 2011
9:49 am

Fast player who I have seen drive to the net a number of times, Now if Antropov would do that
he, like Stapleton, would be a player worth keeping next season. But we Really need a transfusion of NEW blood here in order to WIN !

Hoof Arted

March 29th, 2011
10:02 am

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy, Timm-ehhhhhhhhhhh!!!

Rawhide

March 29th, 2011
10:20 am

Just a quick reminder here that if you’re looking to go to either of the 2 remaining Thrashers home games you can still find some good deals on tickets.

Click —>HERE<-- and use promo code RAWHIDE.

DWTOO

March 29th, 2011
10:25 am

All those guys with million dollare skills and two dollar heads need to look at Stapleton. He, Chris T., and Slater work harder than anyone. Too bad they weren’t blessed with more skill.

Sherry Taylor

March 29th, 2011
10:30 am

I agree with you about Stapleton, I’ve always liked the way he plays, when he is on the ice (scoring or assisting or not) he is committed. He is not afraid to take a hit or make a hit, he skates as hard as he can and for as long as he can, he doesn’t stop or slow down, he goes until it is time to come off the ice, which is more than can be said about others. I’ve seen lots of people on this blog and others scream about getting rid of him, but I didn’t agree. A team needs those players who skate and hustle, who every shift, every second trying to make something happen. Even when it doesn’t at least they tried instead of banging the puck up ice and then stopping at mid-ice. Tim skates and chases and pounds. He’s a grunt player, and I like that. Not flashy, but that’s okay, a team doesn’t need a lot of flash.

TableHockey

March 29th, 2011
10:46 am

I wish Tiny Tim’s attitude would rub off on some of the other Thrashers players – he always gives it everything he’s got and leaves nothing on the ice.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
10:51 am

I’d take a Tim Stapleton over Anthony Stewart, Eric Boulton and Patrice Cormier every day and twice on Tuesdays. Kid is a hard worker, as many here have pointed out, but he is also a dynamic player whose speed can really exploit the other team. He uses his body relatively well despite being so diminutive and he is usually very good with his stick defensively. I’ve seen him emerge from dog piles with the puck on his stick countless times and I’ve never really felt “nervous” with Timmah on the ice. Now if we could just have him on a line with “Jimmah” and Ben Maxwell, I like our 4th line of the “future”.

Obviously, our biggest glaring need is another scoring winger. Ramsay would probably prefer a RW, but I think that shouldn’t matter as Evander Kane would be much more effective playing his off-wing and driving the middle on his forehand with speed; that should be the off-season plan. That opens it up for James van Riemsdyk to play LW. Suddenly, you have 2 lines on top that are relatively interchangeable (assuming Burmy can handle the burden of 2nd C mins). Let’s say for sake of argument that Burmy isn’t quite ready and Antro comes to camp skating on two good hips. I envision this as our line-up:

JvR – Little – Kaner

Ladd – Antro – Wheeler

3rd line?? ________ – Burmy – Thorburn?

Maxwell – Slater – Stapes

How would y’all fill out your bottom two lines? I reckon Cormier and Burmy will be fighting it out for the 3rd line C position, but I think Cormier has a long way to go. We need a Dvorak type guy with speed to the outside who can also kill penalties. In fact, 3rd line LW/C is where Peverley is suited to play effectively in the NHL. Is there another Peverley in UFA to replace Dvorak, who will probably want at least 3 years to even entertain the idea of coming back.

whaler8888

March 29th, 2011
10:53 am

Sorry to change subjects but I was curious if anyone else thinks Toby Enstrom is not anywhere near 100% since returning. I have to believe his hand is limiting his effectiveness. Having broken a small bone in my hand years ago I know it took me almost a year to really regain full strength and mobility.

hockeygoon79

March 29th, 2011
11:01 am

Nice of the Thrashers PR guys to give you some time with Stapes, RH. Your cred must be pretty high with them. Good for you.

I’ll agree that Timmy gives it all he has. I’ve admired his work ethic all season so I’m glad he’s getting some recognition. I sure wish everyone on this team would give 110% like he does. Maybe we’d still be in the thick of the playoff hunt right now.

But I seriously don’t know if his hustle and drive alone can keep him in the NHL. He’s the kind of player that I’m very comfortable with giving spot starts due to injuries, but 30+ games up at this level is just too much in my opinion.

That said, he’s got the right attitude it seems so maybe he can capitalize on the chance given him.

AtlFlamesFan

March 29th, 2011
11:02 am

Stewart is the opposite of Stapleton. He can shoot the puck, but cannot skate. His hustle is not always there. But his biggest problem is that he cannot catch a pass!

@Whaler888. You may be right. He certainly has coughed up the puck more often the latter part of the season. That never happened earlier in the year.

Gwinnett Fred

March 29th, 2011
11:10 am

Guess I know now why they were selling $180 premiere alternate jerseys for just $84 Sunday – they are to be discontinued.

Bought one anyway – too good of a deal to pass up.

Whaler – I’m on board with you, I don’t think Toby os close to 100%. He’s normally as agressive as it gets and haven’t seen that since his return. Understandable, but something that should be in the past next year.

My biggest question: It’s been a couple weeks since any talk of the 2-3 interested buyers. Is there a timeline as to when the paperwork is expected to be completed for them to take the next step in the possible purchase?

To be honest, that trumps any on-ice development for the rest of the year. We’ve all established that some money needs to be spent to at least come close to the minimum of the salary cap for us to take the next step – so the selling of the team to someone that gives a damn takes center stage in my books.

Getting free agents (that are really any good) will not come here right now. The first thing that will change that is new ownership.

It’s a trickle down situation, and I don’t want to have anything to do with what’s trickling from the ASG!

BethD

March 29th, 2011
11:16 am

After spending all of Casino Night at his blackjack table, 319D has turned into the Timmy cheering section. I’m so excited to see him progressing. Hopefully he can keep it up and be back on the roster next season. TIMMAY!

JB

March 29th, 2011
11:32 am

Stapleton is the new Kovy. Go Staplechuk.Rawhide missed you the other night both times you came by to chat with Michelle and I. Keep up the great articles and hope to see you athe the next home game.

moriler

March 29th, 2011
11:42 am

FlamesFan: hell, if that’s all that’s wrong with him, he can be TAUGHT how to shoot! We should be so lucky. :D

michael

March 29th, 2011
11:56 am

He reminds me of rudy a lot! Not a big guy but has one of the biggest hearts.

Jason

March 29th, 2011
12:05 pm

I think I told this story on here before, but I’ll tell it again. A friend of mine bought a gold-signed puck during the Valentine’s puck sale and the signature happened to be that of Tim Stapleton. He invited me and a couple of other friends to join him. I was giving him a bit of grief about getting a Stapleton signed puck, but away we went anyway.

He was one of the last guys out of the locker room that night to meet people, but I swear he stayed and talked with the four of us for 15 minutes. He seemed really genuinely interested in everything – what part of town we lived in, how long we’ve been fans, etc. I saw some players come in, say hi, get the picture taken and sign an autograph then go. For him to stay as long as he did and speak with us really meant a lot. I almost felt like telling him it was okay to go on, we understand.

I got a Crackberry picture taken with him. Every time he scores a goal, that becomes my Facebook profile picture for the day. Of all the professional athletes I’ve met, he’s now my favorite just strictly because of his attitude.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
12:17 pm

http://www.chicagowolves.com/multimedia/wolves-tv

Here’s some nice video of the Wolves last game if you’re one of the following:

a) longing to see XLB play hockey again (he’s the IceHogs captain btw)

b) wondering what Freddy P’s one-timer looks like (Stamkosesque)

c) curious to see what kind of hands Klingberg has on his 1st AHL goal

d) bored as hell at work and want something to watch at lunch

Enjoy!

World Be Free

March 29th, 2011
12:25 pm

Jason, yup alot of this game IS about attitude.

Glad you dedicated this blog post to Timmy Mr. Rawhide and I hope he takes the opportunity to read the impression he has left on fans this season. Good for him. I wish Stewart would charge the net with Stapleton’s enthusiasm. I have decided to rename #22 – “The Sloth”.

Smoothie – back on the JvR kick? Bogo for JvR and some other parts or Johnny for JvR straight up? Thorny is a 4th liner by skill. Watch for Dudley to make a move this summer, if he gets the $$$ to play with.

VOLinATL

March 29th, 2011
12:52 pm

You mean those ugly red sweaters are going away??? Hope so…now if we can just convince the Braves to get rid of their red jerseys that they don on Sundays, life would be good!

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
12:59 pm

WBF – no doubt my friend, how else will we get a young, scoring wing with 25-30 goal potential?? Free agents won’t come here and I doubt Dudley will have the money he needs this summer to do anything beyond re-sign his 3 critical RFA’s: Wheeler, Ladd and Maxwell, IMHO. I suppose Schremp will get a tender offer, but not sure he’s really in our plans beyond one season (he might wind up our 2nd line C to give Burmy another year to mature).

As for Bogosian, I would not be totally surprised to see Dudley trade him. Dudley did not draft him and should he be comfortable enough with Kulda’s development, and high enough on Postma’s potential down the road, Dudley may view him as the key bargaining chip in bringing in a good return via trade. JvR makes the most sense since he was a top 3 pick in 2007 (thus critics can’t decry that you gave up a #3 pick for something less as JvR was a #2) and Philly won’t have enough money to re-up him in all likelihood should they commit long-term to Ville Leino.

Philly’s defensive corps is getting a little long in the tooth and they may fancy Bogey as Pronger’s eventual replacement (although he has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath). Oduya actually fits Ramsay’s system as well as Bogosian and he doesn’t have an ego that would get in the way of playing a 3rd pairing role going forward. Also, if Dudley has already gone “all-in” on the Byfuglien deal, what does that say about Bogosian as a future top 2 D-man within our organization? I doubt we’ll see Bogey and Buff play together anytime soon as Ramsay seems to like having one righty and one lefty on the blueline. Plus, they haven’t played together very much save for an occasional PP shift.

Perhaps Bogey will grow into a very fine top 4 defenseman with offensive upside, but that’s not why he was drafted. He was drafted to be a #1. Ostensibly, we already have our right-handed #1 in Big Buff. JvR is closer to being a bona fide top 6 sniper than Bogey is to being a bona fide top 4 D-man. Thus, in light of the limited budget we’ll still have until any sale goes thru — not likely to happen till later this summer or early fall IMO — I feel as though Dudley will peruse as many options as possible and exhaust every avenue in trying to swing a deal for one Zach Bogosian that makes fiscal and hockey sense.

Rawhide

March 29th, 2011
1:04 pm

hockeygoon79 – I have indeed been very appreciative of the team affording me some access to the players from time to time. I’ll be posting a similar piece with Mark Stuart later in the week.

JB – Sorry to have missed you as well. But we’ll hook up next Friday. BTW, please let Michelle know how much I appreciate her hooking me up with these great pix.

WBF – Did your charming daughter inform you that she graced section 116 Sunday and sat right behind me? Yup…she was off of my right shoulder and Gwinnett Fred was just off my left.

You showin’ up for the Canes game next week?

DWTOO

March 29th, 2011
1:22 pm

Smoothie – Is JvR this year’s Patick Sharp? Last year you were all over scenarios where we acquired Sharp and now it’s JvR. Smile buddy – just pulling your chain. Still think you’d make a great whellin’ dealin’ GM.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
1:25 pm

Perhaps, and how many goals does Sharpy have??

Of course, he’s also a -infinity so defense went out the window!

Y’all should look at the list of UFA wingers and see how many are under the age of 30 (like 3 of ‘em) and then tell me who you’d want. Slim pickins indeed!

World Be Free

March 29th, 2011
1:25 pm

Rawhide-by the way she did mentioned she was in your section Sunday, sorry I missed the game. Had alot to do, just not enough time in the day these days. Carol and I will be in the house for the final 2 home games of the season.

Smoothie-I expect Dudley to make a big deal, wither at the draft or after July 1. Either Bogo or Oduya will be going somewhere. We are both JvR fans, though I am concerned he turns it down every once in awhile. I am aslo concerned about making Philly better for the next 10 seasons with Bogo’s potential. A Western Conference team may be a better place to make the deal, thought St. Louis and the Avs had the guts to pull a huge in-conference trade. Nice post my friend, as usual you hit some great points.

Rawhide

March 29th, 2011
1:54 pm

Interesting tweet here from C-Viv: “Being pointed out in Montreal that Ben Maxwell had more points in last game (1 goal, 1 assist) than his former team in their past 3 (zero).”

Anthony Stewart sits this one out again according to Vivlamore and Ben Wright says Opie gets the nod in goal tonight.

World Be Free

March 29th, 2011
2:56 pm

Great to see Stewart becoming familiar with the pine.

Tom Lysiak

March 29th, 2011
3:05 pm

He really should be getting familiar with the streets of Chicago….

Chuck

March 29th, 2011
3:20 pm

I just read a report that Sidney Crosby may return for the Pens this week, they say it will give him some games to get his legs back for the playoffs. Yup, I just checked, Pens play Thrashers in their last game of the season, Crosby should be flying by then.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
3:42 pm

Good, it will feel even better when we beat the Pens with Cindy in the line-up again. Kane will be on him like white on rice I bet.

ZAvalanche

March 29th, 2011
3:58 pm

Rawhide, any new news on a prospective buyer? Glad you could get some time with the players. Appreciate, as always, the blog.

Chuck

March 29th, 2011
4:01 pm

Still, check out his latest practice video, on http://www.87sidneycrosby.com, some of his drills are kind of neat. Its a youtube video, only 1:28 long…

Rawhide

March 29th, 2011
4:16 pm

Zavs – The only thing I know is that the prospective buyers are currently doing their due-diligence. C-Viv will break any news as things move forward.

World Be Free

March 29th, 2011
4:41 pm

Tom-or Gwinnett!

You wonder if Jimmy is going to make it back next season. Seems like this concussion was a doozy (medical term). Hope so, at least given Jimmy one more shot.

SomaAtl95

March 29th, 2011
4:49 pm

Hey Chuck, we all already saw the #87 love fest, on HBO. The best part was watching the Pens lose the game in all the glory that HBO cameras could provide.
Whats next? A Winnipeg citizen asking us to check out their local Chamber of Commerce? How about someone is Tampa saying that Martie St Loueee is more than allowed to stop the forward progress of a puck in a shootout and its still called a valid goal?
I think if we are going to watch anything it will be the sheer number of incorrect calls against and non calls for the NHL’s favorite teams. Most posters on the blog already have seen that and arent happy about it either…
Want to know who the NHL loves? Follow #NHL on twitter. They will post the same crap about the same 5 or 6 teams…. imagine that….

Tony C

March 29th, 2011
5:06 pm

BlueSpark

March 29th, 2011
5:10 pm

Smoothie – that Petterson one-timer was wicked.

Smoothie

March 29th, 2011
5:30 pm

BlueSpark – one has to wonder what might have happened had Freddy P made the team over Dawes. Would Freddy have played well enough to not only justify the decision, but would he have kept Modin on the pine?

The team sure could have used his energy in February!

Thrashers27

March 29th, 2011
6:15 pm

I was just sitting here reflecting on the success this team had early in the season. I gotta tell you, it’s really fricken disappointing to be sitting here realizing that this team that showed such great potential is outside looking in.

WTF happened? How does a team turn from unstoppable to pffft?

ZAvalanche

March 29th, 2011
7:14 pm

Thrashers27 – I ask myself that same question every day regarding my 2 teams. Both had killer months and were just unbeatable. Injuries have hurt but I also think that the scouting by the other teams have figured out how to take us apart. There is no substitute for solid players.

Tom Lysiak

March 29th, 2011
8:25 pm

Two goals in 11 seconds. Does Pavs just lose concentration after giving one up or is it incredibly bad luck…..like 50 times this season?????

glovesave29

March 29th, 2011
8:28 pm

Organizational Depth.

We don’t have it. Until we do, we will not be able to overcome the inevitable injuries that come late in the season and maintain the momentum all to game 82 and beyond…

Reason number 45,602,109 to dump the Chicago Wolves

Rawhide

March 29th, 2011
9:26 pm

Tom Lysiak – That’s 7 times this year, I believe, that the Thrashers have given up 2 goals in under 40 seconds.

AtlFlamesFan

March 29th, 2011
9:47 pm

Anyone who does not believe that booing the refs should be convinced that it does have an effect on them after seeing the penalty call against Buff. What a joke.

glovesave29

March 29th, 2011
10:18 pm

Dunno AFF, not too sure the booing had anything to do with it. Think the refs saw the cut above Gill’s eye and realized they missed one.

Effort was there tonight, but all it does is tick me off that it was missing for 2 months and we pissed away a chance to play for something. At least the spring in Atlanta is nice to go out and play with the kids, makes it just a wee bit easier to take another spring without the playoffs.

oh well

March 29th, 2011
10:20 pm

Hope Hamilton or Quebec still wants these quitters following regular season. That stink job in Montreal may be the lowest of all Atlanta professional sports embarrassments. Man is that scraping the bottom of a truly rancid barrel. I am now officially a hater of pathetic Pavs. Two goals to a group which had not scored since Moses parted the Red Sea? In 11 seconds no less. Way to go sieve. No better than Kari Lehtonen. Heck. No better than Marshmallow Mason. Now that is sad. Going through motions by amateurs with birds on their fronts continued. These bums will not have to play out string much longer. Just pray that these uncaring lowlifes will be losing in some other distant location next season. What a total embarrassment. :(

kracker

March 29th, 2011
10:21 pm

Not that I am at all alone here but I am sick to death this season of giving up back-to-back goals in less that 20 or 30 seconds. Most of those games end up as Ls.

kracker

March 29th, 2011
10:24 pm

‘oh well’ – stuff it up your arse….you sound like the hater stendec, as a matter of fact the phrase ‘Marshmallow Mason’ was coined by stendec so you are probably him under an assumed name.