The good, the un-good and the ugly of Thrashers 2010-11 season

Over the course of the next day or so I’ll be performing my annual spring chore of converting this on-line Thrashers forum into one where the NHL playoffs are the primary focus of discussion. But before I do, and before the recently wrapped-up season fades into a distant memory, let’s take time to review the good, the un-good and the ugly of the Thrashers season.

I’ve paired the ‘good’ and the un-good’ down to just a few, but I’m sure many of you will have others to add to each column. As for the most aesthetically unappealing aspect of this past Thrashers season…well, I think there is only one clear item worthy of that honor.

We’ll begin with…

The Good

Fantastic First Half: Speaking of distant memories…there was the good start that we witnessed here in Thrasherville last fall. Given the way things eventually tuned out it’s somewhat hard to believe that at one time this team was at one time 19-11-5 and sitting a top the Southeast Division. In fact, after 43 games played they had amasses 50 points and still held a playoff spot in the east.

Upon returning to the lineup in late October, Ondrej Pavelec was stealing games for us had had a record of 13-8-4 with a .935 SV% and 2.11 GAA on January 1. On the other end of the ice, Dustin Byfuglien led the team’s offensive production with 15 goals and 25 assists and was a +6 after 41 games played. Five of his goals were game-winners.

What happened after that? Well, we’ll get to that later.

Seen Enough to Want to Stay: Two key players on the Thrashers roster did not need to wait until their contracts expired before choosing to re-up for another tour of duty here. First was Byfuglien, who signed an extension back in January. It only took him half a season to come to the decision. However it only took a week and a half for the newly acquired Mark Stuart to ink a three-year deal after coming over via a trade with Boston.

These two signings could go a long way in stopping the Thrashers revolving door from spinning off its axis. Too many times in the past we’ve seen quality talent dart for the exit upon the first chance to do so.

Now…what happened just a day after Buff re-signed here? Well, we’ll get to that as well.

Other Good Honorable Mentions: I’ll also throw in here the play of captain Andrew Ladd, who led the team in overall scoring with 29 goals and 59 points… defenseman Toby Enstrom and his team-leading 41 assists…Ondrej Pavelec who finished the year with a .2.73 GAA, .914 SV% and 4 shutouts despite his 21-23-9 overall record…and Bryan Little who was a most-deserving recipient of this year’s Dan Snyder Award for the unsung hero.

The Un-Good

Second Half Slide: As well as things went in the first half of the season, that’s just how un-good things got after New Years. Since that high-water mark on Dec. 20, they then went 15-23-6 including a disastrous 2-8-2 month of February.

Multiple times the Thrashers found themselves in tight games in the middle of the second period only to let one play or goal deteriorate into a 9-3 or 6-1 route. Players quit in the middle of games and coach Ramsay failed too often to provide the right in-game adjustments…or deal with the opposing coach’s adjustments.

Too often they failed to follow up a big win with another solid effort. After a 1-0 victory over Washington prior to the All Star break, they retuned to drop a stink bomb on the ice during a 4-1 loss to an Islander team hovering around the bottom of the conference standings. It lead to a 0-3-1 slide before they registered a dramatic 3-2 win over the Rangers. However, four straight loses and a 1-6-1 skid followed that.

Finally, after defeating the Flyers in overtime late in the season, they found themselves needing a win in Buffalo to pull within 2 points of a playoff spot…but they were soundly defeated 8-2.

In the end, after winning the first two games of the second half of the season, they slumped to a 12-21-6 mark, finishing with the 6th worst record in the NHL.

Zach Bogosian: There really is no way to sugar coat this…Zach was simply a train wreck in this his third NHL season. The 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft finished the year at with an abysmal –27 rating, one that was unfortunately well deserved. After scoring 9 and 10 goals in his first two seasons, he produced but 5 in this most recent campaign.

His 17 points in 71 games played was 2 fewer than he produced in his rookie season, one that was limited to just 47 games due to injury.

To put it as kindly as I can, Bogosian looked lost for must of the year. Not only has he failed to improve on his play, he took a giant step backwards in his development.

Now, I do try to temper this with the fact that the kid has still yet to see his 21st birthday and since the departure of Mathieu Schneider hasn’t really had much of a mentor to help him out.

Hopefully the coaching staff can address Bogosian’s issues before next fall.

Power Outage: Atlanta scored a grand total of 223 goals this season, down from the 234 produced last year and 257 the year prior. It was only 7 goals better than the debacle of 2007-08.

The post-Kovalchuk era of the Thrashers history was predicated on a more balanced effort on the offensive side of the ice. However, for such a concept to work, you still need at least one or two players to score 30 or more goals.

Byfuglien and Ladd were the only ones to net 20 or more.

The Overall Record: If you would have ask me last fall what I would have thought about this team finishing with a 32-34-12 record, fourth in the SE and 12th overall in the east, I would have said it would classify as a failure. This is especially true given where they found themselves at the midpoint of the season.

A year ago John Anderson and his entire coaching staff were given pink slips after an 83-point showing primarily because GM Rick Dudley felt the team was good enough to compete for a playoff spot. The job didn’t get done and changes were made.

We now know that it will take a minimum of 5 years to make a return appearance to the postseason after the 4-game sweep in 2007. Following the epic FAIL of the following season, Mark Bradley ask then-GM Don Waddell if there was any hope that the Thrashers could rebound quickly. Waddell responded by pointing to the Flyers, who had turned a 56-point showing in 06-07 into a playoff effort the next year.

Given his Thrashers had finish with 76 points that year, Waddell pointed out, “So, we’re 20 points ahead of [the Flyers}”.

So how far are we ahead of them now, Don?

The Ugly

The Atlanta Spirit, LLC: Yes folks, the single most aesthetically challenged part of this 2010-11 Thrashers season is the cluster known as the AS, LLC, (Lies, Lawsuits and Contempt). They earn this honor because of the bomb they dropped on Thrasherville just one day after we learned Big Buff had signed a contract extension.

After years of sending Waddell out to deliver the lies about not wanting to sell the team, Michael Gearon finally came clean and admitted they had sought to do just that. Actually, that bit of 411 was revealed in the most-recent lawsuit involving the cluster-flop ownership group.

The Spirit Clowns took over this franchise 7 years ago when the team was experiencing their best days. They went into the lockout after a team-high 78-point season and came out after with a 90 and 97 point showing…and a playoff berth.

The next year on opening night, co-owner Rutherford Seydel took to the microphone and told a packed house in Philips Arena that he and his partners would do everything possible to bring a championship team to Atlanta.

Well, if you call running the team on a shoe-string budget, consistently icing a roster right at the league minimum in payroll, lying to the organization’s paying customers and alienating the fan base as “doing everything”…well then he’s followed through on that pledge quite nicely.

It’s been said you get out of something what you put in. Given what the Spiriteers have put into the team, it’s really now wonder why the Thrashers have continue to end up near the bottom of the standing over the last four years. And the second Thrasherville and the NHL is finally rid of the Great Octocluster, the better the franchise, its fan base and the league will be.

But until that day finally arrives, the AS, LLC will continue to be an ugly stain on this Thrashers organization.

127 comments Add your comment

Alan R.

April 12th, 2011
9:31 am

Not Blind – The real question, at this point, is this:

Did the Pens win because their bottom six is better than our top six, or because our guys couldn’t be arsed enough to give a damn?

I’d wager is more the latter than the former.

Cliff Fletcher

April 12th, 2011
9:34 am

stan////
you just earned your 2nd beer

KLS1

April 12th, 2011
9:42 am

No doubt we are a couple players away from having the talent to compete in the playoffs.

The good news is that there will be some addition thru subtraction of a couple players that did not contribute at an NHL level…fill in the blank with a name of your choice.

Lets hope Duds can upgrade at those moveable positions, if so and we can stay in town, there will be something to cheer for next year.

DWTOO

April 12th, 2011
9:43 am

Sunday was really anti-climatic. What started out as cautious optimism over the summer as we acquired Ladd, Buff, Sopel, and Eager. And with out fast start out of the gate about had us giddy. And then the crash of an over sugared eight year old and it’s business as usual Dec thru April.

Seems like the team started to tank when Slater got hurt and the announcement that the ASG wanted to sell the team all along. Know they’re supposed to be professionals, but, who wouldn’t be affected by that announcement. Going to work everyday amid speculation about the team’s future can’t help.

Well, time to start cheering on the Flyers.

Joe Friday

April 12th, 2011
9:54 am

“Did the Pens win because their bottom six is better than our top six, or because our guys couldn’t be arsed enough to give a damn?

I’d wager is more the latter than the former.”

Their bottom 6 are not better than our top 6, not by any stretch of the imagination. The explanation is quite simple, it’s coaching. They play a system that works and are motivated. We play Ramsay’s kinder gentler NHL style. Wonder if our boys all pitched in to get Coach a gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods and will present it to him today?

Tincup9

April 12th, 2011
9:54 am

The Good: NHL Hockey, there really is no substitute. Also, the games on TV in HD.

The Bad: Too many nights, only one NHL team hit the ice. The number of times this team quit was disgusting. Losing is one thing. Not showing up as a professional? Unacceptable. Complete lack of respect to the fans. And Bogo wondered aloud at one point why more fans weren’t attending.

The Ugly – the comment someone else made about Ramers ties. OMG, those were awful. Truly.

Smoothie

April 12th, 2011
10:02 am

Not Blind – I think it was more an indictment of Bogosian and Mason than anything else. Thought our forwards played well again against the Pens, but alas, they have trouble putting the biscuit in the basket. Too many puck settlers and hesitaters when it comes to shooting the bean. Gotta use the one-timer (have your stick ready!!) off cross-ice passes (although Wheeler was just too wide on his), not use an interminable wind-up (Oduya) and be stronger on the puck (Little) when I guy is trying to backcheck. Don’t know if it’s a mental thing with these guys or a skill thing. Combo of both I suppose. Other than Kennedy’s PPG, color me unimpressed. Mason was AWFUL.

Stop Yelling Knights

April 12th, 2011
10:26 am

WARD–You are right on–Why is this not a bigger issue?–I keep hearing the attitude of well its a tradition to yell “Knights” during the anthem and we can’t stop it so let’s just ignore it. I was born in Marietta and have lived in Georgia almost my whole life with a few years in SC. I’m proud to be southern. But unfortunately I think there is a redneck attitude of we yell Knights and we don’t care who doesn’t like it. IT’S DISRESPECTFUL TO OUR FLAG AND OUR PLAYERS!!!! I urge everyone if we have a season here next year, God willing, that everyone yell “THRASHERS!” when all the idiots are yelling Knights.

Alan R.

April 12th, 2011
10:50 am

Their bottom 6 are not better than our top 6, not by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s my point.

Alan R.

April 12th, 2011
10:55 am

But unfortunately I think there is a redneck attitude of we yell Knights and we don’t care who doesn’t like it. IT’S DISRESPECTFUL TO OUR FLAG AND OUR PLAYERS!!!!

Newsflash: Worse things happen in other cities. If you think this is the biggest problem surrounding this franchise and its fans, you haven’t been paying attention to:

a. The past seven years of horrible ownership;
b. The horrible mismanagement of assets;
c. The inept forces that have mismanaged said assets;
d. The need to rush our prospects into the NHL;
e. The absolute lack of any sort of marketing of this team in this city;
f. Those damn birds always going CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP outside Stroz’s window.

Let’s get our priorities straight, here. I’m not a fan of yelling KNIGHTS during the anthem either, but whining about the anthem during an ownership crisis is like whining about NPR during a budget crisis. Not important!

Tom

April 12th, 2011
10:57 am

Bogo decides not to play for Team USA. Do you think his confidence is so bad that he is scared to go against the best players and destroy his value even further at the Worlds?
That would be my humble guess.

Joe McGrath

April 12th, 2011
11:03 am

I wonder what Duds could get for Stewart, Oduya, Bogosian and a first round draft pick?

Smoothie

April 12th, 2011
11:07 am

Tom – spot on IMO. Awesome to think our former #3 pick has the confidence of a gawky, pimple-faced teenager at the prom. Goodness!

World Be Free

April 12th, 2011
11:12 am

Bogo confidence and his game are both a mess. Again, I am not blaming Bogosian for his current state, I blame the team that put him in this position to begin with. He needs to focus on building his game again, start with just playing defense and not worry about offense. I don’t care if he goes goalless in a full season, play sound defense and everything else will fall into place. He has nothing to build on these days.

BMF

April 12th, 2011
11:22 am

More random thoughts:
Our biggest trade assets are: Oduya, Hainsey (tough sell, big contract), Antropov (same thing), our 1st rd pick, and our cap space. We could use another scoring winger or centerman. Move Buff up to wing, we have the organizational depth at D to allow that, and I really think we’d get more out of Buff for our 5 year investment. He could always slide back to D if we have injuries and whatnot. I would not be disappointed if we trade for a legit #1 goalie, slide Pavelec back into a backup role, and buy out Mason’s remaining 1 year. Get Ladd to sign his contract! Re-sign Dvorak. Cut Stewart loose. How about an organized effort (led by team management and players) to stop yelling “KNIGHTS!” during the anthem. Dollar hot dogs before 1st puck drop of ALL home games. Less silly movie clips after goals.

BMF

April 12th, 2011
11:28 am

although I do crack up when they show the clip from “Raising Arizona” with Gale and Evelle driving the station wagon after they left Nathan Jr at the bank

forsty the snowman

April 12th, 2011
11:51 am

***No doubt we are a couple players away from having the talent to compete in the playoffs***

Did I miss something? Are we trading for Ryan Kesler and Alex Ovechkin? Maybe we are getting Crosby and Luongo? Unless we get 2 of the quality of these players we are alot further than 2 players away from the playoffs! This team is a real top line (including d men) and a legitimate goalie away from the playoffs, thats about 4-5 true top 6 players

On another note, the problem with development is that we have No solid veteran talent( guys who were studs when they were younger) to mentor our young guys. Anyone remember the immediate change in Coburns game when traded to the flyers?

Bogo needs a solid mentor, We need a veteran d man that can play here for 2 years with bogo and constantly teach him. Problem is nobody really good wants to play here

AtlFlamesFan

April 12th, 2011
12:02 pm

For awhile, I thought we actually outplayed the Pens. However, stupid plays lead to easy Pitt goals. At the beginning of the season, we found a way to win. After December, we found ways to lose.

Stop Yelling Knights

April 12th, 2011
12:04 pm

Alan R.- We all know about the ownership mess. What can we do about it besides boycotting hockey? I think most of us don’t want to do that. This is one thing that we do have control over.

ZAvalanche

April 12th, 2011
12:15 pm

WBF – I think most D-men need to play more in the style of Foote – ZBO needs to look at Foote’s tape from over the years and take some notes. Problem is that it is hard to find a player who doesn’t care about scoring and would rather wipe some forward’s face off the ice. Scoring is sexy, defending is not. The old-school defenders, Foote Lidstrom Chara, etc, are a rarity. But you know this.

I think ZBo will have a decent career. I also think that he is being coached wrong in the manner in which he is built to play. Everybody makes bad plays – everybody. But the biggest states, in my opinion, for a D are minutes played and +/-. By far. And his +/-, as we all know, sucked.

When are we going to get a D coach that can teach the players to make that “Bourque-esque” outlet pass? Our forwards are repeatedly forced to make a huge play to get through the neutral zone. Not even Ovy or Crosby can do that all the time. They must feel like they are alone out there.

Two more negatives then I will talk playoffs: our D don’t clear out the PFs and Centers in front of Pavs. His job is made that much more difficult than it should be. I believe he is solid keeper and must be frustrated as hell. Secondly, If you are going to teach the dump and chase then do it the right way. You don’t dump until you have a forward right at the blue line racing in. Doing it the way we usually do it is just giving the puck away – pure and simple. I really hope Thrashy picks up some good D in the off season and move Buffy to center.

I think Tampa can take a beat up Pens team. We know Malkin will be out, who knows about Sid but Tampa has one of the best front lines in Hockey. Tampa in 7.

If Vancouver is going to get upset it will happen with Chicago. THAT is going to be a good series I think. Pick – Vancouver in 6

Going to be a lot of bruises in the Sharks-Kings series, those teams play physical. Pick – Sharks in 6. Missing Kopitar is devastating for LA.

Rangers Caps – hmmm. This should be an obvious choice but if Lundqvist is on fire it will be scary for the Caps. And he is looking good. Pick – Caps in 5

Sorry Buffalo, the Philly is too big for you. Pick – Philly sweep.

Phoenix, I am so rooting for you but even without Zetterburg Detroit is going to mow you. This is what they do when it comes April. Pick – Det in 5

Ducks vs Preds. This is a hard one and I think there will be game 7 in this series. Ducks have the more experienced team, but I am hoping for an upset. If I had to bet the house I will take Ducks in 7.

Play some good golf Montreal. You are running into a buzz saw. Pick – Boston in 5.

ZAvalanche

April 12th, 2011
12:19 pm

Frosty – I really don’t think we need another O, we need a couple of solid D that can rock the PK and send in bombs from the point. D that can push the forwards around. Yup, they are hard to find.

Rawhide

April 12th, 2011
12:23 pm

We can now put the 2010-11 Thrashers season behind us and move forward into the NHL Playoffs.

So…what’s your first round predictions?

R. Stroz

April 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

Concerning the Knights issue, although I’m not one who yells “Knights,” the reason the behavior has persisted is solely due to the ineptitude of the current team president and former general manager to ice a team with heart and talent.

At the “shirts off the back ceremony” on Sunday, players such as Thorburn receive the loudest applause because they play with heart and passion. For the most part, the Thrashers teams have lacked heart, passion, and talent for eleven years. The one constant over that period of time is Don Waddell and low payrolls. When we have owners and management that consistently put a product on the ice, the “knights” issue will go away. Until then, the “Knights” issue is merely a symptom of the most pathetic ownership, management, player development, and scouting in the NHL over the last eleven years.

The yelling of “Knights” is a constant reminder to Don Waddell and the Spirit Clowns that they have sucked as stewards of the Thrasher organization.

R. Stroz

April 12th, 2011
12:25 pm

I’ve been ranalloed.

Old Time Hockey

April 12th, 2011
4:18 pm

You really think thats what the idiots screaming are thinking? Puhleeeez. I bet half the people yelling have no idea why, and the other half still think the Knights were great hockey team (was at every home game…it was piss poor hockey compared to even the worst NHL performance).

This team just needs to continue to move forward. Good young core. Build on it and add a few pieces. And a new training staff!

R. Stroz

April 17th, 2011
11:49 pm

Rawhide

April 20th, 2011
4:46 pm

R. Stroz – Nope.