To say that Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian had a down year would be quite the understatement. In his third NHL season he seemed to have slumped in almost all aspects of his game.
Offensively he scored only 5 goals, down from the 10 of last year despite duplicating the same 155 shots on goal total. His 17 overall points were 2 fewer than what he put up in his rookie campaign even though he played in 24 more games now as opposed to then.
But it was on the defensive end of the ice where his game seemed to take an even greater step backwards from his first two NHL seasons. Bogosian finished the year with a –27 rating, which continues his downward tend in that category. In his rookie campaign he posted a +11 then followed it up with a –18 last season.
Of the 891 players who suited up for games this year, only four posted worse +/- numbers. Of those four, only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson averaged more time on ice than Bogosian’s 22:24 TOI.
All this, even though he did go eight consecutive games last fall where he did not record a negative rating.
One positive for Bogosian is that he found a way to stay out of the sin-bin this time around. After accruing 47 and 61 PIM during his first two seasons, he only spent 29 minutes in the box last year. There were 12 minor penalties whistled against him and he participated in one fight.
The exact cause of his off year has been the topic of many discussions here in the Thrasherville blogosphere. One theory has been the apparent conflict between Bogosian and associate coach John Torchetti, the man responsible for the team’s defensemen. And the inability to meet Torchetti’s expectations led to a string of three games where he watched the game from the comfort of the press box.
In this February article posted by ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside, head coach Craig Ramsay admitted Bogosian was experiencing some growing pains and indeed he was having a tough time living up to the coaching staff’s standards. But he doesn’t feel Bogosian was being treated unfairly.
“I don’t think that John is mean to him”, Ramsay explained. “I don’t think he’s overly vocal with him. I think John is just trying to do what he thinks is best for Zach and for everyone.”
“I trust John to pass on the appropriate information in the appropriate way. I think misunderstandings occurred that have been dealt with and I see nothing but good things”.
As for the relationship between player and coach, Bogosian was asked recently during the end-of-season media gathering if the problems with Torchetti could have had anything to do with his performance. In his response, the 6’-3” native of Massena, New York did not dismiss the friction between the two. But he also wasn’t quite ready to blame it all on the clash of personalities either.
”Yeah, it was a different feeling obviously”, Bogosian replied. “I had never had that done to me since at least juniors [but] it’s part of the game”.
”It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what that was”, he continued. “I mean there is a lot of things you could say about it, but it’s not something that I shoved into the closet and didn’t think about. But, it’s not something that I stressed over a lot either”.
“It was something that was there in your mind, but you try not to worry about it too much.”
Whatever problems he might be experiencing with Torchetti, Bogosian said he simply had to try and apply the lessons to his game and move forward. He said, “You just can’t look too much into it, work hard every day and hope for the best. That’s what I did and fortunately it worked out for the best during the last half of the year”.
“I think the second half of the year I skated a lot better than I have in the last couple of years. I definitely felt I had a good stride out there and used it to my advantage”.
But what’s done is done, and Bogosian knows there nothing that can be done about the season that’s now in the review mirror. Instead, he’s looking forward to the new campaign this fall and understands he needs to work on his game during the summer to prepare for it.
”I am just looking at going into the summer with the approach of being a better player. I want to be the best player that I can possibly be next year.”
Looking to improve upon this past season would do more than just put him back on track regarding his development, but can also affect his bank account. As well as celebrating his 22nd birthday next summer, Bogosian will also be looking to work out a new contract with the Thrashers as he’s scheduled to become a restricted free agent at that time.