From the fall of 1999 to the final match of this past 2010-11 campaign, Dan Kamal has been in the radio broadcast booth helping to give voice to Atlanta Thrashers hockey. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with The Grand Kamlian about the team, coach Ramsay, what he remembers most from this past season as well as a few other things.
Not surprisingly, he tends to accentuate the positives.
“From the broadcast booth, I had one of my most enjoyable seasons ever, primarily because of the style of play the Thrashers employed under coach Ramsay and the effort with which they played”, he said. “The pace was up-tempo and often end-to-end, and even when they couldn’t find ways to win close games in the second half of the season, the effort and intensity were almost always beyond reproach.”
“It was a very fun team to watch on a game-by-game basis.”
Dan then pointed to the first two games after New Years…a 4-3 overtime win in Montreal followed by a 3-2 win in Florida…as the most memorable time during the season for him.
“To me the ‘high-point’ came in the first two games in January”, the native of Lawrence, Massachusetts recalled. “Following the theme of the first half, Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winning OT goal in Montreal on the afternoon of January 2nd. After the game, the team flew immediately to south Florida for a couple of days of R & R before facing the Panthers on January 5th. The Thrashers won that game as well, 3-2 in regulation”.
The reason he considers this as the “high-point” had to do not only with where the team found itself in the standings, 22-15-6 for 50 points after 43 games played, but also because of how they had handled themselves during a very tough stretch in the schedule. At the time things looked very promising for Thrasherville.
“To me, the most grueling part of the schedule was done, and the team was proving to be one of the biggest surprises in the NHL”.
“Unfortunately, injuries were starting to take their toll, and the team didn’t seem to have enough depth to withstand them. Atlanta lost 11 of the next 13 and never really recovered long enough to go on the kind of winning streak needed to stay among the playoff-bound teams”.
But as I stated above, Kamal prefers to keep his focus on the positive, and he’s excited about what can be built upon the foundation that was set last season. One of the reasons for this optimism is because of Craig Ramsay. He gives him high marks for the job he did as a first-year head coach, especially given the turnover in on-ice personnel last summer.
“With so many new faces in the locker room, a new GM, and a new coaching staff implementing a new system, coach Ramsay and his staff were able to quickly meld this team into one of the league’s most productive through the season’s first half. When you consider he and his staff will go into next training camp with so much more familiarity with everything about the franchise – and likely some new roster pieces that address depth issues – it should bode well for more consistent results next season.”
“Hopefully, that will translate into Atlanta’s second playoff appearance”.
As for his plans between now and the next time he takes to the airwaves to broadcast the next Thrashers game in Philips Arena, this summer’s activities will be quite similar to the previous eleven before it in Atlanta.
“My plans for the off-season are pretty much the same as always. Whenever my schedule allows, I’ll be attending events and meetings on behalf of our sales staff, community relations staff, and the radio network. I usually get a chance to emcee at a number of fun events every summer, and that’s something I really enjoy.”
He also looks forward to spending time with his son Chris, a goalie at the University of Alaska Anchorage. And as any proud father would, he’s always more than willing to provide updates on his play and progress.
“He’s coming off a very solid freshman season, during which he started 15 games, compiling a record of 9-5-1. In his final 10 starts, he went 8-2-0 with three shutouts – all on the road – two against the University of Minnesota and the other at Minnesota-Mankato”.
In fact, Chris Kamal won WCHA Rookie of the Week honors last winter for the 1-0 victory over the Golden Gophers.
Also, as father Dan points out, “His UAA team made the WCHA Final Five tournament for only the second time in school history”.
Finally…as for the fans back here in Atlanta, Dan Kamal has always enjoyed the support he gets from Thrashers fans and being able to interact with them after games and events. He looks forward to continuing this relationship for years to come.
“I’d just like to say thanks to our fans. I truly believe in this city as a hockey market, and it’s my interaction with fans that serves as the foundation of that belief. In my 12 years with the organization, I have found Thrashers fans to be particularly knowledgeable and passionate and especially gracious to me”.
“It’s been an honor to have met and spoken to so many of them”.