Hold your applause: Bad teams do what Thrashers just did

Despite the Thrashers’ latest season of woe, there is their player of wow, which means there are several reasons to hug Ilya Kovalchuk. For one, he can score. For another, he can inspire.

Then you have that honesty thing. That was shown when Kovalchuk suggested during a recent chat after practice that anybody who knows a puck from a Zamboni should consider the Thrashers’ wonderful play during the last month or so as somewhat of a fraud.

Said Kovalchuk, the team captain and three-time All-Star, “Yeah, it’s a little bit different, because we’ve been playing with no pressure.”

He’s right. Near the end of seasons, good teams take bad teams lightly, and bad teams play loose. Then again, none of that applied to Saturday night at Philips Arena. The Thrashers spent their season finale against the Tampa Bay Lightning, so this was bad team against bad team. In fact, the Lightning was among just three NHL teams worse than the Thrashers.

The spirited evening featured a trio of fights, a 6-2 victory and a 35-41-6 final record for a Thrashers roster dominated by talented youth. Kovalchuk is the old-timer in that group, and he’s 25. In other words, you could make the case that the Thrashers’ sprint to goodness down the stretch with young faces bodes well for next year.

You also could do something wiser and proceed with caution. For instance: Are these the real Thrashers heading into next season, or are they just a tease along the way to ending next season out of the playoffs for what would be a ninth time in 10 tries as a franchise?

Don’t know. We do know that such late spurts by bad teams should be labeled suspicious until proved otherwise.

“We should have played the same way we’re playing now at the beginning of the year,” said Kovalchuk, whose team has evolved since then. Let’s start physically, with the subtractions of Erik Christensen and Jason Williams and the addition of Rich Peverley. You also had the Thrashers becoming more accustomed by the spring to the systems of John Anderson, a highly successful head coach in the minor leagues who nevertheless just finished his first season in charge of an NHL bunch.

Even so, Kovalchuk added more truth for a team that needs a defensive-minded defenseman and another superlative forward. Said Kovalchuk, “We need to make some changes, I think. We need to sign some good free agents and get our team really competitive for the playoffs. You see a team like Detroit. They’re competitive for the Stanley Cup. Two years ago, we made the playoffs, but we lost in the first round.”

The Thrashers were slaughtered back then in the first round. They were outscored a collective 17-6 by the New York Rangers during a sweep. But now, despite finishing 27th out 30 NHL teams, Kovalchuk claimed there is hope for those who still bother to show up to Blueland. “We have lots of young guys and lots of talent,” he said. “In a couple of years, maybe even next year, they’ll be better.”

Thus the problem with the Thrashers: It’s always “maybe” and “next year.”

26 comments Add your comment

Ken

April 12th, 2009
8:40 am

Terence, I usually disagree with you..but this time I concur..every year the Thrasher’s organization puts out a weak product and does nothing about it..DW’s so called 5 year plan was a joke…it’s been 10 years now DW…the horrible ownership in this town doesn’t help but DW and a few others have to go..

RMB

April 12th, 2009
7:45 am

While Mr. Moore makes some valid points just what is his experience with hockey? Does he attend games, does he know what a puck is, does he know who plays for the Thrashers besides Ilya, does he really care about the future of the Thrashers and the small but loyal group of Thrashers’fans? I don’t think so, while is he even given the job of editorizing about the Thrasers? He needs to write about the sport(s)he perhaps knows something about, whatever those might be?
The loyal fans say something from the Thrashers from the “All Star” break on, spirit from the team and hope for the fans.Apparently Moore thinks that we are stupid and don’t realize that what we say from Januar on might be a tease, then again, what we saw was players fighting for a job for next year. However this team is headed in the right direction and with a few competive and talented additions ( hey ASG are you playing attention!!) this team has the foundation to become competive and a posssible playoff team. So, Moore stick to whatever you know best, whatever that might be.

Brian

April 12th, 2009
3:01 am

Thank you for pointing out the obvious and making backhanded conclusions like you always do.

Tony C.

April 12th, 2009
12:45 am

Sorry, meant to capitalize the “T”

Tony C.

April 12th, 2009
12:44 am

Nice work terrence-Maybe you could do a 1-on-1 interview with our Captain sometime this summer????

Jeff

April 11th, 2009
11:35 pm

The biggest storyline during the offseason should be Kovalchuk’s contract. After next year, Kovy becomes an unrestricted FA. And the way things are now, there is every reason to expect his situation to turn out the same way as Marian Hossa’s contract year did. The Thrashers need to throw the kitchen sink at Kovalchuk. They will certainly need to overpay for his services in hopes that it will be enough to keep him here; and a contract somewhere in the Ovechkin range may be what it will take. Being that we have one of the lowest team payrolls in the NHL, the salary cap certainly would not be a concern.

If Kovalchuk doesn’t sign a new deal before the season starts and ends up being dealt at the trade deadline (or worse yet, not dealt at all), whatever is left of this Thrashers organization will go down the DRAIN the same way the Flames did.

Jeff

April 11th, 2009
11:24 pm

The biggest storyline during the offseason should be Kovalchuk’s contract. After next year, Kovy becomes an unrestricted FA. And the way things are now, there is every reason to expect his situation to turn out the same way as Marian Hossa’s contract year did. The Thrashers need to throw the kitchen sink at Kovalchuk. They will certainly need to overpay for his services in hopes that it will be enough to keep him here; and a contract somewhere in the Ovechkin range may be what it will take. Being that we have one of the lowest team payrolls in the NHL, the salary cap certainly would not be a concern.

If Kovalchuk doesn’t sign a new deal before the season starts and ends up being dealt at the trade deadline (or worse yet, not dealt at all), whatever is left of this Thrashers organization will go down the trade the same way the Flames did.

Big B CH 99

April 11th, 2009
10:48 pm

To move in the right direction, Waddell has to go. He’s had his time & has failed miserably. They will never really get any better until he’s gone. FIRE Waddell !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LAC

April 11th, 2009
10:41 pm

Our Playoffs & Stanley Cup Win will be Monday when don waddell is FIRED, THAT WILL be moving in the RIGHT DIRECTION !

Andrew

April 11th, 2009
10:33 pm

So all those teams fighting for playoff spots were taking us lightly? Terrence, we all know your job is to stir things up and create pessimism. We’ve had to deal with you with the other three teams, don’t come infesting the Thrashers section as well.