Thursday, July 31, 2008
Ryan Clowe, is a great player but is still rolling around the free agency market and I can only ask one question "What's Up?" I mean Clowe has gone through arbirtration and even though Doug Wilson has said the deal is pretty much done like dinner I've learned their has been a bunch of interest in the left wing.
You can call me a lunatic, but I've got a hunch that Ryan is already gone. I mean the Sharks only have 1.374 million cap space left and still have a handful of prospects to sign. Now something I know for real is that Clowe still hadn't picked the term of his new contract and I think why he's taking so long is cause another team is trying to poach him.
Could the Thrashers be a viable poacher?
If the Thrashers get Ryan Clowe I will cry rivers of joy.
For one, the guy is a Shark. More importantly, he scored 34 points in 58 games in 2006-07 and 8 points in 15 games in 2007-08. He got injured early in the regular season, but came back just in time to score 5 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs. He's a great skater, he has a good shot, and he does a lot of this:
Sign him and we probably won't need Vermette, but of course I wouldn't be against going after Vermette as well. Do work, DW.
Sigh. Where to begin?
Kincade is upset about the Hawks for some reason, mainly because that Josh Childress guy has gone to play in Greece and Josh Smith doesn't seem interested in staying. Eager to save his favorite basketball team, Kincade proposes a way to keep Smith: trade Ilya Kovalchuk. Now.
That way, you see, we get "maximum value" for a superstar. What what what?
The Hawks might get maximum value (this is actually quite debatable though), but the same couldn't be said for the Thrashers. Ilya Kovalchuk, it has be said again and again, IS the Thrashers.
It's something worse than ridiculous to compare the Czar, who happens to be one of the finest players in the NHL, with Josh Smith, who's merely a good NBA player. There's really no correlation between Smith and Kovalchuk. Almost as ridiculous as equating Kovalchuk to Smith is equating Kovalchuk to Marian Hossa.
Kincade is certain that the Czar "will walk the way of Marian Hossa" sooner or later. How did Kincade come to be so certain? Well, for one thing, he uses lots of capital letters and exclamation points. This contributes a lot to his argument. He also pats himself on the back for being as brave and forward-thinking as to recommend trading the Thrashers' star player, as if this half-baked notion is somehow original and unique to him.
But that's beside the point. The point, readers, is that the Hossa situation and the Czar situation can't be compared. Hossa came to Atlanta via trade; it was never "his" team. The Thrashers are Kovalchuk's team, and Kovalchuk is the Thrashers' one and only Czar. And no, I'm not confusing supporting an individual player with supporting a team. To have a team you must first have individual players--because teams are, like, composed of individual players--and we have one of the very best in the world. It would be insane to trade him...and what, exactly, would we be trading him for? Draft picks? Please.
It's true he hasn't explicitly said it, but Ilya Kovalchuk has made plenty of signals that 1) he thinks of the Thrashers as his team and of Atlanta as his home away from Mother Russia, 2) he wants to be the franchise player, and 3) he will sign a long and lucrative contract with the Thrashers a la Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
I've said it before, I'll say it etc. etc...When Ovechkin signed his contract with the Caps, the team was in third place in the Southeast, behind the Carolina Hurricanes and the terrible, hopeless, soon-to-be-Czarless Atlanta Thrashers.
Ovechkin is the Capitals. He wants to remain that way. I'm not certain, of course (that's one difference between me and the uber-confident Mr. Kincade), but I don't think it's unreasonable to think that Kovalchuk is the same vis-a-vis the Thrashers.
And by the way, too much has been read into his comments to Craig Custance at the end of last season. The Czar wants to see some changes, no doubt about it, but I don't think he was laying down an ultimatum (despite what I said at the time). Kovy was talking honestly and critically about the team, and Custance gave his comments a new, probably unintended context when he surrounded them with his own doom-mongering about the future.
But fearless truth-teller Kincade would be deaf to all this because he puts his head in things other than sand and wears things other than blinders, etc. etc. And he uses exclamation marks. Sometimes not just one but four or five in a row. That PROVES the man knows something.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Us, that is.
The speculative consensus is that Vermette will be asking for a Duckberg-style bin of loonies and toonies, and the speculative consensus says that Ottawa isn't about to give Vermette a Ron Hainsey-esque contract when they have Msrs. Heatley, Alfredsson, and Spezza to worry about. The word on the street is that Ottawa will trade Vermette for a "puck-moving defenseman." Vancouver could probably supply that (Kevin Bieksa), but I'm not sure about Columbus. And I'm not about to look it up.
Atlanta, of course, now has a few puck-moving defensemen in Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, and "Zach" the Bull "Bogosian." Do we give one of them up in return for Antoine Vermette?
No, of course not, you asshole. Why would we diminish our suddenly rich (and offensively talented) defense when it's been our single biggest problem for the entire history of the team? Dropping Enstrom for Vermette would leave us no better off than we were before. There is a way, of course, to keep Enstrom (and Hainsey, Bogosian, Nikulin, and whoever else) and get Vermette.
The Blueland Chronicle has been pushing this editorial position for weeks.
Ottawa's greatest lack--contra what Internet and media folk say--is NOT on defense but in goal. Martin Gerber is a back-up goalie, not a starter, and Ottawa is desperate for a talented, reasonably young starting goale.
Let's review the rumored Vermette trade partners: Columbus, Vancouver, Atlanta.
Could Columbus satisfy Ottawa's biggest need? Pascal Leclaire is an excellent young goalie, and Columbus is not about to part with him.
How about Van--ha. HA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...
We have Lehtonen. We have Pavelec. I think either trade scenario (Lehtonen for Vermette, Pavelec for Vermette) is completely plausible. Lehtonen is a proven NHL goalie, and a very good one, which is easy to forget if you base your evaluation of hockey solely on statistics. Pavelec, it's true, is younger and less experienced. But there are few people who seriously doubt Pavelec's ability, and I can imagine Ottawa being very interested in making him this year's Carey Price.
Your move, DW.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Now the New York Islanders, who are to hockey as Mel Brooks is to movies, may just be upping the ante. That's right, readers, this Wednesday GM Garth Snow (that's not the punch-line, just a laugh along the way) will sit down to interview another candidate for head coach. After hearing from such snoozer sure things as Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice, and John Tortarella, Snow finally gets to hear some novel ideas from none other than SCOTT "FLASH" GORDON!
Some of you newer Atlanta hockey fans may be scratching your heads right now as to why this is so funny. Some of you who were old enough to drink during Atlanta Knights games might also have fuzzy memories of this comedic wonder.
However, those of us who frequented the Omni during those days when the Tampa Bay Lightning weren't yet evil remember Scotty well. Shooter and I once watched Gordon, the Knights third string netminder at the time, decide to put on a little bit of a show for the crowd after making a routine collection of a dump in. Instead of simply passing the puck out to his defenseman in the neutral zone, Gordon decided to pretend he was a soccer goalie and DROP KICK THE PUCK.
Predictably, the puck arced beautifully right onto the tape of a forechecking opponent who was able to put the biscuit in the basket behind the badly out of position and off balance Scott Gordon.
It was understandable that Scotty was feeling a little lightheaded and giddy, though. After all, it wasn't that often he actually stopped the routine dump in from center ice. More than once his teammates had to hang their heads in shame as Gordon let a puck bounce through his legs at a screaming five miles per hour and into the net.
So it would be a perfect fit for the team run by Garth "the rules don't say I CAN'T wear roofing shingles on top of my pads" Snow; the same team who said "who needs Luongo when you can draft DiPietro number 1 in front of Heatley;" to hire ole Flash as their new head coach.
Go for it, fellas! I hope Leslie Nielson is available for an assistant spot!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
There are plenty of problems with the way the Thrashers and Hawks franchises are run, but they mostly have to do with the ownership. Not entirely to do with the ownership, but I find it pretty hard to disagree that the Spirit are the root cause of a lot of the Thrashers' woes. Don Waddell is just a highly visible scapegoat onto which Jeff Schultz and Scott Burnside unleash their resentment. I have no problem with a thorough and honest critique of the Thrashers' problems (I like to think that this blog does this every now and then, in a haphazard way), but Schultz's complaints rarely contain much more content than "I hate hockey. Get it out of Atlanta. Low standing last season...Don Waddell...something...perception...something...I-I want people to believe I know what I'm talking about..."
And working a dig at the Thrashers into a column otherwise totally concerned with the Hawks is just gratutitous.
You'll have to explore the AJC on your own if you want to read Our Jeff's latest emission. It's now the Chronicle's policy not to link to the excrement-farmer.
Also take a look at this. These were the power rankings last year at ESPN.
Also, it is my official position that all the possible trade talks make my head hurt. Here are your lines:
Czar Christensen Little
Kozlov White Williams
Perrin Reasoner Armstrong
Boulton Slater Stuart
With the usual supects rounding it out.
This takes the pressure off Little by putting him with very talented players. You put him as the 2nd line center and I think he may struggle. Put him on the first line wing and he doesn't have all the defensive responsibilities that go with the center position. I also think he would complement the Czar quite nicely on the far wing.
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Extras: Stuart, LaVallee, Larsen, etc.
Extras: Stuart, LaVallee, Larsen, etc.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Instead, the Boston Bruins have put Glen Murray on waivers.
No, I'm not suggesting we go after the man. He's creaking into an injury-ridden, low-scoring decline, and besides, I've convinced myself we're going to trade Todd White and some other players for Jonathan Cheechoo.
However, if somehow my Cheechoo/Marleau hopes are not realized, and if Mike Knuble stays in Philadelphia, and if Antoine Vermette and Maxim Afinogenov can't stand the sight of powder blue, I wouldn't be averse to signing him to a one-year contract. He is old, he is declining, but I think he could put up 20 goals and plenty of assists if 1) he manages to avoid injury, and 2) he plays on the same line as Slava Kozlov and Bryan Little. Even if Murray doesn't score at all, he might be a useful guide to Little; playing alongside two veterans with plenty of experience (is there any other kind?) might ground him and help him develop his game.
So if my Kovalchuk-Christensen-Cheechoo/Kozlov-Little-Williams scheme doesn't come to pass (and really, why wouldn't it?), I wouldn't weep if our lines were Kovalchuk-Christensen-Williams/Kozlov-Little-Murray.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Czar - Christensen - ?
Slava - Little - Williams
Perrin - Reasoner - Armstrong
Boulton - Slater - Thorburn
That leaves us with a huge question mark: what to do with Todd White? The man is clearly good enough to be a 2nd or 3rd line center, but I think it's obvious that we want those roles to be filled by Bryan Little and Marty Reasoner. I suppose he could take over the role of 4th line center, and I'm sure he'd do a fine job. But really, wouldn't it be better to offer Mr. White to, say, Philadelphia, in exchange for, say, Mike Knuble? Lots of Thrash fans have floated this idea, and the official editorial position of the Chronicle is whole-hearted assent. We think Knuble would make a fine addition to the Czar Line.
While we support going after Knuble, we must also propose an alternative.
The San Jose Sharks had a glut of mean and gritty third line forwards last year. Somehow they let the best (aside from Grier) of them, Patrick Rissmiller, get away to the New York Rangers via free agency. They're surely looking for a replacement, but so far no one has been signed or traded for. Are you thinking what we're thinking?
I know, I know. "Mean" and "gritty" aren't words that come to mind when we dream about Todd White either, but he IS a highly competent defensive forward, perfect for the third line. And really, Our Todd doesn't need to be mean or gritty when he's playing on the same line as Mike Grier and Jody Shelley. But the Sharks could just as easily have White play alongside Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski on the second line. To earn the hand of Our Todd, of course, the Sharks would have to give something up. What do we need?
A scoring right winger.
CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA
The Czar, Christensen, and Cheechoo. The Triple C Line.
We could throw in Jimmy Slater and a draft pick as well. I'd hate to see Jimmy go, but the Sharks might need him in the near future: sadly, Jeremy Roenick won't last forever.
White, Slater, and a draft pick might also be a reasonable price for Patrick Marleau. At the very least, he could center the second line to take the heat off of Bryan Little. In that situation our top two lines would look like this:
But I think Bryan Little is hungry and heat-ready, so if Don Waddell read this post and decided to take my advice and go after Patrick Marleau our lines would be:
Solid. And yes, Marleau is a deft winger. The man can play any and every forward position, probably ones that haven't even been invented yet. But the most sensible option might be to go after Jonathan Cheechoo first, so as to get the Triple C Line off the ground.
What really caught my eye was a quote from Marr about Ondrej Pavelec. According to Marr, "Don's (Waddell) plan is to have Ondrej playing somewhere this season. Whether it's with Atlanta or in the AHL, we'll have to see."
Plans to have Pav playing somewhere this season. Now, under the current status quo, that's not really an earth shattering statement. Right now, Kari is the number one in Atlanta, getting the lion's share of the playing time while Moose rides the pine and takes over when Squirrel needs a rest (maybe in some of those 15 back-to-back games in the Thrashers' schedule) or has an off night. Pav goes back to Chicago and plays most of the games there defending his Calder Cup championship.
But as John "Somebody Slap Me" Anderson told our own Big Shooter at the blogger roundtable, nothing is set in stone. Thrasher fans will recall that training camp can be a tumultuous time for netminders. Anybody recall Norm "Double Cheeseburger" Maracle showing up way overweight? There's little doubt that both Kari and Pav are destined to carry NHL teams as the top goalie. A battle for playing time between the two can only help the franchise, but the above quote from DW seems to indicate that the fight is not going to be played out with one of the two in net and the other on the bench. Moose is locked up for the near future with his new contract while Kari is only on the books for this season before he is reevaluated once again. Whose idea that was is up in the air. Some reports have Kari saying that he didn't feel like he deserved much in his new contract and maybe he wanted a short deal so he could push up his price tag before locking himself in for the long haul. Or maybe DW had a picture of Pav holding up the Calder Cup on his screensaver while talking to Kari's agent and thought twice about signing Kari to a large contract that would make him harder to move if it turns out he could provide more as a trade asset than a presence in the crease.
Again, this is all a faint whiff on the breeze. The ground won't start shaking until John "Mississippi Moon" Anderson gets a good look at all three of his goalies at the Ice Forum in September. It's a safe bet, though, that there's going to be some funny-talking fireworks as the Finn, the Czech, and the Swede showcase their puck stopping acrobatics in training camp.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
*I can't embed this video because the Universal Music Group are a bunch of repressive cockheads.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The Atlanta Thrashers have come to terms with forward Angelo Esposito on a multiple-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Montreal native has yet to appear in the NHL however he has enjoyed a solid junior career with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL with 96 goals and 150 assists in 173 games.
Wonder how long it'll take him to join us? There are few players who generate as much as controversy as this guy. He's polarizing, as they say on cable news: Some people think he'll be a superstar and some think he's going to be a huge bust. 96 goals and 150 assists in 173 games looks pretty good to me, but who knows? Maybe he really impressed at prospect camp.
Kozlov White Little
Perrin Reasoner Armstrong
Boulton Slater Stuart
This is as of right now. Hopefully there is another move or two to be made.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The way I see it, we now have four official centers (Erik Christensen, Bryan Little, Todd White, and Marty Reasoner), two potential centers ready to go if needed (Eric Perrin and Jason Williams), and one in the system (Angelo Esposito). Not bad, really.
CORRECTION: Jimmy Slater exists and is also a center.
ATLANTA THRASHERS 2008-09 NHL REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
(Home games in all caps. All times are Eastern Standard)
DAY DATE OPPONENT TIME (ET)
Fri. Oct. 10 WASHINGTON 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 11 @ Florida 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 14 MINNESOTA 7 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 16 NEW JERSEY 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 18 BUFFALO 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 21 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 24 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 25 @ Boston 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 28 PHILADELPHIA 7 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 30 @ NY Rangers 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 1 @ New Jersey 7 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 2 FLORIDA 5 p.m.
Thurs. Nov. 6 NY ISLANDERS 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 7 @ Buffalo 7 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 9 @ Carolina 5 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 14 CAROLINA 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 16 @ Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Thurs. Nov. 20 PITTSBURGH 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 22 COLUMBUS 7 p.m.
Tues. Nov. 25 @ Toronto 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 26 @ Washington 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 28 NASHVILLE 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 30 ST. LOUIS 3 p.m.
Tue. Dec. 2 @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 3 @ Ottawa 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 6 @ NY Islanders 7 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 10 NY RANGERS 7 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 12 BOSTON 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 13 @ Boston 7 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 16 @ Ottawa 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. Dec. 18 PITTSBURGH 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 20 TAMPA BAY 7 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 22 TORONTO 7 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 23 @ NY Islanders 7 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 26 CAROLINA 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 28 BOSTON 5 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 30 @ Toronto 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 31 @ Carolina 7 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 2 VANCOUVER 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 4 TAMPA BAY 5 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 6 @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
DAY DATE OPPONENT TIME (ET)
Thurs. Jan. 8 @ New Jersey 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 10 @ Florida 7 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 14 OTTAWA 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 16 TORONTO 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 17 @ Nashville 8 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 20 MONTREAL 7 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 21 @ Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 27 @ Dallas 8:30 p.m.
Thurs. Jan. 29 NY ISLANDERS 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 31 @ Carolina 7 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 3 @ NY Rangers 7 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 6 NEW JERSEY 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 8 PHILADELPHIA 3 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 10 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 11 CHICAGO 7 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 15 @ Anaheim 8 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 16 @ Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 19 @ Phoenix 9 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 21 @ San Jose 10:30 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 24 COLORADO 7 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 26 @ Washington 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 28 CAROLINA 7 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 3 FLORIDA 7 p.m.
Fri. Mar. 6 MONTREAL 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Mar. 8 CALGARY 3 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 10 @ Colorado 9 p.m.
Thurs. Mar. 12 @ Edmonton 9 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 14 @ Buffalo 7 p.m.
Mon. Mar. 16 WASHINGTON 7 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 17 @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Mar. 20 DETROIT 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 21 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 24 @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. Mar. 26 NY RANGERS 7 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 28 OTTAWA 7 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 1 BUFFALO 7 p.m.
Fri. Apr. 3 @ Florida 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Apr. 5 @ Washington 3 p.m.
Tues. Apr. 7 WASHINGTON 7 p.m.
Thurs. Apr. 9 FLORIDA 7 p.m.
Sat. Apr. 11 TAMPA BAY 7 p.m.
Kovy and Ovie, Bayou Boudreau and John "Chicken Truck" Anderson, and a chance to heckle Jose Theadore on opening night.
October 18, Philadelphia 7:00
While it's never risen to the level of a rivalry, the all-time Thrashers/Flyers series has had some epic battles.
November 20, Pittsburgh 7:00
For some reason, people get excited to see this Sidney kid play. I'm looking forward to cheering on Army and Crusher as they take on their former teammates, and Kari gets to show Fleury what a young phenom goalie is supposed to play like.
December 10, New York Rangers, 7:00
A chance to boo those bums who turned down our offers during free agency so they could play in the Madison Cube Garden.
December 20, Tampa Bay, 7:00
Barry Melrose's first appearance in Philips Arena as a coach, plus maybe the first opportunity for Bogo to plaster the Imp against the boards.
December 22, Toronto, 7:00
Time to unleash some hatred, then read TSN and the Toronto newspaper the next day to find out how unfairly John Anderson's boys stole the game.
January 2, Vancouver, 7:30
Come to the Bulb and see if you can figure out which conflicted individual is Mesieur Catologues, alternately cheering for the Thrashers and his beloved whale-men.
January 14, Ottawa, 7:30
January 20, Montreal, 7:00
"Parlez-vous you suck!?!?!?!?!?"
February 11, Chicago, 7:00
Atlanta vs. Chicago. The most talent under the age of 25 that you'll see in any game between any two teams in the NHL this season.
February 24, Colorado, 7:00
The Avs should be a lot of fun to watch this year. They are relying on Andrew Raycroft in net, so Kovy should have no problem putting up a hat trick.
March 8, Calgary, 3:00
Iginla, The Deion (his term, not mine), and Kipper in a matinee game. You'll probably be able to find the Chronicle staff at the Taco Mac afterwards watching the evening games.
March 20, Detroit, 7:30
Hossa and all things evil.
April 7, Washington, 7:00
The home stretch before the playoffs, and the Caps will he hoping to pick up some ground against the division leading Thrashers.
April 11, Tampa Bay, 7:00
The last regular season game, where Bogo uses the Imp as target practice to tune up before the playoffs!
A note: Bobby Holik's goal had nothing to do with Bobby Holik and everything to do with the Czar's masterful set-up.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Our position? The thing sounds fucking awesome. Not only will it be awesome, but we of the Chronicle intend to physically be there. Be there with Blackhawks jerseys, Al Capone fedoras, and layers upon layers of burning garbage to keep us warm against those dastardly Chicago winds. And Kanye West.
I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the one year deal.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Jason Williams is not Brian Rolston, nor is he Jason Smith or Brian Campbell. He is, however, a good fit for the Atlanta roster. For starters, he can play both right wing and center. This gives Coach Anderson some flexibility down the middle where he can juggle things around depending on how people pan out in training camp and can fill in gaps in case of injury down the stretch without making anyone play uncomfortably out of position.
I have to admit that I don't recall ever watching Williams play before, and was not familiar with him at all before this signing. Reviewing his numbers, however, he appears to be a very respectable forward who looked to have found the soring touch this past season before a sports hernia sidelined him for almost half the year. 36 points in 43 games is more than just respectable. And a 12.87% shooting average over that span shows that he knows when to shoot and when to pass to rack up those 23 assists.
All of that being said, Williams is not the final piece to the Thrashers 08-09 puzzle. He adds some roster depth, but it's middle management at best. The executive board room is still a lonely place for the Czar right now. If Little doesn't show the improvement we need from him by the end of training camp, then Williams can step into the third line center role, or if we are set down the middle, he can take a spot on the second or third line behind Perrin. (Like Coach Anderson, I fully expect EP to turn in a huge year.)
Speaking of Coach; the haste with which he informed Big Shooter that "nothing is set in stone" regarding the Thrashers goaltending situation leaves open the possibility that somebody might be on the trading block in order to bring us in some more help on the other end of the ice. I get the impression that Coach Anderson would have no problem with that, as his philosophy appears to be that we don't need to stop the puck if it stays in the other zone the whole game. I still like the idea of trying to move some assets toward a team that is in cap trouble in exchange for a relatively young, talented playmaker.
The Avs are in good shape right now as far as salary goes, but that could change once Joe Sakic decides to come back. And unless they haven't been paying attention to the Bruins and Maple Leafs over the past six years or so, they know that Andrew Raycroft isn't going to win them their next Stanley Cup. While Peter Budaj is a top notch backup (with a really fun name), he's doesn't look like a franchise starting goalie. Colorado has a good stable of young talent that they could send our way (Stastny, Svatos) and would love to have a goalie prospect like Pav or Kari.
Les merde-mangent Habs are in a similar situation. Their salary numbers are right under 50 million right now, but they're strutting around telling the world that it's a foregone conclusion that Mats Sundin will be donning le rouge, blanc, et bleu for 2008. If that happens, they're going to have make some room. Logic would state that someone who has been trained by the Montreal School of Acting Injured to Produce Powerplays would be a good fit out in Hollywood, but Chris Higgins might fit nicely into Atlanta's scheme if a prospect and draft pick could pry him away from the francophones. Montreal has a young netminding corps as it is, so Kari and Pav wouldn't appeal to them as much as some of our other prospects.
As I've said before, the Devils have no one waiting in the wings to take over once Martin Brodeur retires to start his own Jerry Springer style talk show in Quebec City. Gionta, Zubrus, or Parise would all stand to score 40 goals a year and put up 40-60 assists playing alongside the Czar.
Those are just a few of the possibilities, with the Flyers and Sharks both sitting on salary totals that have to be reduced. No word on the Flying Sharks, however, as they have been unsettlingly quiet during this offseason.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The Atlanta Thrashers have signed forward Jason Williams to a 1-year, $2.2 million contract, reports A-Channel in London.
The unrestricted free agent spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks and scored 13 goals, with 23 assists over his 43 games.
Williams missed 35 games with a sports hernia.
Dude's won a Stanley Cup. His Wikipedia information is here. He seems reasonably good when he's allowed to play a full 80-game season. His season last year was cut short by an injury, but I'm liking his 36 points in 43 games.
First of all, every thanks in the world to Ben Wright of the Blueland Blog and the forward-thinking staff up at the Ice Forum for inviting us along. All of them are First Class Human Beings. I'm still not entirely convinced I spoke to John Anderson yesterday; part of me is pretty certain it was all a dream.
It was tons of fun to meet our fellow Thrashers bloggers. I had a great time talking about (about many, many other things) the origins of the name "Tampa Bay Lightning" with Rawhide, indie music with the Falconer, and the evils of Jeff Schultz with Sean Grace of Blueland Roar. I met Hockey Wench and Rose Colette, two charming ladies of the Thrashers 411, and I'm ashamed to say that my first ever knowledge of the Thrashers Practice Blog was meeting its author in the flesh yesterday. Apologies, Sir, and know that you'll be linked to on the Chronicle from here on.
It's a shame Mrs. Lehtonen of Fire Wagon Hockey couldn't come. They really do need to build a supersonic railway between Atlanta and D.C.
Now then, comrades, on to the interview itself:
As Big Shooter said, it's impossible not to like John Anderson as soon as you meet him. Not only is he an exceedingly nice and courteous guy (and evidently over-generous with his time), but he talks about hockey with more intelligence and precision than just about anybody I've ever read or even watched on the CBC. The main point of this post, actually, is to draw attention to his precision. It should help the Thrashers immensely.
When a team has as shaky a year, and as catastrophic a collapse, as the Thrashers did last year it becomes easy to talk about them exclusively in generalities. For example, "The Thrashers suck." Or "No one wants to play in Atlanta; we must be awful." Or "We're not going to make the playoffs for another 18 years."
Talking to Anderson made me realize just how useless a lot of those generalities are, even if there's an element of truth in them. To get become "a better team" the Thrashers don't have to transform every last thing about themselves; Anderson pointed out that the team was in first place for a while last season, and that the way to become a better team is as simple (and as complex) as becoming a less streaky team. He said that instead of winning three games then losing three or four or five games, the Thrashers need to expand their winning streaks to five or six games. When they lose, say, two games in a row, Anderson thinks that they should be able to fix whatever's wrong and discontinue their losing streak immediately.
Since their streakiness is one of the team's biggest problems, Anderson will certainly turn things around if he can lessen it or eliminate it. Not that we won't still have losing streaks; he just wants them to be two games or, at the most, three games in a row.
Big Shooter asked Anderson about our defensive strategy. He pointed out that Anderson is known for his highly offensive style of play and wondered how he'd help the Thrashers avoid their previous condition of being out-shot by astronomical numbers every game. As the Shooter said: "It seems counter-productive to just let the other team shoot as much as they want."
Anderson said that the Thrashers have traditionally allowed far too wide a gap between their forwards and their D-men, that the defense has hung back too far down the ice, and that the best way to rememdy this would be to close the gap and make the defensemen part of the attack. I got the impression talking to Anderson that he wants every player on the Thrashers to become as big a goal-scorer as he can: he expects players like Eric Perrin and Bryan Little to have big years, and he said that he wants his D-men to be as much a part of the offense as the forwards. His reigning philosophy seems to be that the best defense is a relentless, explosive offense. His central defensive tactic is the wonderfully-named "mongoosing," in which a defenseman will break up the play of an opposing forward by, er, mongoosing him. Speaking of defense, Anderson said he's surprised at just how offensively talented Zach Bogosian has been in prospect camp. I would think a player like Bogo is ideally suited to Anderson's attack style.
I asked him if there were any players he hasn't worked with before (on the Wolves or in Thrashers development camp) that he's particularly excited about. I mentioned Erik Christensen specifically.
Anderson: "You know, I've been watching films of him and Colby Armstrong all day."
He thinks that both Army and Crusher are viable top six forwards. Christensen in particular seems to interest him because he's a talented center that was neglected and overshadowed on a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. There, he was overshadowed by centers like Crosby, Malkin, and Staal. Here, he has a chance to flourish and prove himself, and, as Anderson said, "become a big leader." He believes in the potential of both Armstrong and Christensen to become team leaders and skilled top six forwards, and I think he relates particularly well to them because he found himself in a situation similar to theirs when he was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. During Anderson's first few seasons with the Leafs he was pretty much overshadowed by stars like Lanny McDonald; when McDonald and co. got traded, he stepped into the role of a legitimate top six forward and scored thirty goals or more every season. He clearly understands players like Armstrong and Christensen because he relates to them: free from the overwhelming shadow of Sidney Crosby, Christensen could very well become a legitimate first line center for the Czar. And Armstrong, says Anderson, could become a real live team leader. Is it too presumptious to say that Anderson sees a little bit of himself in the two of them?
That was at least the impression I got.
Big Shooter mentioned something about our goal-tending situation, how we're "set" on goal-tending and such (meaning we have plenty of talent/trading options) and Anderson emphatically said "Nothing is set in stone." Very very interesting, I say. Does this mean someone is about to get traded?
Another interesting tidbit of relatively inside information: Anderson said that towards the end of last year, when the scenery was really collapsing, the locker room split off into two factions (led by whom, I wonder?). He thinks that the team needs to become united and determined again next season, and the best way to achieve that is to "make them believe in themselves again." Not an easy task, but not impossible either. Anderson said he didn't understand the gloom and hand-wringing over the Thrashers; as he said, "we're not that bad. The team was in first place at one point!"
Around the time the Thrashers were in first place, the future division champions were languishing in third. Much was said about the Washington Capitals yesterday, not least because his best friend Bruce Boudreau is coaching them. The Falconer pointed out that the parallels between the two teams are striking: both teams are young, both have an explosive Russian star, and they're coached by the likes of Bruce Boudreau and John Anderson. Anderson thinks the Caps are definitely the team to beat: "They're big, they're fast, and they're explosive." It would be amazing, wouldn't it, if the Southeast Division crown becomes a knock-down drag-out between the Caps and the Thrash? It'd be an exciting rivalry, but a friendly one given the friendship between Anderson and Boudreau, Kovalchuk and Ovechkin, Enstrom and Backstrom (apparently they went to a concert together the night before last season's All-Star Game). As for the over-hyped Tampa Bay Lightning Version 8.0, Anderson had this to say: "There's no way I'm gonna let Melrose get ahead of me in the standings." It's on!
There was quite a lot talked about generating more interest in hockey in the Atlanta area. The Thrashers organization has a rocky relationship with the AJC; some of the guys we met yesterday complained that our only daily newspaper does a miserable job of covering the work that several Thrashers do in the community: the out-reach programs of Havelid, Kovalchuk, and so on. Apparently there's one in development with Johan Hedberg. What should it be called? Moose's Minions?
The Falconer made a good point: if the folks who work for the Thrashers want something like these out-reach programs covered in the press, why not continue their embrace of the blogosphere and throw information our way?
Which brings me to my final point: I've got to hand it to the Thrashers for being open-minded enough to invite a troupe of bloggers to a long and expansive interview with the new head coach. This could be part of a much larger trend in sports coverage that mirrors the trends in politicial and cultural reporting: certain blogs become as read and as influential, if not more so, than traditional media like newspapers and magazines. Congrats to the Thrashers organization for realizing this and taking advantage of it. Again, I'm still not entirely convinced that I was given direct access to John Anderson yesterday. Did it actually happen?
I admit this is an unfocused and rambling post, but those of you craving more quotes from the man himself needn't fear. Shooter and I recorded the entire conversation, and if all those present consider it kosher, we'll upload the thing onto the Chronicle and let all of you listen in. If I get the go-ahead I'll upload it sometime in the next few days, and yes, I'll identify which voice is Big Shooter's and which one is mine.
A final note: briefly got to see Zach Bogosian play after the interview. The kid is money.
Morty will have a much more in depth post about this (he started this blog after all), but I wanted to give a few thoughts:
About .5 seconds after meeting John Anderson, you immediately like him. He came off as a very sincere, genuine person who seemed to really want to take the necessary time to answer our questions with the proper thought. He was very positive, and I think is just what the doctor ordered for our team.
Players will have the green light if they see open ice. As he put it, "if you are a forward and you see your defenseman step up in the play, stay back. It is not rocket science." Also he said we are going to be more aggressive on defense. It has been our strategy in the past to let the other team shoot, on purpose (did I mention we finished 28th last year?). So that will be a nice change.
The most important part of the interview (in my opinion anyway!) came after I complimented John on his handle bar mustache he had last year during the playoffs. He said he had one when he played a long time ago. He also said the great Lanny McDonald did not have a mustache originally (I thought he was born with one). After seeing John's, all of a sudden Lanny started growing his! Do we have a cool coach or what!!! For those of you who are not familiar with Lanny, he looks a little something like this...
All in all it was a great day. As I said, Morty will have much more on this a little later.
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Until then, enjoy:
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I will be doing a Coach's Corner Classic segment. Ah, but not yet. Just a little teaser. Why don't we start with a great moment from the career of one, Patrick Stefan. Let me first say that I supported Patty, and it is too bad his career turned out the way it did. But you can't help but laugh until you are blue at this clip. My favorite part is the commentary by Ray Ferraro. Classic... enjoy!!!!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
If we get Nikulin, we're set on defense.
In other news: Bogo is a beast.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Dare I say maybe we are set on the blueline? Dare I say we need more help at RW and maybe a 1-2 line center (not worried about EC, worried about Little)? Maybe the time is now to trade Pavelec or Kari (Maali, please continue to read our blog despite what you may perceive as blasphemy. ;-) Not saying we should trade him, but with as many needs as we have, I think one needs to go). DW could have been waiting to see how we did in free agency. And while we addressed one need, we certainly have holes to fill on the offensive side of the puck.
Maybe we wait to see where Demitra and a few others fall, but perhaps now is the time to cash in on one of our goalie chips.
Monday, July 7, 2008
We must admit we find all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media and fans over the amount of money spent during the first days of free agency a bit confusing.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the very fantasy of many hockey fans and observers, the constriction of the NHL's 30 franchises, came about as a direct result of the very system that was supposed to ensure the health of all 30 franchises?
League officials have quietly said the beauty of the cap is it creates a "survival of the fittest" environment. They were talking about the on-ice product, suggesting that with a narrow gap between what teams must spend to reach the floor ($40.7 million this coming season) and the ceiling ($56.7 million), only the best hockey people will succeed. But survival of the fittest might also extend to franchises themselves. If teams can't cut it, even with revenue sharing and cost certainty in place, they should be gone. Simple as that. Shut the doors and say good night, Irene.
Can't hack it in South Florida? See ya.
Made a hash of it in Atlanta? See y'all later.
Big Shooter: Kevin, Big Shooter with The Chronicle here. Got time for a question or two?
Lowe: No problem. Anything for our #1 Oilers fan in Georgia!
BS: You stated earlier that Brian Burke is a moron. Everyone at The Chronicle agrees with you (laughter). What we want to know is, just how big of a moron is he?
BS: Always good for a laugh Kevin! Give Mac T our best.
Lowe: No problem. I read your stuff all the time. You boys at The Chronicle keep up the wonderful work! Best Thrashers/Oilers/Sharks blog around. God Bless...
And just to show that we report both sides of the story here at The Chronicle, I caught up with Brian Burke at his annual Fan Club party. He had no comment, but I was able to snap a picture before security threw me out:
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
Yes, he's defenseman Kyle McLaren, you may remember him from such dirty hits as "elbow to the face of Richard Zednik" in the 2002 playoffs. With that hit, McLaren put Zednik out for two rounds of the playoffs, got Mac himself a three game suspension, and incurred the wrath of every Francophile in Quebec.
The next year, the Bruins offered him a two-way deal, which McLaren either perceived as an insult or vintage Boston Bruin front office penny pinching. Either way, he was done with the organization and demanded a trade. Rumor is, he just missed hearing people use the letter R in their speech. The Sharks traded Jeff Jillson and Jeff Hacket, one of their 20 NHL caliber goaltenders at the time for the rights to McLaren, who then went on to underwhelm the fans in the tank by posting a -10 in his first year swimming with the fishes.
Now here's why I'm bothering to talk about him, though. After that first disappointing season with the Sharks (in which he made it look like he actually deserved to be in a two way contract), KMac bounced back to go +10 the next season, and went +29 over the next four seasons. He's got one year left on his current contract for $2.5 million, is only 31 years old (3 years younger than a certain UFA defenseman who can't seem to make up his mind), and is reportedly available in exchange for a draft pick.
If McLaren joins a new team and continues the stride he's had in San Jose for the past four seasons, he'll be a huge addition and is worth a heck of a lot more than just a draft pick. Fortunately for every NHL team with a thin D-corps, San Jose was able to take advantage of a Bolt of insanity when Tampa decided they didn't need to play defense anymore. The Sharks also picked up Rob Blake for the coming year, meaning they now have roughly 15.5 million dollars tied up in their top four defenders. One of those has to go, and it looks like it's going to be McLaren.
Toby Kieth Enstrom has got a defensive game that anybody in the first couple of years of their NHL career should be thankful for. But can you imagine if he had a year to learn the art (and it truly is an artform) of the hip check from the best in the league? Kyle McLaren's pelvis is a weapon the likes of which Blueland hasn't seen since Gord Murphy. On top of that, the guy just looks like a viking warrior, and he scares the hell out of the other team.
So, loyal readers, I say we let the UFA defensemen hem and haw on their own. The Thrashers can fill out our defense today for the cost of a single draft pick.
Chicago---X (sorry, buddy, I just can't pretend last year didn't happen.)
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
The arrival of Ilya Nikulin looks imminent, and I think that's super-solid. Nikulin is a damn good stay-at-home defenseman, and what's better he has tons of experience playing with the Czar. If we land Nikulin we won't NEED Jason Smith. The leadership roles on the team are filled by Moose and Kovy...Jason Smith can try his hand in Tampa, though there seems something blasphemous about him donning the Bolt uniform.
At this point, our defense looks like this:
Enstrom (quality puck-mover, fast, great shot, assist-making machine) - Havelid (rock-solid stay at homer)
Hainsey (fast, offensive, like Toby but bigger) - Nikulin (rock-solid and a fine skater)
Bogosian (fierce, offensive, competitive, fiery) - Klee/XLB/Boris Valabik
That might be the best defense we've ever had. Yes, of course you can quote me (in derision or agreement). Best defense we've ever had.
Meanwhile DW really needs to get going on this forward-hiring business. Vermette and/or Demitra, come on down.
"Where do I begin?," started Lowe. "He's a moron, first of all. Secondly, he really believes that any news for the NHL is good news. Thirdly, he loves the limelight and I don't think anyone in hockey will dispute that. Lastly, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on."
This guy is an absolute media junkie and I guess he's achieving what he wants because he gets his name in the headlines. But the reality is, I hate the fact that my name is linked to his. He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings?"
Ouch! Go, K-Lowe, go!
"I've given this franchise everything I had. I love the area. I love the fans. But at the end of the day, I was misled and lied to and completely disrespected. When you threaten to be put on waivers and end up in Atlanta, it was an eye-opening situation for me."
From the (perceived) safety of the Ottawa Sun, he proceeds to really put the boot in:
Boyle said he was pushed into waiving his no-trade clause after a member of Bolts management told him if he didn't agree to a trade, he'd be put on waivers and would likely have been claimed by the Thrashers.
"There's a hundred different ways this could have gone down. I was under the impression I was a piece of the puzzle," said Boyle. "I just can't believe they'd tell me one thing and do another. (That's) where it took a turn for me, when things got personal. Business is business. My personal characteristics and my work ethic were called into question.
"I've been a top guy in ice time the last few years. They call my work ethic into question? I work out to be in the best shape possible and things about me were questioned. It got to the point where my ass was threatened to be put on waivers and I was going to be picked up by a last-place team that wouldn't win for the next six years. You tell me, is that any way to do (bleeping) business?
I was prepared to support Dan Boyle because 1) he was genuinely fucked over by the new Tampa ownership, and 2) because he's headed to my second-favorite team.
Not anymore. It takes a special kind of Dickheadery to sign a six-year deal with a team with a worse record than us (at the trade deadline, too, long before the Saw takeover and blitz of new contracts) then, for no reason, lay into the Thrashers when it becomes clear you won't be playing on the "new and improved" Lightning. Fuck Dan Boyle. I hope we play the Sharks at home next year and get the chance to sing the appropriate Dan Boyle hymns.
P.S. Fuck Mark Recchi too. Kamloops, BC is a shit town.
Friday, July 4, 2008
For The Red White and Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.