Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Apologies for the flat, boring, unimaginative posting around here lately. We're working on our end of the year Peacock Awards Extravaganza. And finding innovative ways to pay for my season ticket renewal, like hiring a private detective to spy on Thrash. You guessed it: I keep the photos away from the newspapers if he gives me free season tickets.
Monday, March 30, 2009
- Elsewhere, Knobler makes the case for Kari being the most important Thrashers player in the month of March, with Slava Kozlov and Ilya Kovalchuk being the #2 and #3 Stars, respectively. I think it's quite possible that Kari was the main difference in several games, and despite his performance in the games against Montreal and Detroit, he's been excellent lately.
My First Star of the Month? Slava Kozlov. Though...Kovy...and Toby Enstrom....I don't know.
- The Falconer says we need a better back-up goaltender, a better PK squad, and a 2nd-line right winger. I'll refrain from commenting on Moose (when it comes to Moose I'm agnostic but sentimental), but without a doubt we need to improve our penalty kill, like, NOW, and I'm especially adamant about another top six right winger. I think one of the possible "hard decisions" the Falconer advocates could involve trading either Pavelec or Lehtonen. The Thrashers really must decide who the #1 guy is going to be.
- Rawhide says the atmosphere in Philips hasn't been this electric since the brave days of 06-07. I tend to agree. I'd actually barely noticed the bigger crowds until Saturday's game against Ottawa.
- Interestingly, Maali of Fire Wagon Hockey noted the uptick in seat occupancy even earlier than the rest of the world.
- Does anyone follow this NCAA stuff? Really, I'm curious.
- Via Gawker and Puck Daddy, I learn that the NY Times is reporting that the Sean Avery-works-at-Vogue movie has an enigmatic working title: Puckface.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
But since he's having one of the best seasons of his long career, and especially after putting on such a fine show for the coaches last night, the old gunfighter is considering strapping on his Colt one more time:
“If they ask me, I’m going to think about it,” Kozlov said. “In the past years, sometimes I said no, sometimes they didn’t invite me, I got some injuries sometimes. We’ll see. If they’re going to ask me, definitely I’m going to think twice.”
We of the Chronicle would love for you to do it, Slava. With you and Kovy, and Frolov, and with the strong possibility that Malkin, Gonchar, and Markov will become available very early (they will), Russia has a legitimate chance of winning the Gold again.
5: The number of Thrashers players who might end the season with 20 goals or more, if Colby Armstrong gets one more.
6: The number of Thrashers players who would have finished the season with 20 goals or more if Rich Peverley had been with us all season.
100: The number of career wins Johan Hedberg can now put on his resume. Good job Moose.
5: The number of consecutive seasons in which Ilya Kovalchuk has scored 40 goals.
294: The number of goals Ilya Kovalchuk has scored in his career so far.
14: The number of points Tobias Enstrom has registered in 15 games this month. Imagine if he approximates that each month next season.
2: The number of times in the past two games where Ilya Kovalchuk has taken charge when down by a goal or three and ignited a comeback. As the Falconer points out in a recent post, we may finally have a guy in the locker room that pushes everyone to play their hardest and best.
Now then, I missed the game last night due to me having, shall we say more Holy things to tend to. In fact, it looks like I missed two great games.
I did get to watch the third period last night. I just love it when we humiliate the Sens. Good to see our favorite son Mr. Heatley perform so well last night. Love ya Dany!! In case you missed the game like me last night, Rawhide has a nice report on the game and on how the season is winding down for the Thrash. As always, truly excellent stuff from Mr. Rawhide.
Now if I can just get my Oilers in the playoffs... this is really nuts folks. If you haven't been watching the race out West, you are missing out. The Blues are now in the top eight... Crazy!! Several big games today. If you have Center Ice, tune in.
**Correction** - Apparently the Blues are in the 9 spot with the Oil in 8. This morning TSN had it backwards. They have the same number of points, games played, and wins, so the Oilers must win the next tie-break.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
We'd like to announce that Dan Turple is most definitely in the house. Moose is starting, Kari is hurt, Pavelec has to tend to Wolves playoff duties: thus Turple.
You all know what playing the Senators means. These are often the most entertaining games at Philips. Go Thrashers, etc.
Not hockey-related, but reading the AJC this morning I stumbled across what I think is my favorite headline of all time: Bobcat walks into Ariz. bar, attacks patrons. Is is poor taste to find this funny?
Speaking of poor taste, we of the Chronicle in no way condone Preston Brooks' caning of Charles Sumner. It's just too good a picture.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Last night during the game, in the middle of a TV time-out I think, I saw Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian conferring in the left-wing circle. They seemed absorbed in strategizing; at one point Bogo gave Toby a friendly punch on the shoulder.
I'm so glad those two get along.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Perhaps not, but lots of the calls against the Thrashers in these past two games make one wonder. Or am I just paranoid?
None of this really matters though, because Todd White is the Man. Glad to see the Czar continue to rack up the points; he looks set to pass last year's point total, which is great, amiright?
Anyone know what happened to Kari? Anyone? What happened to Kari? Heengh? HEEEENNNGH?
P.S. This game says quite a lot about Kovalchuk's leadership. He began the rally with that fine, fine goal (certainly in his Top 20 for Aesthetics, I think) and, as we all know, assisted on the two others in regulation. I have no doubt in my mind that he loves being the Czar of Atlanta.
P.P.S. It was awesome when Kovy knocked Sean Avery on his ass.
Expect a bunch of obnoxious sub-literate goons at tonight's game. Many of them will have Adam Graves tattoos. No predictions today, as almost every time I predict something specific bad things happen.
I will say this, though: Ron Hainsey.
Fun fact: Speaking of Ron Hainsey, Big Shooter won't be coming to tonight's game, or to the Dany Heatley boo-fest on Saturday, because he's playing Ron Hainsey, er, Jesus Christ from Nazareth, in a passion play and has to Practice. He promises it will be even bloodier than The Passion of the Christ, with more explosions and car chases.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Bryan Little must have ruined the life of the ref that sent him to the box for 4 minutes (the penalty that really killed us).
Add all of that to one of two hideous defensive breakdowns (Colin Stuart sliding into Kari and knocking him out of position) and a--let's be real--very bad performance by Kari, and you get a magical 6-3 loss.
And so we were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night, mathematics confirming something already mega-obvious to everyone. Ho hum; it's not like we're used to being in the playoff hunt or anything. I hope DW already has his plan for re-signing Kovy meticulously mapped out; surely he'll go to Kovy's place in the south of France, personally, and give him a blank check.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Il est incroyable combien bon et comme mauvais Kari peut être. Permettre 6 buts sur 22 projectiles ? Très triste.
Mes prévisions étaient merde de cheval. Très triste.
J'ai besoin d'une nouvelle bouteille de vin. Bogo est plus beau que Johnny Hallyday.
MISE A' JOUR: En fait, c'est une chanson triste. Je dois écouter de la musique américaine pour être vraiment heureux.
Ah, maintenant je me sens mieux. Eazy E dit, "le mot au baiseur de mère."
If the Thrash beat the soon-to-be Houston Canadiens tonight that will make our season record against them...what, exactly? 3-1, I think? Let's do it.
Kovalchuk will have at least a two-goal game tonight, guaranteed. Little will score his 32nd. Slava Kozlov will probably score five. Don't believe me?
Monday, March 23, 2009
"Obviously, when I look back at my career, am I happy with it? No, I'm not," said Stefan.
Cruelty aside, I'm glad the still-quite-young Mr. Stefan has found a way to stay attached to the sport without playing it. Perhaps his NHL career was just a way station on the road to NHL player agent, the job he was born to do...
Okay, let's watch it again:
Ray Ferraro is the best part.
- Meanwhile, somebody at Kukla's Korner has unearthed this:
- This dude from the Montreal Gazette says that the Habs aren't experiencing a bad stretch or a slump so much as a full-scale collapse. As Rawhide points out, the Canadiens are barely clinging to the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Could the Thrashers be the final nail (or at least one of the final nails) in their coffin tomorrow night? How sad will it be if the Habs miss the playoffs in their great big "We've Been Around for 100 Years" season?
- Monsieur Catalogues is a big fan of Thrashers prospect Paul Postma, and he's introduced me to the following piece of information: The kid is a completely insane offensive defenseman at the WHL level. 23 goals and 61 assists in 70 games this season. Perhaps he'll be able to translate that to NHL success one of these days, probably by the time most hockey fans acknowledge Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian as elite defensemen and Ron Hainsey as the greatest athlete, in any sport, of all time.
Big Shooter put on his reporting shoes and is in the process of getting all the, what do the kids call it... the scoop? At this time I cannot reveal my sources, but it looks like the Habs could be sold to a group out of Kansas City (BS 4). If that is the case look for year 101 of the Habs to take place in the Mid-West of the USA.
While the KC rumors persist, other sources are saying they could end up in Las Vegas (BS 3). The name apparently would be changed to the Las Vegas Kenny Rogers. Less reliable sources are hinting that the team could be on the move to Hartford (BS 2).
Really, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. With the difficult economic climate we are facing, along with the team's fall in the standings, it would be hard to maintain a team in Canada. This sad situation is just further proof that hockey, despite Gary Bettman's dream of seeing it thrive in Canada, perhaps was not meant to be north of the boarder.
More on this story to come...
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Moose moose, hunne de Moose.
Well, that about says it all doesn't it folks... very nice game. I always enjoy seeing a good Moose dance in the shootout. Vinny, you got nuttin.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I mean this in all sincerity: If you left Detroit and moved to Atlanta for the jobs or the better weather or just because Detroit is an unspeakably shitty city and still cheer for the Red Wings instead of supporting the Thrashers, you're a Grade-A douchebag.
I can't really say anything coherent at this point. I've never felt worse about anything hockey-related; it has nothing to do with the fact that we lost.
It has to do with the fact that 85% of the crowd were Red Wings fans, and the fact that there's no way the majority of them were on a road trip.
Oh yeah, forget what I said about Hossa earlier. Guy's a dickhead.
This will be a fun one. Thrashers vs. the Wings. Kovalchuk's back. Bogo's back. Ronald "Steady as She Goes" Hainsey is back.
Hossa's back too, of course, in an unfortunate way. But I find it difficult to dislike the Hoss, because if I'd never run into him and Kovalchuk I wouldn't even be into hockey.
The most important thing is that the Czar score several goals tonight.
Ron Hainsey slapshot goes in tonight. Guaranteed.
When do I intend to start drinking? Noon.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Only Boris Valabik and Jim Slater are missing from practice today in Duluth. The lines:
How very. I can't wait for the Czar's return.
Very interesting interview with The Czar. Link thingy here. Or, if you are too lazy to click just read below:
I well remember your first years in the NHL. I recall that you once said that Edmonton coach MacTavish didn't have any brains because he didn't play with a helmet.
A little bit later you were pointing your finger at Crosby when he sat in the penalty box. But now it seems to me like you've really changed. You've gotten more serious, calmed down. You don't show your emotions as much.
"Who, me? It's just that an opportunity hasn't presented itself for a while. No, I remain the same as I was and nothing about me has changed. I just react to the situation at hand, and every situation is different. If the moment calls for something to be done and I think it's necessary to do it, then I'll do it. Don't worry, I'm not renouncing my words or actions."
You're playing on a team that's not in the running for the playoffs...
"What do you mean? The chances may be few but they always exist. We'll talk about this after the season is over. A lot can change over the course of eight, 10 games."
I just wanted to say that it must be easier to be a star and suck up to the press when you play on a top team.
"No, the most important thing is to always be yourself. I don't need to suck up to anybody, and I've never done that in my life. Let other people suck up. If you just be yourself, no matter the situation, people will respect you. If you suck up, then you're just a wanna-be."
Are there any NHL players who annoy you?
"I really respect them all, both those I play against and those on my team. Hockey, especially at the NHL level, is a very difficult type of sport. During the game everybody slams into each other at top speed, and after the game you shake hands. Take that time when I pointed my finger at Crosby. Do you think I wanted to say something to him by doing that? Not at all, it was just emotions. Crosby is Crosby and Kovalchuk is Kovalchuk. He got penalized, I made a goal and I was showing him "Look, I made a goal". That was all."
Are you sure it wasn't an instance when an opponent made you lose control of yourself?
"Something happened in the game, probably. It was just emotions. You can't be an amoeba when you play hockey -- you have to be an emotional player. If you're going to be indifferent, then you'd be better off sitting at home watching television. You can fuss if you don't get all your channels."
Jaromir Jagr recently said that Kovalchuk can only be called "great" after he's won the Stanley Cup.
"What he said is absolutely true. But it isn't just the Stanley Cup. As I see it, the Olympic Games are even more important. I made a baby step toward that goal when we won the World Championship. I think there will be a lot of victories in our future. The team is young and talented and our chances are excellent."
You've had some difficult times personally playing with the National Team.
"No, it was never difficult for me playing with the National Team. This is a great honor for me, and I'm always happy to play. This is something that the press made up, and I don't have the least bit of interest in it. I go out and do my thing, and it isn't important to me whether or not I make a goal or a pass, or if I simply catch the puck. If we win, then I am very happy."
But there were some things that the press didn't make up. Your dispute with Viktor Tikhonov, for example.
"It was emotions speaking. He's a great coach. How could you accuse him of anything? He's trained so many champions... so what can I say about the "Kovalchuk said something about Tikhonov" matter? Well, I just said it. It was my own personal opinion, which nobody forbade me to say. But that doesn't diminish his greatness in any way."
You also had problems with coach Vladimir Krikunov. He accused you of doing nothing else but hanging out in bars.
"Krikunov says a lot of things. In Quebec he said that the Canadian National Team was guzzling through the entire championship. People talk about those things they are most familiar with."
So... you not only had difficulties with the National Team, but your relationship with the fans has also been rough. Surely you would agree with this?
"Yeah, I agree. But there is nothing terrible about that. One day the fans criticize you, and the next they praise you."
You don't have to look very far for an example of that Quebec 2008 (when Russian won the world championship). There was a lot of the former and the latter.
"But not within the team. The fans might consider the goals and think "Look, he's just playing half-heartedly. He's only interested in playing for money in the NHL." But I'm only interested in the opinions of those people who know me personally."
In Quebec, when you weren't scoring you became a tough-guy.
" 'Tough-guy' ... Look, you're making a mountain out of a molehill. It was just that at that moment I didn't want them to hurt our captain."
Well, that's the definition of a "tough-guy" — a player who defends his teammates.
"Believe me, I'm far from being a tough guy. I just do what I feel is necessary."
How did you react to the explosion of love towards you after the winning goal? Did you not want to say: "Look here! What were you saying about me before?"
"No. You have to understand that I'm not that kind of guy. Once upon a time Alexei Zhitnik played for us in Atlanta, and he taught me a local saying: "Don't be too high, don't be too low". It means don't climb up too high and don't fall down too low. Always have a sense of measure, both when you're celebrating something good as well as when you're going through something rough. So I was just happy for the fans. They finally got some happiness, and they could celebrate with us."
Ilya, you can say what you want but Kovalchuk circa 2001 would never have said that. You're just paraphrasing Barack Obama with this "too high, too low" stuff. Has having a family influenced you that much?
"No, life is simple. I've gotten older, I think about things a little differently now — I think about my actions a few steps in advance."
So the current title of "National Hero of Russia" doesn't have much effect on you?
"It's nice, of course, but life doesn't stop. After all, hockey is a team sport. So Kovalchuk made a goal — didn't Semin score two goals? And didn't [teammate Alexei] Tereshchenko make the goal which changed the whole course of the game?"
You are absolutely right. You guys won the first championship in 15 years. Ovechkin, Kovalchuk — it was an awesome victory — and then our soccer players made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship, where they were soundly beaten by Spain. And that had an even bigger furor. Does that offend you?
"Soccer is the No. 1 sport. It's easier to play soccer than hockey. Anybody can put on shorts and a T-shirt and play soccer, but hockey is an expensive sport to play. We were given a grand reception. We met the president and the prime minister, they loaded us down with presents, and they gave the title of "Honored Master of Sports" to guys who had never received it before... all of that was more than sufficient."
Is your Mercedes [given to him by the president after the gold medal win] still there in Russia?
"Yeah, it is still there. I'll drive it during the off-season."
Is your well-known blue Bentley still on the road in Atlanta?
"For the time being, but it's going to Russia soon. I'm giving it to a friend."
Are you buying a new one?
"Well, you ask me questions like this and then in Russia they'll be saying "They've gotten so spoiled over there that they have to keep getting new cars."
Why would they say that? You have two kids. Maybe you need a minivan.
"Aha! Or a trailer."
You've been in the NHL for quite some time now, all the while on the same team to which you've given your all. Your reward for this was four losses in the 2007 playoffs. I understand all this "too high, too low" stuff, but little by little the weight of disappointment must start getting heavier and heavier.
"Unfortunately, everything doesn't depend on one single player. That's why I keep coming back to ‘this is a team sport'. What can one man do? I hope that things will start turning for the better with our team. I still have one more year with this team and so far there aren't any plans whatsoever as far as being traded."
I noticed that at the all-star game you hung around a lot with Dany Heatley, your old friend and former teammate.
"Heatley is a great guy, and he really helped me out a lot when I first came here. You could say that we grew up together as NHL players. We roomed together on road trips and just generally were very close. In my first year I was the sole Russian in Atlanta, and I had to learn English by any means necessary, and Heatley gave me an English dictionary. Sometimes in restaurants I couldn't even order, so he always helped me."
Your coach at the time said that "these two rookies are the last ones to come off the ice at every practice!"
(Laughing) "That's because unlike all the other players we were caught up on our sleep. We both had a rule that we would take a nap for two, three hours before every game."
What did you talk about in Montreal?
"Everything. What do friends talk about? The only thing we didn't talk about was girls. He has a steady girlfriend and I'm married, so that's a forbidden topic.
Wouldn't you like to play with him again on the same team?
"Who knows what's going to happen. He played well in Atlanta, and then there was the accident [which killed teammate Dan Snyder] and he had to have a change of scenery. I will say that the two of us played really well together on the same line. Heatley is a great passer. For some reason I'm not a very good passer. I understand what you're getting at. I'll go talk with Dany now so that he can ask to be transferred to Atlanta."
At the beginning of the season there was a time when you were practicing in the red fourth-line jersey. Why was that?
"No, no, no. That was a misunderstanding. In Atlanta we only have one hockey reporter, and he simply didn't understand. We don't have a ‘fourth-line jersey'. Somebody either gave him wrong information or he himself got it mixed up. I played for 25 minutes in that game, just like I always have. If the fourth line always plays 25 minute shifts, then I just don't know what to say to that."
Ovechkin's 25 minutes in Washington are surely easier than your 25 minutes in Atlanta, which have been spent playing trap this season.
"These are questions for the coach. I don't choose the coaches. They tell you to do something, and you try your best to do it."
You can't tell me that this is anything close to your preferred style of play. You are not a "trapping" forward.
"The coach draws up the plans for the players. It's just that we had a lot of games that we lost by just 1 or 2 goals, and everything was decided at the last minute. We needed to play more disciplined in defense. And I can't really say that we've had a bad season. This is how the Senators are playing in Canada and we're playing in Atlanta. I think that their season is now more difficult, however, because of this... Basically, I'm not thinking about the future right now. I'll say it again-I like it in Atlanta, and I hope I can stay there. But I understand that this is a business. We'll see."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
- We can win games without Ilya Kovalchuk, but it's impossible to win without Ron Hainsey.
- You know, it's funny. Before this season I'd always disliked Sidney Crosby but I'd never hated the Penguins. This season has made me hate them: every game the Thrashers play against them ends with me feeling furious towards some Penguins player or other.
- Which brings me to Matt Cooke's savage hit on Zach Bogosian. And I don't mean "savage" in the sports commentator sense of "bitchin'" or "whoa." It was savage as in "barbaric," "malicious," etc. If you happen to run into Matt Cooke, remember to tie him to the front wheel of a steamroller. It's the only honorable thing to do.
- Do we have any defensemen left? If we lose Hainsey, Bogosian, and Valabik that leaves us with...what, exactly? Toby Enstrom and a bunch of Wolves?
- I think it's safe to say that Johan Hedberg's best days are behind him. Maybe there was no way he could've avoided the 6 goals against him...maybe it had more to do with playing a Hainseyless game. Who knows? He is totally Moose, though.
- I didn't mind losing, really. The Thrash had to lose a game at some point...I'm just slightly miffed at how a Pens player is allowed to get away with wrecking a future superstar while his team is fêted by the media as Awesomest Thing of All Time because Evgeni Malkin had 5 points or whatever. Did I mention that I hate the Penguins?
UPDATE: More on Cooke's assasination attempt. Rawhide writes, "for some odd reason, when it comes to hits on Thrashers by Penguins, the league has a habit of simply looking the other way." Indeed. Ruutu's hit on Kovalchuk, Letang's near-murder of Todd White earlier this season, now this.
One final note: Last night Cooke also demolished Slava Kozlov WHILE HE WAS SKATING TO THE BENCH. Very brave, that. Put a hit on one of the least physical players in NHL history then skate as fast as you can to the bench to avoid reprisal. The Thrashers tough guys deserve some blame for this as well, of course. Boulton, Thorburn, Exelby, Valabik etc. don't punish opposing teams for this kind of thing, so players feel they can get away with it.
UPDATE II: If you're interested in a forensic examination of Cooke's hit on Bogosian, and a comparison between it and a hard but clean hit on another Thrashers player earlier this year, head over to Blueland Outsider. It's much better analysis than "ZOMG it's hockey go cry pussyhat" or, from our angle, "Someone please kill Matt Cooke."
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
What better way to celebrate the birth of Patrick Roy than to see our goaltender coming into his own? Kari's proven lately that he's the splendid goalie everyone thought he could be, and he keeps getting better. Huzzah!
So, Happy St. Patrick's Day and stuff. We'll be playing Pittsburgh tonight, without Kovy. It'll be interesting to see what happens...
Some tunes for the day. First, our yearly tradition: Shane McGowan.
And best of all, an absolutely thrilling performance from the Waterboys that ought to induce a state of pure mindless joy. At the very least it'll make you want to become a fiddle player:
Monday, March 16, 2009
Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom are the greatest defensive pairing on the Planet Earth, in any sport. Kari Lehtonen needs to be signed to a long, long contract. How about that rookie phenom Slava Kozlov?
The Thrashers' arsenal of Win is flowing along nicely right now (arsenals can flow, can't they?). Let's keep it going for next season. Franchise record woooooooooooooooooo
We'll find out tonight whether the Thrashers can set a new record for consecutive wins.
Kovy's injury is being "re-evaluated" today and I assume we'll know later in the day whether or not he'll play. Let's hope for the best: wouldn't a goal-scoring rampage be a great crowd-pleaser for all those watching the game on VS?
The looming threat of a goal-scoring rampage from the other side needs to be discussed, of course: if Ovechkin scores tonight, it will be his 50th of the season and he'll become the only Washington Capitals player to score 50 goals in three seasons. Let's spoil the fun and hold him to no goals, shall we? Kari is playing with a save percentage of .925, so I reckon it's possible.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Gotta take a break. My head is starting to hurt.
I'm back. How about that Zach Bogosian? Hennngh! How 'bout him? Hennngh! How about the job he did last night...... Huuuuuuhhh! Heeeeeennnnngggghh!! We are watching an 18 year old really come in to his own here the last half of the year folks. I knew he was going to be good, but this is something else. I love seeing him get power play minutes and fire that puck at the net. For all of those folks that wanted to send him back to Juniors after his injury so a year wouldn't count against his contract... well, this is why we didn't do that. Another year in Juniors would have done him no good. And now he can come out of the gate flying next year.
You are seeing a little something about the character of these guys. The season is over. Key guys were traded at the deadline, yet they keep competing and keep winning. I gotta be honest with you, at the start of the year I wasn't sure if these guys had that in them. I was obviously wrong. As I've stated before, I think the biggest part of the turn-around has to do with naming Kovy Captain. The guys in the dressing room have got to know who is leading them. When things got off to such a bad start, nobody knew who to look to. Just look at what has happened since Kovy was given the C. Just sayin.
And for those of you doing your little protest not going to the games because ownership sucks and you want to prove a point... well, just stop it and come watch this team play. How about Friday night against the Wings? That game should be a sellout, and we really don't want the place overrun with Wings fans, ok.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Neither do I, but here's an interview with the incomparable Earl Sleek of the Battle of California, one of your editor's favorite blogs in all of human history:
Why do you blog about hockey?
When I first stumbled on hockey blogs a few years ago, I was heavily impressed by the amount of analysis and thought that was being put forth from a fan's perspective -- it was refreshing and relatable in a way I hadn't encountered before. For the most part, these were Oilers blogs, and when Battle of California started up and needed a Ducks voice, I signed on to give it a go. I've always had two aims at BoC -- first to demonstrate that knowledgeable hockey fans do exist in SoCal, particularly for the Ducks, and secondly just to promote the notion of entertaining hockey blogging. BoC has provided a nice outlet to be creative, analytical, or silly, depending on whim, and it's been a great way to meet and talk with other hockey fans -- hockey conversations can be a real scarcity in California.
What's your favorite hockey team? How long have you been a fan, any key experiences/memories with the team, etc. etc.
My favorite team is the Anaheim Ducks, formerly known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and I've been a fan since the late 90s. I'm sort of an NHL-expansion success story -- I've never really played hockey, nor did anyone in my family follow it, but I became a hockey fan through repeated exposure to SNES NHL 94 in college. Being from Orange County, I latched onto the Mighty Ducks and absolutely fell in love with the play of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. The favorite memory I have of the team is probably the 2007 Cup, but I'm quite fond of the 2003 run to the Stanley Cup Finals also -- that was really the magical run, and it was really at that point that I stopped watching any other sport.
Favorite hockey player of all time? (we'll accept up to a 3-way tie here)
Well, I've had a few. For my first formative years as a fan, my favorite player was Tomas Sandstrom, largely because he was a killer for me in the aforementioned NHL 94, and even played a couple years on the Mighty Ducks. After that, I went to Teemu Selanne, and for the past six or so years it's squarely been Sammy Pahlsson. Pahlsson's attention to detail and overall solid play, plus the way he quietly does his job -- he's awesome.
Favorite current NHL player? (ditto)
Sammy Pahlsson. GM Murray, re-sign him now.*
Would you consider yourself a fan of other sports? If so, which ones? Favorite teams in those sports?
I am horrible at following other sports -- I watch about two baseball games a year, zero basketball games, and zero football games. During the NHL lockout, I did get a bit into bull riding, but that passed pretty quickly. Those silly cowboys can take a hit, though.
What's the biggest problem with today's NHL?
The relative ease with which the owners and players can forego a year of hockey to figure out how best to split up my dollar.
Is there any hockey-related issue about which you've changed your mind? For example: Visors, the instigator rule, the merits of this or that player, etc.
I once liked the New Jersey Devils and hated Chris Pronger -- does that count? Heh, I think one area I've come around is the value of the player interview -- I once thought those were interesting.
What are your favorite hockey blogs?
My favorite writers on the internet are probably Matt Fenwick from Battle of Alberta, Tom Benjamin from Canucks Corner, and Rudy Kelly from BoC, all for different reasons. If I were stranded on a desert island with only access to these bloggers (plus Kukla's and Mirtle to keep me up on news), I'd be fairly content.
I'm a pretty big fan of classical and choral music -- Bach, Beethoven, Handel are still phenomenal. In terms of musicians still alive, I like Cake. **
I have a weird set of movie tastes -- Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in The In-Laws, Dark City, and Miyzaki's Spirited Away. Among others.
I've not been doing a lot of book-reading since college, really.
I've got a few favorite shows, some of which haven't run in a long while. "The A-Team" is one of my absolute favorites -- the best formula show on television. Plus I was a big fan of HBO's sketch show "Mr. Show", and am still miffed that it got run off the air. Other than that, there are some pretty common shows I was into -- "Seinfeld", "the Simpsons", "South Park", etc., plus when the Ducks got eliminated early last spring I put myself through a whirlwind tour of SciFi's "Battlestar Galactica", which is downright awesome.
Who do you think is the most underrated player in the NHL?
Tough to say, but a few years ago it would have been Sammy Pahlsson. Now I dunno -- it's a toss up between L.A.'s Sean O'Donnell or Dallas' Loui Eriksson, but it all depends on who's doing the rating.
*So sad to be rendered impossible by events.
**A cultivated man blogging about the Hockey! We like it.
Well that was fun. I had a feeling Marty Reasoner would know what to do.
How about the Enstrom-Bogosian pairing? Quite good, if you ask me.
Best of all: The Thrashers proved they can still when when the Czar is wounded. We have enough talent on our team--Little, Enstrom, Bogosian, Hainsey, White, Peverley, Kozlov, Jimmy Slater--to win even when he's out. It's not easy though.
Worst of all: KOVALCHUK IS INJURED WHAT THE HELL ARE WE GOING TO DO? Anderson is saying he's "day to day." Needless to say I hope he recovers in time for multiple hat tricks in Buffalo to help him on his way to scoring his 300th career goal in Atlanta.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
More cynical folks would attribute this to our players "auditioning" for a chance to get out of town at the trade deadline. However, the team only seemed to get better after March 4 came and went. Perhaps the players who stayed put feel like they've received a vote of confidence and a renewed determination to help turn things around. Maybe the Czar's ebullience since the birth of his son is contagious. Whatever it is, the boys are playing some dang good hockey.
That being said, if the Thrashers were to start the 09-10 season with this same roster, they couldn't expect to go very far. As DW told season ticket holders last Friday, the team needs a #1 center, which Todd White is not. As beautiful as it has been to watch, the White, Little, Kovy line is not good enough to get a team anywhere in the playoffs if they are the main scoring threat.
Peverly centering Kozlov and Armstrong is a very good second line and can stack up against most of their counterparts in the league. Likewise, the checking line of Slater, Boulton, and Thorburn is as good of a fourth roll-out as you'll find in the league.
The weak point comes in the Thrashers' third line. Some of you probably just called me an idiot and muttered something about Perrin, Reasoner, and Stuart having better numbers and more skill than all the members of the checking line. You're right (about the players, not me being an idiot). The problem is not with their skill, it is with the ability of that line to perform their role and how they stack up with other third lines in the league.
Marty Reasoner, as the Chronicle has pointed out time and time again, has filled his role better than any other Thrasher this season. However, he absolutely has to have better linemates than Stuart and Perrin if Atlanta is going to be able to roll out three decent scoring lines in addition to their above-average checking line.
The way things look right now, the team needs a true number one center and an upgraded third line.
If DW can swing a trade for a true number one center and bring in a quality third line winger, I submit that the Thrashers will be a playoff team in 09-10.
As good as the top line has been recently, imagine the numbers and excitement that will be produced by the Czar and Little with a truly gifted pivot between them.
Kovalchuck--- #1 Center ---Little
White and Kozlov have proved all year that they can make magic together, and Armstrong is finally coming into his own playing on the opposite wing from our elder Russian statesman. Those three, playing up to their potential, are a legitimate scoring threat and a quality second line.
Kozlov--- White ---Armstrong
Marty Reasoner deserves all the credit in the world for his work ethic and willingness to fulfill his role on this team. He has also been the only bright spot on the third line all year. Move him to the wing to make room for the Pevs Dispenser dropping into the #3 center position. That has the dual advantage of giving us 2 players who can take the faceoff in crucial situations and taking some pressure off Reasoner and freeing him up to open his game a little more. Bring in a new quality third line winger to play with them, and you've suddenly made a huge upgrade in the depth of this team.
#3 Winger--- Peverly ---Reasoner
The fourth line is already better than most in the league in terms of being able to bring energy, chew up minutes while the top lines rest, and limit opponents' offensive chances through responsible play and respectable breakout ability.
Boulton--- Slater ---Thorburn
DW also stated that one of his priorities for this offseason will be to replace Nic Havelid. He didn't say it, but it was obvious to most that he'd like to do this by resigning Havvy himself after July 1. Whether Havvy comes back, we sign someone comperable, or draft Hedman and throw him in the lineup, the Thrashers' young defensive corps looks very solid at the moment.
Plenty has been said here and elsewhere about the goaltending situation. Pavelic could be moved along with a draft pick for a #1 center who is already under contract, or to improve our draft position. Pavs isn't ready to take the helm yet, and this team needs a proven minder in net to have any hope of reaching the postseason and winning a series. That means Kari. Moose is the heart of the team and a perfectly good backup who is still under contract. My vote is to give Kari a long term contact, keep Moose as his backup, and use Pavelic as trade bait to fill another need.
So a new #1 Center, a replacement for Havelid, and a solid third line winger. DW has valuable assets in Pavelic and a high draft pick to bring those things in. It'll also go a long way to bringing in free agents if the Czar signs a big extension early in his renegotiation period.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi is 6ft 1" and 200 lbs. That's a pretty big young Swede. He's a left winger as well. He could pick up right when Slava leaves. Slava, more that likely, will retire with us. He likes it here, and his family enjoys it here. Also his good pal Ilya is here. Svensson-Paajarvi is desribed as:
An extremely fast and fluid skater, and quite possibly the second best player in the 2009 draft. Many comparisons between Magnus and many of the other great Swedes like Forsberg and Sundin who's numbers were comparable at the time. More fairly a comparison between Naslund and Svensson-Paajarvi is a more precise pairing, as his defensive game is not anywhere near the quality of his offensive game. Although he's got a great physical makeup, his style of play shys away from the physical stuff. Aside from that he's a tremendous playmaker and stout goalscorer, putting in quite a few goals, and is adept on the breakaway. He's a guaranteed top 10 pick and may play himself into a top 5 selection. via this link
I never tend to pay attention to the immediate comparisons to former players, but I remember watching him in the World Juniors, and I specifically remember him and Erik Karlsson. He might have led the team in scoring as well.
The other young player is Evander Kane. He is hard working WHL center, which is never a bad thing to have. Also he is African-Canadian. This would be very beneficial to the Atlanta market. Kane is described as:
Evander is a great skater with a bright future. This year he is playing extremely well. Leading the WHL in scoring. 100 points and a top 10 selection are realistic goals for him. He grew up playing on top teams in the province with the North Shore Winter Club. He has always had success, in minor hockey, and then winning the Memorial Cup with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. Now he will hope to have success in the NHL. His best asset is his stick handling. he is amazing with the puck. via this link
He played on the fourth line in the World Juniors, but he wasn't originally supposed to be on the team; he filled in the spot of a player that got hurt. He got in by working hard, and it paid off. He added one more threat to the offense of the team.
Both of these players would fit here nicely. Some people like Duchene and Cowen, and I'm sure they're fine players. At this moment Kane and Svensson-Paajarvi would look good here. Also it'd be interesting to see how they'd put Svensson-Paajarvi on a jersey.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Didn't we JUST play these guys?
It seems we got lucky last time. Sakic, Forsberg, Drury, Blake, and Roy aren't going to back down so easily this time. We need to be especially vigilant tonight.
Say, if you're ever in the mood to throw a wacky dance party, you could do worse than to play the album above all the way through.
WOOOO Go Thrashers etc.
- There I go again, complaining about those dastardly Thrashers marketing folks, when they've just gone and done something endearing and entertaining. Here's a video of Johan Hedberg showing you around his crib/Moose Lair.
Eh, moose moose. Hun de Moose, hun the Moose Lair.
- Via Puck Daddy, a hilarious video of Jason Spezza getting caught (by buzzkill king Ron Wilson) with an illegal stick and frantically trying to escape an inspection. His escape attempt fails, and he doesn't even score a goal after his penalty to spite everyone. He could learn from the master criminals. Anyway, the video:
- This is embarrassing. Can Atlanta finally just secede from the Baby Jeebus Wingnut Republic of Georgia and become an independent city-state? Ooh, ooh, and we get to annex Athens and Savannah as well, high-speed trains can link all three; it'll be like we're all West Berlin, small islands of freedom in the middle of a sea of ideological darkness. It's not like the CDC and Emory are in Dalton, after all...
Monday, March 9, 2009
There's already been a fair amount of criticism directed towards the Thrashers' recently-unveiled 10th Anniversary patch on the message boards and elsewhere. Rightly so. It's hideous.
I don't know who the Thrashers have hired to do their marketing and design, but whoever it is appears to have not even rudimentary aesthetic taste. I honestly can't say enough bad things about this patch: puke-ugly arrangement of colours (putting stripes of varying shades of brown next to each other makes me think of watching badly-recorded videos of NOVA in 1st-grade Science class, complete with bad keyboard soundtrack), the disassociation of the "ATL" is all wrong (it would've been fine if they'd found an interesting way to turn the L into a design, but this is just horrible), and the overall look is weirdly garish for the 10th anniversary of a team that's never won a playoff game. They should've gone with something modest and minimalist, I think.
The worst thing about this deranged logo is that it will be painted onto center ice ALL SEASON LONG. People will be afraid to watch the game for fear of their eyes meeting the Bad Art Ultra-Fail.
For the record, I do like the much-maligned "Woody Woodpecker" menacing-brown-thrasher-holding-the hockey-stick design. I even like it against a powder-blue background. My problem with this thing is 1) the disgusting shades of brown lined up against one another, and 2) the badly-executed L.
Is there ANY way they could change this? Perhaps as a bone to throw to crazed season ticket holders?
If they really wanted to go down the Hockey Kitsch Involving a Bird road, they should have just imitated something like this paint-by-numbers bird
with a brown thrasher holding a hockey stick against a blue backgroud.
Imagine the scoreboard tucked into the mid-section of a giant brown thrasher. THAT would be a tacky-but-brilliant tenth annivesary decoration, am I right?
As you were, comrades, as you were.
UPDATE: The Falconer has a good, thorough recap of the townhall meeting with Waddell. Much better than mine; he seems to have actually remembered the non-ecological questions and answers. At one point he notes Kovalchuk's rampant scoring ever since he was put on a line with Bryan Little:
The scary thing is that Kovalchuk might very well have shattered his career highs if they Thrashers had him playing with Bryan Little all year. We'll never know will we? Kovalchuk is hitting that 25-30 where most NHL players have their carrer best numbers. Hopefully we didn't just waste his peak year.
Kovy is already on pace to have more points this season than he did last season. All this makes one wonder, does it not?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Which goes for me too, of course, because not so long ago I had pretty much resigned myself to finishing another playoffs-less season with loads and loads of losses.
Obviously the playoffs were out of the question a long time ago, but I'm more than thrilled to be proved wrong about the Thrashers' play in the last third of the season. This game was a splendid one for sure: stellar defensive play from everyone (Niclas who?*), Toby Enstrom is a god, Bryan Little is well on his way to scoring more than 30 goals this season, and of course the Czar is about to surpass everyone--with the exception of his great, goofy compatriot--in goal-scoring. All against an excellent team that defected from Atlanta to drill for black gold in Alberta. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
During his First Star of the Universe talk with microphone person Natalie Taylor, Kovy said that as bad as this season has been he genuinely believes the Thrashers are building serious momentum for next season. I think he may be right.
Also: We'd like to announce that Boris Valabik's new nickname is Fast Eddie. That is all.
*Come back soon, Nic!
The Flames are big and scary and talented, and they've only gotten scarier this past week with the addition of Olli Jokinen. Though for different reasons than his teammates, if you catch my drift.
Mike Cammalleri's a UFA this summer. Oh, it makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Saturday, March 7, 2009
- Townhall meeting wasn't anything interesting, except for a surprise appearance by Ilya Kovalchuk. The whole crowd, including me, squealed like preteen girls and gave him a furious standing ovation. Because he's the Czar.
- Kovy gave a quick speech thanking us for our support, acknowledged that this season has been frustrating, but promised a much better effort and asked for continued support and noise.
- I really can't remember anything DW said.
- Someone made a good point about the utter Fail of the Thrashers' marketing department. Something about that really needs to be changed. Bad colors, embarassing slogans, dumb videos and advertisements. I suggest that the slogan for next year be "Come get cozy with Kovy."
- Apparently not a few of our fellow fans really dislike the Blue Crew. Their complex reasons for this are beyond my understanding.
- The much-hyped protest was pretty much non-existent.
- More importantly, how awesome were the Thrashers last night? That's the best defensive play I've seen from them all...EVER, actually.
La conférence avec Don Waddell n'était rien trop intéressante, excepté un aspect de surprise d'Ilya Kovalchuk. Je l'aime. Il patine avec la grande élégance. Il est un grand chef. Plus grand que Charlemagne ou Henri IV ou Napoleon ou Charles de Gaulle.
Pendant la conférence, un jeune homme a mentionné comment il veut que Philips soit écologiquement sain. Vert. La foule, y compris le Rasoir, l'a ridiculisé. Je dois m'admettre ai ri aussi, mais je crois qu'il faut réutiliser. Beaucoup de disciples d'hockey sont les idiots machos sans esprits.
Les Thrashers jouent bien maintenant. C'est bon. Je pense qu'ils continueront à jouer bon l'année prochaine.
Votre rédacteur est un grand Francophile, mais il déteste des disciples du Habs. Ils sont suffisants et ennuyants. Allez les Thrashers!
Friday, March 6, 2009
The game tonight--against Mathieu Schneider and the Habs--will be broadcast on the NHL Network. Pretty cool I think, because there will probably be a fair bit of people there, AND the Network gives the revolting season-ticket holders a national stage.
All sorts of chatter about mild protests against the Atlanta Spirit tonight. Your editor hates to see civic unrest, but I think a full-scale Peasants' Revolt has been inevitable for a while now.
Moving on the the season ticket holders' townhall meeting with Don Waddell tonight. The Chronicle is, for once, going to try to be a sober voice for reason and moderation. Let's review what DW has done this season and in seasons past that might be directly affecting the Thrashers' play right now:
1) Picked up Rich Peverley, who's helped considerably and could be a key player for a while.
2) Got a young defenseman for Niclas Havelid (I'm still agnostic about Salmela, but I have a hard time believing he'll be an outright disaster; in fact, he'll more than likely be decent).
3) Got a decent prospect for Erik Christensen (I'm becoming more convinced that O'Dell might make a difference, so hooray).
4) Got a 2nd-rounder for Mathieu Schneider.
5) Brought in Marty Reasoner, who's been our best player (in terms of doing what he's supposed to do) all year. Even better, Reasoner looks like he wants to sign a longer contract with us in the summer.
6) Brought in Jason Williams, who was a total disaster.
7) Brought in John Anderson (make of that what you will; I still think, despite some problems, that Anderson is basically a good coach with an unfortunate roster).
8) Got Mathieu Schneider for nothing. Didn't play particularly well for us, but apparently invaluable to the development of our future top defenseman Zach Bogosian.
9) Didn't happen this year, of course, but DW and/or some exceptionally sharp scout brought in Tobias Enstrom, who's been a VERY solid defenseman most of this season (particularly recently) and will only get better.
10) Got Christensen and Colby Armstrong for Marian Hossa. At last year's season ticket holder meeting, we'd just traded Hossa and gotten those two, and no one was quite sure how they would perform. We've had a full year to see how that trade panned out. Colby Armstrong can be an effective role-player, Christensen was more or less a bust. Well, no, not "more or less." He was a bust. A bust with some talent and potential, but a a bust nonetheless.
11) Did you know he once traded Braydon Coburn for Alexei Zhitnik?*
12) Didn't get anything by trading Bobby Holik at last season's trade deadline. But perhaps it doesn't matter, since Marty Reasoner seems like he wants to stay.
13) Has made it clear his #1 priority is to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk.
14) Did you know the Thrashers could have had Devin Setoguchi or Marc Staal?
15) Brought in Eric Perrin, who was at first supposed to be a third-line guy, then a top six forward, then a fourth-line guy, then a guy on waivers. As the Pensblog might say: Confusion City.
The short version: we of the Chronicle aren't honest if we don't admit that DW has done some things this season that will likely help the team. The question is whether his good moves will cancel out his (justly) famous bad ones. About that your Chronicle can't be certain. I mean, who do we look like, a blog of Criswells? Ho ho hee!
I hate hammering away at this same point ad nauseum, but I still think the Thrashers' main problem is the Atlanta Spirit. I very much want a new General Manager, but I'm convinced that even a competent and able new GM would have his hands tied by the ownership and thus have to restrict his moves in the same way as Waddell.
So try to be sane tonight. And that goes for DW too (I know you're reading, Don): be honest and forthright with the STHs; don't say insane things about how "close" we are, etc. I'm glad that Waddell has to answer to the fans (if only in this ritual, cosmetic way); it appears that at this point the ATL Spirit don't even offer the appearance of caring what the season-ticket holders think.
To the barricades, then.
*Under serious pressure from the owners.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Center Marty Reasoner said he would like to play in Atlanta long-term. He hopes to sign a multi-year contract and put down roots in the city he and his wife, Katie, enjoy and where his daughter, Allie, was born last month. The Thrashers could have dealt him, knowing he would become an unrestricted free agent if unsigned by July 1, but general manager Don Waddell chose to keep Reasoner and said he plans to sign him.
Reasoner had this to say:
I had a feeling [a trade] wasn’t going to happen, but you never know, Reasoner said. I’m obviously happy to be here. This team is starting to build in the right direction. I can be part of that. We’d like to produce some more wins. That will come. I don’t feel it’s as far away as it seems at times.
For me to help this team come back and be a contender, be a team that’s feared, that’s a good thing to shoot for. It’s nice to be part of something from the ground up.
Well how do you like that? Reasoner is an excellent player, and if we can keep him that'd be amazing. Like Kovy, just having a child, this could make him want to sit still and remain. Sure, Reasoner is truly a third line center, but he is a true professional and work horse. Like Havelid, he doesn't make too many mistakes and you know what you are getting from him every game. I'd love for him to stay. Sounds like a top-notch guy as well.
Looks like the decline and fall of the world economy has made everything wretched and horrible, including the NHL Trade Deadline, which ought to be a source of joy to millions.
Pretty damn boring, really.
On the Thrashers front, it's by no means certain that we did anything good trade-wise in the last two weeks. Trading Mathieu Schneider for a 2nd-rounder was a good idea, and on any other team having an extra 2nd-round pick would greatly reassure me, but the Thrashers have proven again and again they don't do the scouting thing particularly well. Not that there aren't good scouts who work for the Thrashers, some of them are excellent; it's just that for whatever reason we don't draft properly.
Meanwhile, the Havelid-for-Salmela and Christensen-for-O'Dell trades are total question marks.
I thought we could have gotten something decent for Marty Reasoner, but perhaps the market just wasn't there, teams being too cautious to give things up for him. TSN was reporting all day that several teams were interested in Colby Armstrong; wonder why DW didn't take the bait? Who knows?
I would love to re-sign Reasoner, and I suppose the only way to do that this summer is to lavishly overpay him. So be it, I guess. But it's far from certain that he'll want to come back, much as I hope he does.
All in all a pretty unimpressive trade deadline. Not all of which is Waddell's fault, of course, because of the economy and over-cautious market and stuff. But still...
UPDATE: For a different perspective, try the Falconer's analysis of Eric O'Dell's statistics. He's excited, which should be a good sign, since the last time I was gloomy/unsure about a new player and he was excited we had just signed Rich Peverley.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Kyle McLaren a Flyer now. He'll fit right in.
Samuel Pahlsson to Chicago in exchange for someone. I think this is a sign that they don't think they'll be making the playoffs this year. Pretty surprising, actually.
Oilers, Hurricanes, Kings, and Sabres involved in a 4-team trade. As the Fourth Period said:
In a 4-team trade, the Kings traded Patrick O'Sullivan to Carolina for Justin Williams. Carolina then dealt O'Sulllivan to Oilers with a 2nd round pick for Erik Cole. Oilers then move draft pick to Buffalo for Ales Kotalik.
So...Marty Reasoner. Still a Thrasher.
I'll never get this day back.
Sweet Jesus this is boring.
- The Flyers made the insane decision to trade Scott Upshall and a second-round pick for young Phoenix Coyotes agitator Daniel Carcillo. This is probably to free up cap space...
- Nik Antropov to the Rangers. This gives the Rangers three top centers, so somebody's going to have to switch to the wing AHHHHHHHHHH JESUS THIS IS BORING
- It's official: Olli Jokinen to Calgary for Matthew Lombardi and a 1st round pick.
- Boston has done well by picking up Steve Montador. Chara, Wideman, and Montador will make for a sturdy blue line in the playoffs.
- When I say "And the trades roll in," of course I mean "there's just two big trades to report."
- According to Bob MacKenzie at TSN, the phones are burning up with offers for Colby Armstrong. We'd like to keep him, but if we get a good enough offer...
- Had to pause for lunch. Anyway, not much to report beyond the possibility of trading Armstrong.
- Toronto has traded Dominic Moore to Chicago. (Update: apparently this isn't final yet, and may not even be true. God help us.)
- Don La Greca, Billy Jaffe, and Bill Clement looking very sharp in their Trade Deadline suits.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today thinks Keith Tkachuk is staying in St. Louis.
- Mark Recchi traded to Boston. Who called that?
Okay. It's been like an hour since I typed that last sentence. Trade in the Western world has collapsed, much like it did after the break-up of the Roman Empire. We're in the Dark Ages of the 2009 Trade Deadline.
- Bill Guerin goes to the Penguins.
While you're waiting through this exceptionally awful and boring time, treat yourself to this fantastic example of good talk that doesn't exist anymore:
- Brendan Morrison claimed by Dallas. On NHL Network the ever-professional Bill Clement says he thinks most of the action today will revolve around the waiver wire.
- Clement jokes about an imaginary Ovechkin-to-Vancouver rumor. I'd like to put down $20 and say there's a blogger out there who half-heard that and will proceed to type "OMG Ovechkin to Vancouver shhhhh don't tell anyone."
- Where, o where, will Keith Tkachuk go? The Blues aren't that far out of the playoffs, but let's remember they play in the West, where contention for the lower playoff spots is notoriously clogged. Notoriously. Clogged. So he'll probably waive his no-trade clause to go to Boston or Washington.
- No one claiming Miroslav Satan so far.
- Something about Jokinen to Calgary for Lombardi and a first-rounder.
- HOLY SHIT DON WADDELL ON NHL LIVE. Let's listen.
DW says the Thrashers could use some speed and size on the top lines. True. More interesting: he says that a deal involving one of our goalies is going to go down either today or this summer. He seems more open about his goalie-trading intentions now than he did previously. For whatever it's worth, the Fourth Period is reporting that the Thrashers are in talks to send Marty Reasoner, Kari Lehtonen, and possibly Slava Kozlov to Philadelphia (though Pagnotta, and we, and everyone else have a hard time imagining Slava waiving his no-trade clause). Could we get Daniel Briere and that Van Riemsdyk fellow? I would enjoy that.
- All sorts of whispers in the loggia about Olli Jokinen to the Flames. He'd fit in well there, no doubt, but Keith Jones is talking about what an Epic Mediocrity Jokinen is and how he'll make no impact, etc. The Chronicle thinks that Jokinen is hardly what you'd call an "impact" player, but his toughness and offensive ability would hardly hurt the toughness and offense of an already-impressive Calgary team. Keith Jones is a hard man with exacting standards though.
- Meanwhile, Mike Knobler hasn't updated his blog in 10 days. Because of this, there is no Thrashers news.
To make your wait-time more enjoyable:
So while we're all waiting to hear who we're getting for Marty Reasoner, not to mention waiting to hear about all the sexy trades from around the league, here's the king of bossa nova and the Chairman of the Board to entertain you:
Just to bring you up to speed:
- Don Waddell appeared on TSN this morning and said he's definitely going to make some trades today, not for draft picks or prospects but for players who can play right now.
- Antoine Vermette goes to Columbus, Pascal Leclaire goes to Ottawa. The Sens finally have a good goalie.
- Mark Recchi hates the Tampa Bay Lightning and wants to leave.
Some interesting trades throughout the NHL already... More news to come later ...
We can't promise up-to-the-minute news on Trade Day (go to TSN or Puck Daddy for that) or even titillating last-minute rumors (which you'll no doubt find at the Fourth Period) but you will find plenty of scintillating reaction, including a podcast.
Don't be strangers. We're gonna have ourselves a good time reporting on all the Manhattan-esque bartering.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Like the small country that quietly builds its army and navy and shocks its neighbours by invading or annexing them, the Florida Panthers are a team obscure to those of us outside South Florida. They shouldn't be, as this season they've re-armed with key defensemen and look set to do pretty decently in the play-offs.
Which is why we need to destroy them, Now, before they overrun the planet.
Meanwhile, at least one of my trade predictions is a gigantic fail. The Minnesota Wild have signed Niklas Backstrom to an extension.
Meanwhile, the Thrashers have put Eric Perrin on waivers.
THAT'LL TEACH YAS TO TALK FANCY, WIHT YER FANCY TALK TO THE NWSPAPER MAN!!!!11!!!1!1!!
- Tomas Kaberle to Boston.
- Keith Tkachuk to Washington.
- Nik Antropov to Dallas.
- Bill Guerin to Washington.
- Marty Reasoner to either Edmonton or Boston.
- Gary Roberts to Calgary.
- Mark Recchi to Boston or Philadelphia.
- Daniel Briere and/or Joffrey Lupul to Minnesota in exchange for Niklas Backstrom.
You heard it here first. Whether you'll ever hear it again is another question.
Monday, March 2, 2009
So, that leaves Reasoner and possibly Perrin to go, eh? Well, Perrin certainly hopes he gets to go. Look at what he has to say here. Someone thinks mighty highly of himself after scoring 12 goals playing 1st and 2nd line minutes for the third worst team in the NHL last year. Faithful readers of The Chronicle know that we always try to provide more than one angle to every story. I caught up with Perrin as he was leaving the practice facility earlier today and this is what he had to say:
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
More deadline stuff. Take a look at this very interesting read on ESPN.com about Waddell's experience last year with the Hossa trade:
It was the biggest blockbuster of this past year's deadline, and it nearly didn't happen. But we'll get to that in a bit.
Let's pick it up at the midway point of the 2007-08 season. Thrashers GM Don Waddell realized it was time to get the ball rolling on moving a player slated for unrestricted free agency at season's end. After giving up some futures to get Keith Tkachuk the previous season at the deadline, Waddell couldn't allow Hossa to walk away July 1 without getting anything in return.
"We spent a lot of time throughout the season trying to sign him," Waddell told ESPN.com, agreeing to walk us through the trade. "We knew by the first week of January that we weren't going to be able to sign him. Then, we took the next two to three weeks to look at the teams where we thought there would be a good fit and who could afford him with the cap. By the first week of February, he had a list of 11-12 teams, had broken down in terms of who they could afford to give up, had a good sense of their depth charts. We did a lot of homework before we ever made that first phone call. We were as prepared as we felt we could be heading into trade talks."
About three weeks out from the deadline, teams began to call Waddell and communicate their interest in Hossa. Waddell set the price -- a steep one. "I was pretty up-front with them, saying I wanted players I could put on my team immediately, and I wanted some young prospects because, the year before, we had traded our first pick and I wanted to recapture something that I could put into my system."
One team, which Waddell would not name, called and asked for a chance to negotiate an extension with Hossa.
"Yes, I had one team that asked that their deal be contingent on being able to talk to the player," said Waddell. "I initially said no. Then, I came back and said, 'If we can reach a deal, and it's just contingent on you talking to him, I will do that. But letting you talk to him before we have a deal, if I do that, then I might have 10 other teams trying to do that. That's not right and it's not fair.' We never got to the point where we could reach a deal. That was about a week out."
Despite "lots of talks" with Montreal, Hossa was still a Thrasher as deadline day arrived, and Waddell had no idea what was coming his way on one of the most stressful days of his career.
"Teams started calling again around 7 a.m. At this point, I've got about five teams that are coming at me on this. But it's interesting, from 9 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m., it went almost dormant quiet. I'm assuming what happened is that teams wanted to touch base with me in the morning, make sure I knew they were still in it and see where I was at, but then used that window after that to see what else was out there."
Fast forward to 2 p.m. ET, one hour before the deadline. "At 2 p.m., I've got it narrowed down to three teams," said Waddell. "Pittsburgh was in, but they weren't leading. Detroit was the other team in the group with Montreal. Pittsburgh called me in the morning and asked me where I was, and [Pens GM] Ray [Shero] was pretty sure they weren't going to be in it. The price was going to be too high for him. Ray and I have a good relationship, so it was an open dialogue.
"I didn't hear from Ray for four hours or so. It was probably close to 2 p.m. when I heard from Ray again. At that point, I still didn't feel like he was leading the charge. If I had to make the deal at 2 p.m., it would not have been with Pittsburgh."
It would have been with Montreal, we believe.
"From 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., I touched base with the other two teams. Detroit told us, at this point, that they were done tweaking, this was the best they could do. So I knew where [Wings GM Ken Holland] was at. By 2:30, Ray touched base again. I told him, 'It's getting close to the deadline. If you're in, you better step up quickly.' He asked me exactly what it was going to take. We were at two assets at that point, but Esposito and Armstrong were not in the deal. He called me back around 2:35 p.m. and threw in Esposito's name. I said to him if he threw Armstrong in as well, we had a deal. That was about 2:40. He said, 'I can't do it, I can't do it.' I said, 'Are you telling me you're out?' He said, 'Give me five minutes.'"
Those were the longest five minutes of Waddell's life. By 2:50, Shero still hadn't called back.
"So, I called Ray back," said Waddell. "He said, 'Hang on, I'm on the other line with Mario.' He kept me on hold for five more minutes. Now it's 2:55 and I'm sweating bullets because I don't even know at this point if I have time to make the call to Montreal. I'm on hold, felt like forever, so I picked up a different phone line and got Ray's assistant and I said, 'Tell him to pick up the damn phone or I'm hanging up on him.'"
Shero came on, and was still unsure.
"I said to Ray, 'I know you're giving up good assets, but you're getting a hell of a player and a hell of a guy. He's going to help you get to where you want to get to.' He said, 'Alright, I'll do it.' I'm telling you, it was 2:57 p.m. at that time.
"If that deal falls through, I don't even know if I had time to dial [Habs GM] Bob Gainey and get that deal done. That's how far it went to the wire. I got to tell you, it was very, very nerve-wracking."
The final trade on Feb. 26, 2008: Atlanta traded wingers Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for winger Colby Armstrong, center Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and Pittsburgh's first-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft.
It was a deal that helped both teams. The Thrashers got an impressive haul to help them plug the holes from the Tkachuk deal. The Penguins went to the Cup finals.
-- Pierre LeBrun