Is it just me, or does this picture remind you of the guys in charge at the top of the Atlanta Thrashers organization? By now you've all read the news about Captain Oveur. I salute you, sir. You will be missed. If only he hadn't eaten the fish (too soon?).
On to the hockey Thrashers. You, constant reader, will know that I have not been all that optimistic about the Thrashers chances in this post Kovalchuk era. As you can read here. I wanted our team to succeed and prove me wrong. And they got off to a decent start after the trade. The problem is the season is not 6 games long. Flaws and lack of talent will shine through in time. The problem with this post Kovalchuk roster is no one can score goals. It's just not there people. Bergfors put a few in the net, but he is a rookie and the fact that he has been put on line 1 and is now the savior is, to put it in the words of one Mortimer Peacock, "comical". With this team prone to falling behind early, there is little chance of a comeback due to the lack of fire power. So, in the past when Kovalchuk could come to the rescue we could still make a run at it. Now, most games are over in the 1st period with no chance of a comeback. As I've said many times before, at the start of the year I thought our weakness was secondary scoring. Turns out that it is a big problem. You take Kovalchuk out of the picture and all you have left is secondary scoring.
I often giggle when I hear people say that Waddell or Anderson should be fired and then they have no idea of what the replacements should be. It's fine to throw those accusations around, but have a plan in place if you do. With that said, if I were in charge (and lets be honest, it's surely only a matter of time) here is what I would do:
Fire Waddell. The logical choice is to replace him with Rick Dudley. And if Waddell goes, I'm sure that will happen. Me? I'm not a huge fan of this. I think Dudley can help scouting wise, but I think he made a mess of things in Florida. He did make some key moves in the eventual rise of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he still scares me as a GM. He is, after all, the guy that during our first game after the Kovalchuk trade said he didn't know how our team wasn't in first place. Most fans love him for the lone reason that he isn't Don Waddell. What would I do? Keep Dudley on and hire this guy named Craig Patrick as GM. I have been calling for this move for years but I know it won't happen. He is a winner. A two time Stanley Cup winner, that is. Due to money issues he had to dismantle his team in Pittsburgh, but was on his way to building it back. Nearly all of the key guys on that team were drafted by Patrick. Unfortunately for him they developed one year too late. No one ever talks about him but I know he is the guy to get the job done.
Fire John Anderson. Some say two years isn't enough time and they may be right. Some say he hasn't been given the talent to win with and I know they would be right. The problem we have is we desperately need a change in culture. And that means making big changes with the top guys involved. Ever notice how it seems as though we can't play a full 60 minutes. Don't you think that is partly the fault of the, oh I don't know, THE HEAD COACH!! So, you fire Anderson and replace him with Craig MacTavish. Can you honestly tell me that this team wouldn't play a full 60 minutes of tough, hard nosed-hockey with him behind the bench? And with the change in personnel I think he would be a good fit. Oh, in addition to getting the boys to play hard every game, MacT is a damn fine coach.
That's where you start. And a short message to all the Kovy haters out there that thought we would be better off without him because of his poor defensive play here is a little stat for you:
Goals For: 3.01
Goals Against: 3.20
Goals For: 2.61
Goals Against: 3.46
So maybe it wasn't all Kovy's fault after all. Now, I'm not a huge stats guy and these numbers certainly don't prove much. But they can be used as a guideline to help some of you understand that while having a few flaws defensively, it is no reason to give up on a guy that is going to score 50 goals a year. Let this be a lesson, you don't call for the head of your best player and try to run him out of town and then expect to be better off once he is gone.
Oh, one more thing... if you would like to send hate letters directly to me, you can now follow me on the Twitter with your Twitter machines @BiggieShooter.