Friday, January 29, 2010
Having that kind of time to look at the situation myself from various angles, I have been able to come up with a unique view of all of the Thrashers' options and the impact that they may have on this team for the 2010-2011 season.
This is not a dismissive Glen Healeyesque declaration that "this franchise will be in another city within two years either way." Nor is it a homerific "trade him or sign him, either way the Cup comes to Atlanta in two years." Instead, it is a realistic look at what each scenario would mean for the rest of the roster and what it would mean for the kind of team that Atlanta could put on the ice in the next couple of years.
First, I think everyone has recognized by now (even if they are Canadian media who react with incredulity) that the Czar likes playing in Atlanta and would sign here if management would meet his current salary demand. It hasn't been verified, but most appear to think that demand is somewhere in the neighborhood of the $11 million range, or the 20% of total team salary. So giving in to Kovalchuk's current salary demand (assumptively 11m) is scenario 1.
We will call scenario 2 one in which DW is able to convince Kovalchuk to re-sign with Atlanta for 9 million. Actually, scratch that. I think Kovy wants to make more money than Alex Ovechkin. Ovi makes 9m. So in scenario 2, we'll say DW signs Kovy to 9,000,001 per year. Either Kovalchuk tested the free agent market and realized no team was going to pay more than Atlanta so he might as well stay home, or he decided that it was worth it to leave an extra 2m per year to distribute to some folks who can pass him the puck.
Scenario 3 will be the one that 95% of the hockey world believes will come to pass. That is that DW swings a trade between February 28 and March 3 which brings back two young roster players and a first round draft pick.
Of course, there is a 4th scenario in which DW holds on to Kovalchuk through July 1 attempting to re-sign him, then the Czar signs with another team and leaves without Atlanta receiving any return.
Now that we've identified these scenarios, let's look at the Thrashers 2010-2011 squad in each one. To start out with the scariest, we'll examine scenario 4 in which Kovy walks for nothing. If you look at the Thrashers' other unrestricted free agents, you can see the potential for a domino effect. Maxim Afinogenov is playing for 800k right now and would have no reason to re-sign with Atlanta without his buddy Kovalchuk. Pavel Kubina is making 5m per year and was brought here via trade for the last year of his contract. Seeing the team captain leave town after spending his whole career here would probably be a sign to Pavel to hit the road as well. Based on his play this season, we can consider Slava Kozlov to be retired in any scenario. Colby Armstrong went to arbitration this year and I would wager that watching Kovy leave town would convince him to follow suit. The only UFA's I would expect to stick with Atlanta after watching Kovalchuk walk for nothing would be Hedberg, Slater, and Boulton. That would leave a lineup that looked like this:
Kane Antropov Little
White Peverly ______
_____ Reasoner ____
Boulton Slater Thorburn
Fill in the blanks with whatever UFA's you can convince to come after the exodus or with players from the Wolves. It is safe to say this is NOT a playoff team and will not be very soon either.
The only difference in lineup between scenario 4 in which Kovalchuk walks away for nothing and scenario 3 that assumes a successful deadline trade would be that you can fill in a couple of those blanks with the roster players that came in the trade. You can also argue that making a successful trade would make some of our own UFA's more likely to re-sign, but I think Kovalchuk in another team's sweater has the same effect no matter how it happens.
Then we come to the scenario two in which Kovalchuk relents and accepts a deal at $9 million per year. This would allow enough cap space to hopefully re-sign one expensive UFA in addition to the Czar- either Afinogenov (who will probably be looking for 4-5 million next year after playing for 800k this season) or Kubina (who may get a small raise from his 5 million). Kovy deciding to stay, especially at a discounted rate, should inspire confidence in other UFA's as well who don't stand to earn as much of a raise, and could lead to a lineup like this:
It would however, be close to the cap and DW would be have to make hard decisions to make room for new contracts for Bogosian in one year and Kane in two.
Finally, let's look at what the lineup might look like if Kovalchuk re-signs for $11 million per year. We'll assume that Atlanta can't afford either Afinogenov or Kubina in this scenario.
Fill in that blank with either a Wolf (Joseph S. Crabb anyone?) or another UFA, or perhaps someone brought over in a trade involving either Kari or Ondrej. This team could compete for the playoffs, but it would be a much rougher road with a big drop off in production after the second line. Again, a lack of cap space would make it difficult to renegotiate with RFA's Bogosian and Kane when the time comes.
So if the Thrashers want to continue to be a winning club and sell tickets, it appears that they need to sign Kovalchuk one way or the other. Obviously it would be better to sign him for 9 million than for 11, but how much better?
Kovalchuk is currently making 7.5 million. Kozlov 3.8, Zhitnik is still being paid 1.6. Kari is making 3m and Ondrej 0.8m. Assume that the Thrashers only keep one of those two goalies and pay him 3m per year. With Kozlov retirning and Zhitnik coming off the books this year, that saves 6.2 million dollars. You can give Kovalchuk a 1.5 million per year raise to 9m/y or a 3.5 million raise to 11m/y and still have some room to resign some combination of Afinogenov, Armstrong, Little, Slater, Thorburn, Kubina, and Hedberg this season. Even if the salary cap drops as many think it will.
Now, let's say for the sake of argument that the cap does indeed drop next year. Because we have to pick a number, we'll say that the cap drops to 54 million dollars. If Kovalchuk is making 11 million per year, then the rest of the team has to average $2.04 million per year. That's not a high average for a roster.
So, let's look at it under the same 54 million cap if Kovy makes 9 million per year. In that scenario, the rest of the roster can average $2.14 million per year. A whole 100k per year more. That doesn't sound like a huge difference.
Most people (except Brian Burke, that genius who traded Kubina for Exelby) would say that Kovalchuk is worth 9 million per year. Most also seem to be saying that he's not worth 11 million. But when you factor in what losing Kovalchuk would do to the team's competitiveness and therefore the reception the team receives in Atlanta, a pay cut of 100k per year for the rest of the team seems worth it.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Basically, he makes the case that impending salary cap de-elevation due to revenue losses and a potentially weakening Canadian dollar will make all teams wary of paying the Czar the full $11.36 some think he's demanding. He also points out that DW has twice let Kozlov test the free agency waters and re-signed him successfully.
It's good analysis and leads to feel even more strongly that Kovy will be playing for Atlanta on March 4 and may well re-up with Atlanta to play in October.
It is worth noting that everything we've seen from other clubs is that the asking price to get Kovy in a trade is too much. The Bruins, Flames, Penguins, and Canucks have all made statements that it would take too much to get him as a rental player. The latest rumors say that the Kings have made an offer and DW made a counteroffer. Since there has been no trade yet, that means that DW is currently asking for more than the Kings are willing to part with.
I don't think anybody is going to be willing to give DW enough to justify giving up Kovy's services in this playoff run and his exclusive negotiating rights until July.
Here is my response to the Yankee Whistler:
"Good analysis and a great point about how currency values affect the salary cap. No other league has to factor that in.
My prediction is that the asking price for a trade will be too much for other teams and Kovalchuk will stay with Atlanta through the playoffs this year. Then he'll test the free agency waters.
There will be very few teams willing and/or able to meet his initial salary demands, and when he settles on a slightly lower number, he'll weigh staying in Atlanta against going to another NHL city for the same money, or going to the KHL for a lot more money.
I think the factors you've cited above will eventually keep him in Atlanta, but don't expect him to sign a contract until late Summer. Kovy's deadline isn't March 3 and it isn't July 1. His deadline is the first game of the 2010/11 season."
Says some lady:
“I refuse to believe it will go away forever,” said Amanda Lundberg of 42West, who spent eight years of her life at the company.
“I think Miramax is too strong a brand to not exist in some incarnation...
Like as a hockey team, maybe?
Read below to see what a prick Jeff Schutlz of AJC infamy is.
Shane Doan said comeback win over Red Wings was another example of the Coyotes being tested this season and responding in a big way. 11:14 PM Jan 26th from web
@CraigCustance South Carolina is 11 seconds from beating Kentucky and you're Tweeting on Shane Doan?
@JeffSchultzAJC South Carolina has a hockey team? 11:18 PM Jan 26th from web in reply to JeffSchultzAJC
@CraigCustance Yes. I hear they're trading for Kovalchuk. 11:21 PM Jan 26th from TweetDeck in reply to CraigCustance
When is the last time he has said anything positive about anything?
^----it's a flyer
Lord knows it gets old talking about Kovalchuk, so let's focus on...what, exactly? Our goalie situation, maybe? YES, let's talk about that.
So far, Kari Lehtonen is 1-1-0 in Chicago; he stopped 25 of 27 shots last night to give the Wolves a 5-2 win over somebody or other. This means something, presumably.
Meanwhile, we have several other goalies from whom Kari may or may not take the starting job. Even if we trade Kari, we'll have to play him a bit to increase his value. Like, DUH, indeed, of course. Now then, Thrashfans, who is your pick for starting goaltender? What would you do (WWYD)?
Tonight the Thrashers play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Thrash finally broke their anti-Flyers victory drought in a game earlier this season; will they now embark on a multi-game reign of terror to make up for lost time, against the Flyers and against the rest of the hockey world? Time will tell.
So, Kovalchuk. Like I said in the comments below Razor's last post, I'm a bit puzzled by some people's certainty that we're going to get a franchise-saving, Stanley Cup-contending return for Kovalchuk. Very little in our team's history indicates that will happen. No reason to not trade him, of course. I just don't see how anyone can't look at the history of Thrashers transactions and be anything other than serenely pessimistic.
Now. THAT SAID, if the Thrashers win tonight they'll be in 6th place. How the hell is that possible? What a country...
As Ben Wright reminds us, the Thrashers actually have a chance to move from 11th to 6th place in the Eastern Conference with a win tonight against the Nitty-less Flyers.
Amazing that 2/3 of the way through the season, the playoff race is that close. The best news is that if the Thrashers do move up to 6th place, they will have at least one game in hand over 2 of the teams right behind them.
But they've got to win tonight for any of that to matter. If they don't then the 6th place Flyers will have a 3 point lead on them.
Time to make it count.
Today's In Appreciation of: The fact that even our maroon jerseys aren't as ugly as the Flyers' sweaters.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Now imagine that the Atlanta Thrashers are just one point out of the playoffs 52 games into the season. Oh, you don't have to imagine that part. Just look at the standings.
If we didn't have Ilya Kovalchuk, and were sitting on the bubble of making the playoffs, and another team was offering his services as a rental player (along with the exclusive rights to negotiate for a new contract until July 1), what would you give to get him?
Would you trade a high draft pick, a couple of semi-promising young 3rd line guys, and one recently drafted kid to bring Kovy in and hopefully put us over the top, make the playoffs and do a little damage? Imagine you're not just a fan, but an owner or GM. You have to look at the revenue aspect of all of this. Even two home playoff games would bring in a lot more money and generate a lot of positive energy among the fans and the players.
So would you be willing to make the trade to bring Kovy here in those circumstances? Knowing that there's a very good chance that he'll just be a rental and will walk in July?
If DW doesn't trade Kovy, he's keeping him along with his negotiating rights for a playoff push. He's giving up what he might have received in a trade. It's the same situation as if he were the buyer team giving up those assets for Kovy as a rental player. The one advantage he has over that scenario, is that Atlanta is already Kovy's home, so he has one more bargaining chip in contract negotiations than other GM's will have.
X= the package of assets DW can get for Kovy in a trade.
X < Kovy
If the Thrashers trade Kovy at the deadline, they become Thrashers+X.
Since X < Kovy, Thrashers+X < Thrashers+Kovy.
If the Thrashers keep Kovy for a playoff run, then there's a small chance he will re-sign and they will continue to be Thrashers+Kovy, but there's a much greater chance that they will become Thrashers (no Kovy).
Thrashers(no Kovy) = Thrashers(no X).
So letting Kovy leave via free agency (i.e. not making a trade) means the team is lessened by the value of X, which is less than the value of Kovy.
Still with me?
If he walks, then we're out 1 high draft pick (we've got another), two ok mid-line contributors (we have a whole team of them right now) and one AHL or junior level prospect who may or may not ever make an NHL roster.
But, maybe we made the playoffs. Maybe the team's ledgers are in the black for the season. Maybe we caught the attention of some other UFA's who will be a little more interested when DW/Dudley call on July 1.
Anyway, that's my argument for telling the Kings, Canucks, Flyers, and Bruins to take a hike.
After reading Kevin Allen, Darren Dreger, Bob McKenzie, Puck Daddy, The Falconer, and The Hockey News one is certainly getting the feeling Kovy will be gone soon. I've had this feeling for a couple of weeks now. It's a terrible feeling, but there are few things that can get done to make this a little easier to deal with. I've heard LA, Boston, Philly, New York, and Chicago as the big players. At this point anyone could be in on it.
Despite playing fairly solidly throughout the game, I couldn't shake the feeling that Atlanta would blow the lead until the final horn sounded. And sure enough, Getzlaf hit the post with less than a second to go. An inch saved the 2 points.
That being said, the Thrashers are still in 11th place in the East. However, they are only ONE POINT behind sixth place Philly. The Flyers, Rangers, Panthers, and Habs are all tied with 55 points. The Thrashers sit behind that group with 54.
The Flyers' inconsistency (and as always, laughable goaltending), Rangers anemic scoring, Panthers injuries, and Habs iffy netminding make for a lot of hope that Atlanta can pass them all in the coming weeks.
Atlanta will have to get consistent goaltending like they had in October and November. I think that means making Moose the number one and playing him until he gets tired. Ondrej hasn't been giant. He's been streaky. Moose didn't play well during the 9 game skid last month either, but overall he has been much more consistent. Play Moose and give Kari a shot to win his job back after his conditioning stint in Chicago.
But so much depends on Kovy. Will he play for Atlanta past March 3? If not, can anyone step up to replace what has been lost? If he's gone and the team still makes a heroic run to the playoffs, will people come watch them play?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Never seen the Ducks in person, so tonight should be interesting, if only for that reason. I've long dreamed of seeing future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne in the flesh; looks like I'll finally see Niedermayer tonight, but Selanne is still out with some kind of horrific fencing injury. Sigh.
Hedberg is said to be in goal.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to decipher this article by THN's Ken Campbell. He's not wrong about the Thrashers being badly run (because they are badly run; in fact, let's say that again: THE THRASHERS ARE BADLY RUN), but the article is full of weird statements about the Kovalchuk situation proving that the post-lockout cap era doesn't work and that it should just go die in a fire. He also says something about the Thrashers never finding a center better than Todd White to play with Kovalchuk (he's clearly never heard of the Savard years), and he seems to think that Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa left the team in exactly the same way. Certainly a contender for "Most Bizarre Hockey Article of the Year." Or just the quickest-written.
UPDATE: Good piece by Wyshynski on this whole gigantic horrorfest. I pretty much agree with every word. At the end of the day, losing Kovalchuk would be a disaster, and it looks increasingly like we'd get very little back for him. Might as well just give the man what he wants, even if it is a colossal overpay. I'm not optimistic that the Thrashers could recover with young "pieces" if they traded him. Whatever does happen, it's past time Don Waddell moved out of the GM office to some respectable upstairs semi-retirement job. The fact that it's taken this long is an actual disgrace.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I knew that famed hockey blogger James Mirtle was running off to cover the Maple Leafs as beat writer for the Globe and Mail, but I only just now found out that his old spot at From the Rink will now be occupied by friend of the Chronicle Mike Chen. You probably know him from his old blog and from that cartoon-filled treasure house the Battle of California. This is a good change.
Mike Chen is that rare beast in the hockey blogosphere, or more precisely he's several rare beasts rolled into one: a writer who can actually write, a dude who always finds a way to make his posts interesting and engaging and non-banal, a tennis fan, and a connoisseur of great music. Long may he flourish, at his new station and elsewhere.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
pictured above: the outlook for the Thrashers last November
Thanks to all who've voted in our important poll. We'll organize a scandalous party soon enough. It can't be this coming weekend, sadly, because your Chronicle will be journeying up to Nashville to watch the Thrashers play the Predators. We're not going as part of the massive Atlanta Thrashers Fan Club delegation because we caught word that they have to return to Atlanta as soon as the game ends, whereas we intend to put on our spurs and go carousing. We'll come up with a time and place for the Chronicle's Epic 2nd Birthday very soon though.
The Thrashers are hilariously 3 points out of a playoff position at the moment, with a ton of teams in contention. How confident do you feel?
Saturday, January 23, 2010
To a place of sand and concrete, palm trees,
Old people, and manatees: Tampa Bay.
As fans we implore our Thrashers: win, please.
Slava Kozlov is a scratch, benched healthy;
Kamal says Popovic is still out, too.
But in talent the Thrashers are wealthy,
And lately Slava's played like an old shoe.
If the Lightning win this bout of hockey,
They will pass the Thrash in the playoff race.
If no Thrasher is a good puck jockey,
We shall eat hobnail boots, shame on our face.
These two teams have a history of hate;
O Thrashers, teach the Lightning how to skate.
Friday, January 22, 2010
There is no question in my mind that the Atlanta Thrashers are going to trade Ilya Kovalchuk and I believe that the sweepstakes for the star sniper is unofficially on.
He explains the Flames and Blackhawks may have interest, citing Phaneuf as a possible return. His expectation is if Kovy is dealt, it will be a BIG trade. Not a Kessel-like trade.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Big game tonight, of course, and one our Thrashers badly need to win, but at this moment I'd like to take a, uh, moment to acknowledge a very important event:
As of today, the Blueland Chronicle has been live on the Hated Internet for exactly 2 years. Hooray!
I would do the obligatory "hey, thanks for reading, dudes and dudettes" thing, but screw that, because judging from our new poll it looks like we're going to have an actual scandalous party! We'll work out a reasonable date, time, and venue sometime in the near future. It will be raucous.
But seriously, thanks to everyone who reads us, whether out of enjoyment or curiosity or spite. Or all three.
Now then. I won't be attending tonight's game either, not so much because of my ongoing Mexican panda flu as because I've been dragooned into doing something that I really don't want to do (the details are too terrible to mention). I shall be there in spirit. Go Thrashers. And let the Chronicle's Terrible Two's commence!
Poor Big Georges. This has not been a good week for him. First his native country is rocked by a 7.0 earthquake. Massive death ensues. Then a 6.1 aftershock hits.
Now he's been bought out by the Montreal Canadiens. Darren Dreger spoke with him and Big Georges called the move "classless."
My theory is that the Haiti earthquake brought to light for the first time that Big Georges is a francophone because his parents are Hatian, and not because he's a Canadian who wishes he was French.
Alas, Big Georges. Perhaps the Oilers will take you back. Or maybe Kovy needs an upgraded defender.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Rawhide can't help but be reminded of that game last year when the Thrashers beat the Leafs in a come-from-behind win that saw Ilya Kovalchuk score twice, Rich Peverley score once, and the Thrashers begin a rampage of wins for the rest of the season.
Will history repeat itself? If it does, a second-half tear would actually mean something this time. Unlike last season, the Thrashers built themselves a reasonably nice cushion early in the season; if they proceed to win and keep winning, well then, dagnabbit, they'll make the playoffs.
The only snag that might complicate this elegant dream is that whole Kovalchuk contract thing. All I'll say for now is that he looked exuberant and excited last night. He completely dominated the game; not just those two fine goals, but the energy and intensity he played with all night. And uh...yes. What does this mean?
All we know for certain is that Kovy must now wrest the Richard Trophy from the sinister paws of Patrick Marleau. Crosby and Ovechkin are no problem; it's that Marleau you gotta watch out for.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
That net is on fire.
So yeah, the Maple Leafs. I'm feeling way too poorly to go to the game tonight, but I do have a teevee. Go Thrashers.
[both these horrifying videos via Puck Daddy]
Monday, January 18, 2010
Good chance for the Cats off the rebound inside of 1 minute in. Hope that's not a sign of things to come tonight or this liveblog might degrade into a drunken stupor quick.
Speaking of drunken stupors, I just got home from a bachelor party weekend for an old roommate. Crazy weekend. You'd be amazed the drunken jokes that strippers will make reality.
Corey Stillman has played for three different SE Division teams. We should make him the spokesman for Sun Belt hockey. Then he should order carpet bombing of Ontario. Spokesmen can do those things.
I was thinking for a second that it was pretty classy that the Panthers are sponsored by a private jet company, then I remembered that Gulfstream is a sleazy casino in the Miami area.
Another close one. This has been a pretty boring game so far that is slightly tilted in the Cats' favor.
Moose has impressive composure in those mad scrambles. Good work there keeping track of the puck and calmly freezing it with danger lurking nearby.
Mmmmmm.. Noble Pilsner... Sounds good. But I'm sure nowhere near as good as the New Belgium La Folie I'm drinking at the moment.
Good win the other night. True story: I yelled "score!" loudly after the first ATL goal. A stripper thought I was cheering for her.
Another true story: Kovy should sign with Atlanta just to prove wrong the yankees who told me this weekend that there is no possible reason he would want to stay.
Great steal in the offensive zone by Antro, but he was too slow to make a play to a wide open Czar. If only he had been Fins instead. Awesome play by Leopold to intercept.
Even more evidence of Moose's superiority. Gets nailed by a Panther player then calls off Ron OMGIRH Hainsey because we need the man advantage more than we need revenge.
Good puck movement so far. Let's see if we have changed strategy away from that cross ice pass to Kovy----- Nope.
Kozlov has a few goals on the PP this season probably because goalies were shocked anyone but the Czar shot the puck.
PP is over. Thanks to Fins we still have the puck in the zone. Good pressure here after the man advantage is over. Nice to be able to roll out Pevs and Fins and Bogo.
Bud Light paintball commercial is pretty funny. Another true story: Shooter and I once knew a guy who played paintball A LOT. He bragged that he would crank up his paintball gun so that it took bark off trees then shoot people from close range. I think he is in jail for killing, eating, and molesting his pet boa constrictor. In that order.
Time to change TV's so my TiVo can record 24 and House...
... Our LiveBlog is going to be delayed a few minutes longer than I'd originally anticipated. I forgot that I had moved the DirecTV receive that is usually hooked up to my big screen TV. Had to be able to watch the Thrashers/USA Juniors/Yellow Jackets back on Jan 5th.
Ok, we're back! 1:30 to go in the 1st.
HOLY GOD!!! How did we not get scored on there? Marty the Party did the right thing by taking that tripping penalty, but he had to do it because he failed to react quickly enough to get the puck out of danger.
Ok, end of the first period and the only things to happen worth noting were chances for the Panthers. John Anderson should yell himself hoarse this intermission.
Has anyone else noticed Evander Kane in the past month? Not that that is absolutely a bad thing. If an 18 year old is quiet and not hurting his team, that's a positive. He has been throwing some hits and standing up for his teammates, but has also taken some bad penalties. Over all he's been kind of a wash lately, but that could be due to teams paying a lot more attention to him than they did in October and November.
I recently saw a book that talked about being a good wingman for your buddy when he's hitting on a girl. They used the term "Wedging." This is a reference to Wedge Antilles from Star Wars. That's one of the most awesome things I've ever heard.
The Panthers will start out the period on the power play. What the hell is Thorburn thinking? You don't EVER take a chance when you're the last man back!
I don't know if I have ever seen Atlanta score on a power play that was interrupted by intermission. Thankfully the Panthers don't do it here, either.
Kovy has been playing with more pep over the last week and a half or so. Maybe his foot is feeling better. Maybe contract negotiations are going better. Maybe contract negotiations are off and he's happy about going elsewhere. Maybe he found a new source for HGH. Who knows?
Trying to LiveBlog, text, and get pestered by the dog all at the same time. Don't know how that last flurry happened. We have to learn how to clear the crease.
Now drinking a Dark Side imperial stout from Terrapin. It tastes like good beef jerky.
Well, that was inevitable the way this game has been going. 1-0 Panthers.
What did I just say about clearing the crease?
This has been an awful game to LiveBlog. Sorry folks. I should have liveblogged the strippers this weekend instead.
DIVE! Panthers on the power play.
The goal wasn't Moose's fault at all. Peanut was doing more harm than good cuddling with the Panthers' forward instead of moving him out of the crease.
Good move by Thorbs blocking the shot then getting the puck out wihout a stick.
Successful PK. Nicely done by both Thorbs and Boris.
They should play the NHL like 24. The clock never stops, but no one is allowed to do anything significant while we're away on commercial. And Kovy never eats, sleeps, or takes a piss.
Kovy with a great chance. Those are the kind of plays we need to make. And there it is again, but the shot is blocked. Kovy needs to shoot more from the high slot. Look at the goals he scores in international competition. Always moving left to right on top of the faceoff circles.
Beautiful play by Jimmy with Fins on the doorstep. I don't know if that was designed or not, but it was brilliant. Great chance.
There's another of those bad penalties for Evander.
ANOTHER power play for Florida. What is that, 98-1 in chances with the man advantage tonight?
The team's play has picked up considerably since giving up the flukey goal. If we could string together 5 straight minutes of even strength hockey we could make something happen here.
Get up Slava, you're not hurt.
That's what I want to see.
I'll be damned. A Florida player hit the ice and no Atlanta player got a penalty.
I don't know if it is about general slowness of foot, lack of effort, or what, but we seem to lose every race to every puck in every game. Notice how when you watch a really good team like the Blackhawks, it is like they have seven skaters out there because there's always somebody there to pick up every errant puck. We make every other team look like that.
Great toe save by the Moose.
Better play over the last half of that period, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Nice to see us starting out with some sustained pressure.
Great sequence. What do we have to do to bury one of those?
Slava can't retire quickly enough. Another ugly turnover.
Boris just missed the net by 300 feet.
Some great pressure this period so far. Get Maxim out there.
Keep it up! Another great opportunity there. Awesome work from the Pevs Dispenser. Vokoun is killing us here.
This LiveBlog has now decayed into a typographic representation of the annoying things you would hear if you were sitting near me at the game in person.
Maxi Fins has got that look in his eye. Too bad he doesn't also have that puck on his stick.
Good guys outshooting the bad guys 10-1 in the 3rd. I have a bad feeling that Vokoun isn't going to relent.
Powerplay for the Thrashers! Great effort by Jimmy Slates! Glad to see he could sober up and get out of the inn for the evening.
Great Slava. Just great. You effectively killed off 10 seconds of PP there.
Screen Vokoun and shell him. That's our only hope tonight.
Apparently Kozlov has been drinking Jimmy Slates' rum. Is very bad to drink Jimmy Slates' rum. Is very bad.
True story: Zach Bogosian once had the ability to hit the net with a shot from the point.
Pretty tired of the fire breathing goat commercial now.
How much ice time does Fins get in the final 3:30?
Great play by Evander but he had no help. How about a line of Kane, Pevs, and Fins?Creativity, speed, and hustle.
Moose to the bench. Powerplay. Did this just get interesting?
How humiliating is it to take a penalty because you had to slow down Nik Antropov?
1:19 LEFT IN THE 3RD
Slava blows it.
19 SECONDS LEFT
No effort for a last second rush. Way to accept your fate, losers.
I've been scouring the Internets looking for interesting news about your Thrashers (clicked to the AJC Thrashers page and glanced at my Twitter feed) but no dice. I have some kind of monkey cold. Coincidentally enough I think I got it while dining in a sushi place that looks like it belongs right next door to the Florida Panthers in Miami. Am not approving of my state.
Onward and upward, though, for your editor and for the Thrashers.
There is no excuse for losing this game.
UPDATE: Now there's really no excuse, as puck-fascinated madman Stephen Weiss is totally out, according to Miami Herald feller George Richards. Look out!
Friday, January 15, 2010
- Is the hockey world the only group talking about the Olympic Games? Seems like there is very little awareness, especially here in US.- RT @TSNBobMcKenzie: Strange as it may seem, if I were a betting man, I would say Samuelsson gets added to the Swedish Olympic team.- Good people of Saskatoon deserve to go more than another 18 years before hosting another WJC. Tremendous support and efforts.....- Oh, what a joy it is to fly....- Frolunda Indians first Swedish team to develop #iphone app- @emcerlain still in HD sponsored by Sony. Personally I like the white background of ice vs. green field.- Craig MacTavish best coach available out there (editor's note: this is actually true)-@PredsOnTheGlass btw is it still called the Sommet Center or what?- Obviously, picking the best 5 GM's of the next decade be much harder to predict in a cap world- Reading you guys reminds me that video killed the newspaper star.- Who is the #best NHL color commentator?- P. Rinne's brother-in-law play for what NHL team? For this and great anecdotes of Rinne rise to #NHL reach me for ideas @firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Two things that are true:
1) Sabres-Thrashers games are always fun.
2) Sabres fans are alway annoying.
Also: Looks like Nik Antropov will be back tonight. I damn well hope so; he's on my fantasy team and we (the Swine of Santiago) are only 1 point away from losing our global empire.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
(scene: interior of the Thrasherville Sheriff’s Office. Ten Gallon is seated at his desk, writing something or other. Little Little sits in the corner carving something out of wood with his pocketknife. Deputy Colby sits at another desk, feet up, absentmindedly shuffling a deck of cards. Some of them fall onto the floor; the Deputy doesn’t seem eager to pick them up. In walks Mayor Waddell.)
Good day, gents. How are Thrasherville’s finest this afternoon? I’ve, ah, come here to discuss a few things about those rowdy boys from the Wolf Gang. Mind if I have a seat?
(Deputy Colby doesn’t look up. Little Little seems like he’s about to say something when Ten Gallon looks up and speaks.)
So what’s the deal Mr. Mayor?
(genuinely nonplussed) The deal?
Have to say I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sheriff, I, uh---
(suddenly looking up) Aw, come on now Mr. Mayor! You know damn well what he’s talkin’ ‘bout. Now ‘fess up.
I can’t say I do know. Truly, Sheriff Peverley, if there’s something specific you want to know, well just ask.
You reveal a big ol’ heap more than you intend by calling me “Sheriff,” Mr. Mayor. I told you before, I ain’t the damn sheriff. There’s only one sheriff in this town and he’s one of them Russians. He’s been on leave for a while now, I’m sure you’ll remember.
Well, yes, of course. Sheriff Kovalchuk has been doing important work. I’m not at liberty to say just what he’s been doing, but I hope you’ll trust me.
Trust you about what? That’s a damn non-sequitur, Mr. Mayor. There ain’t a drop of sticky tobacco to connect the first part of that sentence to the second.
I suppose you’re asking when Sheriff Kovalchuk will be returning to our fine town?
I ain’t askin’ when, Mr. Mayor. I’m askin if.
Don’t play dumb now, Mr. Mayor, let’s just answer the man’s question.
That, Deputy, is no way to address the Mayor of Thrasherville.
Keep your voice down, Deputy. Mr. Mayor, what I’m sayin’ is that if I’m a-gonna keep this town just and orderly, if it’s gonna run properly, I need to know whether that Russian is ever comin’ back.
Well, you know, we’re confident we can get a deal done.
Gotta say I don’t reckon I know what that means.
(sudden shout from outside. All four stand up and look out the door. One of Marty’s Blue Crew Party Girls is running through the street chasing a dog.)
MARTY’S PARTY GIRL #1
Come back, Hunter! Come back!
Blue Crew girl’s lost her dog!
(all four say “I’ll get it” in unison and charge out onto the street)
Hey miss, I got a leash in here! (pointing to police office) Use it for my dog; ya need it?
MARTY’S PARTY GIRL #1
Hunter doesn’t have a collar! (looking increasingly distressed as Hunter bounds up the street)
Reckon I’ll just use it as a lasso.
(Our hero runs back into the office, grabs the leash, and races back outside. He runs up the street and seems to be within lasso-ing range of Mr. Hunter. Just as Ten Gallon is swirling the leash over his head and preparing to let fly, an unsightly large man, on a horse and smoking a cigar, lurches out from an alley and grabs the dog by the neck.)
UNSIGHTLY CIGAR MAN
(holding up Hunter) Whose dog is this?
MARTY’S PARTY GIRL #1
He belongs to Jimmy Slates over at the hotel, sir. He just ran out; poor Jimmy wasn’t in any state to get up and run after him, so I had to get him.
(Ten Gallon and Deputy Colby exchange looks. Jimmy Slates with a Blue Crew girl?)
UNSIGHTLY CIGAR MAN
I don’t wanna see no more dogs without collars roamin’ these streets. Got that?
MARTY’S PARTY GIRL #1
I-I...who are you, exactly?
That ain’t no way to talk to a lady and it sure as hell ain’t no way to be cordial to a canine, sir. Now unhand that pup and apologize to the lady.
UNSIGHTLY CIGAR MAN
Ah, you must be the famous Ten Gallon Dick Peverley. Keeping Thrasherville safe by chasing after drunken and dissolute hoteliers’ dogs. (drops Hunter, who scurries over to Marty’s Party Girl #1.)
MARTY’S PARTY GIRL #1
Don’t talk about Jimmy that way! He’s a good man, and he’s kind, and he’s, he’s...
(who has been looking terrified this entire time) Okay, Sheriff Peverley, that’s enough. No need to rile up the Committee any more than we already have today.
(bewildered and exasperated) Who in tarnation is the Committee? And who is this ugly bastard? Just what the hell is going on here?
UNSIGHTLY CIGAR MAN
Go on, Mr. Mayor. Tell ‘em.
(looking at his feet) He’s uh...he’s uh...he’s a representative of the Committee. Their enforcer, if you will. Their strongman.
UNSIGHTLY CIGAR MAN
That’s about the size of it. I best be going now. You take care, Mayor Waddell. See to it there’s no trouble with any of these kids. (he turns his horse northward and rides away)
Mr. Mayor, you’re gonna have to tell us just what in the hell is just about goin’ on.
How can you let that fella talk to you like that, Mr. Mayor? You’re the mayor!
I am, Little, you’re right. But sometimes even mayors have people to answer to...
(close-up shot of Ten Gallon’s face. He realizes what’s going on here.)
(slowly) The Committee, huh?
(shamefacedly averting his eyes) The Committee.
Is that like some devil from some old Indian story?
No, Little Little. I’m afraid it ain’t.
(Mayor Waddell tips his hat to everyone, wishes them a good day, and walks off. Hunter the Dog and Marty’s Party Girl #1 head back towards the hotel. Final shot of the scene shows Little Little, Deputy Colby, and Ten Gallon Dick standing in the middle of the dusty street, the sun just beginning its descent over the cacti and the mountains. Behind them is a huge poster advertising something called the Podes Hightower Beast Circus, soon to arrive in town.)
This town is doomed.
God, I can't wait for the Olympics.
(For those of you groaning that you have to go to the effort of clicking on a link- I think it's wrong to post large sections of others' work on our own blog. They deserve the hits on their site for their good work.)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Also: ahahahahaha. Go Thrashers.
We'd like to begin this game day post by apologizing to all of our readers for being on steroids during our historic acts of blogging. Now then, moving on:
It's a sorry thing that Tony Danza has never served in a Senate of any kind. If he had, this game day picture might make more sense. But alas, the Senators aren't on my mind today. Not even that frosty Mormon who's in trouble for being the re-incarnation of Strom Thurmond, or something (the story's too boring to follow).
What IS on my mind? Well, Who's the Boss? of course. It's on my mind normally, but after reading the latest Dave Pagnotta article at the Fourth Period, I think the show's title has special relevance for our Thrashers:
Waddell and Co. have presented a number of different offers, but they fall far from what Kovalchuk is looking for, term wise.
I understand where the Thrashers are coming from, and it's extremely unfortunate. Their ownership group is, for lack of a better term, a mess. The Thrashers have been trying to lure additional investors, but it's been a difficult sell. Add to that the uncertainty of Kovalchuk sticking around beyond this season and you're in a very tough position.
At the same time, Kovalchuk is concerned with the future of the franchise and isn't interested in a short-term fix (or contract).
Kovalchuk, Grossman, Waddell and part owner Bruce Levenson all got together at the end of October to map out a game plan. According to a source, it was the first time the green light was given to start contract talks.
Instead of jumping at the chance to sign Kovalchuk right away, the team was focused on bringing in new investors and it took two months before contract negotiations finally picked up.
Oh for God's sake. The Falconer has already published a good post on the unfortunate likelihood that this is true, or at least seems consistent with what we already know about the Atlanta Spirit. His central point is that as much responsibility as Don Waddell shoulders for the Thrashers, the team's problems won't be resolved until it finds new owners. If this Pagnotta report is true, then this is the Spirit's true coup de grace. Delaying contract talks with their team's biggest star, one of the biggest in the league? There's nothing that excuses that. Like the Falconer says, even if Waddell were fired tomorrow the team would still be mired in all kinds of problems, problems that are the fault of its ramshackle and endlessly confused owners.
I hate (love) to blare my own horn, but your Chronicle has been making this point for going on 2 years now. Waddell, while not entirely bad, is in his mistakes a symptom of a larger problem. The problem's name is Atlanta Spirit, LLC.
At this point the team's owners remind me an awful lot of something Christopher Hitchens once said about John le Carré in a very different context. Their "conduct...is like nothing so much as that of a man who, having relieved himself in his own hat, makes haste to clamp the brimming chapeau on his head." It's sort of an analogue of "you made your bed, now lie in it." They've pissed in their hat; now they have to wear it.
All that said, for tonight: Go Thrashers.
UPDATE: Oh ho ho, look at these fancy new line combinations.
The laughter begins with just the title. "Is Kovalchuk Burke's Type?" Right from the get-go we see that this isn't going to be journalism, but Leaf fanboy fantasies about getting Kovy to play in the blue and white.
After a quick rehash of the situation we all know so well, Cox goes on to insult Atlanta and Sun Belt Hockey by association, suggesting hypothetically that anyone the Spirit Group may sell to would "sensibly give up on Atlanta." He tries to hide his anti-Non-Canadian bias by suggesting that those hypothetical new owners would move the team to Kansas City.
Nicely done, eh.
The one decent point he does make is that Kovalchuk is going to have an opportunity to really showcase himself at the Olympics.
We have all seen what the Czar does when he takes to the international stage to play for is country. If he has a typical Kovalchuk international tournament during the Olympics and wins Gold for Mother Russia, he's not going to be in any hurry to sign a contract when he comes back from Vancouver, and teams throughout the NHL and KHL are going to be salivating.
Knowing Grossman's strategy of holding out until the midnight hour (which, again, is October when the season starts, not March 3 or July 1), Waddell should consider the gamble of trading Kovy at the trade deadline and picking up negotiations again on July 1 if his new team can't sign him before then.
Grossman had Kovy wait through training camp and into the beginning of the season before signing a new contract when he was an RFA. Waddell caved then. Grossman and Kovy have no reason to believe it won't be the same this time. They have no incentive whatsoever to sign before October unless they get absolutely everything they want out of DW and the ASG.
On the other hand, Kovy loves Atlanta and doesn't want to leave. He wants to spend the rest of his playing career here then retire and move back to Russia. That means that when the rest of the league comes into play, DW has a big advantage since his team is the only one located in the city Kovy calls home.
Keep in mind that there is a trade freeze during the Olympics. I believe it starts on February 12 and ends on March 1. The trade deadline is March 3. That leaves three days of frantic trading for half the league's GMs trying to shore up their playoff chances and the other half trying to bolster their futures.
If DW can make a trade for Kovy during those three days and bring in one or two good, young roster players and a couple of high draft picks or very good prospects, he could call that a good return. If that trade were to happen with a team that cannot hope to resign Kovy next year because of cap issues (Washington, Chicago, Rangers, etc.) all the better since it makes it almost certain that DW gets another shot at negotiating a contract to bring him back home.
The best case scenario for Waddell would be that Kovy wins Russia the Gold and takes MVP honors in Vancouver and every playoff bound team comes calling during March 1-3 and offers the moon. He pulls the trigger on one of those trades and brings in several high draft picks, a couple of roster players, and a good prospect. Kovy plays in the playoffs for that other team, then doesn't sign a new contract with them because a) he doesn't want to live there, b) they can't afford him under the cap, and c) Grossman will hold out with them just like he is with DW. On July 1 (or earlier if DW can work out trading one of those draft picks back to the other team for Kovy's negotiating rights), he re-opens negotiations right where they left off. By October 1, DW works out a deal and Kovy rejoins the team along with the guys for which he was traded back in March.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said Monday that he is not actively seeking to trade star Ilya Kovalchuk. However, a trade is a possibility should a new contract agreement not be reached.
Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May that he would unequivocally not trade Kovalchuk, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, even if contract talks reached an impasse.
“Our first priority still remains to sign him,” Waddell told the AJC Monday. “That’s clear. I probably didn’t leave the door open enough at the beginning of the year because, obviously, I was hoping that this would be long done by now. We also have to protect the asset. He’s an asset to our franchise. …
“[A trade] still looms as an option, but it’s not my first choice.”
Waddell said that both sides – the Thrashers and Kovalchuk and his agent Jay Grossman – have proposals on the table.
“We are at a difference of what the player should be paid,” Waddell said. “It has nothing to do with Kovy being a great player, being our franchise player. It has everything to do that we do this and still have room that we can continue to grow this franchise.”
The NHL trade deadline is March 3. No league transactions can be made during the two-week Olympic break, which begins Feb. 14.
Waddell also said there is an option to play out the season with Kovalchuk on the roster and attempt to re-sign him at a later date.
I try to control my urge to exaggerate, I really do. But...this is a disaster. Just saying.
If you’re interested in talking hockey, New York Yankees baseball, politics or any number of subjects with him, Dean Lombardi will be at the Kings game tonight, at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, nowhere near any other cities. That’s what he just said in a text message, and referred to any suggestions to the contrary as “absurd.” Hopefully we can move along now, but I doubt it.
He'll be at the Kings game tonight. Where was he last night and the night before that? HMMM?
Your morning practice report begins with the news that Kari Lehtonen and Nik Antropov are taking part in the skate.
This is Lehtonen’s first practice with the team since...
Antropov is back. Lehtonen is skating. White and Kozlov are now on a line with Eric Boulton. Make of this what you will.
Yesterday our comments section saw some healthy discussion of the Fourth Period's newest pet rumor about Kings GM Dean Lombardi flying to Atlanta to talk to Don Waddell. Obviously we have no idea if this is true, but I'm sure there are people, somewhere, who might be able to find out what's going on. People who work for the Newspapers, perhaps, and cover the Atlanta Thrashers. "Fast" Willy Tiller, where are you on this one? All you have to do is dial D-Wadd's number, say "Is there any truth to the rumor that you've hanging with Dean Lombardi?" and chuckle loudly to yourself when he answers.
Like I said in the comments below my last post, the Kings have always seemed like the most logical destination for Kovalchuk (a fact which ought to make the Battle of California's Rudy Kelly's head joyously explode). They certainly have a lot to offer for him, but I agree with all those who've said they can't imagine a team giving up too much for a player that's likely to be just a rental.
If you're looking for an idea of what we could get from LA for a player of Kovalchuk's calibre, look to history. Dean Lombardi is great at building teams with young prospects; his tenures with the Sharks and the Kings prove that. He's less great, but still pretty good, at making big, high-profile trades of the kind perfected by his Sharks successor Doug Wilson. Sometimes he'll give you something in return (Kyle Quincey for Ryan Smyth, a move that's been good for both of the teams invovled), often he won't (Jeff Friesen and Steve Shields for Teemu Selanne, draft picks for Vincent Damphousse, God knows what for Mike Vernon and Owen Nolan).
Draw your own conclusions.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Nothing like a good test right after breaking a long losing streak. Our boys will have to play a lot better than they did on Thursday night to come away with a W in this one.
Oh, and speaking of Thursday night, if you have that game on Tivo, you can see some nice shots of Big Shooter and myself in the stands near the Zamboni entrance. We're both wearing Team USA jersies. The best shot is over the shoulder of Erik Christensen as he gets ready to take his turn in the shootout.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thus, this article from the exotic and faraway Toronto Globe and Mail:
The sense is that Kovalchuk wants to get close to the maximum allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement, which is 20 per cent of the ($56.8-million) salary cap – or a salary in the $11-million annual range, which would make him the highest-paid player in the game.
Is he worth it? No.
There is much to like about Kovalchuk – and in a different market, his personality might shine almost as Ovechkin’s level. For sure, his English is better; and he seems like a thoughtful individual; and wouldn’t Russia’s Continental Hockey League welcome him into the fold, if he were ever the prodigal son, returning home?
Theoretically, Kovalchuk could have an 11th-hour change of heart and sign with Atlanta before negotiations get past the point of no return, but if he doesn’t – and if the talks grind to a full stop – then the onus will be on general manager Don Waddell to maximize his return in a possible deal, in order to protect an organization that seems to be heading in the right direction.
Read the whole thing, draw your own conclusions, blah blah blah, so on and so forth, it's too icy to do Internet posting. My computer might hydroplane.
That answers our musings about Bogo's un-Bogolike play of late. He was tearing it up last night when he got chances to handle the puck.
On an unrelated note, those red Blue Crew uniforms are even better up close. Especially when Jami lets her skirt ride up to let us all see that they have matching underwear underneath (or not underneath in this instance).
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Antropov is hurt. Moose is starting.
Craig Custance with a humdinger on the Kovy situation:
Kovalchuk has told the organization he wants to be an Atlanta Thrasher for life. In October, pleased with where the team was heading, he green-lighted the possibility of a long-term deal with the team that drafted him.
If he's signing long term, ideally he'd like the max. Wouldn't we all? That would mean an annual salary of $11.36 million -- or 20 percent of the salary cap ($56.8 million) allowed by CBA guidelines. He might settle for less. But not too much less.
The Thrashers are open to the idea of a deal that could run as long as 12 years, but the question they have to answer is this: Will a 39-year-old Kovalchuk be worth $10 million? Or $9 million?
If Thrashers ownership doesn't want to pay the $100-plus million it could take to keep Kovalchuk in Atlanta for the next decade, Waddell will have to trade him, although he's not saying that. It's a decision he won't make until he's absolutely convinced an extension can't be done. He's not there yet.
the front-runners have to be the Los Angeles Kings, the first team many people in hockey mention as the most logical Kovalchuk destination. The Boston Bruins could also use the scoring and GM Peter Chiarelli has acquired a pile of assets to make it happen.
And what about Washington? Think about that for a second -- a team with fellow Russian superstars Ovechkin and Kovalchuk.
Capitals GM George McPhee has done an admirable job creating cap space over the course of the season as the trade deadline closes in, perhaps enough to make the Capitals a serious consideration. Especially if Alexander Semin is in the deal.
Read the whole thing. BLAH. We'll get back to original content sometime soon.