Thursday, April 29, 2010
For example: the Washington Capitals have now so disgraced themselves that certain players will have to swim to the World Championship, or to their native countries, or wherever they go for the summer. Even worse: they have to take the long way around, through burning oil and dead manatees in the Gulf of Mexico. This is what happens when you choke!
Already Capitals fans are calling for Bruce Boudreau's plump bald head. Might be a bit rash, but if he must go, might I suggest José Mourinho?
Actually, forget that. I want José for the Thrashers.
MEANWHILE: There's a whole 'nother round to go before we even reach the conference finals! If you're interested, you can look back at my first round predictions and have yourself a chortle. I did get half the victors right, which probably means I also got half wrong. Got none of the predicted series lengths correct.
My predictions for the second round, not that you asked:
Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
Who I'd Like to Win: Montreal.
Who Will Win: The Penguins in 6.
Philadelphia vs. Boston
Who I'd Like to Win: I guess Boston, though I'm not that fascinated by this one.
Who Will Win: Philly in 6.
Vancouver vs. Chicago
Who I'd Like to Win: Vancouver.
Who Will Win: Vancouver in 6. I'll also declare for all to read, now and forever, that they'll win the Stanley Cup this year.
Detroit vs. San Jose
Who I'd Like to Win: The Sharks getting past the second round would be as exotic and as fascinating as a two-headed marmot.
Who Will Win: Empirical science indicates the Red Wings, but I'll be foolhardy and say the Sharks manage to win it in 7. I predict Marleau and Thornton find their will to live in this series. Setoguchi-Pavelski-Clowe will be a monster, obviously. If San Jose really does manage to get through Detroit, then all bets are off, including my prediction about Vancouver.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Jay Feaster was on NHL Live this afternoon and briefly discussed the Thrashers' coaching search. Feaster took the reigns from Rick Dudley in Tampa and had dealings with him when Duds was running the show in Miami. He touched on the rampant rumors about John Torchetti and said that he wouldn't be at all surprised by that, but that he would also place bets on Dudley asking to speak to his old buddy Craig Ramsay who is currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins.
As you probably already know, Rammer was a member of the 1980 US Gold Medal winning Olympic team. This means that he has ties to Don Waddell as well as Dudley who brought him in to Tampa when Tortarella was head coach there. According to Feaster, Dudley called him from Florida and asked for permission to talk to Ramsay about moving with him from Tampa to Sunshine, but Feaster refused to grant permission. Feaster was absolutely glowing in his praise of Ramsay's coaching ability and style. He pointed out that Rammer won a Selke Trophy and is as adept at coaching defensemen as he is at coaching forwards.
I am on record saying that I want to see a battle tested coach hired for this job, but failing that, it sounds like Ramsey would be a great choice. One of the reasons for bringing in a proven head coach is for the built in respect and "belief" factor. Someone who played for Herb Brooks and won a Selke Trophy, and spent time behind the bench of the Sabres, Flyers, Lightning, and Bruins (brief stints as head coach for the Sabres and Flyers) would carry much the same gravitas.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
John Shannon, writing in something called Sportsnet.ca:
And finally, there are some stories that just won't go away:
2. Up to six teams throughout the US are struggling big time. The league has advanced some TV dollars and a percentage of revenue sharing that teams would normally get in September.
"Some stories...just won't go away." What does this mean? That they're true, or that they're stories that John Shannon hears an awful lot?
Luckily, we have a Globe & Mail human to Clarify Everything:
An interesting item in John Shannon’s blog on Sportsnet.ca the other day stated as many as six NHL teams needed advances on television and/or revenue-sharing money to pay the bills.
Given the persistent financial state of several NHL markets, there are always one or two franchises needing an advance on money that is usually paid out in September and October. But six is a troubling number despite our troubled economic times.
Shannon did not identify the teams but there are no surprises among them. Word is the needy half-dozen are the Dallas Stars, Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and (maybe) the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Word is." "Maybe."
The "I heard that somebody heard something that's maybe true, but maybe not, ah who cares let's toast the Imperial Beaver of Ontario and get sloppy..." vagueness of all this is dismaying enough, but, UGH:
"Persistent financial state." "Troubling number despite our troubled economic times."
The clunkiness of their prose might be related to the thinness of their reporting. These teams might or might not be in financial trouble. If these guys are interested in this story, can't they cultivate sources close to the supposedly shaky teams and put meat on the bones of a skeletal rumor? At the very least they can contact Scottie Upshall on the Twitter and ask "R Yotes n trubl? jst twt ys r no." It can be done without leaving Toronto!
Monday, April 26, 2010
A vital question for people aspiring to write about the Atlanta Thrashers and/or hockey in general for a modest Internet audience: For your next post, is it best to write....
a) a fake "Alabama Journal of Maxim A."
b) a post about "how 'bout them playoffs? They're happening, as expected..."
c) a post about how you'd like the Thrashers to hire Evgeni Nabokov next season, seeing as how he's your favorite goalie and all,
d) a post about how eye-shavingly boring such posts almost always are
e) a post acknowledging that the Thrashers have a new GM
f) a post about how evil Marian Hossa must be
g) a post defending Marian Hossa from charges of Evilness
h) a post about how Nabokov would never come here anyway
This is an important question for anyone who, like your TBC staff, types on a 1980's typewriter and then glues their work to the Internet.
Friday, April 23, 2010
1) Ilya Kovalchuk (assume it's for a reasonable price, about 8-9.5 mil per year)
2) Jarome Iginla (far fetched, but he might be willing to waive his NTC to come mentor Evander Kane and be an ambassador for hockey in this market)
3) Martin St. Louis (I know, it turns my stomach, too, but I once had a dream Atlanta won the Stanley Cup with him on our team)
4) Jack Johnson (Salary dump from LAK team trying to sign Kovy)
5) Brian Gionta (Same scenario as Jack Johnson)
6) Carey Price (Is he really any better than Ondrej?)
Thursday, April 22, 2010
MIDDAY BRIEFING: "When the boys asked her, 'Sibyl, what do you want?' she answered 'I want to kick Mike Richards's fucking teeth in.'"
- Former Atlanta star athlete Ilya "The Black Dominique Wilkins" Kovalchuk, between periodic jam jar assaults from Lou Lamoriello, is promising to rain hell on those Flyers in Game 5 of the New Jersey/Philadelphia series. He's even given a Messier-esque guarantee of victory. Is he the Sibyl of Cumae or just another pain-in-the-ass false prophet? Tune in tonight at midnight!
- Over at Bird Watchers Anonymous, the Falconer is going stone cold Sherlock Holmes on this Ricky Dudley character, digging up old (and revealing) interviews with Jay Feaster, probing the man's history, etc. The conclusion History seems to imply is that Dudley is one serious mofo, a rugged individualist who absolutely must do things his way or Just Cold Resign. Stubborn and dogmatic or principled and gun-adhesive? You decide.
- Why does Alexander Ovechkin hate Quebecois children?
- Will Kovalchuk even consider returning to the Thrashers this summer? As the estimable Rawhide writes,"Stopit-forgiddaboutit-notgonnahappen-nowayinhell-donotdothistoyourselfanymore." I say he ends up in Los Angeles or takes lower pay to play on the Washington Russian Mutants for at least two years.
- Let's close with a Q&A session.
Question: What's more awesome than the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Answer: A goddamn sheep-pig.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Anyway, I happened across this bit of news thanks to the wags at the Awl, and, well, hell:
Newsday has a new policy for its sports page. The paper’s editors have told their writers there has to be a new, softer tone. They don’t want loaded words. They don’t want name-calling. They don’t want stories to be unnecessarily harsh.
Newsday used to be a tough and punchy tabloid (meaning it was a solid daily paper in tabloid format, like the old New York Post or the current London Independent, not that it was sensationalistic and tawdry). These days it's an indifferent assemblage of the usual horrors: what Maura Johnston at the Awl describes as "charticles and graphsticles and celebrity fluff." Certainly not a unique problem in the dying days of the newspaper industry, but tragic nonetheless.
Now then. Turns out that in 2008 Newsday was bought by some conglomerate called Cablevision. Turns out that Cablevision also owns the Knicks and the Rangers. HMM HMM HMM?
As it happens, your Chronicle has had some fun at the expense of Newsday in the past. Just so you all know: we'll never be needlessly nice to the Thrashers unless we're paid an exorbitant amount of money by the Atlanta Spirit.
But who cares? It is springtime, after all.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Money thoughts from Elliotte:
25. The Rick Dudley/Don Waddell job change was a paper move. Inreality, Dudley had been making the hockey decisions for quite some time.
26. Hockey is a brutal business: Waddell had to fire his college roommate, SteveWeeks, as part of the housecleaning.
27. Dudley is very close with Chicago assistant John Torchetti, but word is he probably won't be theThrashers next head coach. John Stevens would be a good fit, since the GM wants a young guy who can grow with the team.
And now we know why Steve Weeks has been our goalie coach for the past 10 years and never got fired. Nice gig, Stevie. Nice gig indeed. Didn't we do a post a while back about how Waddell mainly hired friends of his instead of, perhaps, the best man for the job? I have no idea where to dig it up but it's in there somewhere kiddies. Once again TBC is all over it. And now, you are allowed to get back to re-reading the saga of Ten Gallon Dick. As you were...
Monday, April 19, 2010
My nominee for Most Exciting Game So Far was that wild Montreal/Washington thing this past weekend, though there have been plenty of good ones. Last night's Sharks-Av's game, for instance. Truly, I've never seen a more intense goal-less game. I've also never seen a more anti-climactic one. Dan Boyle, haw haw.
So what are you people interested in these days?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I will get back to my four part series as the playoffs continue, but for now let's take a look at what's in the cabinet.
As C-Viv has informed us, both Maxim Afinogenov and Pavel Kubina want to come back. Hopefully Dudley can find the right price for both of them; it sounds like Kubina is very happy to see Dudley in the GM seat. I would be surprised to see Colby Armstrong re-signed after a 15 goal season. He was pretty invisible over the last 20 games or so and his on-ice contributions would be easily replaced for cheaper. If he comes back it will be for his locker room presence, but his salary could be better spent keeping Kubina and Fins.
Do we even need to discuss Slava Kozlov?
The top line of Bergfors, Antropov, and Little performed well over the final stretch and I would expect Bergie and Lits to get their RFA contracts worked out and see them line up together in training camp. Continued progress from Bergfors and a rebound from Little would go a long way to extending the Thrashers 10-11 season.
Evander Kane really stepped up in the last stretch of play. Hopefully he will work hard over the summer, put on a little bulk, and come back stronger and smarter. Put his grit and skill on a line with Rich Peverly and a re-signed Maxim Afinogenov and you've got a very potent second line.
If Todd White isn't traded for a draft pick in late June, he will probably be penciled in on the third line to play wit Jimmy Slater, who was the hardest working Thrasher this year and fully deserved the Dan Snyder Award. If Jimmy isn't re-signed, I will personally throw a fit on this here blog and call Rick Dudley all sorts of unfriendly names. I don't foresee a rebound year for Todd White, but then again I didn't expect to see 20 goals from him in 08-09 either.
Personally, I would re-sign Jimmy and trade Todd White for a draft pick. This would allow Jimmy and Marty Reasoner to battle it out for a spot on the third line and would make room for two youngsters to play there as well. Fighting for those places would be Tim Stapleton (impressive work in his short tryout at the end of the year), Joey Crabb (great year in Chicago and he proved he can hold his own last year), Spencer Machacek (20 goals and 68 pim in Chicago this year), Jeremy Morin, and Patrice Cormier.
The checking line was just as good if not better than last season, and I see no reason to change it. In fact, I have no idea why Artuykin was brought in at all. Let the big guy go sign somewhere else. Bring back Eric Boulton who knows when and when not to drop the gloves, and has worked very hard on becoming a better all around player this year. Chris Thorburn already has a contract and can play with Boults and the loser of Jimmy and Marty's battle for third line ice time.
The defense is looking pretty solid with Bogo (due to rebound after a sophomore slump), Enstrom, Oduya, and Hainsey (really stepped up after the Kovalchuk trade). Re-signing Kubina would make this corps very impressive and would leave one final roster spot to be won by either Boris Valabik, Arturs Kulda, or Ivan Vishnevskiy.
The Thrashers need a very good goalie coach who can shape Ondrej Pavelec into the goaltender he could be. Either re-signing Moose (my preference) or bringing in another reliable backup would ensure a good foundation between the pipes.
Re-signing Afinogenov, Kubina, and Hedberg, then bringing up a couple of young guys itching for a shot in the NHL would ice a solid team for 2010-2011. Is it a playoff team? I doubt it. For the team I have described above to make the playoffs, we would have to see drastic steps forward from Kane, Bergfors, Little, the two third-line rookies, and Pavelec.
A lot can happen between now and the beginning of October. But take a look at that team described above, then think about how those younger players would look for the 2011-2012 season. Who do we want to give up in order to squeek into the playoffs next year?
Friday, April 16, 2010
(Ten Gallon, Little Little, and Deputy Colby sitting in the sheriff’s office. Hellacious commotion outside. The townsfolk are going nuts. Smashing windows, throwing barrels and chairs, screaming about Sheriff Kovalchuk and Mayor Waddell. Our hero gets up and stands at the window.)
What in tarnation?
Looks like they’re angry.
(Ten Gallon wastes no time. He grabs his pistol and runs outside. The townsfolk are indeed in an uproar: smashing windows, braying and yelling, threatening to do violent things to either Mayor Waddell or Sheriff Kovalchuk.)
(fires a shot towards the sky) Come on y’all, what’s the rumpus?
MAN IN CROWD
(about half of the crowd roars its approval and starts to chant “Fire Waddell! Fire Waddell!” By this time Deputy Colby and Little Little are outside with Ten Gallon. The half of the crowd that isn’t chanting “Fire Waddell!” starts to chant “Down with Kovalchuk!”)
Is this a street brawl, Ten Gallon?
(solemnly) ‘Fraid it is, Deputy Little. ‘Fraid it is.
Gotta say I never did like that mayor. But what’s the problem with our absent sheriff?
Aw hell, Deputy, can’t you read read the writing on the wall?
(looking around at the saloons and tradesmen shops lining Thrasherville’s main street) I ain’t see no writing, Ten Gallon! You gotta make clear your meanin’, sir!
Sheriff Kovalchuk is gone. The Mayor has relieved him of his command. That’s what this mass bitchin’ is all about.
(the angry mob---or, more accurately, the two angry mobs---continue to chant either “Fire Waddell!” or “Down with Kovalchuk!” One man yells “he lied to us!” as he approaches the town police station with a torch.)
Um, Ten Gallon, that feller looks to be interested in burnin’ down our building!
Aw hell, Little Little. He only has a torch. We got guns! (Deputy Colby approaches the would-be arsonist and points his gun at him.) It’d be mighty decent of you to put that fire away, citizen.
I don’t need no liars in my town! He lied to us!
What are you jabbering about, son?
That Sheriff Kovalchuk, he left us...after sayin’ he’d like to stay. That greedy son of a bitch deserves an office-burnin’!
(Ten Gallon and Little Little approach)
Don’t you understand that if he’s gone already then your little antic here ain’t gonna get you a speck of what you want?
(While the would-be arsonist is distracted by Ten Gallon’s reasonable question, Deputy Colby shoots him in the leg. The would-be arsonist crumples to the ground; his torch drops into the sandy street.)
That’s what you get for tryin’ to burn shit, citizen!
Now dag nabbit Colby! I was practicing upon this man the art of persuasion! There weren’t no need to just go an’ shoot the bastard!
Dispensin’ justice, sir. You know all about dispensin’.
(The would-be arsonist groans on the ground.)
Pick him up.
(Little Little does just that.)
Let’s get this sorry bastard to a hospital.
Don’t you think that’ll be a little complicated by all this hollerin’ and riotin’?
(Ten Gallon is about to answer when Mayor Waddell suddenly---and, given the circumstances, bravey---appears on the steps of Thrasherville City Hall. The crowd gathered there starts throwing things at him---rocks, manure, etc.---but he dodges the projectiles quite gracefully. He starts to speak. As if by magic, the crowd quietens down. They listen.)
Obviously, citizens of Thrasherville, you’ve heard what’s happened. Our beloved Sheriff Kovalchuk...he, well, ah, I figured it’d be best if I allowed him to take up a new post heading the prestigious Devilville police force.
Well I’ll be.
Of course he’s gonna go to a place like Devilville. No one wants to to be here.
I think that’s obvious, deputy. But quiet: let’s see what the mayor has to say.
But all is not lost, citizens. In return for Sheriff Kovalchuk’s services, the Devilville police gave us something in return.
(Someone in the crowd shouts “A hen!”)
Given my record, that’s about what you’d all expect. (The crowd unites in a hearty guffaw. He’s winning them over.) No, folks. Now, I know how beloved Sheriff Kovalchuk was here. (many in the crowd shout “no he wasn’t!” and “good riddance!”) But we’ve acquired ourselves two Swedes! May I introduce to all of Thrasherville these two fine young men?
(The crowd appears excited. Deputy Colby less so.)
(to Ten Gallon and Little Little) Well hell’s bells. First it’s a Russian. Now we’re workin’ with some Swedishes.
Joining the Thrasherville police force are Nicklas Bergerstromfors and Johnny Oduyapunkduya!
(The crowd cheers as the two Swedes step onto the city hall platform. Neither of them looks particularly happy to be in Thrasherville, but they wave to the crowd.)
Oduyawhatever is Swedish?
I’d always just assumed he was American Indian. (The would-be arsonist hanging on to Little Little’s shoulder groans.)
Now, obviously Sheriff Kovalchuk leaving has left a vacancy in the sheriff position here in town.
I don’t think it will come as a surprise that the new sheriff I’ve appointed is none other than our current acting sheriff, Ten Gallon Dick Peverley!
(The crowd cheers.)
Well I guess you is sheriff now, Ten Gallon.
(spotting Ten Gallon in the crowd) Ah, where is he now? Oh there he is. Come on up, Sheriff Peverley! Come on up!
(Ten Gallon reluctantly but confidently strides up the city hall steps. The crowd continues to cheer as he tips his hat and gives ‘em a strong-but-silent smile.)
(clamping his hand on Ten Gallon’s shoulder) How ‘bout it son?
(whispering angrily but still smiling to the crowd) Why wasn’t I consulted about this Mr. Mayor?
Aw, don’t be such a sourpuss, son. Lookee here: the townsfolk love you!
Why was I not consulted?
(The crowd continues to cheer. All hints of public rage are now gone. Ten Gallon continues to nod appreciatively despite what he feels. Mayor Waddell beams and continues to wave.)
(Max and Pavel are still holed up in Thrash’s saloon. For most of the riot---a brief one, but a frightening one---Thrash was shooting out of his broken window. Not at anything in particular, but at random, to frighten away any attackers. Max and Pavel spent most of the uproar on the saloon floor, face-to-face with unholy beer stains. Of course, the noise quietened down eventually, and Thrash stopped firing his shotgun. They’d listened to Mayor Waddell’s speech.)
How do you like that?
Well...seeing as how the main reason I came to Thrasherville was to work with Kovalchuk, I’m not thrilled. But I shall still do my best.
You’re a courtly gentleman.
Ah, but my parents taught me to be one. Why, growing up on the cherry orchard back in Russia, spending summers hunting for----
I think the bird wants us to leave.
(Thrash is indeed motioning for Maxim and Pavel to get out of his saloon while he cleans up all the broken glass.)
Would you like help, Mr. Thrash?
(Thrash shakes his head no. His mighty beak bounces.)
Well then, good afternoon.
(Thrash tips his hat. Maxim and Pavel exit onto the dusty street.)
What do we know about these two new Swedes?
Very little. I hear Oduyapunkduya is quite good. I don’t know much about the very young one, Nicklas Bergerhausen or whatever his name is.
Strange, isn’t it, how empty the streets are now? I mean, they were full of angry townsfolk earlier...where’s everyone gone? Do they do siesta time in Thrasherville?
It wouldn’t surprise me, given what I’ve seen so far.
(They do run into one person, though. Presently they come upon their friend Nik Antropov and his coyote buddy Misha. Nik has tethered his horse to a post outside Jimmy Slates’s hotel and is letting it drink from a huge trough of water. He’s putting tobacco into two pipes when he notices Max and Pavel.)
Well look who it is.
That’s a thirsty horse.
Been working on the railroad all day. Old Man Kozlov’s trying to break into the industry, and he wanted me to help. (he gives one of the pipes to Misha, who gratefully clamps his teeth around it and starts puffing away.)
(eyes on the smoking coyote) The old-timer that lives on the outskirts of town?
Yes, him. He has a lovely ranch.
Wouldn’t doubt it.
You should help out, Kubina.
I could. What kind of money is Old Man Kozlov offering?
(before Nik can answer, the conversation is interrupted by someone violently hacking and coughing. It’s none other than the old world-weary---and mustachioed---blacksmith, Johnny Anderson. He’s run out of his blacksmith’s shop into the middle of the street. He’s clutching his throat and his eyes are bulging. Nik, Pavel, Max, and Misha run over to see what might be the trouble.)
This town...this town...I curse the day I came to this town...
Mr. Anderson, what’s the problem? Have you eaten something you shouldn’t have?
He looks like he’s been poisoned.
This town is poisoned. The whole town....poison...
Doctor! Is there a doctor around?! Misha, go get my first aid kit.
(Misha runs to Nik’s horse, puts his nose inside Nik’s satchel, and finds the first aid kit. He carries it over to J. Anderson. Nik starts to unpack the first aid kit, but Anderson refuses care.)
Don’t help me. I want out of this town, this wretched, hellish town. May it be eaten by a giant alligator from hell...
A giant gator?
(Anderson emits some unholy noises and writhes in pain, then abruptly goes limp. His eyes are still wide open and staring at the sky, but his breathing seems to have stopped. Nik checks his pulse. He then takes his hand off Anderson and thinks for a short moment. He turns to his coyote friend.)
See what you think, Misha.
(Misha puts his paw on Anderson, apparently to check for a pulse. Maxim and Pavel stare at one another. Eventually Misha removes his paw, then stamps it on the ground 3 times. Nik nods solemnly. All is quiet for a moment.)
Well, what’s the diagnosis? I can run to the doctor’s and---
(interrupting) Don’t bother, Maxim. He’s dead.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
So, how about those playoffs?
Your editor must admit he's a bit stagnant at the moment. Even with yesterday's not-terribly-radical management shuffle, and the coaching staff falling prey to the Canhammer, there's really not a lot to talk about. We won't know what the Dudley era will be like until this summer, when he starts properly looking for a coach and signing players.
Ten Gallon Dick was, at long post-season last, slated to return yesterday, but then that bit of Mega News came out and I figured no one would want to read such things in the midst of actual events. Thus: what better way to spend your Friday than with some new scenes from the greatest Western of our time?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Thrashers named Don Waddell president, promoted Rick Dudley to general manager and dismissed its coaching staff Wednesday, the AJC has learned.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. More in a moment.
UPDATE: What will Steve Weeks do now? The Thrashers have submitted an official press release, for your consideration. It says, among other things, In his new role, Waddell will focus primarily on all business aspects of the organization, and as General Manager, Dudley will be responsible for all hockey operations.
Four syllables, people. Beginning in "Craig" and ending in "ish."
UPDATE II: I did like John Anderson personally. Impossible not to like him, really, as I said way back in 2008 after interviewing the guy. I remember being excited to have him on board. But, alas...
UPDATE III: Much longer press release from the Thrashers here. Anyway. Have some things to do; talk amongst yourselves. And don't forget what Ric Flair might say in this situation.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
It's playoff time, sirs and mesdames. Or it will be tomorrow. Razor Catch Prey has already offered his predictions and wishes for the whole dongle. Here be mine, but only for the first round.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators
Who I'd Like to Win: I have to admit I'm a little indifferent here. Or I would be, under normal circumstances. A team that harbors third-rate ice terrorists like Matt Cooke and fearsome Canadian imperialists like Sidney Crosby deserves pitiless, crushing defeat. At the hands of a good Canadian team like the Senators, who feature players I actually really like, like Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek (one of the most underrated players in this wide and bright NHL).
Who Will Actually Win: I'll be perverse and contrarian here and pick the Sens. 7 games. I expect Crosby to be a heroic beast, but Malkin won't be up for another Conn Smythe performance. The Senators will play a super-conservative and methodical game and narrowly beat the Pens.
New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Who I'd Like to Win: USian hero Zach Parise; an aging titan of goaltending making one last big run before he runs out of stamina; Ilya damn Kovalchuk. I know who I want to win.
Who Will Actually Win: Even though the Flyers dominated them during the regular season, I'll say the Devils in 5 relatively easy games. Their power play will hum along with gruesome efficiency, and Brodeur will be, to put it mildly, better than whoever the Flyers have in net these days.
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings
Who I'd Like to Win: The Coyotes, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone that possesses a soul.
Who Will Actually Win: I can see this one going either way. It will likely become a goalie duel and both Ilya Bryzgalov and Jimmy Howard will be very good. If I had to choose realistically, though, I'd pick the Red Wings in 6. Their experience and discipline is second to none. As celebrated Chronicle commenter the Jointhead said, the Wings have the wherewithal to go Balls Deep.
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
Who I'd Like to Win: Dany Heatley has ruined a perfectly appealing team by making them better, but I still have great affection for the Sharks. Marleau, Thornton, Nabokov, Blake, Boyle, Setoguchi, etc...Despite my anti-Heatley posturing, I'd like to see them win back SOME measure of self-respect by making it out of the first round. The Av's are a fun team, and their unexpected quality this season has been interesting to watch, but ultimately they don't do that much for me. I mean, really: what has John-Michael Liles done for me today?
Who Will Actually Win: Craig Anderson will play brilliantly, but not brilliantly enough to stop the Sharks. He'll steal one game. Sharks in 5.
Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Who I'd Like to Win: The Capitals, because they're just too much fun.
Who Will Actually Win: Jaroslav Halak will be mighty fine, but the Capitals will get the job done in 6.
Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins
Who I'd Like to Win: Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
Who Will Actually Win: Ryan Miller and the Sabres, easily, in 5 games.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Who I'd Like to Win: The Kings. Because they're the Kings! Also: do check out this fine post over at the Battle of California. Los Angeles and Vancouver: two very different but very similar, and equally civilized (for exactly the reasons Rudy Kelly states), cities.
Who Will Actually Win: This has the potential to be a gritty, violent series. The drama of Team USA comrades Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown just cold going nuts, skating into each other, causing destruction, should be edifying. Jonathan Quick will be good, but not as good as Roberto Luongo. Canucks in 7.
MAY REALITY RAIN DOOM ON MY IDLE SPECULATIONS.
UPDATE: Ahahahaha, forgot the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators series. Stupid, so stupid! I have literally zero interest in this one, but I suppose I'd like the Predators to win, just because they've never been out of the first round. But Chicago will dine on their souls, for pleasure, culminating a grand but exhausting feast in Game 7.
With the Thrashers' season at an end, it is time for us here at the Chronicle to step back and look at thins from a distance just as the Atlanta Spirit Group is hopefully doing. Toward that end, I will be posting a four part series designed to examine Atlanta as a sports market (parts one and two), then the Thrashers' place within that market (part 3), and finally the things that can be done to improve Atlanta's place therein (part 4).
In the first installment of this series, we saw that Atlanta, with far more choices available, attends their local sporting events at a much higher rate than fans in Toronto. If you take away the huge factor of college and professional football, the attendance per capita is roughly the same, but higher in Atlanta than our neighbor to the far north.
Let's make these same comparisons using three American markets. Chicago and Pittsburgh are generally considered to be two of the "best sports towns" in the US. We will examine their attendance numbers along with those in Columbus, which is home to the NHL team that I feel most closely mirrors the Atlanta Thrashers in most respects. All figures will be averages over the past ten years using the most data I can compile.
Team Sport Average per game attendance
Cubs Baseball 38,240
White Sox Baseball 27,645
Bears Football 62,166
Blackhawks Hockey 16,112
Notre Dame Football 80,795
Bulls Basketball 20,749
Aggregate Average 245,717
Per Game Per Team Average 40,952
Baseball (two teams), basketball, and hockey average 25,685
Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .0027
Metro Population 9,569,624
Pirates Baseball 22,608
Steelers Football 63,886
Penn State Football 107,131
Penguins Hockey 15,767
Aggregate Average 209,392
Per Game Per Team Average 52,348
Baseball, and hockey average 19,187
Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .0079
Metro Population 2,431,087
Blue Jackets Hockey 16,618
Ohio State Football 104,716
Cleveland Indians Baseball 27,094
Cleveland Blazers Basketball 18,440
Aggregate Average 166,868
Per Game Per Team Average 41,717
Baseball (Cleveland), basketball (Cleveland) and hockey average 20,717
Per Capita Attendance at Baseball, Hockey, and Basketball: .012 (hockey only- .0096)
Metro Population 1,725,570
So looking at the per capita attendance excluding football, Atlantans at .0039 are slightly better fans than their counterparts in Toronto (.0038), a good bit better than fans in Chicago (.0027), and fall far short of Pittsburgh (.0079) and Columbus (.0096 for hockey alone).
Since our whole point here is that Atlantans have more choices than other cities and attend sports in general at a higher rate, let's factor football back in and see the per capita yearly attendance rating for all cities. For this we'll add up the per game averages of all major teams then divide by the metro area population.
Columbus (Blue Jackets and Buckeyes only): .0703
Keep in mind that for Columbus we are using attendance figures not just of the Blue Jackets and Buckeyes who are in town, but also of the Cleveland Trailblazers and Indians two hours down the road. For Pittsburgh we are using attendance figures for Penn State University football located two hours away, and for Chicago we are including Notre Dame which is an hour and forty five minutes away. The University of Georgia is one hour and twenty minutes from downtown Atlanta.
When you look at the population and how they turn out for major sporting events, Atlanta eclipses Toronto and Chicago, but does not approach the numbers put up by Pittsburgh and Columbus, but Atlanta does enjoy a much larger population than the latter two cities. Thus, the Atlanta market is obviously a good one for sports in general. In my next installment we will examine the competition between the Thrashers, Hawks, Braves, Falcons, Yellow Jackets, and Bulldogs for Atlantans money and emotional investment, then we will explore what can be done to shift the balance more in favor of Atlanta's hockey franchise.
For the Blueland Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.
Monday, April 12, 2010
First off, my fantasy playoff bracket:
WAS/MON- Caps in 4
NJ/PHI- Devils in 6
BUF/BOS- Sabres in 4
PIT/OTT- Sens in 7
WAS/OTT- Caps in 5
NJ/BUF- Sabres in 7
WAS/BUF- Caps in 6
SJ/COL- Avs in 6
CHI/NAS- Preds in 7
VAN/LAK- Kings in 7
PHX/DET- Coyotes in 7
PHX/COL- Yotes in 5
NAS/LAK- Preds in 7
PHX/NAS- Coyotes in 6
PHX/WAS- Caps in 6
Ok, that was fun. Now let's let reality back in the room and take another look:
WAS/MON- Caps in 4
NJ/PHI- Devils in 5
BUF/BOS- Sabres in 5
PIT/OTT- Pens in 4
WAS/PITT- Caps in 7
NJ/BUF- Devils in 6
WAS/NJ- Devils in 6
SJ/COL- Sharks in 5
CHI/NAS- Hawks in 4
VAN/LAK- Nucks in 5
PHX/DET- Wings in 4
SJ/DET- Wings in 5
CHI/VAN- Hawks in 7
CHI/DET- Wings in 6
NJ/DET- Wings in 6
Reality is so much sadder. :(
ZOMG did you see the Falconer's blog this morn? Could be an office-rearranging storm a-comin', which is perhaps made more interesting by the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning brass have just fired Brian Lawton and Rick Tocchet. Bad teams and their decisions...
Is this the end-but-not-really for DW?
UPDATE: Whoa hey, your TBC staff actually just had this very same rumor confirmed by our own reliable source (a mole, perhaps), but for some reason everyone wants to remain anonymous in these situations, so what's the big rumpus?
Talking to Chris Vivlamore of the AJC over the weekend, Slava Kozlov had some intriguing things to say:
“To me, this was the best team in 11 years of the organization," Kozlov said on Sunday. "This franchise had the best players. Right now, they can not blame [Ilya] Kovalchuk or [Slava] Kozlov. They have to take responsibility, because I think ownership did everything right, signed good players, they have a good goalie, good defense -- but something is missing. I think we are missing from the coaching staff. Looks like they have fun, but unfortunately in the NHL you have to work. You have to prepare for every game.
"There are lots of good teams in the NHL and you think you are a good team if you see the roster. That doesn’t work in this league. You have to do homework and work hard. I think I can put a big question mark that they weren’t preparing.”
Slava also criticized the system put in place by the current staff, pointing out that opposing teams know in advance exactly what the Thrashers will do in breakout situations, etc.
My take? Never did think it was a good idea to bench him for so long. More to the point: it's juicy to hear a player call out a coach, but in many ways this is a Dog Bites Man story. "Thrashers coaching not very good," says hockey player. Well, yeah.
Yes, that's right. I crown myself, for the third year in a row (obviously from different leagues), Big Shooter, as Champion of the fantasy hockey!!
Thank you, thank you. Really.... I appreciate your applause.
Please, please... we have to get on with things. Thank you.
Here now, the results:
1) Exploding Bovines (Big Shooter)
Thank you. Thanks again, everybody.
Please, please I have to finish...
2) Sweg's Swashbucklers (Swegs, and only in second by the slimmest of margins, 24 points)
3)Santiago Swine (Mortimer Peacock)
4)My Dixie Wrecked (Jay, amazing comeback to finish in top 4 and winner of best team name)
5)Outsider Hockey (Aaron of BWA, formerly of Blueland Outsider)
6)RazorCatchPrey (Razor Catch Prey, winner of least creative team name)
7)The Hosers (not sure who this is, but I believe they won one of our free ticket giveaways here at TBC)
8)The Party Line (A2B)
9)Roll Jointhead Roll (Jointhead)
10)The Brogosians (same as #7, I believe)
11)The Cuban Linx (Frenchy, he treated this much like he treats our blog, he didn't
give a shit)
12)Squirrelly Rednecks (Downtown Atlanta)
There you have it my friends. I hope you join us next year for more pretend fun.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
When we here at TBC interviewed young Mr. Kane last summer, I asked him about boxing. He told us of his love of Floyd Mayweather.
That, friends, is what happens when a pseudo-tough guy like Matt Cooke makes the mistake of challenging a dude who actually knows how to throw punches.
Spent some time after the game at the Highland Inn Ballroom with K-Belle and Mr. Speaker, listening to Monsieur Catalogues' DJ set. In the midst of dancin' tunes from the Human League, New Order, Outkast, Roxy Music, Donna Summer, and Blondie, Mr. Speaker came up with a brilliant idea: when the Thrashers skate out next season, the arena folk should have the good sense to forego the usual milquetoast FM fare and play Big Daddy Kane's "Warm It Up Kane."
THAT, babies, is the goddamn jam.
CORRECTION: It's been pointed out in the comments section that the "Warm It Up Kane" idea was the product of not one but two vigorous minds: Mr. Speaker suggested the arena folk play Big Daddy Kane, then Monsieur Catalogues suggested "Warm It Up Kane." We regret the error, etc.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Tonight: various awards for players and fans, sentimental fan appreciation stuff, and an arena full of the most irritating fans on God's bandwagon-filled Earth. There will also be a meaning-free hockey game, which many of us can endure or enjoy only by imbibing things of various kinds and watching the Chick-Fil-A cow demons.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
In other news: Slava Kozlov will play at least one more game as a Thrasher. A good robust chant of "SLA-VA! SLA-VA!" on Saturday wouldn't be ungracious. Just saying.
P.S. Duh, just remembered Saturday could be Goodbye Forever for Moose as well. You know what to do.
Most of us in Atlanta have probably heard our city called a "terrible sports town" so many times that we just take it for granted. As a hockey fan who takes full advantage of the global accessibility of hockey news these days (remember when all we could do was check the box scores on page 14 of the AJC sports section?), I hear it more and more these days as Canadians salivate over the Thrashers' ownership squabbles and empty seats in Philips Arena.
On the way up to Nashville for the Thrashers/Preds game in January, Rawhide and I discussed the old conventional thinking that Atlantans don't support our teams. We'd both been present for Tuesday nights in Philips where there were probably less than ten thousand people present, and we remember the days when Atlanta Fulton County Stadium hosted a few hundred people who were only there because they got their tickets free with a tank of gas. But is the old adage really true? Are we a lousy sports market? We refused to believe so.
We were exchanging our knowledge of the fanbases of Atlanta's various teams when it occurred to us that we were naming a lot of teams. Atlanta sports fans have a lot of options, and that means a lot of competition for people's attention, passion, and dollars.
Atlanta is of course home to one professional team from all four major sports: hockey, baseball, football, and basketball. Now, here is where the logic will start to escape our neighbors to the north. Those professional franchises also have to compete with the two local Division I-A NCAA programs, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. Unless you live in Ann Arbor, Columbus, or State College, northerners and Canadians don't get how big college football is. To put it in perspective, the highest drawing NFL team in 2009 was the Dallas Cowboys at 89,756 average per game. Every year since 2004, the University of Georgia has averaged a 92,746 sell out for every game. Add that to Georgia Tech's average 48,238 per game and that is a huge factor to add in that is simply not present in most northern sports markets.
I gathered some numbers to see how Atlanta really does stack up against other sports markets when it comes to attendance. I'll go over my findings in this post, then in another post I'll discuss the factors that have led to low attendance for the Atlanta Thrashers. In a final post, I will discuss what the front office has done wrong in trying to sell hockey to the Atlanta market and how they can turn it around.
As I said above, to get a full picture of Atlanta as a sports market, we have to look at attendance figures for the Thrashers, Hawks, Braves, Falcons, Yellow Jackets, and Bulldogs. We will only consider the football teams of the two college programs, though college basketball is certainly a factor in the landscape, as are the minor league Rome Braves, Gwinnett Braves, and Gwinnett Gladiators. For the sake of simplicity, we will stick to the big four professional sports and college football.
Since this is a Thrashers blog, we'll start by looking at the Thrashers' attendance over the past ten years. Over that time, they have averaged 14,809 people per game. Every year the Thrashers have finished in the bottom third of the league in attendance. As we all know, in that time the Thrashers have also failed to make the playoffs all but one year and only really came close two other times.
The Thrashers' sister organization is the Atlanta Hawks. They have managed only 14,694 over the same ten year span. For several of those years I know the team was terrible, but the Hawks have made the playoffs numerous times in the past ten years.
The Atlanta Falcons enjoyed a renaissance in the 00's thanks to drafting the once uber-popular Mike Vick. Attendance figures for the first half of the decade weren't readily available, but for the past five years the Falcons have averaged 68,619 fans per game. Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs have sold out every game for the past six years and averaged 91,103 for the decade. The Bulldogs finished in the top 20 almost every year during that span. The Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech have also finished in the top 20 most years this decade and averaged 48,238 per game in a much smaller stadium (for some reason the 2004 data wasn't available).
The Atlanta Braves were not the powerhouse of their days in the 90's but still averaged 31,627 per game in the 00's.
Taking just the per-game averages for all six teams, Atlantans attend at a rate of 269,090 per game (adding the average per-game attendance of all six major local teams) and per sport average 44,848 per game (adding average per-game attendance of the six teams then dividing by six). We do this with a metro area population of 5,278,904 (according to Wikipedia).
But what do those numbers mean? To understand these, we'll have to see them in contrast to other markets. Again, this is a hockey market, so we'll start with that shining city on a hill, Toronto, Ontario. Referencing Wikipedia again, we see that the TO metro area population exceeds that of metro Atlanta at 5,555,912. That is almost 280 thousand more people than Atlanta.
Remember that the theory here is that Atlanta has more options for sports fans looking to spend their money and their emotions than most other cities that are deemed "good sports towns." Toronto is home to the NHL's Maple Leafs, MLB's Blue Jays, the NBA's Raptors, and the CFL's Argonauts. There are also the minor league Marlies and various minor league teams.
How do the Toronto area teams stack up to the Atlanta area teams? Well, the Maple Leafs draw an average of 19,339 per game(all figures are over the last ten years using as much data as I could gather). That is roughly 5000 more per game than the Thrashers. I found it very interesting that the Toronto Raptors also outdraw the Atlanta Hawks at an average of 18,495 per game.
The Blue Jays do not fare as well in contrast to the Braves. The Toronto MLB team has filled about 24,972 seats per game for the past ten years.
The CFL obviously doesn't compare favorably to the NFL as the Argonauts have posted only about 24,006 per game for 2001-2007 (those were the latest numbers posted on the official website).
So using figures for the four major sports teams in the metro Toronto area, we see that TO sports fans fill their stadiums to the tune of 86,812 in total, and average 21,703 per pro team per game. That is less than half of the per team per game figure for Atlanta.
Most Canadians who are still reading probably just cursed at me and started spattering about how those figures aren't fair because Atlanta has two more teams and those teams draw higher than any of the others. But of course. That is exactly my point. Atlantans attend our sports at a much higher rate, but we have to spread it out over more teams, which makes some attendance figures (specifically those of the Thrashers and Hawks) suffer.
Some will still not be satisfied, so we'll make this more fair. Football is obviously throwing these numbers way off. The Falcons, Bulldogs, and Yellow Jackets outdraw the Argonauts by 136,198 per game. So let's throw football out and run the numbers.
The Hawks, Thrashers, and Braves average 20,376 in a metro area of 5,278,904. In the 5,555,912 strong Toronto metro area, the Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Blue Jays draw 20,935. So, 28 million more people, but only about 600 more people per game on average. Atlantans attend baseball, hockey, and basketball games at a rate of 0.0039 per capita per game while that figure for Torontoans is .0038. Pretty similar.
It certainly appears that even if you just look at the three comparable sports franchises, it really cannot be said that Toronto is a better sports town than Atlanta. Torontoans just focus their attention and dollars more on hockey and basketball while Atlantans are more oriented toward baseball, and far more interested in college and professional football. In a later post we will examine the reasons for that and how a competent front ownership group and front office could go about changing that balance.
Are these differences limited to Canadian cities? In the next installment we will compare Atlanta sports attendance with other US cities that are considered to be better "sports towns."