Monday, March 31, 2008

Prospects for Next Year #5

Since today is an Atlanta-Tampa Bay game day, I thought it would be appropriate to conclude the Chronicle's "Prospects for Next Year" series with the pot of gold at the bottom of the basement himself, Mr. Steven Stamkos.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Way The Game Was Meant To Be Played

A lot has been made this year about the Thrashers defense... or lack thereof. As a group they are much too soft, don't clear the crease, and generally don't play the game the way it was meant to be played. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a guy like Steve Staios on our team?

I alluded to it in an earlier post, but I miss Staios. For those of you who might be new to hockey, Stevie "The Bruise" Staios was the Thrashers captain in year two. He had a pretty good year, and for some reason we let him walk. He goes to Edmonton, and here we are seven years later and he is still going strong with the Oil.

Staios was instrumental in Edmonton's Cup run a few years ago. He is the ultimate "team guy". You can't watch an Oilers game without seeing him go down and block a shot. Just last night in the game with Calgary he blocked two shots point blank on a 5 on 3. One of those was from some guy named Iginla. He also ALWAYS has his guy in front of the net covered. He doesn't go after the puck when there is a scrum in front, he either ties his guy up or knocks him on his ass. Remind you of anyone of the Thrashers?

Didn't think so. I can't help but think what this team would be like if Staios was still with us. There is something to be said for consistency. He would be going on 7 years as our captain at this point. When something needs to be said in the room, Staios stands up and says it. And you know what? Because of the way he plays on the ice his teammates listen to him!! There are a few guys in this league that truly earn their paychecks. Jarome Iginla, Jeff Cowan (check out the kind words on this weeks Coach's Corner), Ian Laperriere, and our boy Staios to name a few.

Some will look at his stats and say he is nothing special. No he isn't. If you only look at his stats. There are certain things in hockey that are more beautiful than having a bunch of points on your Upper Deck card. Again, go back to the game last night. Staios played over 26 minutes. Yet at the end of the game there he is, battling Iginla in front of the net to make sure he doesn't get to the loose puck with only a couple minutes left.

He also is not afraid to drop his gloves for his teammates. Let's get one thing clear... Staios can't fight. But in hockey, winning the fight is secondary to showing up for it. My favorite thing about Staios is he wears a visor; but if there is time before a fight, he always takes his helmet off to make it a fair bout.

Blocked shots, tough D in front of the goal, fights, locker room leadership, and the occasional offensive outburst. That my friends is Old Time Hockey. That my friends is Steve Staios. That my friends is how you play the game the way it was meant to be played.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Coach's Corner March 29

Post Game:

Friday, March 28, 2008

Reason #3 I Want the Sharks to Win the Stanley Cup

Two words: Mike Grier.

And here he is in his Caps days bloodying that son of a bitch who hampered the second half of Kovalchuk's (and therefore the whole team's) season:

An Atlanta-Based Organization Far, Far Worse than the Thrashers

The AJC creamed itself a few days ago over this new in-flight safety video from Delta Air Lines:

I don't really get what's so sexy or alluring about the chick in the video. Nice lips, I suppose, but is the finger-wagging really that amazing? I reckon anything that makes people pay attention to safety is a good thing, maybe, possibly. I mean, is there anyone currently alive on the planet Earth who doesn't already know what to do with their tray tables and electronics and seat-belts and oxygen masks? But I digress.

The point of this post, and the magisterial connecting thread that leads this discussion back to hockey, is that you should be glad, reader, that even with all the turmoil and dysfunction in the Thrashers organization, it's still better run than Delta Air Lines. I'm not even talking about bankruptcy (the only time the Thrashers could be said to have been totally bankrupt in quality was at the very beginning, pre-Kovy); I simply mean that the Thrashers have no equivalent to ludicrously overpriced uncomfortable seats (the seats in Philips are reasonably comfortable, I think), hideous food, aesthetically dreary cabins, and an equally dreary flight crew that bangs your elbows with the lunch cart and disrupts your painstakingly-achieved airplane nap to ask you if you want their shitty coffee.

I mean, really: Zhitnik isn't great, but he's not as bad as Delta. You may hate Waddell, or Levenson, or both, but they can't compare to the average domestic Delta flight. Which leads me to a final thought experiment: what if the Atlanta Spirit were recycled and turned into a Delta plane?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Way to Go, Boys!


noun hostile or violent behaviour or attitudes.

— ORIGIN Latin, from aggredi ‘to attack’.


It pays off, that, offensively and defensively.


Kari was godlike, Kovy and Perrin made a great effort, congrats to Bobby and Recchin' Ball. More of this next year please!

Newsflash: We've Signed a Defenseman, er, Center, er, Winger


Don Waddell confirmed this morning that the team has signed Spencer Machacek, the Thrashers third round pick in the draft last year. The 6-foot-1 right winger is having a great season in this third year in the WHL and his Vancouver team is in the midst of a playoff run. The team got the signed contract last night.


He also said that the team is in negotiations with Angelo Esposito, the forward prospect acquired in the Marian Hossa trade. Esposito has been strong since the Hossa trade, and Waddell suggested that he might have gotten an extra spark when he realized that he had a better chance of reaching the NHL quicker with the Thrashers than with Pittsburgh.

The Swedish Triangle

Nice article by Custance about Nick Havelid in today's AJC. Apparently he and Moose live "within walking distance" of one another and their kids play together.

Money quote:

Even when the team was at its worse, Havelid excelled. He's constantly matched against the most dangerous scorers, yet when Buffalo routed the Thrashers 10-1 in January, Havelid was a plus-one for the game.

The Thrashers have allowed 55 more goals than they've scored this season, yet Havelid's plus-minus hovered around even most of the season. It's just now, during the Thrashers' recent dive, that he has dropped to a minus-four. It's still the best of any defenseman who has been with the team all season.

I feel guilty for not praising Havelid enough on this blog, because he has delivered all season long. Young Toby's been getting all the attention--and why not? he's awesome--but it's only decent to raise a glass to the veteran on our excellent Swedish Blue Line (the one part of our defense that needs absolutely zero changes). Perhaps Havelid should be captain next season.

Speaking of Toby Enstrom getting all the attention, here's a recent article on him and Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, another Swedish rookie that will might very well win the Calder Trophy this year. The article celebrates the fact that 1) they're both Swedish, 2)they're both highly talented young players contending for the Calder Trophy, and 3)they both play in the Southeast Division. Oh, and it compares Enstrom to a young Nick Lidstrom. I don't want to make too much of that...might explode my brain with over-excited thoughts about the future.

I doubt Moose will stay with us beyond this season (though it is possible), which is too bad for several reasons, one of which is that the occasional Swedish Triangle of Enstrom, Havelid, and Hedberg could make huge waves for the next few years. Maybe that's just a sentimental fantasy, but I like the notion of a "Swedish Triangle." Has a nice ring to it, I think.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prospects for Next Year #4

Drew Doughty. Sounds useful.

Goalies With Problems

If any of you are still interested in Kari's totally justified outburst amid the collapsing scenery in the third period of that game against the Caps, Custance shares some thoughts here.

Now then, on to Sharks hockey. I was delirious when I found out that last night's SJ Sharks-Phoenix Coyotes game was going to be the late broadcast on the Versus channel, as 1) it was a Sharks game, and 2) I like the Coyotes too. I was probably triply delirious because I'd been watching the boring-as-hell prime-time game: a struggle between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers, two teams I positively loathe.

10:30 PM arrived right on time, though, and the Sharks game commenced. For whatever reason Darren Eliot was the color commentator, which was interesting and strange, a bit like running into someone you vaguely knew in high school at a bar or a restaurant. I won't give you a play-by-play recap, but my Jehoshaphat, what a game!

I think Evgeni Nabokov must've been high the entire time: he uncharacteristically gave up some avoidable goals and just looked damn clumsy and goofy most of the game. Definitely stoned. At one point after Ron Wilson pulled him and put in the back-up fella, Brian Boucher, the camera cut to a bench-sitting Nabokov burrowing his face into his jersey, as if he was trying to commune with the the Shark Spirit or the essence of teal. He's one of my absolute favorite players, but seriously Nabby, lay off the wacky weed.

Nabokov's back-up goalie on Team Russia, Mr. Ilya Bryzgalov (known to me as the Other Ilya), also happens to be the goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes, and he turned in a fine performance last night, though it was one among many on both sides. The Great One must be teaching the young ones on the Coyotes well, because they definitely held their own against the formidable Sharks defense and managed to resist the Thornton-Campbell line's scoring antics for the first two periods. In the third, however, the Sharks came roaring back with a Joe Thornton hat trick (which featured two assists from legendary dancing hockey dandy Jeremy Roenick) and a game-tying goal that sent the game into overtime...where the Coyotes won, damn it. Oh well, the Coyotes deserve a few more points and victories. I think they're going to become a force to be reckoned with as their young players develop and mature and so on and so forth...

It's always exciting to see JR and Mighty Joe T. rack up the points, but I reiterate: control your urges, Evgeni; no glaucoma patient ever won a Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't You Wish This Guy Was Your Captain...

Waaaaaaait a minute! He already was!!!

It's no secret that I'm a HUGE Oilers fan. They play an exciting style of hockey and have for years. The thing I like the most about them is that they NEVER quit. And when they do lose, they are not afraid to show that they don't like it (if you know what I mean).

I wish our Thrashers had some of the same qualities. There is a reason the Oilers are still in the playoff hunt despite losing many key players to injury. There is a reason the Oilers are still in the playoff hunt despite digging themselves into such a huge hole that even only a couple of weeks ago the playoffs seemed out of sight. That reason? They don't give up!!! Raise your hand if you think the Thrashers have played the entire season without giving up... not all at once now!

The Oilers may not make the playoffs. But there is something to be said for how they play the game. Maybe the Thrashers can learn a few things by turning on the late game on their Center Ice package when they get home from being out shot 45-12.

As always, nobody does it better than TSN. This is a great article on the Oil. Check out the quotes from the players and see if anything the Thrashers have said this year even comes close to the things the Oilers players are saying. How could the Thrashers become more like the Oilers? Signing Jason Smith would be a good start.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Reason #2 I Want the Sharks to Win the Stanley Cup

This is a thing of beauty. And in a game that might well be a preview of this year's Stanley Cup battle.

Remember kids, we might be able to sign this maestro in the off-season.

Reason #1 I Want the Sharks to Win the Stanley Cup

Thank God he's a Shark now.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Best Analysis of the Thrashers' Problems So Far

Slava Kozlov is a wise man.

From Custance's blog:

When the team is going well, the whole team deserves the accomplishment. When things don’t go well, I think the whole team is in the basement, the whole team deserves punishment. I don’t agree it’s the veterans or it’s the rookies. In this team, we have lots of depth but we need to improve defense, offense and even goalie. Last year, the reason we were in the playoffs was the goalies played unbelievable the whole season. This year, it was good games, bad games, like everybody else on the team. You can blame the veterans, but it’s a package.

This team needs a foundation, defensively - like a [Zdeno] Chara or [Nicklas] Lidstrom. Good teams, they have one or two very good defensemen who can play 30-35 [minutes per game]. Like [Chris] Pronger on Anaheim - one of those guys. They’re hard to find, but that’s what we need. With our goalie, he can win a game by himself, but we have to help them. We can’t let the other team shoot 40-45 times.


Nothing like a mediocre, self-satisfied sports columnist to get the rage juices flowing

As an unofficial rule we try not to spend too much time breaking butterflies on wheels here at the Blueland Chronicle. It's ungallant, and it becomes awfully monotonous and grating when you do it too often. Since I had a go at Doc. Burnside of ESPN last night, it's probably bad taste to break another butterfly on another wheel today, but what the hell-- Jeff Schultz practically screams to be sent to a re-education camp.

I don't take issue with much of what Our Jeff actually says in his latest emission; instead, I have a quarrel with his overall posture towards the Atlanta Thrashers and towards the NHL in general. And I suspect his motives in writing what he does. Let me explain:

Schultz has taken it upon himself to rank the different sports teams in the Atlanta area according to their quality. Our Thrashers--quelle fucking surprise--hold down the bottom of the list at Number 8. We're worse than the Hawks, the Braves, and UGA and GA Tech gladiatorial combat in more than one sport. This is clever. This is subtle. I can't argue with Our Jeff's diagnosis of the Thrashers (you ought to know by now). What I hate about his column--oh, why not?--what I hate about him is his lack of any real interest or emotional investment in hockey. He can analyze the Thrashers' problems reasonably well (who can't?), he can list them in sub-snarky columns, and he can rank the Thrashers at the bottom of his Great List. What he can't do is bring himself to actually give a shit about the Thrashers; the fact is he simply doesn't care whether the Thrashers are good or bad because he doesn't like hockey and he curses the day that the NHL granted Atlanta a new franchise. It's nothing to him that the Thrashers aren't playing well; in fact he celebrates their poor performance. For Our Jeff, the Thrashers are an inconvenient, unsightly blot among the the normal all-American sports teams around here. He would love it if the franchise just fell in on itself and moved to another city. The man chronicles the Thrashers' woes obsessively (and rarely covers their occasional triumphs and their good qualities) not because he has any genuine concern or interest in them; he does it because he hates them. He hates the Thrashers because he hates hockey. After all, the whole sport is a faggy Canadian-European conspiracy to drive wholesome Stars-and-Stripes-friendly sports from the American mainstream.

Schultz is cheering for the ultimate demise of the Thrashers. He can't wait for the day (if it ever comes) when the NHL will pack its bags and leave Atlanta forever. That way the readers of the AJC (a well and truly crap newspaper, by the way, save Mr. Custance in sports and Ms. Tucker in opinion) will be able to read his bilge about basketball, baseball, and football without ever having to be disturbed or confused by headlines about that polar bear sport ever again.

Patrick Kane est l'homme

He's the Blueland Chronicle's pick for the Calder Trophy, they's fer DAME sure.

Prospects for Next Year #3

Some chap called Cody Hodgson.

Thoughts on Comrade Valabik

It's late and I have to work tomorrow. But this shit can't wait.

I really don't understand what everyone is complaining about vis-a-vis Boris Valabik. I thought he was immense in that last game against the Caps; he fights and pushes and he's the size of a mastodon. I think he might well be a fine addition for next year. He'll need some serious preparation and conditioning given the disparity in style between the Thrashers and the Wolves, but I think this summer should be enough time to prepare, even if he joins the Wolves in their run for the Calder Cup. I like you Boris. Come and stay a while. Wreck a guy or two...

Thought experiment: what if we sign Jason Smith and he and Valabik play on a line together next year?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Diagnosing the Thrashers

Here's some article from ESPN written by some guy about the Thrashers and some shit. It's worth reading, but I want to politely demur from some of what Doctor Burnside says. His complaints about the Thrashers are all the commonplace ones:

1) management is shit
2)we're miserable at developing players through the Wolves (due to some totally fucked business arrangement)
3)Kari Lehtonen " has wobbled between just ordinary and full-blown bust and has one win in his past 12 appearances."

I have to agree with points 1 and 2. On point 3 Doctor Burnside reveals himself to be a cliche-spouting knob. That's alright though, because judging from the message boards and the comments on Custance's blog most Thrashers fans are cliche-spouting knobs. The desolating fact, readers, is that the Finn Between the Pipes is not our biggest problem. He's not even one of our biggest problems. In fact, he's not a fucking problem at all. Kari is one of the few aspects of this team that doesn't call to mind some horrible venereal disease. The reason he's dismissed by so many quarters among the print and cyber hockey commentariat has something to do with the innate pedantry of the modern mind. Look, I get it: the ruling force in the Western world since the Industrial Revolution has been numbers and statistics. We give authority to abstract statistics and mathematical formulas; we defer to them. They're cleaner than the messy, more complex details of concrete experience. I don't want to belittle numbers and statistics, for they are great and invaluable and shit and blah blah blah blah...but if you want to evaluate anything outside the world of finance or economics or mathematics with any comprehensiveness and fair-mindedness (whether it's goalie, a company, a historical period, a country's culture, a fucking movie or some shit) you have to take into account aspects of thing being considered besides disembodied flow-charts and statistics.

Kari has so many losses because the assholes playing in front of him don't put forward enough of an effort to keep the opposing team from getting near the goal in the first fucking place, Dr. Burnside, you cliche-ridden toss-pot. Kari is actually a fine goalie, and more excitingly he has the potential to develop and become even better. His statistics suck because the Thrashers suck. His moves are more lithe and mobile and impressive than quite a few goalies in the NHL, and he makes 40 or more saves on a regular basis because his teammates abandon him to a shooting gallery on a regular basis. Here's a fucking secret: even the best goalie, a Patrick Roy or a Martin Brodeur, lets shots go in occasionally. This isn't because they suck/sucked. The POINT is not to abandon the goalie to an onslaught by the opposing team, because some shots are inevitably going to go in. Kari does his best with the shit he's given; his team leave him to defend the goal and the scoreboard on his own, and he does as best he can. If his teammates prevented the opposing team from getting close to the goal more often than they do, Kari's fucking stats would be better.

Our problems are deeper than any one player. Another desolating fact, readers, is that sometimes the very same individual player can play very well in some games and play like utter shit in others. We have this problem. A player like Holik is excellent in some games and terrible in others. Same goes for--why name names?--a lot of the Thrashers. Some games they'll defend their territory, clear the area, protect their goalie. Other games they just stare at the puck as it either sails into Kari's gloves or glides past Kari into the net. Kari does what he can most of the time; that can't be said for most of the team.

The Thrashers are a paltry team with a lot of potential, but still paltry. Our paltriness isn't helped by the fact that--here's another fucking State Department secret that's NOT totally available to anyone with a memory and/or a Google-equipped computer--the Thrashers have had some fucking BAD luck in their short history. Worse luck than many, many franchises with much longer histories. Players killed in freak car accidents, star forwards driven near-insane by real or perceived guilt in said killing, injured goalies, indifferent and ignorant paymasters, that kind of shit. Serious management problems + sheer bad fucking luck = bad team.

Our main problem, I say again, is the fucking ownership. Don Waddell isn't a great GM or coach, but the bigger problem is that he simply doesn't have much to work with. Hossa left because he wanted to be on a team that didn't suck; we suck because the ownership is fuck-stupid with its money and its bizarre decision-making rituals. Tar and feather the dickheads, I say. Doc Burnside and ESPWank are worse than useless idiots* in this tragedy.

*Original, literal Greek meaning intended here; though I'm not averse to calling them idiots in the usual sense of the word.

An Open Letter to Kari Lehtonen


You're awesome.

Your teammates leave a lot to be desired.

I admire you for not going insane and doing grievous bodily harm to them.

Maybe your coach next year will be Patrick Roy.

Hang in there.

Don't try suicide.

Maybe your coach next year will be Patrick Roy.

You've made so many saves it hurts.

Your teammates leave a lot to be desired.

Next time they leave you out to dry while you make another heroic and brilliant effort, here's what to do after the game: line them all up at center ice, skate past each of them rapidly and give each a swift punch in the gonads, skate back down the line in the other direction, and repeat. Repeat again.

Hang in there.

Happy Easter.

With Love,
The Blueland Chronicle

Coach Roy?... Coach Hunter?

I've enjoyed posting all of the Coach's Corner episodes lately. As you can see, I haven't felt much like posting on the Thrashers. This has been PAINFUL!!!

At this point every loss helps us. We will finish in the bottom five, giving us at least a chance for the #1 pick. As I've said before, we can make a quick turn around if we use our picks wisely and spend money in the offseason. Now let's focus on the other hole to fill... a coach.

This is a complete and total rip off of TSN, but how about coach Patrick Roy? Who better to help Kari get to the next level than Roy? He will also make a fine GM someday, look out Waddell! How about another former NHL great, Dale Hunter. Can you imagine having a bad shift and having to skate back to the bench and face Roy or Hunter? These two guys are actually my top two choices to be our coach next year. This pathetic season has made me believe that we need someone who has been an NHL great to be behind the bench. I can PROMISE you if one of these guys is our coach next year we won't have the problem of our players not sticking up for each other on the ice like we have had this year.

Just a little something to chew on for these last few games.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Coach's Corner, March 22

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Continuing the spirit of that last post, here's a picture of a near-naked Mark Messier with Gary Coleman.

Celebs at Hawks Games

Finally: Magic Johnson, Boris Becker, Tim Allen, Emanuel Lewis, Ilya Kovalchuk, Wilmer Valderrama, Lil' Jon, Usher, Kari Lehtonen, K-Fed, Andre 3000, and Slava Kozlov together at last.

Thrashers-Wolves Disjunct

Custance in today's AJC:

"In Chicago we have a totally different team. It's very offensive and obviously [the Wolves] are doing very well, so it's different," Valabik said. "Totally different."

Yes, a team that is doing very well is completely different than the Thrashers.

Ouch. It's interesting that the Chicago Wolves, our farm/affiliate team, are the second best team in the AHL (behind only the Providence Bruins) while we're like, uh, not the second or third best team in the NHL. Go fucking figure.

Prospects for Next Year #2

Alex Pietrangelo. Information here.

Kicking ass here:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Coach's Corner March 15

Go Sharks Go!

A non-Thrashers post then, if you'll bear with me. Being the hockey lovers you are, readers, I'm sure you've heard at least a little bit about the San Jose Sharks' recent eleven game winning streak that only ended a few nights ago in a loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Well, they beat the L.A. Kings last night (no surprise there) and it looks like they're going to try to close out the regular season with another long string of victories. I hope they do.

What I hope for most, though, is that we get to see a re-match between the Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs. This time with a Sharks victory and ticket to the Stanley Cup, of course. I want to see Mike Grier get his revenge on these assholes:

We're Not Alone in Our Suffering

Another night, another loss. But don't get too down Blueland comrades; other people are dealing with the same sort of troubles that are plaguing the Thrashers. This video ought to reassure you--if you imagine that the blond chick (Dr. Liz Asher) represents the playoffs, the dude in the glasses (Dr. Rick Dangliss) represents other Southeast Division teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals, and the portly feller with black hair (Dr. Lucian Sanchez) represents the Atlanta Thrashers.

Stay with me, now. Watch the video and it'll ALL make sense. If this isn't consolation I don't know what is:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thank They Lord

The game tonight against the Philly Flyers (if not quite Satan's Team definitely one of his demons') will be broadcast on Versus rather than SportSouth. Which means it'll be in HD, something SportSouth with all its post-Turner billions still hasn't figured out. 7:00, folks. Be there or be a square-faced child molester.

Who is the Thrashers' Most Valuable Player?

It's that time of year again.

I'm a bit conflicted, to be honest. I mean, the obvious choice is Kovy because he's the Czar and all, but the decision is really more complicated than that. For instance, I shudder to imagine what this season would have been like without Kari Lehtonen or Toby Enstrom.

Kari literally saved our asses in several games and mitigated what should have been complete disasters in others. In some games he was the only player that actually, you know, PLAYED. It helps that he's a great goalie.

Toby has been a great addition; without him our defense would be a Maginot Line, and he performs very well (says I) under pressure.

Then there's Eric Perrin to consider. He's been fabulous all year-- a confidence-booster and an all-round damn good player. He looks for opportunities and takes advantage of them in just about any situation: penalty kills, shoot-outs, etc. etc...

Then there's Moose, who has never been anything less than reassuringly awesome (that Buffalo game where we lost 1000-1 non-withstanding); he's perfected the poke-check to the point where it should be re-named the Moose Check, and he brings a gravity and a maturity to the Thrashers that would be sorely lacking if he'd taken his Moose Dance elsewhere. The same could be said of Mark Recchi; he's not our best player, certainly, but he has a commanding presence on the ice and I'm convinced that he tries his absolute hardest and best every single game.

I have a hard time choosing between Kovy, Kari, Toby, and Perrin. Hedberg is my sentimental favorite, but I figure I should limit my choices to those four simply because they've played more games than the Moose One. What do you all think?

Kovy and Ovie: The Love Affair Continues

This old clip, but it new to me, so be enjoy watching this first fifty second or so. It tell how Kovalchuk and Ovechkin like one another very much. Enjoy to watch!

All Star Weekend Flashback

Just dug this up:

I do love those Ruskies.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blueland Among the Wreckage

Like I said, the editors of the Blueland Chronicle were in the District of Columbia this past weekend. That means we missed the tornadoes that ravaged downtown Atlanta. It is a freakish thing, no doubt; when was the last time a tornado ripped through a major metropolitan area? Monsieur Catalogues' chateau is near the damaged areas, but he and his manor live to fight another day. Philips Arena even had some paneling ripped off.

Really, the only reason that a tornado could form in Downtown and pulverize the place like it did is because Kovalchuk was away in Washington. Had he been there he would've one-timed the bitch clean out of town.

Prospects for Next Year #1

I'm liking this Kyle Beach kid. He fights, he scores goals, he fights, and he fights. Exactly what this team needs.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

...And in other news, my favorite hockey team still sucks. I'm pleased, however, that the Czar is bearing down on fifty goals this season; let's hope he breaks his (and the Thrashers franchise's) record of 52, and that he maybe even catches up with his hang-browed caveman compatriot and friend.

Speaking of Alex O., the editors of the Blueland Chronicle were in Washington D.C. this past weekend to watch the Thrashers lose to the Capitals. Seeing Ovechkin from a mere eight rows away was a delight.

Not as big a delight as Kovalchuk's hat trick against the Calgary Flames last Thursday evening, though. That was a moment of sheer joy, classic Kovy. I think I can say with some accuracy that that moment was the happiest I've ever been at a hockey game, possibly excepting that time we clinched the division at the end of last season.

Both the Czar and the Czarevitch are roughly my age (Kovy a few months older than me, Ovie a few younger); watching them makes me wonder what the hell I'm contributing to this world. I mean, has the Blueland Chronicle ever brought the joy to a reader's heart that Kovalchuk's hat trick brought to mine? Sigh. It IS Saint Patrick's Day after all; to Jameson's then...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How Sinful are You? Hockey Edition

Seeing as how the Catholic Church has decided to update the Seven Deadly Sins for Mawdurn Thymes, I thought I'd take this quiz to see just how riddled with Satan I am in the traditional categories. Here are my results:



Wrath:Very High





Probably a highly representative profile of a Thrashers fan, I say.

The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who I'll Be Rooting For in the Playoffs*

*Shamelessly ripped off from the future Mrs. Lehtonen at Fire Wagon Hockey.

Putting it mildly, our Thrashers more than likely won't pull it out this year. Thus, here's who I'll be rooting for in the playoff season and covering a bit here at the Chronicle.

Eastern Teams

I generally dislike the Eastern Conference aside from Our Team, the Washington Capitals, the Buffalo Sabres, and the Pittsburgh Penguins (I can't help it; I like Malkin, and that Hossa guy is playing for them) so my preferences are:

1. Washington Capitals
2. Pittsburgh Penguins
3. Buffalo Sabres
4. .................
5. ..................

Western Teams

This is more like it. I hate the perennially fearsome Detroit Red Wings, but I like a lot of Western teams. Probably because the Thrashers don't really have to worry about them. Some of them are genuine favorites though. My preferences run like this:

1. San Jose Sharks
2. Calgary Flames
3. Minnesota Wild
4. Vancouver Canucks
5. Anaheim Ducks

The Sharks are my favorite playoff-contending team as well as my favorites to win the Stanley Cup. I suspect the Red Wings will choke and that the Dallas Stars won't have what it takes. There's simply no way an Eastern team is going to win it this year. The most exciting Stanley Cup match-up would be the Pens and the Sharks.

The Atmosphere in Blueland circa March 2008

To any non-Thrashers fans or future hockey historians that might be reading:

I think this video offers a fair encapsulation of how it feels to be a Thrashers fan in these dismal, maddening dying days of the 2007-2008 season, as our collective state of mind turns to recrimination, fratricide, and insanity.

Coincidentally, this song always puts me in mind of springtime. So we here at the Blueland Chronicle are hereby declaring the season over and welcoming an early summer. The rest of the games this season should be taken about as seriously as the events herein:

This is Painful

The look on Cristobal Huet's face is dejection itself. If I were Nicklas Backstrom I'd go live under a rock for a few weeks. Poor guy.

Jeff Schultz on Don Waddell: Not Impressed

AJC Sports columnist person Jeff Schultz has written a column blasting Don Waddell and instructing us that he, and he solely, is to blame for all of the Thrashers' failures and errors. Money quote:

We can’t know if owners will conduct separate reviews for each of Waddell’s jobs: executive vice president, general manager, temp coach. But given that he hasn’t helped create a significant hockey market in Atlanta, nor has excelled in player development, nor will coach his handpicked players to the playoffs this season, one failing grade should cover all three areas.

This has, predictably, set off a firestorm in the comments section. Some people agree with Schultz and want Waddell's head; others are more infuriated than usual (Schultz has never been the most popular columnist round these parts), and some accuse him of being a homosexual, for some reason. Seriously, what is the obsession with gays among sports fans? I know that in parts of the world like the Middle East and the American South they're supposed to be Evil People, but surely calling everyone you disagree with a homosexual isn't the best way to win an argument. And this argument does need to made, as Schultz is overlooking some fairly obvious things. (side note: In the comments Schultz is also accused of being a Warcraft fan, and that really IS a hanging offense-editors)

There's no doubt that Waddell has made his share of bad decisions (which are, to my mind, roughly off-set by his good ones), but like I said on the day of the Season Ticket Holders Town Hall, Problema Numero Uno is the ownership's permanent state of lazy irresponsibility and their bizarre financial arrangement. Yes, I was impressed by Levenson (and yes, I now know that his name is spelled

L-E-V-E-N-S-O-N; I was caught up in my half-conscious identification of him with the director Barry Levinson) but the Atlanta Spirit (the board of Owners that runs this boondoggle) has quite a few more money-throwers and they aren't as smart or as pleasing a bunch.

Don Waddell is a red herring. He's done some good and he's some done some bad; his role in this franchise is at worst ambiguous and mixed. The real villains are the Atlanta Spirit; not because they're wicked, but because they're feckless and unimaginative and unconcerned. Few of them apart from Levenson seem to care about the Thrashers other than as an investment (which proves what bad capitalists they are; as any first-grader knows, demand will dwindle if a product is consistently bad). And their process of allocating money and approving trades, of agreeing to do anything really, is as byzantine and needlessly confusing as some national governments.

To kick up a huge fuss about Waddell, as Schultz does, is to lay all the blame on a convenient scapegoat when there are more serious and more insidious problems at hand. I repeat: nothing is going to change for the Thrashers until the ownership changes its methods and procedures. Blaming Waddell is a blind alley.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Coach's Corner March 8

Town Hall Thoughts

I see Morty has put me on the spot yet again for a post about the Town Hall meeting. If you were unable to go you can see pretty much what happened in the various blogs and messageboards. Holland over at the Chicken was pretty accurate describing all the details. I guess I'll now add my two cents worth:

It's no secret that I'm a Don Waddell fan. It's also no secret that I'm not a huge Atlanta Spirit fan (don't hate them, but I think there is room for improvement). With that said, I've always liked Bruce Levenson. It appears that many were unimpressed with him at the meeting. I've always had a different point of view than most. It looks like that is the case again. I've read people thought Bruce was a "dick" or "politically incorrect" when he called out one of the fans for being a smart ass. Many thought that was a bad move. To me it was the best thing that happened at the meeting! Too many people these days are politically correct (as reason for my friendship with Morty, see his earlier post!). There are plenty of Season Ticket Holders that think they should have a hotline to all the owners and can say WHATEVER they want to them. If you are constructive in your criticism of the owners or the Thrashers it will be well received and you will be respected. If you just shout out nonsense in a rude tone you deserve to be either ignored, or called out as a smart ass by one of our owners in front of everyone.

On the ticket prices, I was surprised it took so long for it to be brought up. For the record, I'm fine with the price increase. People yap about the product on the ice. They are working on it! If they could predict where we would finish in the standings maybe they would adjust the ticket prices, but that is impossible. Stop bitching about the increase. There has been a lot of talk about the guy buying a $85 ticket on the glass in Boston where as Atlanta it is $125. Atlanta has one of the lowest AVERAGE ticket prices in the league. You will always be able to find tickets in one section or another that are cheaper somewhere else. Quit focusing on one case and take a look at the entire situation. It's not that bad. And if $2 extra a game is going to break the bank for you, maybe you shouldn't have tickets to begin with.

Let's take a moment to realize that all of us, the owners, GM, fans, team...everyone is after the same thing... a Stanley Cup. I know I have made some negative comments above about some of my fellow STH, but just the ones that don't have the ability to express their differences in a constructive manor. Bruce Levenson is generally very accessible, and I believe, he really cares what the fans think. If he wants to call someone a smart ass for being a smart ass, hey I think that's fair. Try to keep the bickering to a minimum. We have a very important offseason ahead of us and we should focus on that.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Memo to the Young Fellow Who Doesn't Like Kari Lehtonen

Disclaimer: If you're bored by public mea culpas, please skip to the next post. 

Now then. Graham Greene once wrote--and I paraphrase--that people with literary aspirations commonly have a splinter of ice in their hearts. Meaning that they'll sacrifice anything in the way of decency for a halfway vivid or memorable line. In my last post I described a few details of the annual season ticket holders' town hall meeting with Don Waddell and Bruce Levinson. In my zeal for capturing the local color, so to speak, of the event, I described some kid who asked a question about Kari Lehtonen as "a rotund kid with a lisp." The Falconer has raised the possibility that the young fellow might be at least partially deaf and thus speaks kind of funny. 

Mr. Partially Deaf Rotund Kid With a Lisp: My propensity to overlook decency in the hope of writing a memorable line is a moral fault. If you're reading right now (which I suspect you're not; who the hell does read this blog?) shoot me an email and I'll send you my address. After that you come to my apartment and punch me in the face. And then break a wooden chair over my head. We can even arrange to do this in a public place; I promise I shan't press charges. 


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cabbages and Kings

The Blueland Chronicle's reporters can confirm that last night's pre-game meeting of Thrashers GM and coach Don Waddell, owner dude Bruce Levinson, and legions of cranky season-ticket holders was a fascinating thing to behold. I didn't know that Levinson was going to be there to answer questions along with Waddell, and it might come as a surprise (given my anti-ownership post yesterday) that I found Mr. Levinson totally convincing, sincere, intelligent, and committed to the team. I've always been a Don fan, so I went in expecting my feelings to be up in arms defending him against complaints about everything under the sun; but I was surprised by Levinson's persuasiveness.  Grand Shooteur, no fan of the owners, tells me that Levinson is an exception to the sad rule and seems to actually know quite a bit about hockey and actually, you know, feels passion for the sport. 

I was taken off guard by Waddell's and Levinson's candor about the team's troubles. They openly admitted that Zhitnik has had a disastrous year, that our defense could use serious reform (but that Toby Enstrom is awesome), and that, in Waddell's words, "some veterans have seriously let us down this year." That means Slava Koslov and Bobby Holik, by the way. 

And yes, I like Koslov and Holik too. Slava is a brilliant hockey player whose best days are behind him; Holik is still quite good, but inconsistent and probably not the best choice for team captain. Anyway, back to the meeting:

During the long Q&A session all the predictable subjects were raised: was the Hossa trade deal done wisely, are we handling our money well, why don't you answer my emails, and is this rise in season ticket prices highway robbery or is it not? 

Some rotund kid with a lisp instructed Waddell that Kari Lehtonen is not a good goalie and that he needed to be traded (to make room for Ondrej Pavelic); Waddell and Levinson both gently told the youngster that he had no fucking clue what he was talking about. When Bruce Levinson (who I keep wanting to call Barry Levinson; have you seen Diner? Great film; rent it) said that the average ticket price at Blueland was lower than the price average for the rest of the NHL, the sound of pious and populist feathers being ruffled swept across the room and not a few people shouted that this was untrue. My take (not that you asked)? Levinson knows more about the business of hockey, including ticket prices and the realities of reporting back to the Central Committee in Moscow, er, Toronto, than you do, fair fan . Levinson was honest enough to say that prices will keep rising year after year, but that he'll do everything he can to keep them at league lows. Seriously, the people able to find fathomless outrage in the raising of ticket prices are the same people who send food back at restaurants and complain about all these Mexicans about these days.

Another guy said that the Hossa trade was "good riddance," but that he misses Pascal Dupuis (or as we call him at the Blueland Chronicle, Little Kovalchuk) and thinks it might have been unwise to get rid of him. I was quite a big Dupuis fan too, but Waddell's answer satisfied any qualms I had about his departure: the fact of the matter is that we had a choice between sending Eric Perrin  to Pittsburgh along with Hossa or sending Dupuis. I think they made the right decision. 

Waddell said that there was no way in hell he'd want to get rid of Kari or Kovy; he's awfully fond of Enstrom and Havelid, whom he says had a rocky season last year because of personal troubles but seems back on track this year...hmmm, what else? The team's central problem, he thinks, is similar to the central problem in any lagging team, business, organization, nation-state, strip club: on the Thrashers, or on any team or in any strip club, there's going to be roughly four players/strippers who are passionately committed to the team/strip club and pull the rest of the team/strip club along with them on a wave of enthusiasm and commitment. Inevitably, there's also going to be roughly four players/strippers who languish at the back and don't much care. The rest, the majority, is in the middle, and which direction they get pulled in influences how the team/strip club fares.

The only other significant question was about avoiding a Hossa situation with Kovalchuk. As anyone who knows about either player, their contracts and agents, and the relationship between Don Waddell and Czar Ilya  knows, Kovy is committed to Atlanta and won't be leaving. I have to admit I was relieved to hear Don confirm that towards the end of his current contract the Czar is going to be signed to an Ovechkin-esque deal with Atlanta. Sweet.

I believe that's all my memory can muster right now. Grand Shooteur, I trust, will offer another installment about the meeting. I'm off for now. Nice win over the Wild last night. Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen were both splendid, Moose did his Moose Dance, and I think that Kovalchuk guy has a future. 

Friday, March 7, 2008

Vox Populi, Vox Waddell

There's some kind of townhall meeting scheduled before the game this evening, a forum where season ticket-holders can express whatever they want to express and ask whatever they want to ask of Don Waddell. The Blueland Chronicle's finest reporters will be present, so all salacious and significant details will find their way onto this blog.

For my part, I'm a bit nervous. I fear for Mr. Waddell's safety, or at least the cleanliness of his suit. I expect some people will turn up with vegetables to throw. There's no denying that the past eight games have been dismal; as much as some might love to wallow in blame, there's really no one person or aspect of the team to blame. MANY things are wrong with the Thrashers franchise; Craig Custance does a fine job of enumerating them here.

Good reformist that I am, though, I think nothing is going to change for the Thrashers until either a) the ownership gets it act together, or b) the ownership itself is changed. As of right now there are a ton of problems with the players and their lack of chemistry (again, read Custance), but I find it hard to believe that this team will progress without a drastic re-structuring of the priorities and financial agreements of our feckless, mediocre, and predatory owners. Some of them, and feel free to pass this along, know as much about hockey as I do about molecular biology, and care even less. I could elaborate on their too-numerous-to-recite-them-all idiocies, but I'll save that for a post in the near future. Right now it should suffice to say that nothing is going to improve until the owners improve (by either improving themselves or making themselves ex-owners).

Another thought on our epic failure/suggestion for folks wondering why we suck: Our team is too damn OLD! I love Recchi and Holik and company, and there are sound arguments for keeping them, but let me venture a modest proposal by way of comparison. Look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Look at the Minnesota Wild. Think historically and look at the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. These are/were young teams that built a camaraderie and a common purpose by playing and growing together over several years, from draft to Stanley Cup (I'm thinking more of the Oilers there; we'll see how things turn out for the Penguins and the Wild this year).

Speaking of the Wild, we're playing them tonight. Perhaps we'll destroy them and everything I say here will look like donkey-wank.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

At Last, Some Passion!

Kind of funny Waddell makes big news just as The Chronicle was defending him. Personally I LOVE what he did last night. Too many times I've watched this team skate through the motions as they lose night after night. Looking like it doesn't matter what the score is as long as they have time to get over to The Tavern for a night cap.

It's sad that emotion that the players should be showing is not there. If only they could match the emotion of their Coach/GM... you know, their BOSS! I fully expected someone to drop the gloves on the very next shift after Don's outburst, but yet again it wasn't until very late in the game that we decided to show up.

I feel your pain Don. I just wish I knew the answer. For those of you who missed it, check out the highlights from TSN:

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jumbotron Nominees #4

To be played when we lose in overtime:

Jumbotron Nominees #3

To be played when we draw a penalty:


So who's going to win tonight? The Canes? The Thrashers? Does it matter? I think we can safely bet that the Thrashers won't be making it to the playoffs this year, which is supremely depressing but something I suppose I'll have to live with.

I guess that maybe, MAYBE they could pull off some kind of miracle winning streak at the end of the season (and--all-important detail--that the Canes, Caps, and Panthers will stall), I'm not getting my fragile hopes up. The Thrashers HAVE played reasonably well since the Hossa trade; I mean, our losses lately have been in overtime. If we want to keep that dying-glimmer-of-hope "Oh jeez we might come out of nowhere and triumph" thing going, we'll have to win in regulation tonight, of course. I wonder whether it isn't better if the team just tanked though. We DO, as people on the Thrashers message boards and Custance's comments boxes keep saying, desperately need some solid defense. But I don't think that's all, really. Like Grand Shooteur says all kinds of different elements need to be in place for a) a great acquisition that might help our defense or depth, and b) a bloody playoff-contending team!

The Thrashers actually have plenty of talent. What they don't have is bulk. You want to protect Kari and Moose? That requires more than Toby Enstrom's glittering talent; you need hulking, stupid, ox-like goonery, not just measly talent. Anyway, we shall stay tuned and see what happens tonight, for the rest of the season, and throughout the summer as important decisions are made as to who stays and who goes (including Don Waddell). And I hope you'll keep it tuned to the Blueland Chronicle the entire time, naturally.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Don Waddell

There is a lot of talk going around the internet lately about Don Waddell (as always). I have defended Waddell more than most over the last 9 years. I'll admit, it's hard to defend someone when their team has one playoff appearance with no wins in franchise history. I'm going to refrain from listing all of the obvious bad moves Waddell has made over the years. Not every move is going to be a winner. We all know what the bad ones are (Rucchin for example). What I'd like to do is list a few things that most people might not think about. Not necessarily a defense of Waddell, but perhaps another point of view that might be going unnoticed.

OK, I guess I'll start with the obvious. Wouldn't this franchise look different if Heatley had not done the unspoken? There are those who like to crunch the numbers and talk about how few drafts picks Waddell has made that are playing for the team. As you may have noticed, I'm not a numbers guy. All I know is it's not Waddell's fault Dan Snyder is not playing for us this season (or Dany Heatley for that matter). Those are two draft picks that should still be here. I still believe that accident set us back a couple of years. Both Waddell and Hartley will never get enough credit for leading us through that dark time with such class. People also say that the only draft picks Waddell can get right are the #1 picks that no one can screw up. Most people forget Heatley was not a #1 pick. So there was at least 1 GM who was dumb enough to pass on him.

There are also those who like to talk about how we don't have a #1 center or a top defenseman. No, we don't. These same people also don't realize that we are operating $6 or $7 million under the salary cap. You can do a lot with an extra $6 million. Waddell is working with the budget he has from his owners (that's another story). And regarding our defense, I know it sucks. I think we should keep Toby, Nick and Klee. I don't care what happens to the rest. But I hear a lot of people say, "Boy if we didn't have Enstrom we'd be in real bad shape. Why can't Waddell draft defensemen?". My answer is, guess what... we DO have Enstrom. Give Waddell a little credit where credit is do.

One other thing I'd like you to consider is our lack of success in the free agent market. I think Moose has got to be the best FA we've ever had. Consider the fact that Atlanta is not the top place for most of the big name FA's to go. Free agents are just that, free to go whereever they like to go. Even if we had the money to go after someone like Chris Drury, he would still have to WANT to come here. That is not always the case. You can't just wave a magic wand and "poof"... a #1 center. Lots of pieces have to fall into place. Waddell is in a situation where he has to, in many cases, overpay to get someone that is not necessarily the best. Many people are looking for us to add a #1 center through free agency this summer. Take a look at the centers who are free agents this year and you will see the pickins are pretty slim. Any big name center would have to be acquired through trade (Waddell's strong point). Hopefully we will focus on defense this summer (SIGN JASON SMITH).

Again, I realize we are not where any of us would like to be. I just wanted to offer a different point of view on Waddell. Does he deserve to be fired? Maybe. I don't get paid to make make those decisions. I wouldn't mind giving him one more year to see what he can do. Maybe after the legal stuff with our owners gets finalized we can spend to the cap. Trust me, you would see a difference on the ice. Don't blame Waddell for only spending $42 million when the cap is more.

I know I'm in the minority on this. Many angry fans look at the record and make their judgments there. I hope I have offered enough of a case to make you take a second look. If after that you don't agree, that's fine. But please try to realize the entire situation before calling for someone's head.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Coach's Corner March 1

Monday, March 3, 2008

A note

Apologies for the light posting from me lately. I was struck down by the latest flu epidemic this past week and I was immobilized for a few days. Normal services will be resuming shortly...

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Why have a UPS commercial on an Atlanta Thrashers blog you ask? I'll tell you why, because that is exactly what we saw today during the Bruins game as Kovy was scoring a goal on a penalty shot! The most exciting moment in hockey. My God, SportSouth is an absolute disgrace!! JP Dellasuck had another gem. For those of you who didn't see, Kovy comes in on a breakaway, gets hooked down, and the official CLEARLY points to center ice. Not once. Twice. JP then claims, "Well, I didn't see him point to center ice... No there he goes, but that isn't quite a clear point. Let's go to a break and we will try to sort it all out". So they go to the UPS commercial and cut away in the middle of it to show Kovy celebrating at the bench.


The camera work sucks. JP Dellasuck sucks. We are just about the only team that does not broadcast our games in HD. It's high time... SHITCAN JP Dellasuck! He doesn't know the rules for God's sake! Have Kamal, Odgers, and Eliot do both TV and radio. A few teams do this.

I feel better after getting that out of my system. Two more periods to go. Maybe we will be able to score a few more goals and pull this one out.

Maybe SportSouth will actually show them.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.