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.


Mortimer Peacock said...

Excellent, excellent post. It is nice to have SOME nuance in this whole debate over Don Waddell. I have to agree that the team is probably still damaged from the Dan Snyder-Dany Heatly nightmare; though perhaps trading Hossa was a way of getting rid of the last reminder of that whole incident. Maybe now that Hossa (whom we only got because Dany Heatly desperately wanted to be traded) is gone we can start to move into a new era. I'm probably talking absolute nonsense, but, well...

Big Shooter said...

It is weird that, Heatley kills Snyder. Heatley is traded for Hossa. Hossa is traded for Armstrong. Armstrong is exactly the kind of player Dan Snyder would have been by now.