Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ryan Clowe is Still Available?

I know this is only speculation, and it sounds too good to be true (not for the Sharks, but for other teams, like, say, the Thrashers). But I can't resist sharing:

Ryan Clowe, is a great player but is still rolling around the free agency market and I can only ask one question "What's Up?" I mean Clowe has gone through arbirtration and even though Doug Wilson has said the deal is pretty much done like dinner I've learned their has been a bunch of interest in the left wing.

You can call me a lunatic, but I've got a hunch that Ryan is already gone. I mean the Sharks only have 1.374 million cap space left and still have a handful of prospects to sign. Now something I know for real is that Clowe still hadn't picked the term of his new contract and I think why he's taking so long is cause another team is trying to poach him.

Could the Thrashers be a viable poacher?

If the Thrashers get Ryan Clowe I will cry rivers of joy.

For one, the guy is a Shark. More importantly, he scored 34 points in 58 games in 2006-07 and 8 points in 15 games in 2007-08. He got injured early in the regular season, but came back just in time to score 5 goals and 4 assists in the playoffs. He's a great skater, he has a good shot, and he does a lot of this:

Sign him and we probably won't need Vermette, but of course I wouldn't be against going after Vermette as well. Do work, DW.

Rise Early and Boil Some Blood

So I wake up way, way early this morning and check the Thrashers message boards. A link points me in the direction of this.

Sigh. Where to begin?

Kincade is upset about the Hawks for some reason, mainly because that Josh Childress guy has gone to play in Greece and Josh Smith doesn't seem interested in staying. Eager to save his favorite basketball team, Kincade proposes a way to keep Smith: trade Ilya Kovalchuk. Now.

That way, you see, we get "maximum value" for a superstar. What what what?

The Hawks might get maximum value (this is actually quite debatable though), but the same couldn't be said for the Thrashers. Ilya Kovalchuk, it has be said again and again, IS the Thrashers.

It's something worse than ridiculous to compare the Czar, who happens to be one of the finest players in the NHL, with Josh Smith, who's merely a good NBA player. There's really no correlation between Smith and Kovalchuk. Almost as ridiculous as equating Kovalchuk to Smith is equating Kovalchuk to Marian Hossa.

Kincade is certain that the Czar "will walk the way of Marian Hossa" sooner or later. How did Kincade come to be so certain? Well, for one thing, he uses lots of capital letters and exclamation points. This contributes a lot to his argument. He also pats himself on the back for being as brave and forward-thinking as to recommend trading the Thrashers' star player, as if this half-baked notion is somehow original and unique to him.

But that's beside the point. The point, readers, is that the Hossa situation and the Czar situation can't be compared. Hossa came to Atlanta via trade; it was never "his" team. The Thrashers are Kovalchuk's team, and Kovalchuk is the Thrashers' one and only Czar. And no, I'm not confusing supporting an individual player with supporting a team. To have a team you must first have individual players--because teams are, like, composed of individual players--and we have one of the very best in the world. It would be insane to trade him...and what, exactly, would we be trading him for? Draft picks? Please.

It's true he hasn't explicitly said it, but Ilya Kovalchuk has made plenty of signals that 1) he thinks of the Thrashers as his team and of Atlanta as his home away from Mother Russia, 2) he wants to be the franchise player, and 3) he will sign a long and lucrative contract with the Thrashers a la Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

I've said it before, I'll say it etc. etc...When Ovechkin signed his contract with the Caps, the team was in third place in the Southeast, behind the Carolina Hurricanes and the terrible, hopeless, soon-to-be-Czarless Atlanta Thrashers.

Ovechkin is the Capitals. He wants to remain that way. I'm not certain, of course (that's one difference between me and the uber-confident Mr. Kincade), but I don't think it's unreasonable to think that Kovalchuk is the same vis-a-vis the Thrashers.

And by the way, too much has been read into his comments to Craig Custance at the end of last season. The Czar wants to see some changes, no doubt about it, but I don't think he was laying down an ultimatum (despite what I said at the time). Kovy was talking honestly and critically about the team, and Custance gave his comments a new, probably unintended context when he surrounded them with his own doom-mongering about the future.

But fearless truth-teller Kincade would be deaf to all this because he puts his head in things other than sand and wears things other than blinders, etc. etc. And he uses exclamation marks. Sometimes not just one but four or five in a row. That PROVES the man knows something.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Vermette Situation

There's a discussion over at the Thrashers message board about Antoine Vermette's arbitration hearing. It's tomorrow morning, apparently, and there's reason to believe that Vermy won't be staying in Ottawa. He'll likely be traded to either the Vancouver Whale-Riders, the Columbus Rick Nashes, or that sub-sub-tropical bird team.

Us, that is.

The speculative consensus is that Vermette will be asking for a Duckberg-style bin of loonies and toonies, and the speculative consensus says that Ottawa isn't about to give Vermette a Ron Hainsey-esque contract when they have Msrs. Heatley, Alfredsson, and Spezza to worry about. The word on the street is that Ottawa will trade Vermette for a "puck-moving defenseman." Vancouver could probably supply that (Kevin Bieksa), but I'm not sure about Columbus. And I'm not about to look it up.

Atlanta, of course, now has a few puck-moving defensemen in Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, and "Zach" the Bull "Bogosian." Do we give one of them up in return for Antoine Vermette?

No, of course not, you asshole. Why would we diminish our suddenly rich (and offensively talented) defense when it's been our single biggest problem for the entire history of the team? Dropping Enstrom for Vermette would leave us no better off than we were before. There is a way, of course, to keep Enstrom (and Hainsey, Bogosian, Nikulin, and whoever else) and get Vermette.

The Blueland Chronicle has been pushing this editorial position for weeks.

Ottawa's greatest lack--contra what Internet and media folk say--is NOT on defense but in goal. Martin Gerber is a back-up goalie, not a starter, and Ottawa is desperate for a talented, reasonably young starting goale.

Let's review the rumored Vermette trade partners: Columbus, Vancouver, Atlanta.

Could Columbus satisfy Ottawa's biggest need? Pascal Leclaire is an excellent young goalie, and Columbus is not about to part with him.


We have Lehtonen. We have Pavelec. I think either trade scenario (Lehtonen for Vermette, Pavelec for Vermette) is completely plausible. Lehtonen is a proven NHL goalie, and a very good one, which is easy to forget if you base your evaluation of hockey solely on statistics. Pavelec, it's true, is younger and less experienced. But there are few people who seriously doubt Pavelec's ability, and I can imagine Ottawa being very interested in making him this year's Carey Price.

Your move, DW.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Those Crazy Islanders

They had Mike Milbury as a GM for years, during which time he made such brilliant comedic moves as trading away Roberto Luongo AND Olli Jokinen so he could draft Rick DiPietro. They promoted backup-goalie/Voltron-lookalike Garth Snow to GM. They actually signed Andy Sutton to play professional hockey AFTER seeing how he played for the Thrashers.

Now the New York Islanders, who are to hockey as Mel Brooks is to movies, may just be upping the ante. That's right, readers, this Wednesday GM Garth Snow (that's not the punch-line, just a laugh along the way) will sit down to interview another candidate for head coach. After hearing from such snoozer sure things as Bob Hartley, Paul Maurice, and John Tortarella, Snow finally gets to hear some novel ideas from none other than SCOTT "FLASH" GORDON!

Some of you newer Atlanta hockey fans may be scratching your heads right now as to why this is so funny. Some of you who were old enough to drink during Atlanta Knights games might also have fuzzy memories of this comedic wonder.

However, those of us who frequented the Omni during those days when the Tampa Bay Lightning weren't yet evil remember Scotty well. Shooter and I once watched Gordon, the Knights third string netminder at the time, decide to put on a little bit of a show for the crowd after making a routine collection of a dump in. Instead of simply passing the puck out to his defenseman in the neutral zone, Gordon decided to pretend he was a soccer goalie and DROP KICK THE PUCK.

Predictably, the puck arced beautifully right onto the tape of a forechecking opponent who was able to put the biscuit in the basket behind the badly out of position and off balance Scott Gordon.

It was understandable that Scotty was feeling a little lightheaded and giddy, though. After all, it wasn't that often he actually stopped the routine dump in from center ice. More than once his teammates had to hang their heads in shame as Gordon let a puck bounce through his legs at a screaming five miles per hour and into the net.

So it would be a perfect fit for the team run by Garth "the rules don't say I CAN'T wear roofing shingles on top of my pads" Snow; the same team who said "who needs Luongo when you can draft DiPietro number 1 in front of Heatley;" to hire ole Flash as their new head coach.

Go for it, fellas! I hope Leslie Nielson is available for an assistant spot!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Swear, If This Doesn't Make You Tear Up

Remember back to this time. I can't even because I hadn't been converted yet to hockey, but if you can, bless you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Atlanta Sports Writing's Most Confident Dunce Strikes Again

Jeff Schultz is not the most complex of creatures. He is varying his well-paid act slightly these days, working generalized put-downs of the Thrashers (of the Thrashers, not necessarily of the Atlanta Spirit Group or even, this time, Don Waddell) into columns about the Atlanta Hawks. But still, his criticism rarely expands beyond "My God, the Thrashers suck. Everyone else in my trade thinks so, so I agree."

There are plenty of problems with the way the Thrashers and Hawks franchises are run, but they mostly have to do with the ownership. Not entirely to do with the ownership, but I find it pretty hard to disagree that the Spirit are the root cause of a lot of the Thrashers' woes. Don Waddell is just a highly visible scapegoat onto which Jeff Schultz and Scott Burnside unleash their resentment. I have no problem with a thorough and honest critique of the Thrashers' problems (I like to think that this blog does this every now and then, in a haphazard way), but Schultz's complaints rarely contain much more content than "I hate hockey. Get it out of Atlanta. Low standing last season...Don Waddell...something...perception...something...I-I want people to believe I know what I'm talking about..."

And working a dig at the Thrashers into a column otherwise totally concerned with the Hawks is just gratutitous.

You'll have to explore the AJC on your own if you want to read Our Jeff's latest emission. It's now the Chronicle's policy not to link to the excrement-farmer.

Summer Power Rankings My Ass

So, Scott Burnside is keeping up with the current trend to just make fun of the Thrashers. In his recent article he puts us dead last in the Eastern rankings. Surprise surprise! And then the man puts Carolina in the top ten. I ask you, really? Really? I mean Carolina over Ottawa or Boston even Tampa? I mean things are just getting out of hand. Also putting the Leafs and the Panthers in front of us? I swear, if I could find these writers, I would give em all a good kick in the nads. In the West he puts the Kings last. It just unimaginative thinking. Terrible speculation. But no no, everyone just talks about oh we didn't get Brian Campbell. He then goes to say John Anderson's first season is going to be a long one. The worst thing about all this is that Burnside lives in Atlanta. I can't take this kind negativity anymore. Also, I want to add, writing this article is a serious waste of time. There are other things going in the NHL: Murray on waivers, the Canucks trying to build the offense, the elongated wait for Sundin, Bouwmeester rejecting the offer from the Panthers, Vermette being moved, and other stories. But no, Burnside gets lazy and writes an article about his prediction to next season. The season hasn't even started nor has camp, and there are teams that aren't finished trades or signings. So to you, Scott Burnside I say, get off your ass and do some real sports journalism.

Also take a look at this. These were the power rankings last year at ESPN.

Day 15 Since Knobler's Last Blog...

According to Rawhide, apparently the only guy the AJC has reporting on hockey (SWEET JESUS THE AJC SUCKS!!!!!), we have hired Randy Cunneyworth of the Rochester Americans as an assistant head coach. This pleases me very much. He will be a head coach in the NHL one day. Probably in the next couple of years after we surprise everyone. Teams will come calling. Good for him.

Also, it is my official position that all the possible trade talks make my head hurt. Here are your lines:

Czar Christensen Little
Kozlov White Williams
Perrin Reasoner Armstrong
Boulton Slater Stuart

With the usual supects rounding it out.

This takes the pressure off Little by putting him with very talented players. You put him as the 2nd line center and I think he may struggle. Put him on the first line wing and he doesn't have all the defensive responsibilities that go with the center position. I also think he would complement the Czar quite nicely on the far wing.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Offcial Editorial Position on the Top Line


As Pensblog Charlie would say, do it.

Another Thought Experiment

The Thrashers trade one of our eighteen goalies to Ottawa for Antoine Vermette and that other guy. Then they trade Todd White, Jimmy Slater, Garnet Exelby, and a pick to San Jose in return for Jonathan Cheechoo.

Extras: Stuart, LaVallee, Larsen, etc.


Extras: Stuart, LaVallee, Larsen, etc.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Right Winger Plot Thickens

No, Jesse Helms hasn't come back to life and declared himself Emperor of North America.

Instead, the Boston Bruins have put Glen Murray on waivers.

No, I'm not suggesting we go after the man. He's creaking into an injury-ridden, low-scoring decline, and besides, I've convinced myself we're going to trade Todd White and some other players for Jonathan Cheechoo.

However, if somehow my Cheechoo/Marleau hopes are not realized, and if Mike Knuble stays in Philadelphia, and if Antoine Vermette and Maxim Afinogenov can't stand the sight of powder blue, I wouldn't be averse to signing him to a one-year contract. He is old, he is declining, but I think he could put up 20 goals and plenty of assists if 1) he manages to avoid injury, and 2) he plays on the same line as Slava Kozlov and Bryan Little. Even if Murray doesn't score at all, he might be a useful guide to Little; playing alongside two veterans with plenty of experience (is there any other kind?) might ground him and help him develop his game.

So if my Kovalchuk-Christensen-Cheechoo/Kozlov-Little-Williams scheme doesn't come to pass (and really, why wouldn't it?), I wouldn't weep if our lines were Kovalchuk-Christensen-Williams/Kozlov-Little-Murray.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last Item on the Shopping List: Scoring Winger

The way I see it, readers, is almost exactly like this:

Czar - Christensen - ?
Slava - Little - Williams
Perrin - Reasoner - Armstrong
Boulton - Slater - Thorburn

That leaves us with a huge question mark: what to do with Todd White? The man is clearly good enough to be a 2nd or 3rd line center, but I think it's obvious that we want those roles to be filled by Bryan Little and Marty Reasoner. I suppose he could take over the role of 4th line center, and I'm sure he'd do a fine job. But really, wouldn't it be better to offer Mr. White to, say, Philadelphia, in exchange for, say, Mike Knuble? Lots of Thrash fans have floated this idea, and the official editorial position of the Chronicle is whole-hearted assent. We think Knuble would make a fine addition to the Czar Line.

While we support going after Knuble, we must also propose an alternative.

The San Jose Sharks had a glut of mean and gritty third line forwards last year. Somehow they let the best (aside from Grier) of them, Patrick Rissmiller, get away to the New York Rangers via free agency. They're surely looking for a replacement, but so far no one has been signed or traded for. Are you thinking what we're thinking?

I know, I know. "Mean" and "gritty" aren't words that come to mind when we dream about Todd White either, but he IS a highly competent defensive forward, perfect for the third line. And really, Our Todd doesn't need to be mean or gritty when he's playing on the same line as Mike Grier and Jody Shelley. But the Sharks could just as easily have White play alongside Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski on the second line. To earn the hand of Our Todd, of course, the Sharks would have to give something up. What do we need?

A scoring right winger.



The Czar, Christensen, and Cheechoo. The Triple C Line.

We could throw in Jimmy Slater and a draft pick as well. I'd hate to see Jimmy go, but the Sharks might need him in the near future: sadly, Jeremy Roenick won't last forever.

White, Slater, and a draft pick might also be a reasonable price for Patrick Marleau. At the very least, he could center the second line to take the heat off of Bryan Little. In that situation our top two lines would look like this:

But I think Bryan Little is hungry and heat-ready, so if Don Waddell read this post and decided to take my advice and go after Patrick Marleau our lines would be:

Solid. And yes, Marleau is a deft winger. The man can play any and every forward position, probably ones that haven't even been invented yet. But the most sensible option might be to go after Jonathan Cheechoo first, so as to get the Triple C Line off the ground.

A Little More Goalie Intrigue is featuring an informative article about the Thrashers' current top prospects, with some good commentary from Dan Marr. (No link because I don't understand how blogspot does HTML yet, but there's a link from the front of If the name's not familiar to you, Dan Marr is Atlanta's head amateur scout and is in charge of development of the prospects. This means he works very closely with the coaching and training staffs in Chicago and Gwinnett and keeps close tabs on all Thrashers prospects playing in various collegiate, junior, and foreign leagues.

What really caught my eye was a quote from Marr about Ondrej Pavelec. According to Marr, "Don's (Waddell) plan is to have Ondrej playing somewhere this season. Whether it's with Atlanta or in the AHL, we'll have to see."

Plans to have Pav playing somewhere this season. Now, under the current status quo, that's not really an earth shattering statement. Right now, Kari is the number one in Atlanta, getting the lion's share of the playing time while Moose rides the pine and takes over when Squirrel needs a rest (maybe in some of those 15 back-to-back games in the Thrashers' schedule) or has an off night. Pav goes back to Chicago and plays most of the games there defending his Calder Cup championship.

But as John "Somebody Slap Me" Anderson told our own Big Shooter at the blogger roundtable, nothing is set in stone. Thrasher fans will recall that training camp can be a tumultuous time for netminders. Anybody recall Norm "Double Cheeseburger" Maracle showing up way overweight? There's little doubt that both Kari and Pav are destined to carry NHL teams as the top goalie. A battle for playing time between the two can only help the franchise, but the above quote from DW seems to indicate that the fight is not going to be played out with one of the two in net and the other on the bench. Moose is locked up for the near future with his new contract while Kari is only on the books for this season before he is reevaluated once again. Whose idea that was is up in the air. Some reports have Kari saying that he didn't feel like he deserved much in his new contract and maybe he wanted a short deal so he could push up his price tag before locking himself in for the long haul. Or maybe DW had a picture of Pav holding up the Calder Cup on his screensaver while talking to Kari's agent and thought twice about signing Kari to a large contract that would make him harder to move if it turns out he could provide more as a trade asset than a presence in the crease.

Again, this is all a faint whiff on the breeze. The ground won't start shaking until John "Mississippi Moon" Anderson gets a good look at all three of his goalies at the Ice Forum in September. It's a safe bet, though, that there's going to be some funny-talking fireworks as the Finn, the Czech, and the Swede showcase their puck stopping acrobatics in training camp.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Coach's Corner Classic, Vol. 2

I walk around in the summertime saying "How about this heat?"

It's like 200 degrees in Atlanta, but thankfully some thunderstorms are hovering. Here's some entertainment.*

*I can't embed this video because the Universal Music Group are a bunch of repressive cockheads.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Esposito is Here to Stay

TSN says so:

The Atlanta Thrashers have come to terms with forward Angelo Esposito on a multiple-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Montreal native has yet to appear in the NHL however he has enjoyed a solid junior career with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL with 96 goals and 150 assists in 173 games.

Wonder how long it'll take him to join us? There are few players who generate as much as controversy as this guy. He's polarizing, as they say on cable news: Some people think he'll be a superstar and some think he's going to be a huge bust. 96 goals and 150 assists in 173 games looks pretty good to me, but who knows? Maybe he really impressed at prospect camp.

The Way I See It...

Kovalchuk Christensen Williams

Kozlov White Little

Perrin Reasoner Armstrong

Boulton Slater Stuart

Extra: LaVallee/Larsen/Thorburn

Havelid Enstrom

Hainsey Bogosian

Klee Exelby

Extra: Valabik


Extra: Pavelec

This is as of right now. Hopefully there is another move or two to be made.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marty Reasoner Signs With Atlanta

I'm appalled that no one has posted this on the Chronicle yet, but the Thrashers have signed ex-Oil dude Marty Reasoner. Basically, he adds depth: he'll be a good 3rd or 4th line center and he's a good defensive player. If the comments at TSN are any indication, Oilers fans are sad to see him go.

The way I see it, we now have four official centers (Erik Christensen, Bryan Little, Todd White, and Marty Reasoner), two potential centers ready to go if needed (Eric Perrin and Jason Williams), and one in the system (Angelo Esposito). Not bad, really.

CORRECTION: Jimmy Slater exists and is also a center.

Schedule Is Here!!!

Many thanks to The Razor for breaking the story on the 08-09 schedule. We beat TSN and all the other boys getting it up. Nice to have our own Bob McKenzie on board. See the post below for Razor's Top 10 home games of the season.

(Home games in all caps. All times are Eastern Standard)

Fri. Oct. 10 WASHINGTON 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 11 @ Florida 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 14 MINNESOTA 7 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 16 NEW JERSEY 7 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 18 BUFFALO 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 21 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 24 @ Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 25 @ Boston 7 p.m.
Tues. Oct. 28 PHILADELPHIA 7 p.m.
Thurs. Oct. 30 @ NY Rangers 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 1 @ New Jersey 7 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 2 FLORIDA 5 p.m.
Thurs. Nov. 6 NY ISLANDERS 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 7 @ Buffalo 7 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 9 @ Carolina 5 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 14 CAROLINA 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 16 @ Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Thurs. Nov. 20 PITTSBURGH 7 p.m.
Sat. Nov. 22 COLUMBUS 7 p.m.
Tues. Nov. 25 @ Toronto 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 26 @ Washington 7 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 28 NASHVILLE 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Nov. 30 ST. LOUIS 3 p.m.
Tue. Dec. 2 @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 3 @ Ottawa 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 6 @ NY Islanders 7 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 10 NY RANGERS 7 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 12 BOSTON 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 13 @ Boston 7 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 16 @ Ottawa 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. Dec. 18 PITTSBURGH 7 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 20 TAMPA BAY 7 p.m.
Mon. Dec. 22 TORONTO 7 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 23 @ NY Islanders 7 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 26 CAROLINA 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Dec. 28 BOSTON 5 p.m.
Tues. Dec. 30 @ Toronto 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 31 @ Carolina 7 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 2 VANCOUVER 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 4 TAMPA BAY 5 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 6 @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.

Thurs. Jan. 8 @ New Jersey 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 10 @ Florida 7 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 14 OTTAWA 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 16 TORONTO 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 17 @ Nashville 8 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 20 MONTREAL 7 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 21 @ Philadelphia 7 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 27 @ Dallas 8:30 p.m.
Thurs. Jan. 29 NY ISLANDERS 7 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 31 @ Carolina 7 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 3 @ NY Rangers 7 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 6 NEW JERSEY 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 8 PHILADELPHIA 3 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 10 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 11 CHICAGO 7 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 15 @ Anaheim 8 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 16 @ Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 19 @ Phoenix 9 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 21 @ San Jose 10:30 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 24 COLORADO 7 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 26 @ Washington 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 28 CAROLINA 7 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 3 FLORIDA 7 p.m.
Fri. Mar. 6 MONTREAL 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Mar. 8 CALGARY 3 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 10 @ Colorado 9 p.m.
Thurs. Mar. 12 @ Edmonton 9 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 14 @ Buffalo 7 p.m.
Mon. Mar. 16 WASHINGTON 7 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 17 @ Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Mar. 20 DETROIT 7:30 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 21 @ Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Tues. Mar. 24 @ Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. Mar. 26 NY RANGERS 7 p.m.
Sat. Mar. 28 OTTAWA 7 p.m.
Wed. Apr. 1 BUFFALO 7 p.m.
Fri. Apr. 3 @ Florida 7:30 p.m.
Sun. Apr. 5 @ Washington 3 p.m.
Tues. Apr. 7 WASHINGTON 7 p.m.
Thurs. Apr. 9 FLORIDA 7 p.m.
Sat. Apr. 11 TAMPA BAY 7 p.m.

The Chronicle's Top Home Games for 08-09

October 10, Washington Capitals 7:30
Kovy and Ovie, Bayou Boudreau and John "Chicken Truck" Anderson, and a chance to heckle Jose Theadore on opening night.

October 18, Philadelphia 7:00
While it's never risen to the level of a rivalry, the all-time Thrashers/Flyers series has had some epic battles.

November 20, Pittsburgh 7:00
For some reason, people get excited to see this Sidney kid play. I'm looking forward to cheering on Army and Crusher as they take on their former teammates, and Kari gets to show Fleury what a young phenom goalie is supposed to play like.

December 10, New York Rangers, 7:00
A chance to boo those bums who turned down our offers during free agency so they could play in the Madison Cube Garden.

December 20, Tampa Bay, 7:00
Barry Melrose's first appearance in Philips Arena as a coach, plus maybe the first opportunity for Bogo to plaster the Imp against the boards.

December 22, Toronto, 7:00
Time to unleash some hatred, then read TSN and the Toronto newspaper the next day to find out how unfairly John Anderson's boys stole the game.

January 2, Vancouver, 7:30
Come to the Bulb and see if you can figure out which conflicted individual is Mesieur Catologues, alternately cheering for the Thrashers and his beloved whale-men.

January 14, Ottawa, 7:30

January 20, Montreal, 7:00
"Parlez-vous you suck!?!?!?!?!?"

February 11, Chicago, 7:00
Atlanta vs. Chicago. The most talent under the age of 25 that you'll see in any game between any two teams in the NHL this season.

February 24, Colorado, 7:00
The Avs should be a lot of fun to watch this year. They are relying on Andrew Raycroft in net, so Kovy should have no problem putting up a hat trick.

March 8, Calgary, 3:00
Iginla, The Deion (his term, not mine), and Kipper in a matinee game. You'll probably be able to find the Chronicle staff at the Taco Mac afterwards watching the evening games.

March 20, Detroit, 7:30
Hossa and all things evil.

April 7, Washington, 7:00
The home stretch before the playoffs, and the Caps will he hoping to pick up some ground against the division leading Thrashers.

April 11, Tampa Bay, 7:00
The last regular season game, where Bogo uses the Imp as target practice to tune up before the playoffs!

A Glimpse of What the Thrashers Could Be Next Season

They can become better than this, actually, if Enstrom corrects his habit of giving up the puck.

A note: Bobby Holik's goal had nothing to do with Bobby Holik and everything to do with the Czar's masterful set-up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Official Editorial Position on the Winter Classic

The Blueland Chronicle, I've just realized, has fallen down badly on its responsibility to take an official line on the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.

Our position? The thing sounds fucking awesome. Not only will it be awesome, but we of the Chronicle intend to physically be there. Be there with Blackhawks jerseys, Al Capone fedoras, and layers upon layers of burning garbage to keep us warm against those dastardly Chicago winds. And Kanye West.

Kari Talk

Many congratulations to Mrs. Lehtonen over at Fire Wagon Hockey, as her dream Finn has agreed to terms with the Thrashers. I truly hope you can now enjoy your summer!

According to all reports, the deal is for 1 year at $3 million. 1 year? Let the rumors begin!! Oh wait, they already have here at The Chronicle. I'm not sure why only 1 year. Sometimes that decision is made by the player, sometimes the club. I can come up with two possible reasons. One is Kari thinks he is on the verge of a break out year, and would like to cash in come next year (let's hope this comes true). The other reason, gulp, is it sets up a trade possibility of some sort down the line.

Moose has the longest contract at the goal position. Kari only 1 year, Pav in the minors (maybe). Coach Anderson correcting me VERY quickly when I said we are set in goal, "Nothing is set in stone". Can they give us any more reason to speculate?!?!?! I have no idea what is going on, but it seems as though something is cooking with someone. Got that? Glad I could clear it up.

As always, no one sums it up better than our ole pal Custance (boy I miss him). His new blog is here. Perhaps Morty will update the right side here to include not only his columns, but also his blog? If so, much obliged... much obliged. If you are too lazy to click on the link here, is what he says:

"Just got word, and a confirmation from Thrashers GM Don Waddell, that the Thrashers signed goalie Kari Lehtonen to a new deal. The deal is a one-year contract worth $3 million. It's an interesting number because that means backup Johan Hedberg is on the books longer than the franchise goalie. You can't help but wonder if the short deal sets up a goalie battle down the road with top prospect Ondrej Pavelec. It also means Lehtonen has a reasonable contract if the team decides Pavelec is ready and wants to trade from a position of depth. Lehtonen has all the skills in the world, but injuries and inconsistencies have prevented him from being an elite goalie."

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the one year deal.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Kari, Meet the Dotted Line

He signs! Kari will remain a Thrasher. Presumably.

What Are You Doing Oct 10...

Maybe going to the Home Opener against Ovie and the Caps?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mortimer Peacock and Big Shooter, Year 2045

Like Jello in the Fridge...

Things are slowly solidifying and it's starting to look like the Thrashers might just have a roster that'll hold up to some shaking and jiggling in October.

Jason Williams is not Brian Rolston, nor is he Jason Smith or Brian Campbell. He is, however, a good fit for the Atlanta roster. For starters, he can play both right wing and center. This gives Coach Anderson some flexibility down the middle where he can juggle things around depending on how people pan out in training camp and can fill in gaps in case of injury down the stretch without making anyone play uncomfortably out of position.

I have to admit that I don't recall ever watching Williams play before, and was not familiar with him at all before this signing. Reviewing his numbers, however, he appears to be a very respectable forward who looked to have found the soring touch this past season before a sports hernia sidelined him for almost half the year. 36 points in 43 games is more than just respectable. And a 12.87% shooting average over that span shows that he knows when to shoot and when to pass to rack up those 23 assists.

All of that being said, Williams is not the final piece to the Thrashers 08-09 puzzle. He adds some roster depth, but it's middle management at best. The executive board room is still a lonely place for the Czar right now. If Little doesn't show the improvement we need from him by the end of training camp, then Williams can step into the third line center role, or if we are set down the middle, he can take a spot on the second or third line behind Perrin. (Like Coach Anderson, I fully expect EP to turn in a huge year.)

Speaking of Coach; the haste with which he informed Big Shooter that "nothing is set in stone" regarding the Thrashers goaltending situation leaves open the possibility that somebody might be on the trading block in order to bring us in some more help on the other end of the ice. I get the impression that Coach Anderson would have no problem with that, as his philosophy appears to be that we don't need to stop the puck if it stays in the other zone the whole game. I still like the idea of trying to move some assets toward a team that is in cap trouble in exchange for a relatively young, talented playmaker.

The Avs are in good shape right now as far as salary goes, but that could change once Joe Sakic decides to come back. And unless they haven't been paying attention to the Bruins and Maple Leafs over the past six years or so, they know that Andrew Raycroft isn't going to win them their next Stanley Cup. While Peter Budaj is a top notch backup (with a really fun name), he's doesn't look like a franchise starting goalie. Colorado has a good stable of young talent that they could send our way (Stastny, Svatos) and would love to have a goalie prospect like Pav or Kari.

Les merde-mangent Habs are in a similar situation. Their salary numbers are right under 50 million right now, but they're strutting around telling the world that it's a foregone conclusion that Mats Sundin will be donning le rouge, blanc, et bleu for 2008. If that happens, they're going to have make some room. Logic would state that someone who has been trained by the Montreal School of Acting Injured to Produce Powerplays would be a good fit out in Hollywood, but Chris Higgins might fit nicely into Atlanta's scheme if a prospect and draft pick could pry him away from the francophones. Montreal has a young netminding corps as it is, so Kari and Pav wouldn't appeal to them as much as some of our other prospects.

As I've said before, the Devils have no one waiting in the wings to take over once Martin Brodeur retires to start his own Jerry Springer style talk show in Quebec City. Gionta, Zubrus, or Parise would all stand to score 40 goals a year and put up 40-60 assists playing alongside the Czar.

Those are just a few of the possibilities, with the Flyers and Sharks both sitting on salary totals that have to be reduced. No word on the Flying Sharks, however, as they have been unsettlingly quiet during this offseason.

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thrashers Sign Jason Williams


The Atlanta Thrashers have signed forward Jason Williams to a 1-year, $2.2 million contract, reports A-Channel in London.
The unrestricted free agent spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks and scored 13 goals, with 23 assists over his 43 games.
Williams missed 35 games with a sports hernia.

Dude's won a Stanley Cup. His Wikipedia information is here. He seems reasonably good when he's allowed to play a full 80-game season. His season last year was cut short by an injury, but I'm liking his 36 points in 43 games.

Notes on John Anderson, Notes on the Future (of the Thrashers and the Hockey Media)

As you've all heard by now, Grand Shooteur and myself were invited to a sit-down Q&A with the Thrashers' new head coach John Anderson yesterday. Rawhide and the Shooter have already posted their thoughts and impressions, so I reckon it's my turn.

First of all, every thanks in the world to Ben Wright of the Blueland Blog and the forward-thinking staff up at the Ice Forum for inviting us along. All of them are First Class Human Beings. I'm still not entirely convinced I spoke to John Anderson yesterday; part of me is pretty certain it was all a dream.

It was tons of fun to meet our fellow Thrashers bloggers. I had a great time talking about (about many, many other things) the origins of the name "Tampa Bay Lightning" with Rawhide, indie music with the Falconer, and the evils of Jeff Schultz with Sean Grace of Blueland Roar. I met Hockey Wench and Rose Colette, two charming ladies of the Thrashers 411, and I'm ashamed to say that my first ever knowledge of the Thrashers Practice Blog was meeting its author in the flesh yesterday. Apologies, Sir, and know that you'll be linked to on the Chronicle from here on.

It's a shame Mrs. Lehtonen of Fire Wagon Hockey couldn't come. They really do need to build a supersonic railway between Atlanta and D.C.

Now then, comrades, on to the interview itself:

As Big Shooter said, it's impossible not to like John Anderson as soon as you meet him. Not only is he an exceedingly nice and courteous guy (and evidently over-generous with his time), but he talks about hockey with more intelligence and precision than just about anybody I've ever read or even watched on the CBC. The main point of this post, actually, is to draw attention to his precision. It should help the Thrashers immensely.

When a team has as shaky a year, and as catastrophic a collapse, as the Thrashers did last year it becomes easy to talk about them exclusively in generalities. For example, "The Thrashers suck." Or "No one wants to play in Atlanta; we must be awful." Or "We're not going to make the playoffs for another 18 years."

Talking to Anderson made me realize just how useless a lot of those generalities are, even if there's an element of truth in them. To get become "a better team" the Thrashers don't have to transform every last thing about themselves; Anderson pointed out that the team was in first place for a while last season, and that the way to become a better team is as simple (and as complex) as becoming a less streaky team. He said that instead of winning three games then losing three or four or five games, the Thrashers need to expand their winning streaks to five or six games. When they lose, say, two games in a row, Anderson thinks that they should be able to fix whatever's wrong and discontinue their losing streak immediately.

Since their streakiness is one of the team's biggest problems, Anderson will certainly turn things around if he can lessen it or eliminate it. Not that we won't still have losing streaks; he just wants them to be two games or, at the most, three games in a row.

Big Shooter asked Anderson about our defensive strategy. He pointed out that Anderson is known for his highly offensive style of play and wondered how he'd help the Thrashers avoid their previous condition of being out-shot by astronomical numbers every game. As the Shooter said: "It seems counter-productive to just let the other team shoot as much as they want."

Anderson said that the Thrashers have traditionally allowed far too wide a gap between their forwards and their D-men, that the defense has hung back too far down the ice, and that the best way to rememdy this would be to close the gap and make the defensemen part of the attack. I got the impression talking to Anderson that he wants every player on the Thrashers to become as big a goal-scorer as he can: he expects players like Eric Perrin and Bryan Little to have big years, and he said that he wants his D-men to be as much a part of the offense as the forwards. His reigning philosophy seems to be that the best defense is a relentless, explosive offense. His central defensive tactic is the wonderfully-named "mongoosing," in which a defenseman will break up the play of an opposing forward by, er, mongoosing him. Speaking of defense, Anderson said he's surprised at just how offensively talented Zach Bogosian has been in prospect camp. I would think a player like Bogo is ideally suited to Anderson's attack style.

I asked him if there were any players he hasn't worked with before (on the Wolves or in Thrashers development camp) that he's particularly excited about. I mentioned Erik Christensen specifically.

Anderson: "You know, I've been watching films of him and Colby Armstrong all day."

He thinks that both Army and Crusher are viable top six forwards. Christensen in particular seems to interest him because he's a talented center that was neglected and overshadowed on a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. There, he was overshadowed by centers like Crosby, Malkin, and Staal. Here, he has a chance to flourish and prove himself, and, as Anderson said, "become a big leader." He believes in the potential of both Armstrong and Christensen to become team leaders and skilled top six forwards, and I think he relates particularly well to them because he found himself in a situation similar to theirs when he was playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. During Anderson's first few seasons with the Leafs he was pretty much overshadowed by stars like Lanny McDonald; when McDonald and co. got traded, he stepped into the role of a legitimate top six forward and scored thirty goals or more every season. He clearly understands players like Armstrong and Christensen because he relates to them: free from the overwhelming shadow of Sidney Crosby, Christensen could very well become a legitimate first line center for the Czar. And Armstrong, says Anderson, could become a real live team leader. Is it too presumptious to say that Anderson sees a little bit of himself in the two of them?

That was at least the impression I got.

Big Shooter mentioned something about our goal-tending situation, how we're "set" on goal-tending and such (meaning we have plenty of talent/trading options) and Anderson emphatically said "Nothing is set in stone." Very very interesting, I say. Does this mean someone is about to get traded?

Another interesting tidbit of relatively inside information: Anderson said that towards the end of last year, when the scenery was really collapsing, the locker room split off into two factions (led by whom, I wonder?). He thinks that the team needs to become united and determined again next season, and the best way to achieve that is to "make them believe in themselves again." Not an easy task, but not impossible either. Anderson said he didn't understand the gloom and hand-wringing over the Thrashers; as he said, "we're not that bad. The team was in first place at one point!"

Around the time the Thrashers were in first place, the future division champions were languishing in third. Much was said about the Washington Capitals yesterday, not least because his best friend Bruce Boudreau is coaching them. The Falconer pointed out that the parallels between the two teams are striking: both teams are young, both have an explosive Russian star, and they're coached by the likes of Bruce Boudreau and John Anderson. Anderson thinks the Caps are definitely the team to beat: "They're big, they're fast, and they're explosive." It would be amazing, wouldn't it, if the Southeast Division crown becomes a knock-down drag-out between the Caps and the Thrash? It'd be an exciting rivalry, but a friendly one given the friendship between Anderson and Boudreau, Kovalchuk and Ovechkin, Enstrom and Backstrom (apparently they went to a concert together the night before last season's All-Star Game). As for the over-hyped Tampa Bay Lightning Version 8.0, Anderson had this to say: "There's no way I'm gonna let Melrose get ahead of me in the standings." It's on!

There was quite a lot talked about generating more interest in hockey in the Atlanta area. The Thrashers organization has a rocky relationship with the AJC; some of the guys we met yesterday complained that our only daily newspaper does a miserable job of covering the work that several Thrashers do in the community: the out-reach programs of Havelid, Kovalchuk, and so on. Apparently there's one in development with Johan Hedberg. What should it be called? Moose's Minions?

The Falconer made a good point: if the folks who work for the Thrashers want something like these out-reach programs covered in the press, why not continue their embrace of the blogosphere and throw information our way?

Which brings me to my final point: I've got to hand it to the Thrashers for being open-minded enough to invite a troupe of bloggers to a long and expansive interview with the new head coach. This could be part of a much larger trend in sports coverage that mirrors the trends in politicial and cultural reporting: certain blogs become as read and as influential, if not more so, than traditional media like newspapers and magazines. Congrats to the Thrashers organization for realizing this and taking advantage of it. Again, I'm still not entirely convinced that I was given direct access to John Anderson yesterday. Did it actually happen?

I admit this is an unfocused and rambling post, but those of you craving more quotes from the man himself needn't fear. Shooter and I recorded the entire conversation, and if all those present consider it kosher, we'll upload the thing onto the Chronicle and let all of you listen in. If I get the go-ahead I'll upload it sometime in the next few days, and yes, I'll identify which voice is Big Shooter's and which one is mine.

A final note: briefly got to see Zach Bogosian play after the interview. The kid is money.

Big Shooter and Morty's Excellent Adventure

It is not everyday that a fan with a blog site gets to interview the Head Coach of an NHL team. That is what we did yesterday. If you have gotten here because of Rawhide's link on the AJC, or Ben's link at the Blueland Blog, welcome. Please don't be a stranger. I'd like to echo Rawhide's thoughts that it was very nice meeting the blog community, and I'd like to thank Ben Wright and the Atlanta Thrashers for setting up an interview with John Anderson and the rest of the bloggers.

Morty will have a much more in depth post about this (he started this blog after all), but I wanted to give a few thoughts:

About .5 seconds after meeting John Anderson, you immediately like him. He came off as a very sincere, genuine person who seemed to really want to take the necessary time to answer our questions with the proper thought. He was very positive, and I think is just what the doctor ordered for our team.

Players will have the green light if they see open ice. As he put it, "if you are a forward and you see your defenseman step up in the play, stay back. It is not rocket science." Also he said we are going to be more aggressive on defense. It has been our strategy in the past to let the other team shoot, on purpose (did I mention we finished 28th last year?). So that will be a nice change.

The most important part of the interview (in my opinion anyway!) came after I complimented John on his handle bar mustache he had last year during the playoffs. He said he had one when he played a long time ago. He also said the great Lanny McDonald did not have a mustache originally (I thought he was born with one). After seeing John's, all of a sudden Lanny started growing his! Do we have a cool coach or what!!! For those of you who are not familiar with Lanny, he looks a little something like this...

All in all it was a great day. As I said, Morty will have much more on this a little later.

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Coach's Corner Classic, Vol. 1

OK, I can't wait any longer! I really wanted to start this off with the clip of Grapes going off on Slava Kozlov when he played for the Red Wings. He took the worst dive I've ever seen in my entire life. Unfortunately, I can't find it on YouTube. If any of you loyal readers can find it please e-mail it to us at,, and we will put it up.

Until then, enjoy:

And this:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Offseason Fun

The offseason can be a lonely place. Trust me, I know. Here at the Chronicle, we have a few ideas to help get us all through the offseason with at least a laugh or two.

I will be doing a Coach's Corner Classic segment. Ah, but not yet. Just a little teaser. Why don't we start with a great moment from the career of one, Patrick Stefan. Let me first say that I supported Patty, and it is too bad his career turned out the way it did. But you can't help but laugh until you are blue at this clip. My favorite part is the commentary by Ray Ferraro. Classic... enjoy!!!!

Defunct NHL Franchises

The Montreal Wanderers were one of the founding franchises of the NHL. They wore jerseys emblazoned with a huge W and played in an arena built to honor Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1896. Interestingly, the Wanderers won the Stanley Cup eight times within five seasons (1906-1910). The team fell apart in 1918 upon the creation of the Montreal Canadiens, who depleted the Wanderers' fan base by declaring themselves the team of French Canada. The Wanderers had to rely on Montreal's English-speaking population, which in those days was hardly large enough to sustain the franchise. The Jubilee Arena still stands in downtown Montreal. It is now a skating rink.

The Toronto Arenas wore blue shirts and were nicknamed "the Blueshirts" by the hockey press. During the team's first season (1917-18), it had no official nickname and was listed on sports pages and in statistic charts as the Toronto Hockey Club, or Toronto HC. Wealthy men fought over ownership of the franchise. The avalanche of legal bills from the dispute forced the team to sell most of its top talent. The Arenas won exactly five games in their second season. In 1919 the team was sold and its name was changed to

The Toronto St. Pats. They won the Stanley Cup once and in the mid 1920s allowed their Arena to be rented by other teams. The Arena was the only place east of Manitoba where one could find artificial ice. They eventually became the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Ottawa Senators were one of the very greatest teams in the NHL from its beginning to the late 1930s, when the franchise dissolved. Before the NHL era the team was notorious for its exceptionally violent play. In a Stanley Cup game of 1904 they injured seven of the nine players on the opposing team. There was no partition between the ice and the stands at their games. Fans remember being drenched after three periods. During their time in the NHL, they won the Stanley Cup four times. 

The Quebec Bulldogs's history extends back to 1889. They never could find enough money to play in the NHL. They managed to be a founding team of the NHL but never played a single game in it, as their financial troubles forced them to suspend play for two seasons. They moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1920 and became

The Hamilton Tigers. They wore a black-and-gold tiger's head on their jerseys and never made the playoffs (they were pilloried around the league as a terrible team). One year they did qualify, being first in the league, but the entire team was suspended by the League President when the players went on strike demanding $200 extra pay for their play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They would never find out if they could have won the Cup. There has never been another NHL franchise in Hamilton.

The Montreal Maroons were founded in an effort to supply the Anglophone citizens of Montreal with an "English" team. A bitter rivalry developed between the Maroons and the Francophone Canadiens. Between their creation in 1924 and their dissolution in 1938 they only missed the playoffs three times and won the Stanley Cup twice. The Maroons were one of the teams that played the longest NHL playoff game of all time: it took them 176 minutes and 3 seconds to lose 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings.

The New York Americans were the first hockey team--one of the first sports teams--to play in the newly-built Madison Square Garden. After the Hamilton Tigers strike was broken up by League management the franchise was relocated to New York City and re-named the New York Americans, perhaps as an insult to the injured hockey establishment north of the border. From 1925 to 1942 the Americans only made the playoffs three times. They never won the Cup. In 1942 the owner changed the name of the team to the 

The Brooklyn Americans. The owner had every intention of moving them to Brooklyn, but the move never happened, and the Brooklyn Americans continued to play in Manhattan. The franchise folded for good in 1943.

The Pittsburgh Pirates existed from 1925 to 1930. For their first four seasons the Pirates were coached by one Odie Cleghorn, the first coach to change players on the fly and the first to play with three set forward lines. He occasionally played with them as well. In 1928 the team was sold to a boxing promoter and a former lightweight champion. They relocated the franchise to the hated rival city of Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Quakers take their name from the rich history of Quakerism in Pennsylvania, from William Penn onwards. They were only the third American-based team in the NHL and they played only one season.

The Detroit Cougars were the first incarnation of the Detroit Red Wings, the most successful expansion team in NHL history. The franchise began life in British Columbia as the Victoria Cougars. The team won the Stanley Cup in 1925 and, hoping to make a splash in the newly-formed NHL, decided to relocate to a city on the Great Lakes. The Cougars weren't a very good team in their first few seasons. The ownership thought that a name change might help. They became

The Detroit Falcons. The name change didn't help. They still struggled. In 1932 they were re-named as the Detroit Red Wings. At some point, Gordie Howe showed up. 

The St. Louis Eagles were the southernmost team in the early days of the NHL. They were the relocated version of the Ottawa Senators. They played one season and folded.

The California Seals/The Oakland Seals/The California Golden Seals were a Bay Area team that never made much of an impression. Between 1967 and 1976 they made the playoffs only twice (in their second and third seasons). They never advanced beyond the first round. Their logo was a yellow seal wielding a hockey stick in a green bay, surrounded on three sides (like the peninsular city of San Francisco?) by the letter C. In 1976 they were relocated to Cleveland.

The Cleveland Barons. Two seasons and death.

The Atlanta Flames was an idea largely mocked by most hockey fans. Ice hockey in such a southerly and warm city was thought to be impossible. In defiance of all geographic reality, the Flames were placed in the Western Conference and their play suffered as a result of the long trips they had to make for away games. They made the playoffs six times out of their eight seasons (1972-1980) and never got past the first round. The franchise probably wouldn't have been relocated in 1980 if the ownership had kept its finances in better order. Ultimately, though, the team went to Calgary to 1980 but kept its nickname, replacing the flames of a burning city with the flames shooting off the top of a spewing Alberta oil rig. 

The Kansas City Scouts joined the NHL in the same 1974 expansion that brought the Washington Capitals into the world. They lasted two seasons before moving to Denver.

The Colorado Rockies lasted until 1982. They were coached by Don Cherry in the 1979-80 season. Cherry had recently been fired by the Boston Bruins and won the Jack Adams Award for his coaching of the Rockies. To draw fans to games billboards all over Denver proclaimed: "Come to the fights and watch a Rockies game break out!" In 1982 they became the New Jersey Devils.

The Quebec Nordiques are a team with a history that should be well-known to any hockey fan. Advertised themselves as the truly Quebecois alternative to the Montreal Canadiens. Peter Stastny. Plunge into despair in the 80s and 90s. The Lindros trade. In 1995 they moved and became the Colorado Avalanche. 

The Winnipeg Jets were an NHL team from 19779 to 1996. They were a fine team with star players (like Bobby Hull), but had to be relocated in the 90's. Winnipeg is a very small market, and the NHL's wide expansion through the USA was too much to keep up with. The team's finances took a massive hit and it was relocated to the Arizona desert. 

The Minnesota North Stars existed from 1967 to 1993. Long colorful history, etc. Eventually merged with the San Jose Sharks and relocated to Dallas. As "Dallas North Stars" makes no sense, the team became simply the Dallas Stars.

The Hartford Whalers wore a massive blue whale tail on their jersey.  They traded Ron Francis to the Pittsburgh Penguins. All whaling vessels setting out from Hartford were sunk by a hurricane in 1996. I know, too much to resist...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

False Alarm on Lehtonen Trade?

According to Mike Knobler's blog the Donner says we're going to trade for some players from teams having trouble staying below the cap. Can we take Patrick Sharp from Chicago?

All this means Kari gets to stay, so hooray! The Knobler says as much. Too lazy to link.


At last!

Nothing earth-shattering, so sorry if you got excited there. Mike Knobler has shed some light on the Ilya Nikulin situation. Basically, he'll be taking a sizable pay cut to come and play in the NHL. There are official league restrictions on how much we can pay him, and honestly, there's no real reason for Nikulin to come and play in the NHL as he's getting Russian oligarch mega-rubles as a defenseman for Ak Bars Kazan. Yes, that's the team Kovalchuk played for during the lock-out. The Kazan Snow Leopards...beautiful name. 

The main reason for Nikulin to play for the Thrashers is, of course, the Czar. Not only do they have Ak Bars in common, but they've played together on the Russian national team in the last three World Championships. Including the one this year where they won the Gold Medal (compliments of Kovalchuk, I.).

If Kovy can convince his fellow Ilya to play for Atlanta, I think we're quite set on defense. He'll have Kovy and Kozzie to make feel as at home as possible, and he'll be in the same division as the a man who calls him his "friend:"

If we get Nikulin, we're set on defense.

In other news: Bogo is a beast.

In other other news: Our first pre-season home game? Against Hossa in Red. 

Official Editorial Position on What the Fuck to Do

Apologies to Maali, and I do love the guy, and I think he's going to be a tremendous goalie in the coming years, and it sucks that we've gotten to the point where this has to happen, but:

Possibility #1: Trade Kari Lehtonen and Angelo Esposito, and perhaps a draft pick as well, to Colorado in exchange for Paul Stastny. Very young and very talented center, easily the Czar's top field commander. (A tip of the hat to Razor Catch Prey here, for Stastny was his idea).

Possibility #2: Trade Kari Lehtonen and Angelo Esposito, and perhaps a draft pick as well, to Los Angeles in exchange for Dustin Brown. A young, talented right winger itching to prove himself. We could lock him up for several years. (A tip of the hat to Monsieur Catalogues here, for Brown was his idea). 

Possibility #3: Trade Kari Lehtonen and Angelo Esposito, and perhaps a draft pick as well, to Los Angeles in exchange for Patrick O'Sullivan. Like Stastny, a young and talented center, and like his teammate Dustin Brown, itching to prove himself. A fine deputy for the Czar.

Any of these guys would be excellent line-mates for the Czar. I love Kari, and like I said I think he could well become the next Luongo or Nabokov or Kipprusoff...but this team has to make a serious trade. And I like both the Kings and the Av's, and I think Kari would flourish as the net-minder for either. I'd continue to follow his career and cheer for him wherever he ended up, but my personal prejudice is that he'd look amazing in those royal Kings colors. Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Official Editorial Position On Kovalchuk

Just in case you are wondering, The Blueland Chronicle is PRO-Kovalchuk.

That is all.

Eric Boulton Still a Thrasher

TSN says he's signed a two-year contract. 

Historical Perspective

The future of the Thrashers is full of question marks. Can we get a center for Kovy? Can we add another good forward? Is Ilya Nikulin going to sign or not? When will Bogosian be ready? Will Toby Enstrom get better, get worse, or stay the same? What are we going to do with our glut of goalies? Will Slava Kozlov re-awaken? Is John Anderson going to be an effective coach?

The fact is we simply don't know. No one has any clue how the Thrashers are going to fare next year, and anyone who claims certainty about this is a charlatan. 

For all those rumor-mongers out there: 

Jason Smith, not ours

Jason Smith is signing to Ottawa according to TSN. Well, sign Ilya Nikulin, and get a move on getting some offense. Now.

How To Move Forward

Brendan Morrison is signing with the Ducks. The UFA cupboard is getting pretty bare. We here at The Chronicle for some time have been promoting the idea of trading a goalie and a draft pick (the one from Pitt) for help on the blueline. Obviously that pick has been used, and we have somewhat solidified our defense, but we still have the goalies.

Dare I say maybe we are set on the blueline? Dare I say we need more help at RW and maybe a 1-2 line center (not worried about EC, worried about Little)? Maybe the time is now to trade Pavelec or Kari (Maali, please continue to read our blog despite what you may perceive as blasphemy. ;-) Not saying we should trade him, but with as many needs as we have, I think one needs to go). DW could have been waiting to see how we did in free agency. And while we addressed one need, we certainly have holes to fill on the offensive side of the puck.

Maybe we wait to see where Demitra and a few others fall, but perhaps now is the time to cash in on one of our goalie chips.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Burnside on Hockey Markets

I strongly urge all of you to take a gander at the Falconer's excellent rebuttal to Scottie Burnside's recent column about the cap. Of course, before you read the Falconer's deconstruction you might want to read Doc. Burnside himself. 

I agree 100% with the Falconer's post, but allow me some fisking of my own. 

The doctor begins:

We must admit we find all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the media and fans over the amount of money spent during the first days of free agency a bit confusing.

You have to love Doc. Burnside's non-ironic use of the royal "we." It confers such authority on everything he types.

He proceeds to talk about how the exorbitant amounts of money thrown around this past week are a direct result of the salary cap that the owners and GMs of the NHL wanted. If they don't like some of the trades and signings of late, they can go fuck themselves, says Doc. Burnside.

From there our good doctor begins to salivate over the prospect of the cap system ending the lives of several NHL teams. Doc. Burnside is a sober, hard-headed realist: he believes that if an NHL team isn't performing well, it needs to fold:

Wouldn't it be ironic if the very fantasy of many hockey fans and observers, the constriction of the NHL's 30 franchises, came about as a direct result of the very system that was supposed to ensure the health of all 30 franchises?

League officials have quietly said the beauty of the cap is it creates a "survival of the fittest" environment. They were talking about the on-ice product, suggesting that with a narrow gap between what teams must spend to reach the floor ($40.7 million this coming season) and the ceiling ($56.7 million), only the best hockey people will succeed. But survival of the fittest might also extend to franchises themselves. If teams can't cut it, even with revenue sharing and cost certainty in place, they should be gone. Simple as that. Shut the doors and say good night, Irene.

Oooooh, Scott, we love it when you talk tough. Of course, Burnside doesn't really mean a word he says, or that's what I'm led to believe from his column. The examples of badly-run teams he lists are Atlanta, Florida, and Toronto. No question about how badly-run those teams currently are. But our doctor curiously shifts gears in the next few lines:

Can't hack it in South Florida? See ya.

That tough talk again, Scottie! 

Made a hash of it in Atlanta? See y'all later.

He uses the common Southern slang term "y'all" because Atlanta is, like, in the South. Get it dude? Funny, right?

Fans won't turn out in Phoenix? Put that cactus in a box and catch you later.

What the fuck does this even mean? "Put that cactus in a box and catch you later" doesn't even make sense on the level of metaphor. I suppose it has something to do with Phoenix being in the sort-of desert. Have any of you, readers, ever seen someone put a cactus in a box? Is this a common practice in Arizona? 

But that's all beside the point. When I read Doc. Burnside's death sentences I notice that Toronto (one of his trinity of horribly-run teams) has magically transformed into Phoenix. If Scottie thinks badly-run teams should be bought out of existence, why has he neglected to include a cutting, snarky line like "Out of muffins at the Tim Horton's in Toronto, eh? Well, I'm afraid you're required by Section 23A of the NHL Code to dissolve your franchise."?

Because that would be, like, snarky. 

Does Scottie think it's time we give up on the under-performing Toronto Maple Leafs? By his ruthless and realistic logic, we should. Not only are they disastrously run, but they haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1967. What a horrible team! Let's get rid of them.

But wait...of course Scottie doesn't want to dissolve the Toronto Maple Leafs and relocate them to...where, exactly? Quebec City? 

Why? Legendary and much-loved hockey institution, you say? Some things more important than "markets" and money, you say? Don't tell me you're one of those wet blanket crybabies that wants to give the Leafs a chance! After all, they're horribly run...

I can't improve on the Falconer's central points, so I'll shamelessly duplicate a few of them here:
1) Cities like Atlanta and Miami would fill plenty of seats if their teams were actually good. 
2) There are quality NHL teams that flourish in smaller NHL markets like Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, and Edmonton. 
3) Give us a chance, you resentful asshole. 

To be fair, I do think it's a bit weird that there are only six Canadian hockey teams. I think it'd be a fine thing if the NHL expanded to five more markets: Winnipeg, Quebec City, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. Or replace one of those with San Antonio. Or with Portland or Seattle, even. 

The more the merrier, I say. If Canadians are this upset about not having more Canada-based franchises, why don't they follow the best traditions of Canadian democracy and lobby their federal and provincial governments to subsidize new franchises in Winnipeg and Quebec? I suspect Scottie Burnside, given his Augusto Pinochet logic as applied to evil teams in evil sunny places like Atlanta and Miami and Phoenix (does Tampa Bay count?), wouldn't be sympathetic to this. 

Which is no surprise, really, since he sees the sport of hockey as something to do with numbers and markets and not as the humanistic expression of endurance, strength, and athletic creativity that it is. Allow the evil Southern American teams some time to develop, eh? 

You dickhead. 

Washed Up Mercenary Filth Signs With Tampa


Lowe vs Burke

Too bad the NHL stepped in and put at least a public end to the feud between the two GMs. I personally enjoy a good cat-fight. In a bold move for The Chronicle, I took a plane to both Edmonton and Anaheim to get a first hand view of the feud for our readers. That's right kids, Big Shooter went on a little trip...

Big Shooter: Kevin, Big Shooter with The Chronicle here. Got time for a question or two?

Lowe: No problem. Anything for our #1 Oilers fan in Georgia!

BS: You stated earlier that Brian Burke is a moron. Everyone at The Chronicle agrees with you (laughter). What we want to know is, just how big of a moron is he?


BS: Always good for a laugh Kevin! Give Mac T our best.

Lowe: No problem. I read your stuff all the time. You boys at The Chronicle keep up the wonderful work! Best Thrashers/Oilers/Sharks blog around. God Bless...

And just to show that we report both sides of the story here at The Chronicle, I caught up with Brian Burke at his annual Fan Club party. He had no comment, but I was able to snap a picture before security threw me out:

For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.

McLaren being Shopped for a Draft Pick

Once the tumult of the first few days of free agency pass by, rumors are left floating on the NHL waters like that yellow-brown foam that washed up on the beach after a rough storm. And speaking of gross, yellow (yellow visor wearing anyway), foamy things, one of those rumors currently sunning itself on the beach concerns Sharks blueliner Kyle McLaren.

Yes, he's defenseman Kyle McLaren, you may remember him from such dirty hits as "elbow to the face of Richard Zednik" in the 2002 playoffs. With that hit, McLaren put Zednik out for two rounds of the playoffs, got Mac himself a three game suspension, and incurred the wrath of every Francophile in Quebec.

The next year, the Bruins offered him a two-way deal, which McLaren either perceived as an insult or vintage Boston Bruin front office penny pinching. Either way, he was done with the organization and demanded a trade. Rumor is, he just missed hearing people use the letter R in their speech. The Sharks traded Jeff Jillson and Jeff Hacket, one of their 20 NHL caliber goaltenders at the time for the rights to McLaren, who then went on to underwhelm the fans in the tank by posting a -10 in his first year swimming with the fishes.

Now here's why I'm bothering to talk about him, though. After that first disappointing season with the Sharks (in which he made it look like he actually deserved to be in a two way contract), KMac bounced back to go +10 the next season, and went +29 over the next four seasons. He's got one year left on his current contract for $2.5 million, is only 31 years old (3 years younger than a certain UFA defenseman who can't seem to make up his mind), and is reportedly available in exchange for a draft pick.

If McLaren joins a new team and continues the stride he's had in San Jose for the past four seasons, he'll be a huge addition and is worth a heck of a lot more than just a draft pick. Fortunately for every NHL team with a thin D-corps, San Jose was able to take advantage of a Bolt of insanity when Tampa decided they didn't need to play defense anymore. The Sharks also picked up Rob Blake for the coming year, meaning they now have roughly 15.5 million dollars tied up in their top four defenders. One of those has to go, and it looks like it's going to be McLaren.

Toby Kieth Enstrom has got a defensive game that anybody in the first couple of years of their NHL career should be thankful for. But can you imagine if he had a year to learn the art (and it truly is an artform) of the hip check from the best in the league? Kyle McLaren's pelvis is a weapon the likes of which Blueland hasn't seen since Gord Murphy. On top of that, the guy just looks like a viking warrior, and he scares the hell out of the other team.

So, loyal readers, I say we let the UFA defensemen hem and haw on their own. The Thrashers can fill out our defense today for the cost of a single draft pick.




Chicago---X (sorry, buddy, I just can't pretend last year didn't happen.)

For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Where We Is At

At this point I think all the Thrashers need are roughly two top six forwards. Ideally that would include a center for the Czar, but at this point I'd be happy with a good finishing right winger to accept passes. I'm not averse to making Erik Christensen our top guy; he's a creative player who seems eager to prove himself, something he'll finally have a chance to do next season.

The arrival of Ilya Nikulin looks imminent, and I think that's super-solid. Nikulin is a damn good stay-at-home defenseman, and what's better he has tons of experience playing with the Czar. If we land Nikulin we won't NEED Jason Smith. The leadership roles on the team are filled by Moose and Kovy...Jason Smith can try his hand in Tampa, though there seems something blasphemous about him donning the Bolt uniform.

At this point, our defense looks like this:

Enstrom (quality puck-mover, fast, great shot, assist-making machine) - Havelid (rock-solid stay at homer)

Hainsey (fast, offensive, like Toby but bigger) - Nikulin (rock-solid and a fine skater)

Bogosian (fierce, offensive, competitive, fiery) - Klee/XLB/Boris Valabik

That might be the best defense we've ever had. Yes, of course you can quote me (in derision or agreement). Best defense we've ever had.

Meanwhile DW really needs to get going on this forward-hiring business. Vermette and/or Demitra, come on down.

Brian Burke Gets It in the Face

I'm sure you've read this in several places already, but I'm sorry, it's just too good:

"Where do I begin?," started Lowe. "He's a moron, first of all. Secondly, he really believes that any news for the NHL is good news. Thirdly, he loves the limelight and I don't think anyone in hockey will dispute that. Lastly, he's in a pathetic hockey market where they can't get on any page of the newspaper let alone the front page of the sports, so any of this stuff carries on."


This guy is an absolute media junkie and I guess he's achieving what he wants because he gets his name in the headlines. But the reality is, I hate the fact that my name is linked to his. He's an underachieving wanna-be in terms of success in the NHL. He won a Stanley Cup? Great. I've won six Stanley Cups, you want to count rings?"

Ouch! Go, K-Lowe, go!

Dan Boyle is a Fucking Idiot

From the St. Petersburg Times:

"I've given this franchise everything I had. I love the area. I love the fans. But at the end of the day, I was misled and lied to and completely disrespected. When you threaten to be put on waivers and end up in Atlanta, it was an eye-opening situation for me."

From the (perceived) safety of the Ottawa Sun, he proceeds to really put the boot in:

Boyle said he was pushed into waiving his no-trade clause after a member of Bolts management told him if he didn't agree to a trade, he'd be put on waivers and would likely have been claimed by the Thrashers.

"There's a hundred different ways this could have gone down. I was under the impression I was a piece of the puzzle," said Boyle. "I just can't believe they'd tell me one thing and do another. (That's) where it took a turn for me, when things got personal. Business is business. My personal characteristics and my work ethic were called into question.

"I've been a top guy in ice time the last few years. They call my work ethic into question? I work out to be in the best shape possible and things about me were questioned. It got to the point where my ass was threatened to be put on waivers and I was going to be picked up by a last-place team that wouldn't win for the next six years. You tell me, is that any way to do (bleeping) business?

I was prepared to support Dan Boyle because 1) he was genuinely fucked over by the new Tampa ownership, and 2) because he's headed to my second-favorite team.

Not anymore. It takes a special kind of Dickheadery to sign a six-year deal with a team with a worse record than us (at the trade deadline, too, long before the Saw takeover and blitz of new contracts) then, for no reason, lay into the Thrashers when it becomes clear you won't be playing on the "new and improved" Lightning. Fuck Dan Boyle. I hope we play the Sharks at home next year and get the chance to sing the appropriate Dan Boyle hymns.

P.S. Fuck Mark Recchi too. Kamloops, BC is a shit town.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July Observations

I've had many different memorable 4th of July's. This one is no exception. I've seen the most amazing fireworks show in the world. Sitting on the bank of the Potomac, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in sight, watching the explosions in the sky signifying how great our country is. I've gotten up real early in the morning to go watch the Peachtree Road Race. Anyone who has witnessed that can tell you the real pleasure in that particular event is the wheelchair race they have just before the runners. I've spent multiple 4th's jamming out with one of my idols, the one the only, Jimmy Buffett. I've seen the Lenox Square fireworks show from a condo about 20 floors or so up that had the absolute perfect view.

The 2008 4th I have spent the day at my house. My apologies to Razor Catch Prey (our new contributor here at The Chronicle) and the rest of the gang for not making it back down to the big city tonight. Sometimes living a ways from Atlanta has its draw backs, but tonight was not one of them. I just got finished watching a rather large fireworks show from my own back porch. You see, there is a 400 acre winery that borders my property, and they tend to put on a show.

As I was watching the show tonight, I began to think about our wonderful country. Sitting on your own back porch, in the woods, watching fireworks, with nothing but the stars above, an ice cold Red Stripe, a Cuban cigar, and your black Labrador by your side will do that to you. Thank God for the men and women that give us our freedom. I have a quick personal story here if you don't mind. A friend of mine was set to ship out for Afghanistan tomorrow morning at 10:00. She has already done a tour in Iraq, and was not looking forward to this mission. Prepared and more than willing, just not looking forward to it. Two days ago the Army discovered she had a strange optical problem, and decided not to send her over. Obviously all her family and friends are relieved.

While I was sitting there tonight watching the fireworks and thinking about our country, and my friend, my thoughts immediately turned to whoever is going to take her spot and go over there. Just because my friend is not going does not mean her spot is eliminated. It is now occupied by someone who was not expecting to go over there. The fireworks show ended, but I still had a beer and a cigar to finish so I stayed out a little longer. Some other folks were having their own fireworks show in the distance. I couldn't see it, but could clearly hear it. I thought to myself it must sound somewhat similar to what our brave soldiers might be hearing overseas. Explosions in the distance, unfortunately what they are hearing is not fireworks.

So let me take this opportunity to thank everyone who has served, or is currently serving our country. We get to post here at The Chronicle about all things hockey, while they are fighting for their (and our) lives. I have never served in the military, quite frankly, because I am a big wimp. Wimp is not a word that describes my friend, or the person that will take her spot, or any of our soldiers.

It sounds cliche, but as you spend time with family and friends this weekend cooking out on the grill or whatever it is you may be doing, don't ever forget those that are making it possible for all of us to have such a good time. And when you go to bed tonight, don't forget to say a prayer for those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Pray for their families and friends. And thank God that we live in the greatest country in the world.

For The Red White and Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.