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Caniac5

What's up with Atlanta

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Was cruising around nhlnumbers.com and came across Atlanta's team. They only have 6 defensemen signed and 10 offensive players. Are they going to play this year?

Just curious if anyone knows something I don't here.

Thanks!

Maybe Matts Sundin will sign there, that should bring them to the cap floor.

Sarcasm Warning

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Watch them re-arrange Kovalchuk's salary to to $20 mil/year over the next 4 years just to reach the floor (if that makes sense) :rolleyes:

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I don't have the link saved from the blog this came from, but I had just forwarded this to a friend of mine (who lives in Atlanta) just yesterday. Its from a Thrashers blog site too, but it might shed a little light on what's going on down there right now.

Why Nobody Wants to Come to Atlanta

Yesterday free agent defensemen Brian Campbell turned down a multi-million fortune proffered by the Thrashers and choose to sign with a team, the Chicago Blackhawks, which has made the playoffs once in the last ten seasons which plays to a half empty building most nights. Yes the Blackhawks have some exciting young talent, but still they haven't been considered an above average franchise in a long time. It is time to take stock of what this says about the Atlanta Thrashers

The Atlanta Thrashers are widely perceived as one of the least desirable places for a free agent to sign--despite the fact that they have a top notch arena, nice practice facility, great weather, a family atmosphere and lots of golf courses (I swear every NHLer plays golf) and extensive shopping (for the wives and girlfriends of course). So let's cut to the case, free agents are turning down the Thrashers money because of team management and ownership.

The Thrashers are viewed as a poorly run franchise and nobody wants to commit to spending 7 or 8 years here. Why does this perception exist? Let's review:

During his tenure Don Waddell has consistently assembled the most porous defense in the entire NHL season after season. Back in the summer of 2001 Chris Osgood's became available when the Red Wings annouced they would put him on waivers. Don Waddell was unwilling to make a trade and take on Osgood's $4 million contract. Instead the Islanders picked up Osgood off of waivers. The Thrashers went with their mismash of below average goaltenders until they finally awoke to their own mis-evaluation and signed Byron Dafoe to a contract. But Lord Byron wasn't up to the job either and Pasi Nurminen beat him out for playing time.

I remember clear as day, Don Waddell standing in front of a room full of season ticket holders saying "I know we need goaltending, I know where to get goaltending, we will get it if we need more." But Don Waddell never followed through on that promise. Instead he toyed around with marginal goalies for years and let Osgood go to a conference rival. Penny wise and pound foolish.

When the lockout was over Don Waddell looked at his defensively weak roster and concluded that signing a 3rd line checking center (Bobby Holik) and paying him scoring center money ($4.25 million per year) would somehow solve the team's leadership and character problems. This was a gross miscalculation on nearly every count. Leadership was weak all three years that Holik was a Thrasher and Holik's turn as captain was the worst year of the three. Holik did win a lot of faceoffs, but he was not a great penalty killer and he only turned up his intensity in the spring time.

After the lockout the Thrashers had high hopes of making the playoffs. Indeed the 2005-06 roster is the strongest of any team in franchise history. However, backup goalie Pasi Nurminen was lost before the season and starter Kari Lehtonen was lost in the very first game. Now here's the real kicker, Don Waddell knew that Lehtonen would be out a substantial amount of time (indeed he missed half the season) but he basically gambled that the team would muddle through.

Now there were other solutions out there on the trade market but it would have cost the team a high draft pick. Instead Don Waddell tried minor leaguers and washed up NHLers (Steve Shields), he gambled and lost. If the Thrashers had traded that draft pick and secured a real NHL goalie they would have made the playoffs. If they had made the playoffs in 2006 they would not have been under great pressure to trade away the 1st, 2nd, 3rd draft picks, Glen Metropolit and Braydon Coburn the following year to secure their first playoff appearance. Penny wise and pound foolish. Ah put for a single draft pick, an entire franchise might have been saved.

The signing of Holik to an enormous contract had a ripple effect the following season when Marc Savard was allowed to depart without any adequate replacement. Because the 3rd line center (Holik) was eating up so much of the payroll, instead the team tried smoke and mirrors. Waddell told season ticket holders instead of "signing one 100 point guy, we're hoping to get 50 points out of two centers" which sounds great until you realize that it is a slight of hand because the team must replace BOTH Savard's 97 points and Stefan's 24 points. The Thrashers brought in Metropolit and Rucchin who managed a combined 49 points before Rucchin's career ended in injury and Metro was dealt to the Blues. So the Thrashers only came up 71 points short! Even if you toss in Tkachuk's 15 points as a center that still leaves them 56 points short--not to mention the 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks expended to acquire the Tkachuk band-aid at center.

Then there is the enormous missed opportunity with the Chris Pronger trade. Everyone in the NHL knew that the Oilers were having a fire sale after Pronger demanded that he be dealt following their run to the Cup Finals. The Anaheim Ducks who already had All-Star Scott Neidermayer on their roster quickly offered a package of prospect Ladislav Smid, (the forgettable) Joffrey Lupul, 2007 1st rounder, 2nd rounder in 2008 and conditional 1st in 2008. The Thrasher could have topped that offer with what they later dealt away for Zhitnik and the Tkachuk rental: Braydon Coburn, 2007 1st and 3rd and 2008 2nd rounder and Glen Metropolit. If the Thrashers had made that deal instead of the Ducks this franchise would have immediately become a serious contender in the NHL--today the Thrashers are the team that free agents spurn.

Finally, there is Don Waddell and his management team. Waddell doesn't have anyone on his staff who has held a high ranking position with another NHL franchise. There is no one to challenge him or offer him perspective.

Look at the Red Wings where former NHLer Jim Nill and NHLer Mark Howe are around to offer their advice, perspective and contacts. Legendary coach Scotty Bowman is there and I'm sure he offers candid opinions in private. Then there is Jimmy Devellano who helped draft the Islanders dynasty and the Red Wings. Now former player Steve Yzerman is there as well to add his advice.

Who do the Thrashers have? Basically Don Waddell, who played 1 NHL game and who spent one season with Detroit as when the repeated as Cup champions in 1997-98. Assistant V.P. Larry Simmons is a financial guy (every team needs one) and never played hockey at any level that I'm aware of. Director of Player Personnel Mark Dobson never played hockey at a high level (St. Louis University has a team?). When the Thrashers are evaluating a player their management team has essentially zero NHL experience as players, one season of experience in NHL management prior to Atlanta and I'm guessing relatively few contacts around the NHL.

When you compare the hockey experience, contacts and background of the Thrashers to that of the Red Wings or other teams--well frankly it looks like the Thrashers are run by an IHL alumni group while the Red Wings are run by an NHL alumni group. Perhaps one reason the Thrashers make so many mis-judgements about players is that the organization lacks sufficient contacts to vet new players. I'll bet the Red Wings organization can get fifteen opinions about a prospective player at the drop of a hat.

The really sad thing is that I like Don Waddell, Mark Dobson and Larry Simmons. They are not jerks or pompous ego mainiacs. They all seem like decent people who work hard and give it their best. But you don't get points for effort in the NHL, you only get credit for results. Right now the results suggest that this is an IHL management team running a NHL franchise. Again, I don't question their effort, but the results suggest that their talents might be better applied at the minor league level than at the NHL level. The NHL is an extremely competitive work environment and the Thrashers management is losing that competition so far.

Frankly it really pains me to write this. I'd much rather be talking about a glowing Thrasher future--but there isn't any glowing future. Instead what we have is a cascade of past mistakes that have resulted in a NHL team that no free agent wants to sign and play for--and truthfully I don't blame them.

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I don't have the link saved from the blog this came from, but I had just forwarded this to a friend of mine (who lives in Atlanta) just yesterday. Its from a Thrashers blog site too, but it might shed a little light on what's going on down there right now.

Well, that tells it like it is! So, what are they going to do about it? They need to start signing people and I mean quick or this is going to the 1977 "Slap Shot" team. (Referring to a movie - for those that were too young to remember.)

I guess we will have to wait and see then.

Anyone else have any comments?

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I know they need to be up to the minimum cap by the start of the season though i don't remember what the punishment is if they aren't.

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You forfeit games until you are over the minimum.

so there could be humor in Atlanta going on a win streak to start the season and having to forfeit games, LOL

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You forfeit games until you are over the minimum.

Actually, there is a thread about that on the Atlanta message boards as well. I believe the actual penalty is that the team cannot participate in profit sharing, and the team can be fined, either the amount that they are short, or a pre-determined, set amount. I believe the forfeiture of games is more of a myth than the actual truth, but to be honest, I don't want to go through the 490+ pages of the CBA to find the exact information.

The concerns are starting to run a little rampant over there in regards to this subject, especially in the wake of the blog I quoted above. There was also a blog somewhere else that mentioned the worst 10 teams players want to play for and had Atlanta right at the top of the list due to their management/ownership. So you can probably find more exact details on the penalties in those threads, if you're interested.

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Well after looking around, ie googling, I can't seem to find a real reference to the penalty for being under, only rumors and speculation. And I don't have the time to read the entire CBA to see if it actually says something other than "no team shall be under the lower limit" because thats all I can find in reference to team payroll and the limit. But if anyone is industrious and willing to read it all here's a link to the entire thing (http://www.nhl.com/cba/2005-CBA.pdf).

To me it doesn't really look like there is a set rule on what the penalty actually is, only rumors.

So maybe the penalty is whatever Bettman decides it is.

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So maybe the penalty is whatever Bettman decides it is.

That seems to be the consensus now over on Atlanta's boards. With the rationale being that the league never envisioned a situation in which it would actually be necessary to penalize any team for being under the minimum cap.

Unfortunately, even if they get some people signed (which I'm sure they will before the beginning of camp), unless something comes along to change their ownership/management, they're going to start having this problem regularly. I think they experienced it a little last year and wound up trying to play alot of their prospects, who weren't quite ready for the NHL, and had to make some moves early in the season to get going again. And unfortunately, Bob Hartley was the one who had to pay the price for it.

For reference, the Thrashers are owned by the Atlanta Spirit Group, a nine person organization, that also owns the Atlanta Hawks, NBA team (which consequently has also done poorly since being taken over by ASG.) One of the owners is good friends with GM, Don Waddell, which is why DW is still around. And no one in the organization is what I would call a "hockey person", at least not at the NHL level. Frankly, I don't know how long these people can afford to lose money before they have no choice but to sell the team. And given the potential buyers out there, its likely that the team will get moved out of Atlanta, which is a shame, because its not the market that is the problem, its the owners/management.

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I never realised just how bad it was in Atlanta. I love their rink, even nose bleed seats are super comfortable (I personally hate RBC's 300 section seats). I had a blast when I visited there, its too bad they are having to deal with this and I hope something positive happens. The fans I met seemed to be good folks who enjoyed the game and watching the team.

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I never realised just how bad it was in Atlanta. I love their rink, even nose bleed seats are super comfortable (I personally hate RBC's 300 section seats). I had a blast when I visited there, its too bad they are having to deal with this and I hope something positive happens. The fans I met seemed to be good folks who enjoyed the game and watching the team.

I agree, their fanbase and demographics are very similar to ours. When Bob Hartley got fired, the consensus I heard was that the wrong guy got fired. I hope things straighten out there because you know that most of Canada and the rest of the bigger markets are are just rolling their eyes saying this proves that southern hockey wont work.

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I hope things straighten out there because you know that most of Canada and the rest of the bigger markets are are just rolling their eyes saying this proves that southern hockey wont work.

That's my biggest issue with this whole problem. The truth of the matter is, Atlanta is big enough to more than support an NHL team, if it were successful, or at least marketed better. I hate the idea that in many places around the league, southern hockey will be considered a failure, if things don't work out in Atlanta, when the truth is, its not the area that failed, it was the ownership and the management that failed both the team and the city, and indirectly the rest of the southern teams.

The real problem is, how do you dig yourself out of that hole, once you've managed to get yourself in it? If they aren't going to be able to sign any decent free agents, they're going to be forced to develop themselves from within, which is going to take time, and that's something they appear to be running out of.

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That's my biggest issue with this whole problem. The truth of the matter is, Atlanta is big enough to more than support an NHL team, if it were successful, or at least marketed better. I hate the idea that in many places around the league, southern hockey will be considered a failure, if things don't work out in Atlanta, when the truth is, its not the area that failed, it was the ownership and the management that failed both the team and the city, and indirectly the rest of the southern teams.

The real problem is, how do you dig yourself out of that hole, once you've managed to get yourself in it? If they aren't going to be able to sign any decent free agents, they're going to be forced to develop themselves from within, which is going to take time, and that's something they appear to be running out of.

I guess you do what Tampa did. New ownership group, complete house cleaning and spend lots of money to start. Definately a risky endeavor but owning a pro sports team, especially one that isnt a top tier sport, is always going to be risky.

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That's my biggest issue with this whole problem. The truth of the matter is, Atlanta is big enough to more than support an NHL team, if it were successful, or at least marketed better. I hate the idea that in many places around the league, southern hockey will be considered a failure, if things don't work out in Atlanta, when the truth is, its not the area that failed, it was the ownership and the management that failed both the team and the city, and indirectly the rest of the southern teams.

The real problem is, how do you dig yourself out of that hole, once you've managed to get yourself in it? If they aren't going to be able to sign any decent free agents, they're going to be forced to develop themselves from within, which is going to take time, and that's something they appear to be running out of.

This is their second chance at it (first time was Atlanta Flames which became the Calgary Flames). May be time to move on.

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This is their second chance at it (first time was Atlanta Flames which became the Calgary Flames). May be time to move on.

Yes, I'm aware of the Atlanta Flames (I have friends and family who live in Atlanta, and I went to high school and college there.) But I'd argue that when the flames were there, the south truly wasn't a place for hockey at the time. This is a management problem they have now. Youth hockey and even minor league hockey (Gwinett Gladiators) are doing well in Atlanta. The problem is, they can't maintain a decent team to save their lives. In nearly 10 years of operation they've been through nearly as many goaltenders. And with the number of early first round draft picks they've had, they should be able to have put together a decent group of guys by now.

I'd have to agree with TSA, it will take someone who knows hockey and knows exactly what they want, to come in and take over the team ownership/management like what happened in Tampa. Its a shame Ted Turner got out of sports ownership. While he might not be a hockey guy, I have no doubt that someone like him would get the right guys in there and spend the necessary money to at least make them a regular playoff team.

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well i have always said that Waddell needed to go, should have happened last off season. maybe ownership will wise up or change.

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