Archive for the Category ◊ NHL rumors ◊

01 Jun 2011 Searching for Perspective

Click on BBC World News and remember that this is just a game. Look around your city and see those less fortunate. Contemplate for a minute that you could have a disease with no hope for a cure. Imagine the many, many things that would be worse than your city losing a hockey team.

That’s what I did today. Yes, I spent about 15 minutes with tears in my eyes. Then I shook myself and (hard as it was to do) forced myself to acknowledge that it could be so much worse. What happened in Atlanta is very upsetting but, in the end, the sun will rise tomorrow.

Tomorrow, God willing, I will still have my family, my friends, my health. I will have a home to live in. There is no war in the streets. My city hasn’t been destroyed by a tornado. There was no tsunami here. No nuclear meltdown. I have the freedom to choose what to do with my life. I have food on my table and money in my pocket. I am blessed with the leisure time to worry about such things as sporting events, where grown men play a child’s game for a living. Though I feel like I’ve lost my best friend, the most important things in my life are real and unchanged.

I guess I have arrived at the last stage of the grieving process. I accept what has come to pass.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of my Thrashers in Winnipeg. I hate that I will never get to take my daughter to a Thrashers game. I hate what the Atlanta (no)Spirit Group has done to the image of the city I love. But I will get over it. As goofy as it sounds to paraphrase Sting, I am going to do it anyway.

I love this team and I’ve been forced to set it free. Because I love the team, I have chosen to mentally release them, along with all of the anger and hurt. It’s a relief. In so doing, I have realized I can remain a fan. This is still my team too. And, in spite of it all, I still believe in Blueland. I hope the people of Winnipeg will cherish this team and honor its past. I hope that fans in both cities will someday realize we were really fighting over the same thing. We all love hockey and, in the end, we are on the same team.

Photo: Thrashers fan from Reuters.


30 May 2011 Letters to Gary, Part 4

Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovlachuk

Some fans point to the loss of Dany Heatley, left, as the beginning of the Thrashers' troubles.

In this edition, we have a letter from a family outlining the downward trajectory of the Atlanta Thrashers after a very promising start. The writer brings up several points that are seldom mentioned when discussing this issue: The effect of the NHL lockout on a fledgling market and the impact of losing Dany Heatley, an immensely popular player in the market. In addition, she mentions a lack of marketing to the unique market that is Atlanta and explains the needs (which were unmet) in an up-and-coming market. Let’s take a look:

May 19, 2011 12:44:50 AM

Dear Mr. Bettman,

I doubt I can say anything that hasn’t already been said about my team, the Atlanta Thrashers. I will just say that I feel the city deserves a real chance to succeed. Despite 10-ish years (I am excluding the lockout lost season), the Thrashers have never given fans a chance to love them.

The ownership group has been outstandingly apathetic, never marketing the team well when it did have super stars and just throwing up their hands, letting star after star walk away.

What a Mess!

There are many things that have added up to a perfect disaster for the Thrashers:

  • Dany Heatley’s departure seemed to start the decline — people here adored him and we lost a relatable, marketable personality when he left town. A personality like this goes a long way in attracting curious would-be fans.
  • The loss of countess other super stars (Heatley, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard, Ilya Kovalchuk, etc.).
  • The lockout year killed the excitement and momentum of the early years — a brutal thing to happen just a few years into our franchise. No season, no All Star Game (it was our year that year).
  • Open hostility on the part of the owners toward the fans (ask any season ticket holder about this).
  • Inability to sustain any on-ice success.
  • A mere four playoff appearances. The 2006-07 playoff failure also seems to be a huge turning point in the franchise’s brief history.
  • Not to mention the economy, which has hit Atlanta harder than many cities.
  • A fan base that doesn’t know the game as well needs a teacher. I think Nashville and Dallas are two shining lights. Their example was not followed here.
  • Constant rumors of relocation don’t do anything to help lure fans either. Why come out for a team that won’t be around next year?
  • The diversity of the city needs a different, unique approach. The ownership group never courted diverse audiences or tailored their marketing message to reach different audiences. The potential is here to have a truly unique team and fan base. The team already boasts the largest number of black players of any team and that’s so perfect for this city! That kind of diversity is one of the foundations of this city. Think what this team could do for would-be players of diverse backgrounds if ownership committed to doing so! What a legacy to leave for generations.
  • But perhaps above all of this is ownership locked in a battle against itself in court for years and years. What a mess!
  • All of the above is a recipe for disaster. How could any team in any market succeed like this? Wouldn’t you like to know what solid ownership could do here in this vibrant, now recovering market — the capital of the New South?

    Making it Work

    With so many examples of how once-troubled franchises turned it around, I — a simple, humble fan — just ask for one real chance with committed, passionate owners. I am a native of Houston, where I have seen the Dallas Stars come to the state and enflame the love of hockey in kids and adults all over our great state. In point of fact, my old high school, just 30 minutes from Galveston Beach on the Gulf of Mexico now has a successful hockey team. Wow! The Stars, and to a lesser extent, the Houston Aeros, made that happen. The Thrashers have done good things for hockey in Georgia, but it could be so much better! I am a journalist in Atlanta and have lived here for 10 years. I truly believe this market can work. It worked early in the franchise’s history with Heatley and Kovalchuk, before the ownership and year after year of dreadful teams made it nearly impossible to lure fans.

    Your Vision

    I dislike the term “deserve” in reference to any city and a sports team, but I believe you made a visionary plan for expanding into non-traditional markets. This plan can work. The fans that exist in Atlanta — and there are many — will come back, and I truly believe that with the right ownership, new fans can be created thereby expanding the game we so love.

    I know you’re very busy and probably do not have time to read messages like this, but should you get it and take the time to read it, I want to thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for your vision of hockey in the South. You are not wrong to believe in that vision and you would not be wrong to trust in the people and the city of Atlanta.

    Thank you again for your time.


    The B Family,
    Three true Southern hockey fans

    * I have replaced names with initials.
    ** These letters appear as they were sent to me. No editing has been done.

    Photo: Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk from

    27 May 2011 Letters to Gary, Take 3

    Hockey is for everyone?

    This sign says it all.

    As you might be aware, I asked the Blueland faithful to send me their letters to NHL Commish Gary Bettman. In this third edition we hear from a passionate fan who pleads with the NHL brass for a fair chance for Atlanta to succeed as a hockey market. She also touches on many of the issues the hockey fans in Atlanta want people who don’t live here to understand.

    Got a letter of your own? Please e-mail kaatiya[at] We’d be delighted to post your letter here too. In the meantime, Thrasher fans STAY STRONG!

    Mon, May 16, 2011 at 12:22 AM
    Dear Commissioner Bettman,

    I am writing to you in hopes of helping keep the Thrashers in Atlanta. There are numerous reasons why I believe we should not lose our hockey team. I know you already know the stats about the growth of Atlanta, the TV market and the corporate promise of Atlanta. However, I don’t know if you’ve thought about the impact of losing hockey in Atlanta will have for the game of hockey.

    There has been a constant fight amongst the fans and the poor ownership, and can best be described as toxic. As a result, I do not believe the owners invested money, time, energy or passion into the hockey team. I fell that ii is apparent they are willing to just give up and sell the team without any hard and time consuming search. They have only been able to legally and seriously discuss selling the team for a few months. Mr. Bruce Levenson has never cared about the fans and created animosity when he told season ticket holders to “just deal with it”. I can’t believe the NHL cares about their fans, but allowed owners to have such a volatile and untrusting relationship with its fans. His comment for us fans to have interested buyers to contact him showed how serious they are about being owners of a team. Your average fan does not have enough money or contacts to just call up in a short period of time, if ever. If we are given time, maybe we as fans can find owners with the help of the NHL though. It would be a dream come true if I could own even 1% of a hockey team and I’d never forget the passion and love I have for the game and loyalty to the fans.

    It’s been up to the fans for the most part to market and sell the team. I strongly believe the grass root efforts to grow the fan base is working. Also, after all of this we know how close we are to lsoing them. Despite, the team’s struggles and no marketing late in the season, attendance was there for the games on the weekends. We continue to bring friends, family, and co-workers to games. Most people can’t help but to fall in love with the game after watching it live. I remember numerous times when I’ve heard people say they couldn’t wait to come back to see a game. The owners have not put forth the effort and energy to market and sell this time to the community effectively.

    If you question hockey’s growth here, I can give you just a few personal examples of how it is. My brother-in-law grew up loving the Flyers. He still is devoted to the Flyers, but the Thrashers are his second team and even admitted to me theThrashers may actually be his favorite now. My five year-old-nephew, Noah, LOVES the game of hockey. His favorite athlete is Zach Bogosian. He tells everybody his favorite thing to do is go see Bogie and the Thrashers. I’m an Auburn University alum and huge fan of the football team. This past season, I missed two AU games to attend Thrashers games. If you would have told me that even a year ago, I would have never believed it. I missed games in AU’s magical national championship season to watch Thrashers hockey! I remember watching Coach Chizik and the players after their first spring scrimmage and thinking that group would accomplish something special. I never knew it would happen in two years and result in a national championship. I get that same feeling with the Atlanta Thrashers team. I leaned over to a friend and told them I had that same feeling and he looked at me and said he agreed, there’s something special with this group. Please, don’t just take that away from a group of devoted fans without a fight.

    The team is finally just that, a team. I know Ilya Kovalchuck was a great player, but the team was centered around him. After he left, it felt like a shift had occurred and people were more positive about the Thrashers. We have a team with multiple players fans have found something to appreciate in and grown to admire both individually and as a team. Just when we have a team that fans are starting to watch come together and develop is just the beginning. I can’t help but have the feeling that if this group stays together in Atlanta, you’ll have a team that we will love because we watched them come together through all the growing pains and struggles into a competitive, fun and successful team. The signings of Dustin Byfuglien, Chris Thorburn and Mark Stuart to extensions of multiple years this past season finally gave us fans excitement, hope and optimism. Please don’t take that away from us so fast and without an attempt at a fight and search for new owners. This team was pieced together so beautifully last year by Mr. Dudley (in his first year as GM) and in some odd sort of way (intentional or not) resembles the city of Atlanta. It really feels like our team. The fan base is growing and minorities are probably the fastest growing group of fans. The city is just starting to embrace this team and with infectious personalities like Buff, Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd, growth is limitless regardless of skin color and social and economic classifications.

    Also, just look at the youth of Atlanta. Darren Eliot said there were 270 players at the Thunder AAA tryouts this past weekend. That despite all of the uncertainty of the home town NHL team that these kids follow and get inspiration from. One of the youth teams last year won a national championship and this past season I know I saw a story on another youth team winning a national tournament. If the Thrashers leave, the NHL loses these youth. High school hockey is just now taking off. If the Thrashers are not in Atlanta, the youth (and the public) will lose interest and the much needed support the Thrashers and the NHL provide. You never know, but the NHL leaving will stunt the growth of these players and the sport itself. We may just have the next Cam Fowler, Blake Geoffrion, Sidney Crosby, Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien or Tim Thomas in our growing hockey market. You take away the team they know, support and love and you take away their support system, love of the sport and any devotion they had because the NHL turned their back on them. The Thrashers being here provides the youth with inspiration, support, a goal to work towards and role models. Please don’t abandon the youth in one of the fastest growing hockey markets.

    This franchise has had to endure a lot. The horrible accident and death of Dan Snyder left an indescribable mark on the franchise. Dan Snyder is still remembered and loved in Atlanta. I remember how everybody said we would fall apart after the Kovalchuck trade. We didn’t, and I think you could ask anybody associated with the Thrashers, but it finally feels like we have a team, hope and potential. I will never forget Feb. 6, 2010, the first home game after the Kovy trade. The team had endured a trip from hell in the middle of the worst blizzard to get from DC to Atlanta. The game was delayed, but the fans were there in full force to support our team. The arena was loud and showed support for our new look team. There was no negativity and players’ post game comments thanked the fans for their support. It feels like we are finally a team and building together as a “family”. To have that ripped away so suddenly, would abandon the region and the future of the game of hockey.

    I don’t understand how the NHL could preach about fan loyalty, but then rip a team away from an emerging market. Fans of the Thrashers wouldn’t even get the chance to say good-bye or thank you to their team. Even if all we get is a guarantee of one more year, it buys us time to search for an owner(s), who do care and will share our love and support t for the team. Maybe a grassroots effort from fans will be what gets our team new owners.

    Wow, this turned out to be a lot longer then I intended. I will admit if felt cathartic to get that all out in this time of confusion, rumors and uncertainty. Thank you for your time and bringing the best game of all to this Southern belle’s life. Please, don’t let it leave without helping us fight for our beloved Thrashers.



    * I have replaced names with initials.
    ** These letters appear as they were sent to me. No editing has been done.

    Photo: Thrashers fan tailgate from Getty Images.

        One Comment

    26 May 2011 Letters to Gary, Part 2


    Letters sent to the NHL commish may as well have been written in a foreign language.

    As I mentioned in my previous entry, I am posting some of the letters Atlanta Thrashers fans have sent via e-mail to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the subject of relocation. Below are several passionate letters sent on different days by the same fan.

    This man’s growing frustration and exasperation is evident. And why wouldn’t it be? This drama has been dragging on for weeks now. It is high time for someone in an official capacity to level with the people of Atlanta (and, let’s face it, Winnipeg too). Even if the news is the absolute worst, we deserve the truth. We deserve to know we are being heard! We spent thousands of dollars over the years “investing” in the team as management asked of us fans. Instead of our ticket reps. calling and asking us to re-up, let’s hear from someone in a position of power who can tell us just why, exactly, we should bother re-upping when the team is moving?! Where is the common courtesy we fans, er, customers (perhaps I mean suckers?) deserve?

    As before, I have substituted initials for the author’s name. The letters are otherwise unaltered. Keep those letters coming Thrasher fans!

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011 3:00 PM

    Good Afternoon,

    Keeping this brief: I appreciate all you’ve done to keep the NHL in Phoenix, Tampa, and Carolina. I hope you will exercise similar efforts in keeping my Thrashers in Atlanta. We have awful ownership that has hamstrung us for years.


    Monday, May 16, 2011 2:00 PM

    Hopefully this subject line isn’t already in the “mark for deletion” bin, but I am writing again to plead on behalf of Atlanta NHL fans facing the loss of yet another NHL franchise. I appreciate your statement last week confirming my suspicions that folks are just making stuff up. Supposedly Winnipeg is driving hard to grab my team and shuttle them up north. I have several points:

    1. Atlanta has not had quality ownership for 8 years.
    2. Other NHL cities have had the benefit of the NHL fighting hard to keep them in their cities.
    3. Atlanta deserves just as much effort.
    4. The NHL has invested a large amount of money keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix. Please don’t try to recoup those expenditures to the detriment of Atlanta fans.
    5. No threats of boycotts. Just a heartfelt plea to keep my Thrashers in Atlanta.
    6. If you build it, we will bring our friends back. We have never left.


    Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 2:31 PM

    Many of us watched in horror as the Flames were dispatched to Calgary. I even witnessed my hometown Minnesota North Stars relocated to Dallas. While the Wild has been a well run organization, our Atlanta Thrashers have been run more poorly than any franchise in professional sports. The misnamed “Atlanta Spirit Group” never wanted the Thrashers, in my opinion, and only took them as a part of a package deal to obtain the Atlanta Hawks. Now the guys want neither. We as Thrashers fans are devoted to our team. And have watched approvingly as you fought well to keep Nashville, Carolina, Tampa, Pittsburgh, and recently, Phoenix in their locations. Please remain consistent and help us look out for the local interest, which seems very prevalent in your bylaws. There appear to be local buyers. We deserve at least as much effort as Phoenix. While I know the situation is moderately different, the loss of the Thrashers would be devastating to the Atlanta community, and the NHL as a whole would look bad.

    Thank you,

    Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:18 AM

    Swirling unconfirmed reports continue to call the move to Winnipeg a “done deal”, yet the NHL is silent. We deserve better than that from the NHL. Winnipeg fans deserve better than that. If this is a done deal, made months ago as some in the media are speculating, then all this “working to find a local buyer” is a sham. If no deal is done, and the Thrashers remain in Atlanta ultimately, Winnipeg fans will be understandably devastated.

    Hockey fans are proud and passionate. We will spar with one another, but there is a measure of mutual respect that binds us together, both north and south of the border. Does the NHL actually care about us? More than lip service and autoresponses? Make all the claims that Phoenix and Atlanta’s situations are different that you want to, the fact remains that Phoenix was fought hard for. Atlanta is being allowed to swing in the breeze. We have had abysmal ownership the past 8 years and we have endured it, while still making a respectable showing to games. We have been publicly excoriated by our ownership group when we dared to question a rise in season ticket prices after consecutive losing seasons. “Deal with it,” was the message, verbatim. Such contempt for fans, yet we still do NOT rank as the lowest attendance in the league. You have allowed this to go on. If the Thrashers are ultimately moved for 2011-2012, the NHL will be the laughingstock of professional sports. It is common knowledge how awful the misnamed Atlanta Spirit Group is. You know it firsthand.

    Assuming no NHL official goes on the record between now and Saturday afternoon, my son and I will be at our tailwake party. He’s been a hockey fan since 1998, right before the first year the Thrashers played. We discussed the Flames, and how “this was going to be different, and the NHL has a good market down here”. He played roller hockey for 4 seasons in Snellville, one of which I coached (primarily because there was a team without a coach), and he joined a travel league of under 8 year olds. From then until now, we’ve followed the Thrashers, but no time more than 2010-2011. He was excited to see his favorite player from the 2009-2010 cup champion Blackhawks in a Thrashers uni (Dustin Byfuglien). We watched every game televised, listened to Kamal call untelevised games and made it to a few games at Philips, including the final game vs the Pens. That place is a great atmosphere, even with all the turmoil of “imminent sale to Winnipeg”. And next season he is going to college in Nashville. I had considered buying him a partial season ticket package, just so he’d have a chance to remember the great times (and great “shouting at the TV” evenings) this season. He is my last kid to leave the house, and I will be devastated if the Thrashers leave. I have no delusions that my presence at a tailgate will change a gutless ownership group that just sucks more than gravity, but we will be there in our Thrashers jerseys. One from 1999, one from 2011. Potential bookends to a team franchise that had so much squandered potential. From dumb decisions such as the one to hang ones goalie hats on Damien Rhodes, through the Dany Heatley/Dan Snyder tragedy, the Kovalchuk departure, the Marian Hossa “hired gun”, all the way to possibly end with not so much as a real chance given to our great city to support a franchise that was hamstrung from 2003 on. Atlanta Spirit Group should keep the acronym, but change to Atlanta Shame Group.


    Thrash Fans: Have a Letter to Share?
    Send an e-mail to kaatiya[at]


    25 May 2011 If I Felt Less, I Could Say More

    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Thumbs WAY down for the Atlanta Spirit Group. We deserved better.

    If you have been following the saga of my Atlanta Thrashers, you know all of the arguments being made for — and against — relocation of the franchise to Winnipeg. Though I have so much in my heart for the Thrashers, I have found myself unable to post about it here. Maybe I am still in denial.

    Nevertheless, I have answered the call to action from Thrashers fans far more organized than me. I’ve written letters, I’ve debated with Winnipeg fans, supported the tailgate/rally, contacted my ticket rep., badgered members of the media, begged, pleaded, taken the insults being thrown at my city and the fans of this team, even cried a little bit in private. Not that it matters. It seems the Thrashers’ ownership group has been hell bent on moving this team all along, having worked a backroom deal months ago. I can honestly say I did what (little) I could.

    I’ve asked some of the great people I’ve met through social media to forward me some of the letters they sent to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (and others). I received quite a few. I will post them here as a small sampling of the sentiments of Thrashers fans everywhere. These people say what I cannot. My heart is too full, too broken. Here’s our first installment of “Letters to Gary…”

    Mr Bettman,

    Please don’t allow the Atlanta Spirit to relocate my Thrashers this soon after beginning their search for a buyer. I am aware they have been wanting to sell my team for the entire time they’ve owned them, but did not have clear title to do so until December 2010. Given the unknown duration of litigation, I’m sure you can imagine why no outside buyers would have seriously considered the purchase from the Atlanta Spirit until after their lawsuit was settled.

    Five months is not enough time for due diligence. Five months is not enough time to determine relocation is the only answer left. Five months is not enough time for Atlanta Spirit and the NHL to determine that there are/aren’t local buyers interested in the purchase, and it’s not enough time for local buyers to complete their due diligence required to determine whether or not the purchase of the Thrashers is a real prospect they want to pursue.

    Given the NHL by-laws regarding relocation requests (have to be entered by Jan. 1st) there is not reason to rush this sale. If it turns out on December 31st that a relocation deal is the only deal on the table, then I completely understand the need to enter the request to the NHL to move my team. I implore you to allow more time for this process to take place.

    Best regards,


    * I have replaced names with initials.
    ** These letters appear as they were sent to me. No editing has been done.

    Thrashers Fans: Have a Letter to Share?

    We would love to have any letters you wrote to Gary Bettman, team representatives, NHL brass, city council members — anyone you might have been appealing to. Please send copies of your letters to kaatiya [at] . Thanks!

    Photo: Ilya Kovalchuk by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved.


    19 May 2011 Thrashers Rally — Be There

        One Comment

    13 Sep 2010 Anatomy of a Trade Rumor

    Marc Savard: NOT on the block.

    The pot started simmering as the hockey world turned its attention to draft weekend, when Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli told the media the only “untouchables” (i.e. untradables) on the Bruins were goalie Tuukka Rask and the #2 draft pick the Bruins had acquired from Toronto. Once the Bruins chose center Tyler Seguin, the lid blew off.

    The Boston Bruins are shopping Marc Savard!

    Trying to pin down the source of rumors is something like trying to find the source of the Nile. It’s a trip through the jungle, with a thousand wrong turns and dead ends. It appears the trickle begain with TSN’s Darren

    Dreger, who Tweeted about the Toronto Maple Leafs expressing “some interest” in Savard. But what really turned that trickle into a stream was TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Grand Poobah of hockey reporting, who said “IF Marc Savard goes to TOR, and there is a chance it may happen, Kaberle won’t be part of it. It would be a ‘softer’ trade.”

    Now the stream turned into a veritable flood. The Boston Bruins want to dump Marc Savard because they need to get under the cap!

    And then, of course, came all the attendant flotsam and jetsam washing through the airwaves and the Internet. Questions about Savard’s character, about his teammates’ feelings toward him. Rumors that he had requested a trade (later proven untrue), that he’d been asked to waive his no-trade clause (also untrue). Rampant speculation about who he’d be traded FOR.

    And under it all, from the more thoughtful hockey fans, a sense that the entire proposal made no sense whatsoever. Why would the Bruins, a team whose offense struggled mightily last year, but a team with legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations, trade their top point-scorer, who had just a few months before signed a cap-friendly deal ($4 million annual hit) with an eye to spending the rest of his career in Boston? In a soft trade, no less, to get under the cap? It just didn’t add up.

    Meanwhile, the flood of rumors churned merrily on. Savard is going to Los Angeles. Savard is going to Calgary (for Robyn Regehr). From James Murphy ( “Interesting tid-bit from one of my most trusted sources: ‘Don’t rule out Chicago and Ottawa trading for Marc Savard.’ Sharp? Spezza?” (Never mind that Spezza’s cap hit is 7 million dollars!!)

    Finally, just as Murphy and his merry band of media cohorts were crossing the line from ridiculous to ludicrous, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun tracked down Savard himself:

    “They hurt me a little bit just because I went to Boston and I helped to build that team back up,” Savard said in his first public comments since trade rumors started running rampant. “I’ve really tried to work hard with the young guys and being a core player. I was really focused on staying there for the rest of my career. To hear all this stuff this summer bothered me inside more than anything else. Right now I’m a Bruin and that’s the way it is, but it’s been tough.”

    Now the tide began to turn, helped along by Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards, who wrote an It Would Be Stupid For The Bruins To Trade Marc Savard, And They’re Not Stupid manifesto for, which caused

    James Murphy: Do you trust this guy?

     James Murphy go into a rage on Twitter, with a rapid-fire series ranging from the likes of “I don’t want them to trade Savard, I was just reporting it!” and “My integrity is being questioned!” to “I got the Nathan Horton deal right!”

    But the final word came from Chiarelli, via the Boston Globe, on Sept. 3:

    “Chiarelli talked to Savard after reading his comments and told him he would not be traded. Savard had 10 goals and 23 assists in 41 games last season, as he was sidelined by foot, knee, and head injuries. ‘I made it clear that I was not moving him,’ Chiarelli said. ‘I wanted to make sure Marc knew he was part of the organization.’’’

    Lessons learned (or remembered):

    1. Don’t believe everything you hear/read.
    2. If it doesn’t make sense, odds are it won’t happen.
    3. Some media are more interested in being first than being right.

    Photos: Marc Savard from swerve at; James Murphy from


    09 Aug 2010 Ex-Thrashers, Current Drama Queens

    Kovalchuk Kilt

    Too late to break out Kovalchuk's Kombat Kilt? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, divas dress to kill.

    I have to say I gasped, then laughed like crazy when I saw the latest in Ilya-gate. The arbiter ruled in favor of the National Hockey League! WHAT?! As the late, great Johnny Carson would no-doubt have said (if he’d been a hockey fan), “that’s some weird, wild stuff.”

    What is it with these ex-Atlanta Thrashers who become drama queens when they leave the team? Maybe Kovy has always been a bit of a diva (yeah, he has been), but we’ve had a string of interesting former Thrasher players all mixed up in the drama: Hossa-gate (and all the unnecessary rudeness surrounding it, of which I disapproved), Dany-gate (and all the rudeness that he did deserve), now this. A high-profile player cannot leave the Thrashers without drama ensuing — either immediately, during or after his departure. (So we stand on alert waiting for Kari Lehtonen to implode, get thrown from a bucking bronco at a dive bar in Dallas and tweak his groin, or eat himself into a fast food coma.)

    Kovy, Kovy, Kovy. You could have avoided all of this ages ago by just taking the sweetheart deal the Thrashers begged you to sign.

    This is all very amusing to me. Is it just me?! Perhaps “drama queen” is overstating it, but really. This is crazy. Kovalchuk is a free agent again! A little more than a month after he became a UFA, Kovalchuk could flit off to the Kontinental Hockey League and join the super team SKA St. Petersburg seems to be amassing over there. He could crown himself a Los Angeles King after all. Or, the humble and loving Thrasher fan in me naively, somewhere in the back of her mind thinks, he could come home to Atlanta. Yes. Go get him Dudley! (Oh! Silly me. We are not a “class organization” in his eyes, so never mind the bollocks!)

    Am I spiteful? Just experiencing a wicked case of schadenfreude and am all giddy? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Until then … LOL Kovy. Oh dear!

    Photo: Ilya Kovalchuk from If I am not mistaken, that photograph originally appeared in a fashion spread in a magazine many years ago. The Hockey Goddesses regret not knowing the original copyright owner, but would welcome this information (as much as we would welcome knowing how the author of the story and/or photographer persuaded him to pose in this garb — delightful and oddly sexy as it is.)


    06 Aug 2010 Maxim Afinogenov Says ‘Goodbye NHL, Hello KHL’
    Maxim Afinogenov

    Afinogenov is reportedly headed to the greener pastures of the Kontinental Hockey League.

    Another flashy Russian is apparently headed back to the Motherland. Reports say former Atlanta Thrasher Maxim Afinogenov off to the KHL, joining former San Jose Sharks goalie Evgeny Nabokov in St. Petersburg, signing a deal with SKA. The report is that he’s getting five years for an unknown sum of money.  My Russian is OK, but not that good.

    The Thrasher fan in me continued to hope that Mad Max would bring his razzle dazzle back to the ATL.  He looked good in Thrasher blue.

    I have a couple of Russian colleagues who are looking into the story further, but the Russian site Sovietsky Sport seems to indicate Afinogenov to the KHL is a done deal. If true, that’s likely the last we’ve seen of Afinogenov in the NHL, which is sad. First Jagr now this!?! Horror! :-)

    I hope that our brilliant and talented Russian gurus will have a better update for you later. Until then, do svidanya Max. It was fun while it lasted.

    What do you think of this exodus of players from the NHL — is it worrisome to you? Let us know what you think!

    Photo: Maxim Afinogenov by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.


    05 Aug 2010 The NHL’s Silly Season
    Bill Guerin

    Bill Guerin: Do not need. Do not want.

    Bob McKenzie has the right idea. A few days after the opening of the free agent market, he took himself off on vacation and, other than a couple of Kovalchuk comments, has mostly Tweeted about his hammock and golf game.

    Other NHL media folk would be wise to follow suit. Or at the very least, as my mother used to say, think before they speak (or type, or Tweet).

    Unfortunately, too many hockey media, with too much time on their hands, too eager to listen to any whispered rumors (whispered by whom? Agents, perhaps? Perish the thought!), are too ready to pass along any ridiculous crap they hear and call it “news.”

    Case in point: The Boston Bruins are interested in Bill Guerin.

    The story “broke” from St. Louis (St. Louis?) on July 27, in the midst of Blake Wheeler’s salary arbitration hearings. The New England Sports Network’s web site picked it up:

    The Bruins could be welcoming back a familiar face to the Hub as the team is speaking with Bill Guerin about a potential return to Boston, according to Radio host and St. Louis Blues writer Andy Strickland.

    “The Bruins are talking to veteran Billy Guerin,” Strickland Tweeted Tuesday. “They need to make a roster move before they can sign him…”

    OK, obviously nobody stopped to ask one simple question. No, not WTF? (though I’ll admit that’s the first thing that crossed my mind.) The question would be “Why?”

    The Bruins already have their Designated Old Guy. They’re in cap hell, and are going to have to move a player or two even without signing any free agents. Though they haven’t hung out signs saying “We’re going with a youth movment,” it’s fairly obvious to anyone paying attention that they’re aiming to get younger and more dynamic, with Tyler Seguin only the tip of their young prospect iceberg; they’ve got some real talent knocking on the door.

    In a nutshell, signing Bill Guerin would make no sense whatsoever.

    Meanwhile, that bastion of sports journalism The Bleacher Report picked up the story, with an added twist:

    Reports from NESN have stated that the Boston Bruins have significant interest in veteran winger Bill Guerin.

    Oooh, so now it’s “significant” interest!

    The story grew, making it onto both of Boston’s sports radio stations, as well as ESPN’s web site. For 24 hours, Bruins fans hotly debated the pros and cons of the Return of Bill Guerin.

    Until Joe Haggerty of came along:

    …A Bruins source told Wednesday [July 28] there was no interest on their part in the 39-year-old free agent winger.

    A Bruins source. Imagine that. A member of the media picked up the phone and, y’know, actually asked someone in the Bruins F.O. about it. Responsible journalism – who would have thunk it?

    Mark Recchi

    We've got our Designated Old Guy (Mark Recchi), thanks.

    (And when you’re praising Joe Haggerty as a bastion of responsible journalism, you’re in trouble. But that’s a commentary for another day.)

    However, like Monty Python’s iconic Black Knight, it’s not dead yet! Seriously. From yet another Bleacher Report blog (written on July 31):

    I am hearing that Bill Guerin is generating interest from the Bruins, Penguins and Islanders.

    And lest you think it’s just fannish blogs, think again

    Former Penguins forward Bill Guerin was linked to the Boston Bruins but given their limited cap space in the wake of their acceptance of Blake Wheeler’s arbitration award, they can’t afford him.

    No, he wasn’t! It was a rumor, probably started by his agent, aiming to drum up interest… oh, never mind. Just go on vacation. Please.

    Photos:  Bill Guerin from The Associated Press.  Mark Recchi from Getty Images.

    03 Jul 2010 Will Kovalchuk Get ‘Yashin-ed’?

    Ilya Kovalchuk

    Kovalchuk has said he just wants to win, but is it just lip service?

    As I’ve watched the Kovalchuk bonanza (note slight sarcasm), the thought has occurred to me repeatedly that perhaps he will be the next Alexei Yashin. Some of the warning signs might already be there.

    Yashin. Awesome player, but a guy maybe too many people expected too much out of. Maybe they expected more leadership than he could give. Hey, some guys just aren’t made that way. Maybe he was overpaid. (Maybe, they all are, but we won’t go there.) But being deemed an “overpaid” player brings massive pressure and expectation. Yashin was a captain for two different NHL teams — that’s a heaping helping of stress and responsibility for pretty much anyone, but for some it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Some guys are best left doing what they do best and no more. In Kovalchuk’s case, wind up, shoot, score, sneak out of the area and slip off to Morton’s in your sweet baby blue Bentley. No questions asked. As captain in Atlanta, he was never the media guy or the go-to-for-a-quote guy, which is part of the captain’s gig.

    But what does Kovy have to do with Yashin? You’re probably thinking I am crazy. Maybe you’re right, but I am thinking several steps down the line. Let’s say Kovalchuk signs with the New York Islanders as is now the tasty rumor of the day. (The Islanders are, coincidentally, Yashin’s last NHL team. I won’t even mention the coincidence that Kovy and Alexei have the same patronymic, er, middle name: Valeryevich) Anyway. So, he signs with the Isles, he gets massive dollars, massive term. With it he gets the scrutiny of the New York media. He also gets the love (and hate) of the New Yawk fans. Whereas in Atlanta, he could slip out the back door without answering questions, in New York (or any other hockey haven) he’ll be held to account. A quiet night at The Cheesecake Factory (a Kovy fave)? Fuggetaboutit. In New York the fans will put him to the test even as he tries to enjoy that triple turtle cheesecake with extra whipped cream. Nobody will be polite. Nobody will call him Mr. Kovalchuk. It’ll be right up in his face with something like this: “What the [bleep] were you [bleeping] doing in last night’s [bleeping] game you [bleepity-bleepity-bleep]?! You bum!”

    Kovalchuk has said in the past that he prefers anonymity and after years of watching how he handles himself around Atlanta, I am inclined to believe it. He’s spent years ducking the two or three reporters who make the ATL locker room scene. How will it feel to have a face full of ultra pushy reporters every single night and no way to sneak off into the darkness? Will he wilt? Thrive? Get angry? Or get “Yashin-ed” (that is to say, blamed for everything)?

    Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk

    As exciting as Ovechkin, left, Kovalchuk differs from his friend and countryman in some important ways.

    Let’s say he is made captain of his new team. Can he handle the pressure? People might argue that sure he can. Of course! He’s held up under the gun of the Russian national team. He’s even excelled. But I argue, this is different. Much different. As a member of the national team, he’s among friends and fellow countrymen. He’s at home. In North America, he’s a bit of a fish out of water. He doesn’t seem to have the same comfort level here as, say, an Alexander Ovechkin (or his NHL-trailblazing forefather Sergei Fedorov), for example. He’s a bit of a homebody. Married young, with three young kids. Yet … like Yashin, he has a wife who was somebody once. Where Yashin has former supermodel Carol Alt, Kovalchuk has Nicole, who sang in a popular Russian, all-female group before settling down. Maybe she’s pushing to jumpstart a career here in the U.S.? If that’s the case, L.A. or N.Y. would be A-OK from her standpoint.

    Alexei Yashin was vilified for holding out for more money when he was with the Ottawa Senators. Kovalchuk is painted by many here in North America as a “greedy bastard” — all about the money, not about the winning. Is it true? The jilted Thrasher fan in me has a tiny “yes” peeping inside. If he wanted to win, he could have done what Marian Hossa did: Hand-picked teams he felt had excellent chances of winning. Instead, if rumors are true, and that he’s asking for the sun, the moon AND the stars, he will have a limited number of teams able to pony up that kind of money. And, by all accounts, the number of teams is quite limited (teams in the Kontinental Hockey League notwithstanding). At the moment he seems to be proving the all-he-cares-about-is-money crowd to be correct. People said that about Yashin too.

    Yashin was a solid player, really, but he could not shoulder the heavy burden of expectation that his contract placed on him. Some players thrive under such burdens, some break their sticks in frustration, cast them into the stands and get suspended by the league (hello Kovalchuk!).

    Alexei Yashin

    Yashin is all but forgotten in North America -- except by the Isles who will continue to pay him until 2014.

    Let’s say he gets his big NHL pay day. He gets his long-term contract. He gets the sought-after no-trade clause. Let’s say he’s playing in the pressure cooker of a New York or under the bright lights in Hollywood. How will he hold up? One could argue that he didn’t hold up particularly well in Atlanta, where the spotlight isn’t as bright and the pressure is, well, close to nil. Sure he got his goals, but he was prone to brooding and fits of immaturity, particularly when things weren’t going well. (He was prone to moments of brilliance as well, no doubt about it.) One could argue that he didn’t lead Atlanta to glory. As a matter of fact, one wouldn’t need to argue that. It’s a fact. One could argue he’s a sniper, pure and simple, not a leader. One could argue — and many have — that he’s obsessed not with winning, but with money. Time will tell the true tale.

    Five or six years down the road, I think we could be talking about one of two things: Kovalchuk being “Yashin-ed” — bought out and essentially forgotten by the league; or he experiences a modicum of success, but not as THE leader of whatever team he is playing for. If Kovalchuk wins anywhere, he will be a key piece, but not THE piece that seals the deal. He’s just not that kind of guy.

    A third option — and one I still consider a possible scenario — is that he does go ply his trade in the KHL, spurning whatever offers come his way here in North America and going for the really big dollars the KHL can offer. I believe superstars like Kovalchuk are leaned on heavily by the powers that be in Russia and Kovalchuk recently supplanted Alexei Morozov as the captain of Team Russia. I could see Kovalchuk returning in glory to play in the KHL. Coincidentally, the KHL team said to be the front runner for his services? SKA St. Petersberg — Alexei Yashin’s team.

    Photos: Ilya Kovalchuk; Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk; and Alexei Yashin by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2007-2010. All Rights Reserved.


    02 Jul 2010 How Do You Solve a Problem Like Modano?

    Mike Modano

    The former face of the Dallas Stars Mike Modano.

    Mike Modano had a storybook ending to last season (the Dallas Stars failing to make the playoffs notwithstanding). His final home game saw him get an assist, a goal and the game-winning shootout goal. His last game took place in Minnesota, where his career began. The crowd cheered his shifts (after years of booing), the Stars won, and after the game he came out in an old Minnesota North Stars jersey, once again receiving thunderous applause.

    The Stars produced video tributes. People flew from all over North America to be a part of Mike’s final games. Hockey pundits lavished praise upon the career of America’s greatest scorer. The problem is, Mike Modano wasn’t and isn’t ready to retire.

    Now, what does an organization do when they are ready to turn a corner, but the face of their franchise isn’t? According to GM Joe Nieuwendyk, you don’t even offer the player a contract.

    Legions of Dallas Stars and Mike Modano fans have taken to the talk radio airwaves and the Internet to voice their displeasure about the organization’s decision. You see, in the South, we’ve been brought up with better manners than that. Up North, you can get away with letting a Saku Koivu (or any other player that has spent his entire career with one team) go. But with Modano … this one is going to hurt.

    Mike Modano

    Mike Modano's good looks, easy charm and incredible play helped sell hockey in Texas.

    When Mike and the former North Stars came to Dallas, Modano was the one the organization used to sell tickets. His was the face on the billboards. Pretty enough for the big-haired Texas woman to pay attention to, and talented enough to keep even the most diehard Cowboys fan watching in amazement as he weaved his way around defenders with his hair and jersey flapping in his wake.

    As for me, I had hoped Mike would retire. Not because he doesn’t still have more hockey in him, but because I felt, in some ways, the Stars needed to move on, both on and off the ice. I’m also someone who hates seeing an athlete’s skill diminish as he struggles to keep up with the game he has played all of his life.

    Sadly, few remember how feared Chris Chelios was. New York Rangers fans watched Mark Messier become a shadow of the player he had been. Even beloved Vancouverite Trevor Linden was a healthy scratch many times during his final season.

    Mike Modano is my favorite player. He took that position the very first time I saw him skate. (Sorry Neal Broten!) I’ve watched him his entire career, even when he didn’t have his familiar No. 9 on the back of his sweater. As he and I take on different roles for the first time in more than 20 years, I hope he goes somewhere that will make him happy once again. You could see his frustration last season at how he was being utilized; and when Mike isn’t happy, he doesn’t play as well.

    So, Mike, as you embark on this new chapter in your career, I wish you nothing but clean, fast ice … and may your jersey forever flap behind you!

    (But please … land out East!)

    Photos: Mike Modano from


    01 Jul 2010 Going Loco! Second Season Starts — UFAs Galore!

    “Loco del calor!” as David Lee Roth once sang (and as we in the South are experiencing). Plus, I refuse to use the word “frenzy” today. Here comes a blog-along, like NHL Draft Day. So bear with me as things get crazy!

    *  Wow!   Dan Hinote an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Guess he’s retired.  Unless he’s going the player-coach “Slap Shot” route!

    *  More once it hits noon!

    * Michael Leighton re-signed in Philly. (Two-year deal.)

    * Paille re-signs Boston. Savvy can address later!

    * It’s noon.  Let the game begin!

    *  Sergei Gonchar moves to Ottawa!

    * Former Thrasher Braydon Coburn stays with Philly (two year deal, per Craig Custance). Thank you D-Wad for losing him for Alexei Zhitnik! Grrrr…


    * People who do on-air fonts need to remember the difference between a person who “resigns” and a person who “re-signs.” HUGE difference, loves. /copyeditor rant

    * Alex Tanguay (back) to Calgary Flames. Wow.

    * Philly VERY busy! They got Andrei Meszaros from Tampa.

    * BABCHUCK’S BACK. The ‘Canes pick up their on-again, off-again, sometimes troublesome Slavic baby.

    * Wheee! Guillaume Latandresse re-signs with Minnesota Wild. Get WILD!!

    * Marty Biron leaves Philly for New York Rangers — will he be the next Kevin Weekes — never able to secure that No. 1 goalie situation. I think he already is the new Kevin Weekes.

    * Come on Thrashers — if you can’t get the Moose, get DAN ELLIS! YEAH! Come on!

    * Former prime minister Paul Martin to Pittsburgh!? What’s going down with NJ?!

    * Does letting Paul Martin go mean a Kovalchuk signing is nigh?!?

    * Dying to see where Kovy goes — is he a greedy bastard? Or does he just dislike Atlanta’s direction? Does he go to LA to revive his wife’s singing career?!

    * Little Philippe Paradis traded! Awww Mr. Glasses from last year’s draft to Blackhawks. Versteeg going back to Leafs.

    * Zybenk Michalek to Pittsburgh. (Five years, 20 mil.)


    * Colby Armstrong to Toronto — three years, $9 million. That’s a lot, I think.

    * Dan Ellis goes to Atlanta rival Tampa Bay. On the plus side, no more Niitty in Tampa (for those who don’t know, Atlanta has never beaten Niittymaki). On the minus, oh Dan Ellis would have been a fabulous bit of marketing for the Thrashers.

    * Olie Jokinen back to the Flames — really? Is that possible? Hard to believe that rumor.

    * Jody Shelley to Flyers. Gosh. Excitement today. The Flyers are going wacky today?! No?

    * Tough guy-o-rama: Derek Boogaard to New York. Yowza!

    * I guess it’s OK to mention here that deep in my heart I still wish for Kovy back in Atlanta.

    * Where will Slava Kozlov end up? I am afraid it might be the KHL.

    * Surprisingly unsurprising or unsurprisingly surprising. Colby leaving ATL. No surprise. Everyone, myself included, figured he’d go rejoin the Penguins and his bromance-worthy pal Crosby. I wish him all the best in Toronto. He’ll be entertaining to the media if nothing else, because of, you know, who he is. ;-)

    * Not all that surprising that Kovy is still unsigned. I am sure he has a million and one options to go through. But, wondering, if at some point he doesn’t start getting into a pickle in which teams keep spending and have less room for him. Therefore, he ends up with fewer choices?

    * Chris Viv (@ajcthrashers on Twitter) reports that the Thrashers are “working” on their goaltender situation. Oooooh. I wonder if that just means re-signing The Moose. Or bringing back Michael Garnett?!?! (Whose hockey cards I still collect incidentally, and who has really done well in the KHL.)

    * I like the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing Martin St. Louis. He’s solid. He’s a Thrasher killer, but he just works there. Way to go Tampa on Marty and getting Dan Ellis, whom I coveted for the Thrashers.

    * Where will Goddess Sasha fave Paul Kariya go?!?

    * So Dan Hamhuis (great last name) to the Canucks. Interesting. I never thought Dan Hamhuis would be an edge-of-your-seat, where-will-he-go?!? kind of guy. No offense to him, but it’s wacky.

    * So Thrashers free agents: Maxim Afinogenov, Pavel Kubina, Eric Boulton, Evgeny Artyukin, (my dear and beloved) Vyacheslav Kozlov, Chrisoph Schubert, Chris Chelios (LOL), Marc Popovic and Johan Hedberg. NONE of these guys is signed. Yowza! Maybe Goddess Thorkhild has some scoop from Russia about Afinogenov, Kozlov or Artyukin (??).

    * D-Men in hot demand today.

    * Some of these deals just don’t thrill: Jeff Tambellini to Vancouver. Maybe if it was my team. Hmph.

    * Chris Mason signs with Thrash — wow. I am going to need a few seconds/minutes/days to think about this, particularly the loss of fan-fave Hedberg, which this certainly means.

    * Yowza — Chicago South for the Thrashers with Andrew Ladd coming to the ATL for a pick. Go Dudley??

    * I haven’t mentioned Volchenkov. I guess I am lazy. Volchenkov to New Jersey. Blah, blah, blah.

    * So from the Bizarro World Olie Jokinen goes back to the Calgary Flames. Interesting. Anyone have any thoughts?!

    * As an aside, the Bizarro World is a place in DC comic book land where the inhabitants do the opposite. Of course anyone who watched “Seinfeld” is somewhat familiar with this world.

    * Ivan Vishnevskiy we hardly knew thee. He goes back to Chicago in the Andrew Ladd deal. Weird.

    * The dismantling of the Blackhawks begins. The Blackhawks do stock up in so doing. Goddess Savvy foresaw this in a wonderful post just days after the big victory.

    * I am a bit sad that Thrashers pretty much ended up with nada for Kari Lehtonen, a former first-round draft choice, going second overall (after Rick Nash!!!).

    * Two-year deal for Chris Mason from Atlanta Thrashers. I am not as excited about this as I might have been about Dan Ellis, though, it might turn out better? Thoughts anyone?

    * If Olie Jokinen can go back to Calgary, how ’bout the Thrashers bring back Marc Savard! (Just kidding, Goddess Savvy.)

    * @benthrashers tweets: “Chris Mason was 13th in the NHL in wins and GAA and finished all 61 games he started.” NICE!

    * @craigcustance reports Johan Hedberg is likely headed to New Jersey. I feel a bit sad, despite the post above.

    * If you made it this far in the post, thank you for reading. How about giving me a shout out? Leave a comment and say, “I read this post and I didn’t even get a stinking T-shirt.”

    * Hey! The Sabres are going to sign brave, brave Jordan Leopold. And there was much rejoicing. (Later, they will eat Sir Robin’s minstrels.)

    * Curious about Garnet Exelby — a former Thrasher and huge fan favorite in Atlanta. Also wondering about Manny Legace and Jose Theodore.

    * We need some more bloggers — are you reading this? Interested? Message Goddess Kaatiya.

    * If “frenzy” didn’t start with an “F” would it always be a “frenzy” on free agent day?

    * Now that the Thrashers have raided the Blackhawks’ closet, when are they going to nab John Torchetti?!?

    * It’s been uncannily quiet on the Kovalchuk front. KHL rumors — no? Any rumors? Only the tired LA one. Let’s hear something on Kovy!

    * Selfishly, I want Kovy either back in ATL (not gonna happen, I know) or in the K. That way I can still cheer for him.

    * Turco? Nabokov? Theodore? Toskala? What’s up boys?

    * As a Thrasher fan I am thrilled that Thrasher killer Antero Niittymaki is OUT OF THE EASTERN CONFERENCE! Yes! (As I mentioned above, the Thrashers have never beaten Niitty.)

    * Awww … the Ducks re-signed Saku Koivu. Now I can continue to never see him anymore (alas).

    * Saw that people call Dustin Byfuglien “Buff Daddy.” Now this I love. Perfect for ATL, yo.

    * A source is reporting that the Los Angeles Kings are now the only suitors left for Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils are out — he’s too rich for their blood. I still have an inkling that the KHL could be calling. But maybe Kovalchuk’s wife wants to renew (?), rejuvenate (?), or in the eyes of some start a career in L.A. Hmmm…

    * Where might a personal favorite of mine — Darcy Tucker — go?

    * Gotta give props to @TSNBobMcKenzie — that dude’s got sources and sources and more sources.

    * Well, that about wraps this up for me. What are you thoughts on the NHL’s free agent day? Share ‘em with us!


    25 Jun 2010 Live Blogging the NHL Entry Draft: Mr. Goddess (!)

    Hello!  I am a guest blogger, standing in for Goddess Kaatiya.  And, yes, I am a man.  Strong men can be goddesses too, without fear — except of their goddess wives.  Ha!  So, since her sister is having a baby as I type, I will stand in for Kaat and proudly be Mr. Goddess for tonight.  Here goes nothing  …

    *  NHL Entry Draft begins with welcomes as always

    * I think I see Goddess Sasha and Mr. Sasha!

    * Pierre Mcguire is annoying!  Too bad he knows alot about hockey.

    * Was that an audio problem or were they dubbing out obscenities?

    * Number one pick for best hair- Taylor Hall!

    * Yell really loud Edmonton fans!  They can hear you in LA!

    * Gary Bettman is so exciting.  Wake me up when he is finished.

    * Healthy snacks on the Edmonton table.  Plenty of fiber in those bananas.  These guys are going to be running to the toilet all night!

    * Number one pick for best hockey player- Taylor Hall.

    * No surprise with pick No. 2

    * Any event in LA requires a shot of the Hollywood sign.

    * I like the Florida Panthers approach.  No greetings or BS, just make the pick!

    * What is Columbus waiting for?

    * Johansen to Columbus.  I saw this guy going to Atlanta on several mock drafts.

    * Keith Ballard to Vancouver.  Watch out Luongo, Ballard likes to club his own goaltender after giving up a goal.

    * Alyssa Milano- an encyclopedia of hockey knowledge.

    * Nino Niederreiter- does Pierre Mcguire have something against Swiss players?  “He may from Switzerland, but he does not have holes in him like Swiss cheese.”  Give me a break Pierre!

    * Brett Connolly to Tampa Bay.  I could say something about Pierre’s commentary but I won’t.

    * Let’s get excited Caniacs, your pick is Jeff Skinner!

    * Thrashers are on deck.  Why is Waddell on the phone?  I thought Dudley was calling the shots.

    * Alexander Burmistrov to the Thrash.  Hope he is the next Kovalchuk!

    * Had to take a break for a couple of hours to entertain Annabelle.

    * Hey, a cool Minnesota Wild jersey!  Never thought I’s say that.

    * Dylan McIlrath- The Undertaker.  That is a great nickname.

    * Mark Messier is annoying as well.  I know he is a legend, but he rubs me the wrong way.

    * Joe Nieuwendyk- It is a crime he did not get selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    * The Dallas Stars pick a goaltender with their first pick.  Can’t trust that Kari Lehtonen will stay healthy.

    * It looks like Scott Niedermayer just rolled out of bed, put on his suit and did not bother to brush his hair.

    * Cam Fowler- American with a dad from Canada.  Is it just me or are there alot of Cams from Canada?

    * Don’t have much to say about the Coyotes or the Blues.

    * Being a geek myself, I know one when I see one.  Those Kings fans reacting to the trade with Florida are mega-geeks!

    * I’ll try to be more positive with my comments.

    * Bryan Murray makes me nervous.  Shifty eyes.

    * Vladimir Tarasenko – great pick by St. Louis.

    * I bet Goddess Sasha wanted Tarasenko in an Avs uniform.

    * Joey Hishon – don’t know anything about him.  TSN rank is 46th.  Reach?

    * Can Sidney Crosby just go away for the off-season?

    * Why is Sidney Crosby there?  He can’t even go up to the stage to welcome the new kid!

    * I’m trying to be more positive.

    * Tinordi — great pick by Montreal, I guess.

    * Kevin Hayes is going to kiss everyone in the arena.

    * Can’t wait until next season starts!  Thrashers are taking the cup!


    18 Jun 2010 Thrashers for Sale, Hawks Too? Back Up the Moving Van

    Ondrej Pavelec

    Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec's mask pays tribute to the city's famous Fox Theater.

    Not so fast, you! Glory be, ya’ll as (some) Southerners might say. (Probably not, but in the popular imagination, that’s what we would say.)

    Is this a time of trepidation for Atlanta Thrashers fans? Should we be afraid (once more) that the Thrashers will be moving? Is the report out of New York correct? Are the Thrashers (and Hawks!) for sale again? It’s been rumored for some time that one or both franchises (and beautiful Philips Arena) could be on sale. Now, cue Jim Balsillie: Back up the moving van, The Thrashers are for sale! Let the rumors fly! But before you go crazy, do read the Atlanta ownership group’s statement:

    As has been shared publicly for more than a year, we are interested in finding minority investors and have engaged a firm to assist us in that effort. We have no plans to move either team, and remain committed to the Hawks, the Thrashers, Philips Arena and the city of Atlanta.

    Now that we’ve done due diligence, let’s assume the team is for sale, there are several reasons it would be difficult, though not impossible, to extract the Thrashers from Atlanta, the most important one being the naming rights agreement with Philips. It requires both an NHL and NBA franchise playing in the building. As with any contract, there are likely some ways out, but those ways would be quite expensive.

    There are lucrative sponsorships to be considered, as well as long-term leases on luxury boxes that were signed with assumption that both hockey and basketball would be played in Philips Arena.

    Atlanta IS a Hockey City

    There are numerous reasons that Gary Bettman is right in his desire and commitment to make hockey work in “non-traditional” markets. Atlanta, contrary to what many believe, is a fantastic hockey city. It’s a city with a metro area of close to 5.5 million. It’s a city with deep pockets and a great, great many of those, ya know, hockey-loving Northerners who have relocated down South. It’s got a lot of Southern hockey-loving people too — don’t let the popular image of what Atlanta is (and isn’t) fool you. The problem has been lackadaisical ownership, the NHL lockout (which came at a horrible time for burgeoning franchises), and unfortunately, the economic downturn, which hit some cities worse than others.

    Wall of jerseys at Philips Arena

    Philips Arena's wall of NHL jerseys.

    When the Thrashers ice a quality, winning team, fans come. That’s been shown in the past. You are lying to yourself if you think Atlanta is the only place where fans don’t show up to see losing teams. Remember the Pittsburgh Penguins a few years ago? Were they selling tickets like Sno-Cones on a summer day? No. Remember the Chicago Blackhawks? I sure do. The AHL Chicago Wolves iced better teams and had more buzz in the city until the philosophy changed with the younger Wirtz taking over in Chi-town. But I remember many games at the United Center that were empty, empty, empty! (My sister was in Chicago for many years and for many years we attended games with extremely sparse attendance.)

    I know Canadians like to dream of plucking one of the Southern franchises (said with disdain) from its home and moving it back up North where hockey really lives. Winnipeg is a popular choice and rallying point for these Canadians. But, can that city — or many of the others (some in the U.S. as well) whose names pop up (ahem, Kansas City, Hamilton, Ontario, Kitchener/Waterloo, Milwaukee, etc.) — sustain a team? Does it have 13 Fortune 500 companies headquartered there (as Atlanta does)? Does it have the all-important ability to sustain corporate sponsorship? Does it have a state-of-the-art arena with all the bells and whistles that people demand today — particularly those corporate sponsors? Does it have a huge potential market? The potential to bring NEW fans to the NHL’s table? Yes, we know our friendly neighbors to the North have the fans, but that’s only one piece to the extremely complex puzzle that is professional sports today. To put it another way, why would you court the lady you already have?

    Philips Arena

    With even a little bit of on-ice success, Atlantans have proven they will support the Thrashers.

    It’s marketing. Marketing, that, (for all his flaws) NHL Commish Gary Bettman understands. If you already love any product, you are not the target of that company’s ads and marketing. The goal is NEW fans. Canadian hockey fans are a given. If you love Coca-Cola, you aren’t necessarily the target audience of Coke’s ads and marketing. The goal is new drinkers of that product. That’s why Bettman is gung-ho about non-traditional markets, he’s courting new fans. Where Bettman is failing is in ensuring the right ownership in these markets. With the right ownership, marketing and success on the ice, hockey can not only survive, but thrive in these markets.

    So bring on new ownership. Ownership that cares about cultivating this growing fanbase and nurturing lost relationships with fans. The Atlanta franchise can be turned around. What was Yoda’s most important lesson to Luke Skywalker? Patience.

    It won’t happen overnight.

    Photos: Ondrej Pavelec and Philips Arena by Goddess Kaatiya. Copyright 2007-2010. All Rights Reserved.


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