After coming off of a very emotional roller coaster of a season (dominating the Southeast Division for majority of the season, coming up as the Division champions, only to be mercilessly swept in the playoffs by the damn-dirty-Sean-Avery-having New York Rangers), 2008 started just as dramatically, but for the worse. The preseason was quiet enough with a few wins by some of our promising up-and-comers. It was so promising that kids like Brian Little, drafted in 2006, made the starting roster. Then the games started to matter, and the Thrashers dropped six games straight, causing coach Bob Hartly to be fired. GM Don Waddell took over behind the bench, and it was as if the first six games never happened. The Thrashers went 11 and 4 in their first run with Waddell.
History would show that the Thrashers are a spotty team at best, making heroic and inspiring runs, followed by confusing, and often frustrating losing streaks. They have been a come-from-behind team and a give-up-the-lead team. Now, with a scant 14 games left in the regular season, the Thrashers have seemingly given up. It was bad enough when they hit the 6-game-skid mark again, but they then surpassed it, losing their 8th game to Division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes. The game was important if they wanted to stay competitive in the race for the playoffs. Hold the Canes at 73 points while simultaneously taking those 2 points, making the slow march closer, shortening the gap. Fat chance. The Thrashers fell, yet again, 6-3. But when your goalies are facing 37 shots on goal because your defense doesn’t know what the hell its job is, how do you stand a chance? You don’t.
This goes back to the deal Don Waddell made at the trade deadline. We dumped a high paid sniper and a second decent forward for two promising young forwards and a great prospect. Okay, fair enough, but why? Why, I ask? WHERE IS THE RETURN? It’s not like this shots-on-goal issue is a new problem. It’s been the same every season, and I’m starting to mold my own theories. Unless you can get superstar defensemen like Zdeno Chara or Chris Chelios, your trades aren’t going to make the headlines. Is that what it is, Donny? Do you like to see you face on NHL.com? Because that’s the only way your deadline deal makes sense to me, buddy. We didn’t need any more offense. You fix the defense, get the puck in the other zone for more than 5 minutes a period, and you’ll start to create scoring chances for your kids. We have Mark mother-f*cking Recchi, we have Ilya on-his-way-to-50-goals Kovalchuk, and Bryan Little, and 1st rounder Jimmy Slater, who, in my humble opinion, would create many, many more scoring chances if given better linemates and defensive help.
The Thrashers are pretty much out of the playoff race at this point. They are the 28th team in a 30 team league, and it’s embarrassing. They've won a total of 15 games in regulation. They've been out shot, out scored, and out hit in most games this season. This, right here? This is me calling for the head of Don Waddell. The man has had a decade to make this team a contender, and he has failed. He had some moments, I mean, he did draft Ilya, Kari, Bryan. He did make the deal for Hossa in the first place all those years ago. He is not without a few successes, but overall, this team will never contend for the Stanley Cup as long as he is the one deciding their future.