When the Atlanta Thrashers began the 2010-11 campaign, a new coaching staff was in place, a handful of players from the organizational depth chart were no longer a part of the equation and by the time the puck dropped in the season opener, media guides indicated that the time has come, Atlanta is heading in an entirely new direction.
General Manager Rick Dudley hired a man with 40 years experience in the NHL as the newest head coach of the parent club. A resume showcasing a strong background in terms of hockey operations, player personal and making impacts in numerous cities. Head Coach Craig Ramsey was a welcome addition to the Atlanta Thrashers. Ask anyone in Atlanta who has had a cup of coffee with him, you will learn something new about the game of hockey. He will teach you everything you need to know. From the players standpoint, this was the ideal hiring.
The big guns making millions and millions of dollars, Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley, were no longer in existence. Since expansion year in 1999, the former managment team put their eggs in one basket on all three. It never worked and it’s times like right now, that was warranted many years ago.
Thankfully, the return investment on the Kovalchuk trade, defensemen Johnny Oduya and forwards Niclas Bergfors and Patrice Cormier are all currently active on the 23 man roster in Atlanta.
Stanley Cup Champions arrived throughout the course of this past summer. A warm welcome to defensemen Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and forwards Ben Eager, Akim Alui and Andrew Ladd. It’s phenominal to have all kinds of room for the right players, as opposed to paying one player so much money to do so little for the Atlanta Thrasher franchise.
Free agent signings in forward Fredrik Modin, defensemen Freddie Meyer and goaltender Chris Mason added depth to the 23 man roster and most importantly ideal players to mix in with a club that had a change in identity.
Alexander Burmistrov, drafted 8th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft made the team out of camp and has skated in 44 games for the Thrashers this season netting five goals and adding 10 helpers. Let’s face it, this kid has the potential to do great things for Atlanta. It’ll take some time, but the future looks bright for #8.
The future for this franchise may not look as bright though, for a long term stay in the Atlanta area. The amount of empty seats inside the Phillips arena during this season alone, has the NHL asking for better support for this winning hockey club. The Thrashers rank 28th out of 30 teams in the league in attendance. Thrasher nation, you are officially on the clock.
From a player personal standpoint, this club is in the best shape since 1999. It’ll bode well moving forward for any potential interest to support Bruce Levenson, one of the Thrashers team owners who has been searching for the last two years for financial support. From a fan standpoint, 7,000-10,000 under capacity is not going to work on a nightly basis. The fan support must rise to the occasion.
This is the best opportunity for the fans to show up. The changes the have been made from upper management to coaching and to the ice, have put the Thrashers in position to contend for only their second trip to the post season since 1999. Only this time, a structured hockey club from top to bottom is in place and has the talent to take things to another level. Doing just that in front of 18,000 fans at the Phillips arena seems like alot to ask, but it needs to happen.
2011 resolution for Thrasher Nation. Now is the time to take part in Thrasher hockey at the Phillips Arena. It’s time to show your support.
For the first time since 1999, things are being done the right way, by the right people in charge. Put on your Thrasher sweater and head to the rink. Your missing out on the success that is currently taking place.