It's funny the types of thoughts that run through one's mind when sitting in traffic on the way home from a disappointing loss. Here are a few:
Ilya Kovalchuk loves his teammates.
Last night's officiating crew was horrific.
As for the traffic in and around Philips Arena, please see the comment about the officiating.
Plenty has been said in the recent days of whether Kovalchuk is ready to be named captain of this team. For those who continue to ponder, may I say that fact was decided a long time ago. Whether he gains the "C" in the upcoming days or weeks is strictly material to me. Ilya Kovalchuk IS the captain of this team.
He has been for a long time.
There's been no better proof of that than his reactions to defending teammates in the past few weeks. The latest come last night when he went after Pittsburgh's Kris Letang after Letang drilled Thrashers center Todd White into the end boards.
To debate whether the hit was clean or not is beside the point. Kovalchuk didn't care....and nor should he. Once again, he was the first to step in and stand up in defense of a teammate. His dedication to winning and defending his teammates is beyond reproach. He's a throwback in many ways. Old school on many levels even though old school would suggest he go after a star player as Letang did.
Leadership? No question.
Captain Kovalchuk? Without a doubt.
The need for the "C" letter? Whatever.
As for the officiating? Well, the word horrific was the first to roll off my tongue. Oystrick's second period interference call was so-so at best. But when Don Koharski called Marty Reasoner for a hook behind the Atlanta net less than a minute later to put the Thrashers down two skaters, I just about jumped out of the press box. The hook was barely a touch. It was a brutal call to make on a team that was already down a man. As for the non-hook/slash call on Crosby defending Kovalchuk's breakaway in the third period, I talked to Atlanta head coach John Anderson after the game and he said Crosby never touched him.
Let me be clear on this. I believe the officials in the National Hockey League do an excellent job 99% of the time. They have the toughest jobs on the ice and a forced to make split second decisions. But I can honestly say their performances last night won't be referenced in any off-season training videos.
Finally, something has to happen to improve traffic congestion in the downtown following home games.
Last night, I jumped into my car at the media parking lot at 9:58pm. I made it to the 75/85 connector at 10:27pm! It took a half an hour to "stick handle" down Luckie Street and around the Georgia Aquarium. Not once did I see an Atlanta police officer directing traffic flow. Heck, there wasn't even the officer at the W-Hotel (you know, the one that flunked Traffic Flow 101) to help us get out of dodge.
Let's go Atlanta! We're a world class city with world class events. When tangled traffic and ZERO assistance are what consumers remember about their night on the town, that can't be good for anyone.