Friday, September 19, 2008


Excuse my lack of postings this weekend. After all, it's "Notre Dame Week" in East Lansing, Michigan. And that's exactly where I'm headed in a few short hours. Every year, my brother-in-law and I makes plans to attend the game. Our last trip to East Lansing was in 2006. If you remember, it's was the debacle in the monsoon. MSU had a big lead at the half only to squander it away with horrific play calling and flooding rains. Jack and I were sitting in the front row of the west upper deck and literally had a river of draining rain water at our feet. The Sparty hat I purchased at the bookstore earlier that day shrunk from a size 7.5 to about 6.75. Nothing like packing wet clothes for the trip back to Atlanta the following day! Hopefully, the weather will hold up this year. Also, I'll be sure to stop by and say hello to MSU hockey coach Rick Comley as the Spartans get ready for another season in the CCHA. They've lost quite a bit from last season and will be extremely young, but very talented.

So not much else this weekend, but full content from around training camps starting Sunday and Monday including the latest from Thrash camp. Speaking of the Atlanta team, the AJC reported today that new head coach John Anderson has decided to name four assistant captains heading into the season then choose one of them for the captaincy role. Seems like a derivative stared several seasons ago by Jacques Lemaire in Minny. My personal belief is that the leadership of the team will be much stronger without aging center Bobby Holik holding down a stall in that locker room. I remember being in there after a game day skate last season and talking to an unnamed player about Bobby's leadership of the team. That player just looked at me and rolled his eyes. Yeah, I don't think there were many hearts broken when he landed back in Jersey.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


On Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes learned that Justin Williams tore his achilles tendon in an off-ice workout. He's expected to miss four to six months. In other words, the best case scenario has him returning to the lineup sometime in March, 2009.

This is devastating news not only to the organization, but also to the player, who missed most of the 2007-08 campaign with a serious knee injury. General manager Jim Rutherford addressed the depth of the team with Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer on Wednesday, but was quick to point out that there's no one ready to jump in and score 35 goals, which is what Williams afforded the team.

"We do have options, It's difficult to replace a player like Justin, but it's an opportunity for someone else."

Two other developments from Raleigh on Wednesday:
Rod Brind'amour underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and will miss most, if not all, of training camp. Last season, he tore the ACL in his left knee and missed the last 22 games.

The seven year contract extension for Eric Staal appears to finally be a go. Originally, the contract featured a no-trade clause that was to go into effect on July 1, 2010 which was the same date Staal was to become a free agent. The new wording specifies that the no-trade clause will kick in when he becomes and unrestricted free agent. In order for that to happen, Staal must play each of the next two seasons. The contract is worth $57.75 million over seven years.

Traverse City Update:
The Dallas Stars prospects defeated the Atlanta Thrashers prospects 8-3 to win the championship of the Traverse City tournament. From an Atlanta standpoint, general manager Don Waddell has to be very pleased with the progress of the young kids, especially Zach Bogosian, Spencer Mahacek and Angelo Esposito.

Bogosian is all but a lock to start the season in Atlanta and play on a blueline that has gone through a major overhaul in the off-season. I would be shocked if he doesn't make the team out of training camp. Assuming the team carries seven defensemen to start the season, you'd be looking at Ron Hainsey, Nick Havelid, Garnet Exelby, Ken Klee, Toby Enstrom, Boris Valabik and Bogosian. I guess I'm one of the few out there that's fairly bullish on this blueline. Part of my enthusiasm lies in the fact that Alexei Zhitnik was bought out and is long gone. I'm also counting on a bounce back season out of Exelby, who had his worst season as a pro in 2007-08. As for depth, guys like Nathan Oystrick, Grant Lewis and Arturs Kulda will be a Delta flight away in Chicago.

Esposito is all but certain to return to the QMJHL for a final season of junior. It appears that Waddell has handled this kid very well. When he arrived in Atlanta for the prospects camp in July, Waddell sat him down and told him to concentrate on hockey and not worry about the past. It was the old clean slate talk. And it seems to have worked.

As for the Dallas Stars, it was good to see the name of Ray Sawada on the score sheet from last night's championship game. Sawada had an outstanding career for the Cornell Big Red and is looking to solidfy his chances in Big D.

And while we're talking about the Stars, I need to send out a GOOD LUCK message to Stu Barnes, who retired this summer to become an assistant coach with the team. If anyone ever creates a "good guy" hall of fame, Barnes should be a charter member. I spent the better portion of two seasons with him in Pittsburgh after Pens general manager Craig Patrick acquired him from Florida. He always made himself available to the media and never took a night off on the ice. 1997-98 was his break out year offensively when he scored 30 goals. I remember talking to him one day about his hot streak in which he credited former Pens great Rick Kehoe for helping him create space in front of the net by front up defenders then spinning off of them to set up for the shot. He will be an asset to the Stars coaching staff. Don't be surprised if he ends up as a GM someday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I hope you enjoy reading this blog.

As it debuts today, I'm not really sure of the path it will take. Obviously it's hockey related. But I see it as more of a broad focus. Some days, I might post about the game as it is played on the ice. Other days, I might take a stab at some of the business aspects of the sport. And since I'm based in Atlanta, it will have a decided slant towards the Thrashers and the Southeast Division. You may even hear some college hockey talk considering my role as a talking head with CBS College Sports' NCAA hockey coverage.

Those who know me know I'm opinionated. I think I get that from my wonderful mother, who celebrates her 84th birthday next week. Please read, think, formulate thoughts and let me know what's on your mind. This is a two way street, so let's have some fun.

Madd Dogg


Since last weekend, many National Hockey League teams have been running their rookie camps in various parts of North America. While I love the concept of giving these kids additional looks ahead of the main camps, I am confused as to why these camps are held in places such as Traverse City, Michigan.

Now don't get me wrong, Center Ice in TC is a great facility that had adequetely played host to their rookie tourney for several seasons. I had a chance to attend the very first one several years ago and watch Thrashers rookies Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatly make their professional debuts. In fact, I had the opportunity to do Kovalchuk's first ever North American interview, albeit with help of a translator.

But why Traverse City when places such as Atlanta and Tampa and Carolina and Nashville are screaming for hockey attention?

Kitchner, Ontario is the site of another rookie camp. This makes total sense. Fans of the Sens and Leafs, etc. can jump into a car and be a part of the week long event. Not so for those fans in the Southeast Division who have to rely on website updates and television that's either a day old or non-existent. As an example, here in Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution has yet to post a single Thrashers score in their daily sports section, or have their beat writer file print stories around the tounament. Monday, I awoke to a front page story about Erik Christensen and his excitement for the start of training camp. It was a good story that was "evergreen" enough to be held until later in the week. I believe fans would be more interested in knowing how Angelo Esposito or Zach Bogosian or Riley H are doing up north.

Seriously folks, from a Southeast Division standpoint, why isn't this rookie camp conducted in Atlanta? Or Tampa? Or any other team from the division?

Let's assume for a moment that the Thrashers play host next season. The 2009 rookie camp could be held at Philips Arena. All practices and games would be open to the public and free of charge. The team's sales and marketing departments could build campaigns around the camp as a way of reconnecting with season ticket holders and casual fans. It would become a value added event for the team. It would create opportunities to reach out and provide additional business and revenue opportunities for their hotel and restaurant partners. Connect with local youth hockey teams. have a select-a-seat night. It would be an excuse to get the fan base thinking about hockey again. It would allow the prospects a true taste of life in the NHL as they dress in major league locker rooms, play in a big time arena and get used to the professional routine on game day.

Why isn't this happening? No offense, but why should we reward Traverse City? Do the owners not see this flaw in the system? Shouldn't it be offered up to the local fan base?