Friday, November 14, 2008


Hi everyone. I'm back. Talk about your quiet weeks. I used the past several days to catch up on a few things here on the home front. Sorry for the lack of updates. It's a long season and one must pace themselves.

Before I get to tonight's tilt against Carolina (No TV, 680 The Fan), I wanted to talk about the topic that's always a hot button around these parts. Attendance.

Tonight should go a long way in determining how much the downturn in the economy is playing on ticket sales. Here's why:

1. The Thrashers haven't played a home game in 12 days. They return to home ice on a Friday night which has arguably been the best attended day of the week throughout the franchise's history.

2. The team is riding a season-best four game winning streak. They are hot and they have given the Atlanta faithful a reason to make the trip downtown tonight.

3. The game is against a division rival.

4. There is no other sports competition in the city tonight. The Hawks play in New Jersey, Georgia football is on the road at Auburn tomorrow and none of the local college basketball teams play at home either (at least not that I know of).

Earlier today, I was all set to do an attendance comparison of last years numbers through seven home games compared to this season. I was also going to break it down by the day of the week and compare weeknight attendance figures to weekend ones. But when you get right down to it, there haven't been enough home dates to draw accurate comparisons. The weekend dates are skewed because of the opening night sellout. The weeknight numbers are slanted because 50% of them have occurred on Tuesdays. So what's the point? It's just too early. I'll break it down at the 20 home game mark and see what we get.

Bottom line: I tagree with general manager Don Waddell when he told the AJC that attendance always lags during the first half of the season when college football is in full swing. Would a team with a winning record make a difference? Possibly. But facts are facts in that UGA football is a 100 year tradition, like it or not.


***With a win, the Thrashers would trail Carolina by just two points with a game in hand....ditto if the Washington Caps lose tonight in New Jersey (although ATL and WSH will have played 16 games each).

***Ilya Kovalchuk is the hottest of the hot on the ice, having tallied 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points in his last four games. Other streaks include Jason Williams (4 goals, 2 assists in last 4 games), Bryan Little (3 goals, 4 assists last 4 games), Ron Hainsey (1 goal, 2 assists in last 2 games) and Eric Christensen (0 goals, 2 assists in last 2 games).

***Keep an eye on the Atlanta penalty killing units tonight. They were perfect last Sunday in Raleigh after allowing at least one power play goal in 12 straight games.

***Sooner or later, Eric Christensen will score. His 38 shots this season are the most of any player in the NHL that hasn't scored at least once. Time to bear down Eric!

***The Hurricanes offense has struggled. But one player red hot against the Thrashers is Eric Staal with 14 points in his last 7 games against Atlanta.

Enjoy the game.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Sorry I'm a little late regarding this topic, but I did want to get your thoughts regarding last Thursday's telecast on Sportsouth (Thrashers vs New York Islanders). That night, Thrashers analyst Darren Eliot was stationed between the team benches instead of in his normal position, the broadcast booth.

The early feedback I received was very positive. The executives at Sportsouth, along with peers from around the league, thought it worked well. It was the first time Sportsouth had tried such a set up, even though teams from around the league have been experimenting with such a configuration since the lockout.

For me, as the play-by-play guy, not much really changes. I made a conscientious attempt to lay out a little more to offer Darren ample opportunity to jump in and out of the play with his excellent analysis. It's a little different compared to having both of us in the broadcast booth at the same time. The communication is much less visual for obvious reasons.

But I think the toughest job when doing a broadcast with the analyst between the benches lies with the analyst. Eliot's view of the play was much more restricted based on the angle that he witnessed the game unfold. When you call the game from "up top", you have the benefit of watching plays develop. That's not the case from between the benches. Plus, being on the opposite side of the cameras, Darren saw all replays from the opposite perspective, which must have taken time getting used to.

If you recall, I tried to ask Darren questions about the game that were related to his proximity to the ice. One time, I asked him about shooting lanes since he had a great look at the Thrashers left point in the offensive zone for two periods. When the Islanders took the 3-1 lead, I asked him about the mood on the Atlanta bench. These are all facets of the game you don't get when both announcers are sitting up in the booth. I thought it was critical for the two of us to take advantage of our access and bring it home to the viewers like yourself.

Having worked with Eliot full-time for four seasons and occasionally this season, I've learned he's one of the best in the business. He's one of a few in the sport that can explain why a play happened instead of just regurgitating a replay. In my opinion, I thought he was dead on the other night and never missed a beat.

So what did you think? Should Sportsouth do more games with Eliot between the benches? I'd love to hear what you think.