Monday, January 5, 2009

Hockey Orphan: Atlanta Thrashers

It's been a couple months since Earl Sleek and I tackled the Anaheim Ducks in Hockey Orphan, but now that there's more time to kick around it seems logical to get back in the saddle. For the many who are new to this concept, here's the basic idea:

Imagine a day when all your hockey memories are zapped from your mind. Feel free to create the scenario: maybe Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith used a device to erase your thoughts. Perhaps you fell out of the top of a bunkbed and are suffering from amnesia (but you inherit sweet ass psychic powers).

Whatever the case, the conceit of hockey orphan is simple: using an equation that combines the objective with the wildly subjective, which teams would be the most and least appealing for a budding hockey fan? And so it begins (again).


Not pictured: Kovie celebrating his Atlanta exodus

Atlanta Thrashers (take: James O'Brien)

During the first attempt at Hockey Orphan in my first attempt at a personal hockey blog, the Thrashers earned a "C" grade largely based on the merits of Ilya Kovalchuk. Of course, the team did have a little more reason for postivity coming off their first ever (and epically ill-fated) playoff berth.

Things have only gone downhill since then. Atlanta traded Marian Hossa for a 1st round pick turned project (Angelo Esposito) and two borderliners (most notably Colby "Beef" Armstrong). Sadly, they also traded promising young D-man Braydon Coburn to the evil Flyers for Alexei "Careers Gone to" Zhitnik.

Not surprisingly, the Thrashers devolved from playoff patsy to cellar dweller. Reviews of their third jersey range from "not terrible" to, well, terrible. Honestly, there's not much to be positive about since the franchise will almost certainly lose it's last superstar in Kovalchuk.

Just an awful, awful team. I'd be curious to see if a Thrashers blogger can bring some sunshine to the equation because it's hard to find any.

Grade: D with Kovalchuk, F once he inevitably gets traded/leaves via free agency.


Jonathan said...

A D is generous. The owners have been suing each other for more than 3 years and the team has gotten worse each year. Throw in a history of poor/unluck management (not retaining Savard, not getting a goalie when Lehtonen was lost for most of a season), bad luck, poor goaltending, underperforming, overpaid, out to pasture veterans (with the exception of Buchberger and Mellanby).

The only positives are some younger players Little, Crab, Valbik, Pavlec, Boggosian.

jamestobrien said...

Zach B does seem like he has beastial potential.

I remember one year that was particularly unlucky for Thrashers goalies. If I remember correctly, to start the season Kari Lehtonen, Mike Dunham and possibly one other tender was injured. It was pretty dumbfounding.

They get the D because Kovalchuk's so damn good.

Question, though: how legit is Little? It seems like he's maintaining a pretty high level of productivity.

jamestobrien said...

And there has to be something in the water in ATL, because didn't the Hawks have the same problem? Before the Falcons playoff run, Hotlanta fans had to deal with: the Thrashers ineptitude, the Hawks losing a player to Greece and the Michael Vick super-debacle.

That's just rough.

Jonathan said...

Atlanta is where pro sports go to die. College and even high school sports are HUGE here, but the city is largely transplants who tend to pull for their old home teams. Throw in only a single local paper a bad combination of inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur and there is very little to cheer for.

jamestobrien said...

Well, it could be worse right? Could be ... Wyoming, Montana, Seattle...