Running around to Give you the Reacharound


Thrash Talk

In Friday's post, we posed the question to Thrashers bloggers: Should Don Waddell be fired/why does he have a job? Okay, thats two questions. But luckily, three Thrashers bloggers were lucky enough not to immediately delete our email as spam. Here are their responses:

TimmyF is bullish on leaving Waddell in his current post, and even gets into more detail on his own blog:

"Waddell stays. Here's why:

The situation with ownership leaves Waddell little room to do much of anything. He's been working on a constrained budget; you can only do so much when you're trying to hang at the salary cap floor. His trades have gotten better (the Hossa deal especially, but even the smaller trades: picking up Salmela, moving Williams, Schneider, and Christensen), he's been picking up great players in free agency and waivers (Hainsey, Peverley), and his drafting has gotten better the past few years as well (Little and Bogosian were "easy" picks, but look at late rounders like Enstrom and Postma). The most important thing he's done is to bring in players who play our coach's system and it's already paying dividends.

We had the wrong strategy ("make the playoffs") before, but now we're on the right track ("build a young, talented team"). The question isn't whether we should hold Don responsible for our past crimes, but who the best person is to build our team in the future."

I'm not sure "make the playoffs" should ever be considered "the wrong strategy," but Sean G seems to agree Waddell should stick around:

"I don't think Waddell is the problem although has not proven to be an outstanding GM. The problem is the Atlanta Spirit. They are well versed at only one thing - litigation. This group was thrown together and have never seen eye to eye. Take the obvious pain in the ass out of the way, Belkin, and they still have no clue collectively.

I think we'll find out some day that Waddell was very limited financially to do much. He has been hamstrung by the Atlanta Stooges. Don has made some good moves like picking up Rich Peverley for almost nothing. Also, people forget that the moves, (Zhitnik, Keith T, Dupuis,) he made in 2006 resulted in a playoff birth for the Thrashers. In the long term they hurt the team but....

So, my dream is that someone like Ted Turner or Arthur Blank will buy the team and run it correctly. Waddell is not the main problem."
So basically, Waddell is getting the benefit of the doubt due to the Atlanta Spirit's ineptitude? If Billy Knight wasn't afforded similar leeway, why should Waddell? When you run a team for ten years, you're going to make some "good moves." When the poor moves significantly outnumber the good moves, you have a problem.

The Atlanta Spirit purchased the Thashers in 2004. By that time, Waddell had been in charge for five seasons. Both the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild, who entered the NHL around the same time had seen playoff berths before 2004, and both have seen multiple appearances since then.

The NHL salary cap was implemented two seasons ago. If I understand it correctly, it is a hard cap that has leveled the playing field for all teams, regardless of mizer-ish ownership (exhibit A: the Boston Bruins). Most all hockey teams are hemmorrhaging scrilla. Lack of resources shouldn't be a Don Waddell-exclusive excuse.

Finally, the Falconer tends to agree with the consensus at Sue's:

Don Waddell is a great guy and he works very hard at his job. Having said that, you don't get extra credit for effort in the NHL, pro sports is a bottom line league and the results simply are not there. Even if you make adjustments for the Thrashers having less money to spend, if you look at points won divided by dollars spent the Thrashers still rank below the league average--if I were an owner I would insist on a better return on my investment. Finally, Waddell's continued presence at the top has hurt the Thrashers efforts to land free agents and to sell tickets. If you're going to sell "youth" and "rebuilding" it just doesn't make any sense to have the same pitchman who sold that to you the last time. no means am I a "FIRE THIS MAN" kind of guy. Hell, the amount of job turnover behind NHL benches makes a job at Applebees' look stable by comparison, but I can't fathom a situation where a general manager has survived ten seasons with zero playoff wins, expansion team or not.

Thanks to the Thrashers bloggers who got back at us. One day we'll understand this hock-key thing.

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