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Kevin Allen on Don Waddell and The Thrashers

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Kevin Allen of USA Today has a new column up on the Thrashers GM Don Waddell. Fans might want to go over and read it because Allen has frequently published news that he could only have gotten from the GM himself, so my assumption is that the two had a long phone conversation recently. It is refreshing to see press coverage at the national level that goes beyond simply regurgitating known facts and actually provides readers some new information.

Who do the Thrashers want as the new coach of the team? The article suggests that the Thrashers are frustrated by not being allowed to contact their top candidates who are assistant coaches in the NHL. Those mentioned by name are Mike Sullivan (Tampa Bay) and Brent Peterson (Nashville). Given those difficulties, Allen reports that Waddell himself may remain behind the bench the rest of the season.

How is Don Waddell perceived within the hockey world? "In a world where everyone is always complaining about something, Waddell always acts as if he is always thankful to make a living in the hockey business. He is well respected around the NHL, and if he gets fired from the Thrashers, it is presumed that he would soon find new employment with the league office or with another team. Most people in hockey like Waddell because he always treats everyone with respect."

Who didn't show up ready to start the season? "He cut Zhitnik's minutes because he decided he wasn't in shape, and he needed to regain his confidence."

What mistakes has Don Waddell made? "Waddell is not working with the league's most talent-laden roster, and certainly he bears responsibility for that. As GM, he pulls the levers behind the curtains. He has made decisions that haven't helped. The signing of Steve Rucchin was a mistake. Waddell is glad he has Bobby Holik, but his $4.5 million salary has made it difficult to build any depth." This echoes my complaints about the team spending too much on older players.

What is Waddell saying in the locker room? "He's selling his players on the fact that they have already played almost 25% of their road games and a now favorable schedule will allow the Thrashers to climb back into contention." As I commented in a post earlier this week, if they can go close to .500 on this road trip it sets them up to make up more ground once they return home.