One of my biggest complaints about the Thrashers team last season is that they seem to lack internal leadership. For the most part, the Thrashers appeared to have a nice collection of very polite Canadian, European and American fellows who were all too deferential to one anothe. Nobody really rocked the boat very hard.
After a list-less loss last year I posted the questions "does anyone every throw a tantrum on this team?" "Does anyone ever make a teammate uncomfortable after a brutal game?"
Well it appears that something has changed. After a particularly poor 2nd period the Atlanta locker room had some heated exchanges and the guys came back out on to the ice fired up. They stormed back on a defensively-challenged Rangers team to tie the game and eventually win in the SO.
Mike Knobler in his AJC story had some great quotes about the intermission tete-a-tete.
We just yelled at each other a little bit, got the negative energy out of us,” Kovalchuk said...“When we work, we can be one of the best teams in the NHL,” Kovalchuk said. “When we’re not working, we are the worst.”
If this is a sign of how the new Thrashers will operate--it is a VERY good sign.
Contending teams function best when the best players hold themselves and their teammates accountable. When the effort is not there someone speaks up and says "this isn't good enough" and the team responds. If the Thrashers country club atmosphere is gone I welcome that news with open arms.
Internal leadership is something that every contending team needs and it something that coaches can not supply. Someone has to step up and take a chance and DEMAND that whole team play better. It appears that Kovalchuk is more willing to do that since he was named Captain in January. This development is just as important as signing a big name player or drafting a great prospect. Internal leadership can help get the maximum out of the team's talent. Very exciting stuff.