I really wish I had some earth-shattering mind-blowing breaking news to Twitter or blog about, but so far all I'm hearing is that every GM is working their phone like a teenage girl a week before prom but nobody is really ready to dance quite yet.
Random Encounters with Don Waddell
Migratory birds have the ability to find their way across continents even in bad weather. Apparently, I must have some sort of Thrashers six sense too. Our SB Nation Gang of Four attended the NHL welcome party for the media tonight in Montreal. After having a few drinks and fancy little treats on the NHL's tab we headed out for some local cuisine and choose an Italian restaurant a few blocks away. While we are waiting for our food to arrive, who should walk down from the upper story but Thrashers GM Don Waddell. Out of the many restaurants surrounding the Bell Centre we ended up at the same location as the Thrashers team dinner (cue eerie Twilight Zone music).
Waddell came over and briefly said hello to our table. I asked if Brian Burke was still badgering him for the 4th overall pick and he said that he was leaving dinner early to return a bunch of phone calls. Dealing Don is certainly wracking up the cell phone time this week.
Numerous Thrasher scouts followed him out the door and when we departed, we bumped into Assistant GM Larry Simmons who was outside waiting for a cab ride. Larry observed that there seemed to be a higher than normal level of trade talking taking place and we might see a fair number of deals across the NHL tomorrow.
Bloggers and Print Media Party Together--Peace Prevails
At the media party I talked to Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch about the likely trade of former Thrasher Dany Healtey. I asked him to speculate on where Heater might land and he suggested that the Kings and Wild appear to make the most sense when you think about factors like cap room and desire to improve their roster immediately.
I also had the opportunity to talk to Florida Panthers writer George Richards of the Miami Herald who regularly breaks news. When I quizzed him about the Jay Bouwmeester situation he indicated that it appears the Panthers will receive only a modest return in exchange for his negotiating rights.
As always, it was good to talk to Craig Custance of the Sporting News. We conversed about the emerging mixture of traditional and non-traditional press. He reminded me that the city of Ann Arbor no longer has a daily paper and an online site which "publishes" news online three times a week. It is only a matter of time until a major American city is without a daily paper and the current economic difficulties are accelerating this process. On a related I was told that team NHL PR directors were told that "newspapers are going away and will not return" and some of them really didn't care for that bit of news.
Player Comments from Media Luncheon
Red Line Report noted that Evander Kane had gained nearly two inches in the last year, so I asked him if tall genes ran in his family. He replied that neither of his parents hit 6 feet but that he had of grandfather who was 6'3"--looks like he lucked out in the height department and takes after his grandfather.
I talked to Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson if he any preference in terms of playing in North America. He admitted that he really didn't know enough about the country to have any strong opinion. He was asked about the media crush of the draft and replied that it seemed even worse at the WJC in Ottawa earlier this year.
I talked Jacob Josefson about his stickhandling and told him he reminded me a bit of Alexei Kovalev with this slick moves at the U-18 tournament. He said that Kovalev was probably the best stickhandler in the world and he probably didn't met that high standard. I asked him what he considered his strongest attribute and he said his skating and determination to win.
The Chief of NHL Central Scouting was asked about guys in the 2009 Draft class being read to make the jump directly to the NHL at age 18. E.J. McGuire noted that "every kid has a strength coach on this team now" and said that 17 and 18 year old players were much better condition than players of a decade ago. He wasn't saying there were more talented but that they were more advanced in their development than in the past. He also said there were several players who could realisticly break into the NHL.
Meeting a Fellow Hockey Statzi
I spent a terrific two hours with fellow statistical analyst Tom Awad at a Montreal pub this afternoon. We exchanged ideas, solutions, problems and philosophies--it turns out that we see eye-to-eye even more than I expected. So few people see hockey through our statistical lens--so it was really nice to have a conversation where basics did not need to be explained and more advanced topics could be addressed.