There are early reports on Twitter that Craig Ramsay will be named the next head coach of the Thrashers tomorrow. Unfortunately, I'll be getting on an airplane to travel to the NHL Draft so I'll start this post where events can be discussed commented on.
Ramsay and John Torchetti have long been rumored to be the favorites in the head coach search. Andy Strickland has reported that the Bruins would not let Ramsay leave his job as an assistant coach unless he was offered the head coaching job in Atlanta. I wonder if the Torchetti would become an assistant under Ramsay or would the Blackhawks take a similar stance? (As much as we helped them out with their cap crisis, releasing Torchetti could be a side deal between the GMs perhaps.)
I'll have more to stay about the hiring when it becomes more certain, but selecting Ramsay would certainly be a strong signal that the Thrashers intend to get better at playing defense. Ramsay was a left wing who won the Selke Trophy given to the best defensive forward. He was also known as a terrific shot blocker. A coach like Ramsay could greatly improve the Thrashers zone coverage and commitment to taking away passing lanes. He might also be able to help a young Zach Bogosian improve on his defensive reads.
The pending big trade with the Blackhawks will move the Thrashers in the direction of getting bigger and tougher. The hiring of Craig Ramsay would signal a greater commitment to team defense. In the history of the franchise the Thrashers have finished in the bottom half of the NHL in defense every single year. The Rick Dudley version of the Thrashers might just have a shot at breaking that streak if they can add another quality goalie to pair with Pavelec.
In the past, I've made the argument that a revenue poor franchise should not build a high-scoring squad because even a child can read G-A-PTS and scorers always get paid for their points. Defense and hitting are harder to measure and quantify and there are inefficiencies in pricing players with those talents. One reason the Predators contend for the playoffs every year on a shoe string budget is their skill at preventing goals. The Thrashers might benefit from their example.