He of the black turtleneck, Don Waddell, had reason to be more upbeat at this town hall than he usually has. He has had an outstanding offseason.
Hosted by Dan Kamal, the town hall this year involved John Anderson, Rick Dudley, Waddell, and Colby Armstrong - who was apparently there for comedic relief. No real hostile questions were asked - no one accused Don of anything near incompetence. Nice.
Waddell mentioned a few things that were interesting. He said that improvements are in the works for the jumbotron and a few other things in the arena. Apparently they've been reading our complaints on the message boards.
He reiterated that the #1 goalie job really is up for grabs, and pretty much implied that's why Legace had been invited to camp. He seemed a little exasperated explaining Kari and the surgery, and said that he had been approached by people around draft time about a trade for one of our goalies. Waddell mentioned, though, that what they wanted to give us in return were picks and prospects, and nothing to help us now. Waddell's reasoning behind declining the offers is that he wanted immediate improvement, and realized how we were tired of hearing how we have building blocks and so forth. Good call, because while I always appreciate the selection or acquisition of a good prospect, I would really like to see this team win now. And in the future. Yes - they both can be done!
Waddell also said that he's glad that they didn't do a deal, since Kari wound up having surgery in July (and according to an AM 550 Toronto interview probably won't be able to start on opening night - *gasp*). There's a real battle heating up there.
We didn't sign Zherdev because there was too much "What about Kane?" talk. Waddell would like to see Kane make the big club and he has been given every chance to do so. He's apparently put on 20 lbs or so since prospect camp, which was necessary. Waddell just didn't want him to go out against guys who were 230 and get roughed up.
And there's one other thing... what was it... oh.
That Kovalchuk guy.
We've been going back and forth with him since the end of last season, and talks have increased since he came back from the Russian Olympic camp. There have been offers and counter offers made, which is a good sign - especially since Hossa's agent didn't even bother. Kovy was drafted by us, is the Thrashers' captain, and knows that this is his team. Waddell says that he wants to lead us and make sure that we succeed, and that his attitude so far at camp has been overwhelmingly upbeat and positive, and it's rubbing off on everyone.
Also, he and his wife are expecting their third child, and he just built a huge house in Buckhead that's probably worth more than I can imagine. His daughter's starting pre-school. Is this the signs of someone who is counting the days until he can get out of here?
Yeah. Thought so. Hey media naysayers - go fixate on the 'Yotes or Kessel or something. Kovy's not a story, so stop inventing stuff. Thanks.