Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Miracle in Motown?

I have to be perfectly honest with you. I never expected that the third period of the Wings-Thrashers game would be boring because the THRASHERS had a big lead. I woke up this morning thinking I needed to check the scoreboard again to make certain it wasn't a dream--but there it is in black and white.

About a week ago I wrote that the playoffs (and thus the season) were on the line. The Thrashers needed to get 4 points out of their next 4 games just to hang around the last playoff spot long enough to take advantage of a weak schedule in Feb, March and April. The Thrashers started off slowly managing to get 1 point against Florida despite a fairly tepid effort level in that game. Then they team pulled out a major upset in taking the red hot Penguins to a shootout and getting the bonus point. Only to surpass that with a stunner in Motown last evening. So that gives them 5 points with still one more to go in this crucial stretch. The month still has plenty of potential pitfalls with games against Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and the Rangers twice. This team has not be consistent this year so they could easily give back all their recent gains with a four game losing streak.

What does it all mean? Well in the short run things just became a whole lot more complicated for GM Don Waddell because after the ugly loss to the Flyers it sure looked like this team was about to fall out of the playoff hunt. Now the team is the division leader by a just a hair and the playoffs (and home ice advantage) are there for the taking.

Which brings us around to the inevitable Hossa quandary. Last night Darren Elliot speculated that Hossa re-discovered his power forward moves as a result of talking to the owners. He even asked him about it in the intermission interview which the mild mannered Hossa seemed not to appreciate saying something like "I'm just trying to focus on the hockey game right now."

The question must be asked: Where has this Hossa been? I assumed that his groin never fully healed but he looked healthy last night. Has he been holding back consciously or has the contract weighed him down subconsciously? Has the collapse of Kozlov's game been the cause of his dip this year?

The other question that must be asked is: Why did he look so great last night? Was it because of his talk with the owners? Or that he was just excited about playing in Detroit for one of the few times in his career? Or that he wanted to put on a show for a team that may bid for his services at the deadline or this summer? Lots of question concerning Hossa and few answers.

As Kevin Allen noted in his column today DW is in a real bind now because the franchise needs more excitement and the playoffs are reachable, but from the outside it certainly look like their star player is going to walk. If they don't trade Hossa the Thrashers may (or may not) enter the playoffs as the #3 seed and win some games. Or the Thrashers could miss the playoffs entirely and Hossa could depart this summer leaving the Thrashers with nothing more but a lot of cash in their budget and a weak free agent class to bid on. The classic GM problem--short team gains versus long term interests of the franchise.

2 Comments:

  • Last nights game was a good indication of why Hossa needs to be moved now. Remember when he showed up like that every night of the year?

    His trade value will never be higher then it is right now. I say make the move, roll the dice, and see where it gets ya.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 AM  

  • I don't know what has been wrong with Hoss, but last night we saw some of that explosiveness that has been missing all season, so SOMETHING is/was wrong or off, for sure. You are right about the dilemma that DW faces. His decisions would be easier in many respects if the team was either in the tank and out of the playoffs or running away with the division, but to be straddling the line so closely means that no matter which route he tries to go, he is gambling big time. What if you trade him and the team spirals downward? What if you keep him and the team misses the playoffs, meaning he inevitably walks away for no return?

    Glad I'm not a GM.

    By Anonymous silverpork, at 11:35 AM  

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