Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bob Hartley gets the heave ho in Atlanta

Attention all NHL Dead pool players!! We have your first name of the year.

The first coaching casualty of the season arrived on Wednesday, as the Atlanta Thrashers decided that it wasn't the heat but the futility and offered Bob Hartley a “See ya’ll later” salutation, as GM Don Wadell dismissed the Thrashers coach who was entering his fifth season in Atlanta.

Hartley has watched his under performing team lose ten games of importance in the last six months. The four playoff games in which the Thrashers played patsies to the Rangers to end last season and the first six games of this new year, which sadly resembled the way that last seasons short and unsuccessful playoff run ended.

Hartley it seems had lost his team, an apparent hard taskmaster was no longer finding results. It was more than apparent from the Thrasher’s lethargic play and dismal start that whatever he was saying was being tuned out by the players, many it seems were waiting for word that a change was gong to come since opening night.

Where Waddell goes from here will be an interesting story to watch. Besides looking for a new coach, with some new ideas and a boatload of patience for an enigmatic team, there’s the status of the franchise itself.

Questions about the franchises' very existence abound in Atlanta, currently the teams ownership is in a state of flux, involved in a nasty internal legal fight, the city itself is a market that seems to be as fair weather a place as there could be in sports. The Atlanta Journal Constitution's, Jeff Schultz alluded to as much in his season opening column, which set the theme of a franchise with too many questions and not near enough answers.

Many of the names being bounced around as a potential coach, may wish to wait and see what becomes of the Thrasher’s franchise, where they may end up and who might be writing the cheques in the near future. Scotty Bowman, Pat Quinn, Dave King or any of the other high profile names currently being mentioned, should keep an eye on the lay of that southern land, before they plant their feet in Dixie (or wherever the Thrashers may one day end up)

Until all of the franchise uncertainty is cleared up, these Thrashers will more than likely be Waddell’s project to turn around.

There is no shortage of people pointing their fingers in his direction as someone else who may soon be looking for a new job. Waddell created the current Thrasher lineup through high profile trades and patience at the draft table, as well as some questionable contract offers that are now starting to bite the franchise on its backside. The challenge now for him, is to prove that the GM of that day provided the coach of today, with the right players for the job.

If not, there may be a major shake up of the Thrashers from top to bottom and everywhere in between.

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