We discussed the current rise of either frustration, exacerbation, or drama-queen tantrums amongst Thrashers fans on the last Birdwatchers Anonymous radio show. People are frustrated with Dudley for not signing a big scorer, or for focusing too much on “size” (whatever that means), or for nepotism, or whatever. People are already calling coach Craig Ramsay “John Anderson 2.0.” Yes, it is difficult to see the difference between Anderson and Ramsay’s offense first, five up, five back style of hockey. I know that Thrashers fans are conditioned to cringe when we hear the words “we need the defense to jump up into the play.” And wailing and gnashing our teeth over goaltending issues is our right as an Atlanta hockey fan.
For God’s sake, listen to the man. He must be doing something right.
For all of this to come only three games into the regular season, though? God, wait until November, at least. I understand the Thrash went winless in the pre-season, but pre-season hockey means exactly diddly and squat. Not every line-up every night is a full NHL roster. Techniques and lines are being moved about. Things are being tried out every night that may or may not work – that’s the point of pre-season. It’s a learning time. You have to expect that the Thrashers’ learning time will be a bit extended, when you take the massive upheaval that happened over the offseason into consideration. New coach, new GM, new coaching staff, and ten new players who weren’t on the roster at the end of last season – all of these people have to get onto the same page and do so quickly. Ramsay has reminded press and fans alike that the team has to “un-learn” bad habits from previous coaches – be it John Anderson, or things that they learned while playing under a minor league or previous NHL coach. Ramsay’s intent is to be a teacher and to show the players the correct way of doing things, not to set them loose to run and gun however they feel like it. Some lines and some players (most notably the fourth line and center Alex Burmistrov) are going to catch on to the new ideas quickly. Others might take some time to adapt. Getting the little starts and fits out of the way now and playing solid hockey for the rest of the season is far more important than starting 4-1.
Because that team that started 4-1 last season had some hellacious losing streaks when it mattered, thanks to tuning out the coach and not being taught the proper way to maintain momentum. Don’t judge until you see the full picture. There’ve been a lot of positives to take away from the season thus far, and the Thrashers are already playing a new and grittier style of hockey. Just wait until it takes hold.