|Waddell is Thrashers' coach and GM again: But for how long?|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 19 October 2007 11:34|
As the only general manager the Thrashers have known, Waddell has overseen seven seasons of mostly losing hockey. Atlanta reached the playoffs for the first time last spring after winning the Southeast Division, but was gone in a fast four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers.
That flameout, filled with curious goaltending decisions, was the beginning of the end for coach Bob Hartley, who was dismissed this week after the Thrashers got off to an 0-6 start.
As he did back in 2002 after firing Curt Fraser, the only other coach in Thrashers history, Waddell took over as coach, too, while serving for a suitable replacement. Without more success, and soon, Waddell's job could be the next one in jeopardy.
``Since the day I was hired, my job is on the line,'' he said. ``You are brought in here to have success. We started building something. I think we have something good going and I still believe that.''
That begs the question, will there be any coaching candidate Waddell feels more comfortable with than himself?
``Our schedule is a little bit hectic right now,'' Waddell said. ``There are some days off where I'll be able to concentrate. On day games my attention has got to be on preparing this team. If I'm going to do it I have to make sure I do the coaching end of it.
``The timetable for me is not as important as making sure I get the right guy for this job.''
His first stint as coach produced a 4-5-1 mark. Waddell didn't rule out staying in the job this time for the remainder of this season.
It is an interesting time for the Thrashers in an unsettled Atlanta sports landscape that is still rattled by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's legal troubles in a dogfighting scandal and down times for the NBA's Hawks.
``We are trying to do what we can to win hockey games,'' said Waddell, a 5-3 victor over the Rangers on Thursday night in his latest debut. ``I just felt we had to do something to get us back on track.
``We're still building a hockey market. What we gained last year we don't want to lose in the first month of this season, that's for sure.''
BROTHERS IN ARMS: And Marc makes three.
First, Eric Staal made his mark with the Carolina Hurricanes, and then along came brother Jordan last season, who scored 29 goals as a 19-year-old rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And now their 20-year-old brother Marc is a handful of games into his NHL career as a defenseman with the New York Rangers.
Three kids in the NHL at once? That's the kind of stuff usually reserved for the Sutters or Brotens or Dineens.
Five years ago, it was merely a dream.
``I probably would have said you're crazy,'' proud father Henry said. ``I would have been so excited, I probably would have went out and told everybody I knew.''
Eric and Jordan already faced off against each other and had their second scheduled matchup of the season Friday in Pittsburgh. Marc and Jordan played against each other in junior for two seasons and are now Atlantic Division foes with eight meetings on the docket. Eric and Marc have their first matchup slated for Dec. 3.
The Eastern Conference is their own private staging ground for family reunions.
``Just a couple weeks ago, me and Eric were sitting on the couch and we were watching Marc play with the Rangers, and I kind of looked at him, like, 'Can you believe this is this? I'm playing you tomorrow, and we're watching Marc on TV.''' Jordan said. ``I don't think any of us really expected it to happen. You know, it is unbelievable that we all made it to this level. I'm proud of my brothers and I'm proud to be here.''
Eric is the oldest of the trio, approaching his 23rd birthday later this month. He and Jordan were second overall draft picks - Eric in 2003 and Jordan in 2006. Eric became a Stanley Cup champion at the same time Jordan was being paraded around the finals as a top prospect.
``We all worked hard for it,'' Eric said. ``I don't think growing up, though, we ever imagined that one day we would be sitting here and all of us wearing different NHL jerseys. It's definitely pretty neat now.''
Marc came with the same lofty credentials, only as a defenseman who was chosen 12th overall in 2005.
``I don't really feel like I have to prove anything,'' Marc said. ``I think that the fact that I'm a defenseman and they are both forwards is a lot easier. I mean, I don't have to try to match their goal totals or anything like that.
``I think I just want to play well and show that I can stay here all year and just have fun with it.''
REMEMBERING THE ROCKET: It was 50 years ago Friday that Montreal Canadiens star Maurice ``Rocket'' Richard became the first player in the 40-year history of the NHL to score 500 goals.
The milestone marker came on Oct. 19, 1957, in Montreal's 3-1 home victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Since then, 38 others have accomplished the feat - 14 all with the same franchise like the Rocket. The most recent member of both clubs is Dallas' Mike Modano, who got there last season.
VINNY'S KIDS: Vincent Lecavalier already has his name on the Rocket Richard Trophy, now he is lending it and his financial support to the construction of the new All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The NHL's top goal scorer from last season announced a $3 million commitment toward the construction of a new building that will be named the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
``I love kids, and I love the Tampa Bay area. So this is a cause with great meaning to me,'' the Tampa Bay Lightning forward said. ``I've been fortunate to get to know some of these families. It's sad whenever you see kids that are sick.''
Lecavalier had already done plenty to bring some joy to the children. He hosts families of kids with cancer in his VIP Suite at several Lightning home games each season
``Coming to the games is an opportunity to put a smile on their faces,'' he said. ``But this is a chance to leave a legacy for them and so many others like them for years to come.''
The new center will fill half of the seventh floor in the new All Children's Hospital that is under construction. It will take up 26,500 square feet and will include 28 individual patient rooms with accommodations for parents to stay overnight with their children.