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Waddell Waddling out of Atlanta?

May 10, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

The Atlanta Thrashers, who have never won a playoff game since entering the league in 1999, appear to be finally ready to hold the only GM they’ve ever had accountable.

The word on the street is that the team has reversed its long standing stance of patience and has asked Don Waddell to step down as general manager.

Waddell is currently helping to oversee the American team at the World Hockey Championships, and will apparently postpone any decision until after the tournament.

It really is high time for a change in Atlanta, considering the lack of success the team has seen in this, the second attempt to make the NHL work in this city.

The Thrashers finally made the playoffs for the first time last year, but were quickly dismissed by the Rangers.

This season, they crashed and burned, dropping to 28th overall. After an ugly 0-6 start, Waddell canned coach Bob Hartley and took over behind the bench himself. Atlanta rebounded, but faded badly down the stretch, winning just five of its final 22 games.

Look at the carnage:

  • Last season, the club traded for fading veteran Alexei Zhitnik. The price? Young, promising defenceman Braydon Coburn, who is currently helping to anchor the Flyers’ defence corps in their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Thrashers are stuck with Zhitnik for another $3.5 million next year – a major albatross since he sat in the press box most nights down the stretch.
  • The team was forced to deal star Marian Hossa after he refused to sign an extension. Hossa believed the team wasn’t headed in the right direction. Hard to fault him for that assessment, is it?
  • Many believe that the only star left on the team – Ilya Kovalchuk – is headed in the same direction. He can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2009-10 season, and Atlanta may be forced to deal him too, barring a major turnaround.

Key to a Thrasher recovery is this offseason, specifically the upcoming draft, one of the strongest in years. Atlanta holds the third overall pick, but with the draft just six weeks away, getting this Waddell situation resolved and installing a new head honcho as soon as possible is vital.

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