Thrashers' Fraser should be first coaching casualty

The Atlanta Thrashers’ Curt Fraser is poised to become the first coach to be fired this year.

They’re already writing the obits in Atlanta, where the Thrashers are 0-6-0-1 and where general manager Don Waddell said he didn’t “want to be 2-8” after the first 10 games.

The betting is that Fraser, in the final year of his three-year contract, will be fired sometime between Nov. 2, when the Thrashers play game No. 11 against the Florida Panthers, and Nov. 7, when they play No. 12 in Chicago against the Blackhawks. A leading contender for the job will be former Washington coach Ron Wilson. The word from Atlanta is that Ted Nolan, another coach still looking for a job, won’t be considered.

14 Responses to Thrashers' Fraser should be first coaching casualty

  1. mikster says:

    I watched this team 4 times already and they need to change something.

    Make a trade, sign Dafoe, fire Fraser…..just something.

    Teams like Nashville, Wild, and B’Jacks are way ahead of the Thrashers….

  2. Leaf_Expert says:

    They should give Ted Nolan a chance….

  3. SabresFanB says:

    Damn right they should give Ted Nolan a chance

  4. YingYan says:

    And on another note: Kerry Fraser should be grounded by Andy Van Hell-Lemon for being such a dork. That jerk is as lame as they come and he should be ‘standardised’ ’cause i’m tired of his innept ‘work’! Andy you must ‘crackdown’ his thick skull! ;p

  5. MantaRay says:

    After all the smart moves Waddell did in the off season I expect the Thrasher to be much better. Perhaps Ted Nolan is the right move, perhaps not, Hnilika is NOT Hasek. But they need to shake up something.

    I think Atlanta should probably invest in Dafoe and pick up a nice stay at home d-man. Throw a second round pick and future considerations for McLaren.

  6. MossRocks says:

    If they picked Nolan they would be getting somewhere. But they really need to axe Waddell first. He is a moron. Waddell should have kept Brunette, Staios and probably Audette too. He had to make deals this offseason for Kozlov and MacEachern to acquire exactly the kind of guys he could have kept in the first place. Not even making an offer to former captain Staios was a huge mistake.

    He is a bad GM who has only benefitted from some good drafting by his scouting staff. He even screwed that up since he made the power play to get Lehtonen rather than pick a defenseman they desperately need, like Bouwmeester or Pitkanen.

  7. MossRocks says:

    Smart moves? Merely adequate ones to cover previous bad mistakes.

  8. cwhockey says:

    Something I think should be noted here. I kept reading everywhere that Atlanta was poised for a breakout season, and this was well in advance of training camp. But the organization has kept to the credo they had when the franchise started; it would take five years to get competitive. Their moves since entering the league have been consistent with that.

    Most people however buy into the hype. Two great young kids and a couple of free agents and now Atlanta is supposed to be contending for a playoff spot. I must be missing something. Oh that’s right, I haven’t been brainwashed.

    I am by far the biggest Thrashers supporter on this site. I also know more about the organization that anyone here (that’s not an arrogant statement, I’ve watched all their moves from day one). I hoped they could content this year, but I’ve said here time and again that it most likely wouldn’t happen this year.

    Do I think Fraser should get fired? My head says yes, my heart no. I like the attitude he can bring to a team, but this might not be the right place for him. And please don’t even think about bringing up bad moves the organization has made. Yes, they made a few, but not too many. Certainly not as many as most other teams (I could name names but why point fingers, any intelligent hockey fan knows the teams that have made disasterous moves in the last few years).

    Seems to me most people bought into Thrashers hype hook, line and sinker. They fed people the info and they bought it (pretty good marketing actually). Fact is that none of us really knows what is going on within those organizations. We basically speculate on very asymetteric information, which means our opinions aren’t worth shit. I know mine isn’t.

    But the Thrashers do need a change and will get one. Even with excellent and inspired coaching, the thought of contending is left until at the very least next year. Don’t know if that change will be a new coach or a trade or Waddell being fired. I won’t speculate. At the least, Waddell should stay. If you actually believe that he is doing a piss poor job, I would suggest keeping that opinion to yourself until you learn what it actually takes to be a GM. For the position he came into, he’s done a decent job. Not great, but Atlanta could have had much worse (and again I won’t point fingers to other GMs who have been horrific over the last few years).

    I know how confrontational and skeptical most of you are so you probably won’t believe me. But at least remember some of what I’ve said. I know not all of this is the truth now or will be in the future (I haven’t receieved that crystal ball in the mail yet). But it’s honest, and to me very painful. I waited 20 years to get a team that I could finally call my own and now I have to sit through probably a decade of bad or below-average play. It hurts to say that it will take the Thrashers a while to contend, but at least that’s an honest assesment of where they are and not a hype-driven pipe dream that too many people often fall for.

  9. Overtime says:

    I agree that Fraser needs to be replaced. I posted an article at this site about a year ago saying that Fraser should be fired due to the lack of defense way back then. Yes, you can coach defense. Fraser doesn’t know how to.

    A big name that has popped up recently is Bob Gainey. He says he’s ready to return to the NHL as a head coach. He feels refreshed from his time off. The speculation right now is that Gainey will go to Toronto to work with former teammate Ken Dryden. That would not bode well for Pat Quinn. The point is that Bob Gainey is hereby available.

  10. MossRocks says:

    I never bought the hype last year and this offseason and I said they would stink again because they aren’t any better.

    I will bring up all of the bad deals and decisions that Waddell has made to my heart’s content because I live in Atlanta and I watch this team too. You can go ahead and take a shot at my team’s GM because he’s damn near bulletproof. Kevin Lowe’s also paying $900K for 20min of solid defensive hockey per game from Steve Staios. The former captain and fan favorite in Atlanta has excelled in Edmonton and makes Waddell look bad everytime he steps on the ice. Waddell didn’t even make him an offer!!??!?! That’s appalling work.

    Waddell’s strategy makes no sense. First he will have a mix of veterans and young players. (no choice there – it’s what you get in the expansion draft) Then he decides to go young and loses strong leaders like Bucky and Ferraro and experienced scorers like Audette and Brunette. Need I mention Slegr and Staios one more time? These were fine moves if you are going to go young, but then he goes and picks up Kozlov and MacEachern this offseason and switches gears again. I ask you: why give up the solid vets in the first place?

    Everybody on this site highly over-rated the goaltending tandem of Hnilicka and Nurminen, but it doesn’t matter because they don’t have any ‘D’ in front of them anyway.

    Fraser’s only real problem is personnel and a lack of a plan from management. If Waddell could make up his mind and put a mix of young players and vets on the ice then Fraser could be evaluated. Waddell has no vision for this team and is lucky that Heatley and Kovalchuk have developed so quickly. They could very easily have been almost ruined like Stefan.

    Minnesota is better, Columbus is better and Nashville has regressed to being in the same predicament as the Thrashers, thanks to Poile’s contraction of the ‘Waddell Syndrome.’

    This year’s draft was another example of Waddell’s cluelessness. He drafts a goalie 2nd overall (OK, he needs a goalie prospect, he could have kept his 2nd rounder and got Deslauriers though. By the way, my guy, Lowe got him) and neglects choosing future franchise d-men like Bouwmeester and Pitkanen. He even took a shot at Bouwmeester, saying he wasn’t the kind of player they would take. Well, Don, you’re right. Bouwmeester is a kid who has excelled and won everywhere he has played, clearly not the type of player that fits your scheme.

    Fraser deserves to finish the year until Atlanta’s new GM picks the right guy for the job. The right guy’s name is Ted Nolan.

  11. cwhockey says:

    If I’m correct, I stated that the team has made some bad moves. Brunette and Staios were bad decisions; Audette and Slegr were not playing up to par and would have garnered too much money. Might have worked for them with better players around them but who can say.

    Florida wouldn’t have traded their first pick if Atlanta said they wanted him. But since they had already conceeded that he was going to Florida, it was smart to get a pick or two for letting him go by. And if Atlanta re-neged on that, forget every future trade.

    GMs make mistakes, even the great ones do. Waddell certainly isn’t among those great ones, but he has built a great system of prospects for Atlanta. I’ve looked at all the players in the systems for the recent expansion teams and have tried to follow them for the last year or so. Of the recent expansion teams, Atlanta has by far the best depth. That doesn’t translate to wins now, but it will translate into future consistency. I just hope the fans in Atlanta can tolerate a few more losing seasons. When the team eventually starts to win, the fans will come out. Everyone seems to love a winner; moreso for those of us who have supported the team from day one.

    I was just trying to suggest that Waddell is doing at least a decent job. Now, if there is an above-average or great GM candidate available, of course we should try to get him in Atlanta. I’m just not one to condem a man who has had to build a team from the ground up just because he isn’t winning now. Some teams like the Sharks have done it better, that’s fine. I’m just gonna have some more patience as long as the players develop and have a winning attitude.

  12. garry1221 says:

    the coach can only do so much, fraser’s had little to work w/ in atlanta, and he’s done the best he could with it, waddell is the man behind the demise, yes he’s given up on vets, but what team hasn’t tried getting younger, granted it’s not the same as starting young, such as the preds did, it’s true the goalie isn’t fully to blame, but i was never impressed w/ hnilicka as a goalie, let alone starter….. im surprised the thrashers haven’t gone after dafoe

    the defense isn’t the greatest, but bringing in smelik is a start to building up the defense… i felt bad when they signed krupp cause i knew dogsleddin season was right around the corner,

    kozzie and mceachern r two vetran faces that can help the offense, along w/ heatley and kovalchuk r a great mix of talent youth and vet… don’t knock the coach for something he has no control of, besides, i read somewhere that waddell said he wouldn’t fire fraser, that he was doing as good a job as he could or something along those lines

  13. MossRocks says:

    I agree with your assessment of Waddell’s mistakes for the most part. The Brunette and Staios moves were bad no matter how you look at it. Audette was on fire when he was dealt though – I think it was a career year. He was probably too expensive though and I agree the Slegr situation looked similar at the time, but they would do well to have him right now. The price might have been high for Audette and Slegr, but they are paying MacEachern $3.3mill, Smehlik $2.8mill and Kozlov $2.4mill. That is a lot of cash to spend trying to cover up your mistakes.

    I think my real point is that GM’s for small-market teams and expansion teams have a narrow margin of error. They are the most important position in those organizations – more important than the coach, scouts or anyone else except the team’s starting lineup. With that margin for error, every mistake is magnified.

    It’s is only my opinion of course, but I think that Waddell has made enough mistakes to get canned. You are right that building a franchise from the ground up is hard, but MacLean and Risebrough have followed a strict plan to the T. I can’t say that Waddell has any kind of plan at all, considering he gave up on better vets in the past few years only to throw a lot of cash at inferior ones this offseason. The lack of vision, or any plan whatsoever, is far worse than his mistakes.

    Atlanta is the worst sports town I have ever seen, man. Ironically, even Calgary’s fair weather fans are more trustworthy. I don’t know if a winner will fly there either. It doesn’t really matter what the Braves or Hawks do, does it?

    Lastly, it is easy to build up prospects when you get to draft that low every year. They still don’t have any checking or power forward prospects. They still don’t have any real defensemen on the way up either. (Don’t even say Safronov – he’s a bust) They should have drafted Bouwmeester or Pitkanen and then taken Deslauriers with their second round pick. (The hell with Kozlov, he is a waste of bench space) Then they would have a blue chip goalie AND a blue chip d-man. Hindsight’s 20/20 but they needed a d-man prospect (especially with Bouwmeester’s pedigree) more than a goalie. Nurminen and Hnilicka could hold the fort for 2-3 years until another one is available.

    Columbus has Nash, Klesla and Leclaire as core prospects along with a better supporting cast. Minnesota has Gaborik, Schultz, Bouchard, and Koivu as core prospects, excellent goaltending and a better supporting cast than Columbus. Both of these teams have surpassed the Thrashers even though they spotted them a year. I don’t think MacLean and Risebrough are that great but they have a plan and better teams.

  14. MossRocks says:

    Smehlik a good start? He has the foot speed of an oak tree and costs $2.8million. Waddell could have spent his money a lot more wisely.

    You are right about assessing blame: Waddell is a bum and Fraser is left trying to pick up the pieces.

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