Archive for the ‘Wazzupwitchu’ Category

Wazzupwitchu’s Laura shares her Earliest Hockey Memories

July 29, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

Because we’re on the verge of passing out, we’ll keep this brief: Laura is awesome. You can follow her work on Wazzupwitchu and she recently became a member of St. Louis Blues Gametime, the awesome and gigantic Blues blog for Sports Blog Nation. Congrats, Laura aka Hildy aka Hildymac, and thanks for your contributions!

Here goes… I was little, so there might be a few mistakes in there somewhere. But hey, who can remember back to when they were 8, huh?

Growing up in St. Louis, as anyone who is from there can tell you, there is one game in town: Cardinals baseball. Everyone eats, sleeps, and breathes it – the Post Dispatch would give a Cards/Cubs game bigger coverage than if the Mississippi flowed backwards again (look it up – swear it happened). The Cardinals and their ten World Series wins are the pride and joy of St. Louis sports, and while I will be a Cardinals fan until the day that I die, there’s another team in town who I love just as much – and I don’t care that they haven’t won the Cup.

When I was probably 8 or so, and how this started is iffy, I began watching Blues games on TV. KPLR showed (and did so with some until last season) the Blues home games, and I guess flipping around TV I landed on one. When I was that age, well… that was the beginning of the age of Hull. Luckily I started watching during the end of the Hull and Oates team-up, so I got to see that amazingness first hand. I was fortunate to begin my tenure as a bona fide fan of the Blues during the era with CuJo (new CuJo, not shell of his former self CuJo), Shannahan, Janney, Mrs. Janney, MacInnis, and Hull. My strongest two memories of being a little kid and loving hockey are playing floor hockey with the dog – he was probably not a willing participant – by taping a 12 inch and a 6 inch ruler together as a stick and using one of his tennis balls as a puck; and watching the 1993 series sweep of the Blackhawks in the 1st round of the playoffs. I still remember, as clear as day, the front page headline of the Post-Dispatch: “SWEEP” – complete with a picture of a crying (and probably screaming… damn PMS) Eddie Belfour. I actually think that I have a copy of that still somewhere, though I’m not sure where it is.

My grandmother of all people got me started collecting hockey cards, as well as a subscription to Beckett’s hockey price guide, which is a tradition I still continue with my monthly on-line subscription. This collecting of cards made me aware at a really young age of who the best players were, who the up and coming guys were, all their stats, and of course contributed to my unhealthy goaltender crush. I moved down to Georgia in 1993 which completely killed my hockey trading card addiction, as well as prohibited me from finding friends to whack street hockey balls against the side of the house. I only had my Super Nintendo, NHL ’94, a Blues sweatshirt, and some autographs from Hull, Shanny, and CuJo to get me through those dark, horrible, hockeyless days until 1999 when the Thrashers showed up and I got to watch their first game, a 4-1 loss to the Devils, in person. I adore the Thrashers (as much as they’ll let me) but because of where I’m from and the warmth that I associate with these early hockey memories of a childhood past, well, the Blues are my boys and are still my hometown team.

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Laura gives many the goaltending Blues (11th pick)

July 24, 2009

11. Roberto Luongo goes to St. Louis, picked by Laura from St. Louis Game Time and Wazzupwitchu.

Cap Hit: $6,750,000

Laura from Wazzupwitchu on the Atlanta Thrashers’ Draft

June 16, 2009

Laura’s one of the true friends of the blog (umm … although we haven’t met each other … *cough*). She helped out with a couple of the playoff mini-blogs and quite a few features, mostly from the St. Louis Blues perspective.

Laura might be back for the Blues as well, but in the mean time, we asked her to pinch hit for the Atlanta Thrashers (another team she covers on her blog). We’d say that she ended up hitting for the cycle, but we’re too sophisticated for such a lousy pun. Of course.

ANYWAY, Wazzupwitchu is a great source for Blues, Thrashers and NHL related material so make sure to bookmark it and check it every day. Thanks, Laura!

1. Who would you guess will end up being the No. 4 pick for the Thrashers? What are the chances that the Thrashers will keep the pick?

I’m going to be completely original and go with Evander Kane. Wait… what? Everyone has us picking him? Hm. Poo. Honestly, he’s the best choice at what will be that position. He’s either a center or a winger depending on the situation, and the Thrashers could benefit from either a center to go with Kovalchuk (sorry, The Todd) or some secondary scoring on the 2nd line. Kane could work either place.

Current estimates are putting him between one and 3 years off as far as being in the big leagues, which of course is seen by some as a big deal for the Thrash, but there is something called free-agency. And there is someone else called Angelo Esposito who will be trying to make the team *really* hard at prospect camp. He has a label to shed of being a bust.

The Thrashers are about 110% likely to keep that pick. I don’t know of anyone beneath him that we would go for who would be a quick fix for the team. We have depth. We need something a little sooner than 5 years down the line.

2. Is there a chance that Atlanta might try to draft an offensive talent to appease Ilya Kovalchuk enough to stay in Thrasher-land? Could their pick have any effect on Kovalchuk’s decision to stay in (or leave) Atlanta?

Oh, absolutely. Last season we REALLY needed defense, and we got that plus more in Zach Bogosian. Waddell knows what he needs to do. He’s not horribly challenged. He’s not Simple Jack. He’ll go for the strongest offensive power he can not only to help Kovy and make him want to re-sign more, but also for the team. A lot of Kovy’s decision has to do with the progress that the team makes during the season, and a good offensive talent to go along with him would help.

3. Describe some of your favorite Thrashers draft memories. Is there a pick that stands out as the best one they’ve made? What, if any, steals come to mind?

STEFAN. There.

No, wait… oh. Good picks, not picks out of necessity… right. Of course, you have to love the Red Wings like steal that DW made in Tobias Enstrom. 239th overall, and he’s our top-paring franchise defenseman. Fantastic puck handler, good passing sense, booming shot from the point… he’s been reserved playing with Nic Havelid, who he learned a lot of defensive responsibility from. Since the trade of Havelid to Jersey for Anssi Salmela, Enstrom has opened up tremendously. Part of this is being paired with fellow offensive threat Bogosian. The first game together they were unsure… and then never looked back. Our top defensive pairing of Bogisian-Enstrom is a one-two punch of, dare I say it, Don Waddell genius. I guess DW learned something from the Red Wings after all.

Oops … wrong Tobias.

Bryan Little as well was also a good snag. Yeah, he wasn’t buried down in the draft (we took him 12th), but did ANYONE expect him to have the season that he had last year? Absolutely unreal. Also a random pick because people give him grief about being a first rounder is Jim Slater. Atlanta’s Captain Planet emissary is a very solid 4th line center who is focused, gritty, thinks he can fight, and can occasionally chip in a nasty goal. Everyone sees the Crosby goal that he scored from his butt against us in Philips. Slater scored one the exact same way but more impressively later on that same game. YouTube search “Jimmy scores from his butt.” I dare you.

Spencer Machacek was also a good pick, and I’ll never complain about Kulda.

4. On the other end of the fence, describe some of the lowest moments for the Thrashers. Which decisions stick out as some of their worst in the draft? Are there any bad choices (and missed opportunities) that hurt especially bad?

I would consider selling the farm in draft picks to the Blues for Walt a bad move, but I’m a Blues fan and ergo I’m cool with it. Valabik was probably drafted too high, but he’s a project and he has a valid role on this team that he just needs to grow into. Bourret was waaaaay too high. Oshie would have been a better pick (but again, I’m cool with the Thrashers not picking him for an obvious reason), as would have been Tukka Rask but apparently The Don wanted Pavelec which is about 6 of one, half of another.

Honestly, and I’m going to get flamed by some, but I think that we picked our Fragile Finn Kari Lehtonen a little too high. I love him. I do. He’s a great goaltender, or he will be. But he is, in retrospect, too inconsistent and too unable to play a whole season. If you look at the 2002 draft, it was like an all-you-can-eat buffet of talent. Bouwmeester. Semin. Yes, we needed a goalie. But look at who was drafted by Carolina? Mr. Conn Smythe himself, Cam Ward. CAM WARD.

I do thank God every day that DW didn’t draft Hannu “The Human Sieve!” Toivonnen, so yes, Kari’s a better choice. My opinion is totally based on hindsight, and that’s 20/20 (as opposed to my eyesight, which is so bad I can light things on fire with my glasses and the sun). Would I rather have Ward over Kari? Absolutely. Am I glad that we at least had a strong goalie prospect who turned into the occasionally brilliant goalie we have now? Yes.

Believe it or not, I don’t consider Stefan a bad pick. Yeah, he was a bust, but we were the expansion franchise, and we needed someone who could play NOW. He was about the only choice.

Soapbox Time Feel free to add whatever else you’d like about the Thrashers and the NHL draft. How do you feel about the future of the franchise?

The future of the franchise, basically based upon the turnaround at the end of last season, is bright. We’re one of the teams pushing an offensively minded youth movement. John Anderson is a proven winner, and so many of our young guys played for him on the Wolves and know the flow. The youth is working in places like Chicago and St. Louis, and is coming along pretty well with the Kings. I have no doubt in my mind, that with young guys like Bogosian, Little, Enstrom, Salmela, Armstrong, and the like, that we won’t be a contender here shortly. Maybe not next season, but there is no way that you can look at the team on paper and not be impressed. Let’s see what Free Agency (or as I call it Hockey Hanukkah to the trade deadline’s Christmas) has to bring.