Feb 23, 2011, 5:15 PM EDT
The job Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley has done this year in turning around the team that dealt away Ilya Kovalchuk last year has been very apparent. After all, Atlanta was given up for dead before the season began and after Dudley picked up the likes of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien from Chicago in the off-season it was curious to see where they’d end up.
As it turns out new coach Craig Ramsay was able to get things together quickly and the Thrashers are a threat to make the playoffs this year after making them just once in franchise history. With that sort of immediate turnaround thanks in part to Dudley’s wheeling and dealing, it’s only fair that the Thrashers rewarded him with a four-year contract extension.
Dudley was the guy who helped build both Tampa Bay and Chicago’s Stanley Cup winning teams and for him to get things in Atlanta turned around as fast as he has is a huge sign that he knows what he’s doing. The key for Atlanta now is to have a bit of patience. Dudley is tying up loose ends now in getting Byfuglien and Ladd signed to contract extensions with Byfuglien already getting his locked up while the team continues to work on getting Ladd’s finished.
Whether the team makes the playoffs this year or not, the foundation is set with those two players, goalie Ondrej Pavelec and youngsters Evander Kane and Alexander Burmistrov. Building on that will be huge for Atlanta provided they can put all the insanity of the ownership being a mess aside and ignore talk of potential relocation aside. Dudley’s job is made tougher because of all that but if there’s a guy that can adjust to it, it’s him.
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