Sunday, March 9, 2008

Temperature check on Thrashers ECHL prospects

There are currently six prospects owned by the Thrashers assigned to the Gwinnett Gladiators. That's got to at least tie the record for most at once. The group consists of one goaltender, one defenseman, and four forwards.

Chad Painchaud was reassigned to the Gladiators this week. He had been down for a weekend early in the season, the rest of the time playing pretty sparingly in Chicago. Well, he had a hat trick tonight. "That's what we knew was inside him," coach Jeff Pyle said. "We saw the talent last year, and we're seeing the work ethic now. He's playing simpler, doing the things he needs to do." Pyle said he thought it was the first time he had seen Painchaud play two games back to back of good hockey. The two met when Painchaud got here, and Jeff told him basically "this is it, me or you," meaning your way or my way. Painchaud chose to work hard, which goes hand in hand with the fact that he asked to be assigned to Gwinnett this time due to lack of playing time in Chicago. Pyle said he thought that showed character. Painchaud called his agent to set the ball in motion.

During the celebration of Painchaud's hat trick, something caught my eye -- Dan Turple wasn't participating. He was backing up Craig Kowalski again tonight, and was sulking to the point of not even coming forward to tap the glove of the scorer. Turps and Painer are friends and even lived together last year.

This photo begins to show his mental state.

Turple had been coming out onto the ice before games this year to shoot the puck around. He didn't come out today. He used to wear a white Gladiators hat on the bench. Now he's wearing his own non-team hat. He's not opening the bench door for anyone. And at the end of the second period, he bailed for the locker room early, with about 20 seconds to go.

I think the one below encapsulates it best. The spotlight is still on from the goal, and instead of leaning forward for taps on the glove, Turps is leaning back into the corner. On Milo's goal, he had been leaning forward on the boards watching when the goal was scored, but leaned back to avoid the celebration. He joined in the celebration only when defensemen Grimaldi and Mason scored at the end.

I asked Jeff Pyle what all was up with Turple. He said Turps had come into his office to complain about not playing -- saying he had played only four of the last 19. Jeff reminded him that months ago he told the two goalies that whoever was winning they would run with it. Jeff said he thinks Turps is bitter because the team plays better in front of K-Wal. Turps has had some bad games at home and the fans get on him (heckling him). Jeff plays him on the road to take the pressure off. "I'm glad he's not happy," Pyle said. If he wasn't bothered by it, that's worse. Jeff did correct Turps on the 4 out of 19 bit, saying he was called up to Grand Rapids part of the time. But, he said, in the end, when choosing who to play, the stats speak for themselves. The team needs to win.

Turple will play on Tuesday.

Next we have Tomas Pospisil. Pyle said he's going through the same thing with Pospisil as he did with Painchaud -- work ethic and doing the little things.

Captain Mike Vigilante, hanging out in the press box because he's still got concussion symptoms, said that with the additions of Painchaud and Guillaume Desbiens, it seems like a whole new team. Here's Desbiens below. He was somewhat out of shape when he arrived due to not seeing much game action in Chicago. I was reminded at warm-ups how much Schell and Desbiens enjoy playing together. And it's a pairing that works. Because of this, I think you'll see Desbiens on that top line with him the rest of the way.

Chad Denny's name came up in our discussion tonight when Jeff joked that being up 8-2, he "put the riff-raff out on the power play." And they got scored on. "Two Chads had the puck on their stick and turned it over," referring to Denny and Painchaud. But Pyle did also say that Denny had been playing better lately. (He's still getting only sporadic PP time though.)

Lastly, Myles Stoesz. The only guy we didn't talk about tonight. Here he is behind Turps at warm-ups. He took a slashing call early in the game which he seemed to feel bad about. The referee was very inconsistent though. Stoesz was part of the "riff-raff" out on the power play at the end.

Edit to add: See follow-up post as well.


toph2o said...

Turple also appeared at the Loafing Leprechaun Saturday night not in a suit like everyone else, but in his warm-ups and flip flops. Everyone found that odd, but given the pictures above to add context, not surprising.

Johnny Sideburns said...

Turple's probably right to feel at least a little persecuted this year. The Gladiators didn't even airbrush him into their 2007/08 team photo (he was still in Chicago at the time it was taken). The irony of this this of course is that Gladiators' season ticket holders had their pictures taken in front of a green screen so that they could be photoshopped into a team portrait photo given as a keepsake this I have a picture of myself and my daughter on the ice with the Gladiators, but in that photo we have an EBUG instead of the Thrahsers prospect entering his second season with the team.

And he didn't get to start a single game during the "pink in the rink" women's cancer awareness weekend, either...which probably hit him closer to home than most on the team.

And every night he shows up and hears that Gwinnett is "the ECHL affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers", so he's got to be wondering why he as a Thrashers prospect, is stitting so much. I know Gladiators fans (and some Thrashers fans) get disappointed when our players sit in Chicago when they skate their unaffiliated players...Coach Pyle seems to be doing the same thing with Turps, call-ups to Grand Rapids notwtihstanding.

Try to cut the guy a little slack. He's 23, he's frustrated that he's not moving up within the organization, and he's not getting the playing time he thinks he needs to improve his game. I don't agree with his conduct either, but calling him out in front of the blogosphere certainly doesn't help the situation any.

Holly Gunning said...

I disagree. This was and is entirely newsworthy. If it were the NHL, there would be video footage replayed and talk radio would be all over it. A goalie's game is largely mental, so when one puts on a display like that, it's significant.

He's a professional, and should be held to the same standards as other pro players. No kid gloves. I first met him in July of 2004, long before he was ever with the Gladiators. We've had a working relationship for almost four years now. When someone does that kind of behavior, they are trying to make a statement. I just recorded it.

If this all comes to a head and he changes teams, you would have wondered what caused it. Well, now you know ahead of time.