Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ramsay waiting on pins and needles as fate being decided

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CRAIG RAMSAY has spent a lifetime in hockey. But nothing from all those experiences on the ice and behind the bench during a 40-year association with the NHL could possibly help prepare him for what he is going to live through this weekend.

The 60-year-old head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-11, Ramsay spoke with new Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff Thursday night about his future with the organization and the fate of associate coach John Torchetti, assistant coach Mike Stothers and video coach Tony Borgford.

And the answer?

"They asked for the weekend and then said they'd call," Ramsay said Friday afternoon in a telephone interview. "We're just waiting on them now. It's very difficult. It's not a great thing to be sitting around wondering what's going on. But that's where we are and there's not much I can do about that."

The Thrashers were 34-36-12 under Ramsay, who became the fifth head coach in the organization's history a year ago this month. Atlanta busted out of the gate last season, but struggled in the second half, finished 12th in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs. That said, a handful of players have spoken out in support of Ramsay -- who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant head coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning and has also had head coaching gigs with Buffalo and Philadelphia -- including captain Andrew Ladd during his pit stop in Winnipeg this week.

Small consolation, it would seem, for Ramsay while he awaits his fate.

"The players, they're good people and I think they have a chance to be a pretty good team," said Ramsay. "That's nice to hear. But knowing that and $2.41 gets you a large Starbucks coffee."

Asked what his gut was telling him about his future, Ramsay added: "They took my stomach out in '93 and I lost all my gut feelings."

(True story: Ramsay suffered a ruptured bleeding ulcer in 1993 and had his stomach removed in two emergency operations).

Ramsay, in an earlier interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, does seem resigned to not making the move north to Winnipeg, saying, "I didn't think it would end like this. I can't look into the future. I saw what I thought was a good opportunity to work with someone I had known for years (in former GM Rick Dudley)... I'm sorry we didn't get there."

Cheveldayoff and assistant GM/director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger plan to spend the weekend making a number of staff-related decisions, including the future of a Thrashers' scouting department which has done much of the heavy lifting in advance of the NHL entry draft later this month.

On Monday Heisinger flew to Atlanta and told some members of the Thrashers' support staff that they would not be involved in the new operation. Those decisions apparently included the equipment managers, trainers and the strength and conditioning coach.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2011 C1

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