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Time to Think

by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets

Defensemen aren't always encouraged to think.

There's too much happening too quickly too closely to the net.

That doesn't mean that defensemen aren't thoughtful or capable of pensive moments.

Zach Bogosian is both and the Massena, N.Y., native, has a lot to think about. A lot certainly for a 20-year-old, something fans tend to forget.

Bogosian lets a shot rip from the point.

Bogosian showed that while he’s a world-class defenseman — in only three seasons, he ranks third all-time for goals scored by a Thrashers defenseman (24) — he’s still also a 20-year-old kid when asked about his off-season plans.

"Me being 20 down here in Atlanta alone, a lot of 20 year-olds get to spend a lot of time with their family at home," he said. "I don't get to do that during the year, but I'm looking forward to it."

"Just go home. Get away for a little bit,” he added when speaking about his offseason plans. “It's a long season. 82 games is a lot. It would be great to play in the playoffs, obviously, but that's out of the picture. You look forward to getting home and relaxing a little bit and spend time with family and friends.”

The 2010-11 season, Bogosian’s third since being selected third overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, was a frustrating one.

He hurt his left shoulder and missed two weeks, only one week into the season. The Thrashers did fine, going 3-2-1 over that stretch, but “Bogo” lost time valuable time in trying to pick up Craig Ramsay's new system.

That two-week stint was still front and center in his thinking when assessing the entire season, which he described as "Up and down."

"Getting hurt three games into the season probably wasn't the best thing for me but I thought I had a real good second half," said Bogosian, who was a rock once he returned, finishing third on the team in time on ice, averaging 22:20 per game while playing more than two minutes per game on the penalty kill and finishing fourth on the team in hits with 111. "[Ramsay's system] was obviously a little bit different.

Bogosian delivers one of his signature bone-crunching hits.

“I didn't know what to expect coming into the year," he added. "There were a lot of new faces, players and coaches and management, so it did take a little while to get used to but it's definitely something that down the stretch we probably should have won more games than we accounted for. But at least everyone now knows what to expect coming in next year."

Food for thought for Bogosian and the rest of the team will be how the Thrashers fared in February, where the team won twice in 11 games, with eight of the losses coming by two or fewer goals.

The ups and downs saw Bogosian score a career-low 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists), with a career-worst minus-27, and led to his becoming a target of criticism for the first time in his pro career — something he said he won’t dwell on but also won’t forget. But he also shrugged the on-ice difficulties enough to show that his heart was still very much in Atlanta.

Bogosian shared the Gilner-Reeves Community Service Award with center Jim Slater, by doing things like contributing $15,000 to the Atlanta Thrashers Player Ticket Program, which supplies tickets to home games for area charitable groups, and taking part in Random Act of Kindness, a visit to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and participating in the team's Home for the Holidays Party for some 100 kids at Philips Arena.

The nice guy off the ice is also the passionate competitor on it and it goes without saying that Bogosian isn’t going to accept another season like ’10-11.

While he chose to by-pass the World Championships, a decision he hadn't made in the past and may not make in the future, his focus is completely on next season in Atlanta.

"It's an honor to be asked, but right now I'm just looking forward to going into the summer and getting training going," he said. "I go into every summer with the approach to be in the best shape I can possibly be in. It's worked out for me the last couple of seasons. Coming into camp I felt good. I was in good shape. So I probably won't change too many things."

I think there are a lot of good young guys. A lot of young guys that played a big part in the team this year. - Zach Bogosian

Change isn't necessarily something Bogosian wants. He's admitted that he is keeping arm's-length from his contractual situation this summer — he's a restricted free agent but is letting his agent handle the details.

He does feel close to a Thrashers’ team that he feels has a high ceiling, and he thinks they could capitalize on some of that tremendous potential as soon as next season.

"I think there are a lot of good young guys. A lot of young guys that played a big part in the team this year," he said. "It was fun when we were winning those games, but obviously, we've got to shape up and start winning those games that we were losing by a goal or getting into overtime.

"I guess it will be interesting to see what happens [during the summer],” he added. "I'm just going home and getting ready to be the best player I can be next year."


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