Sunday, July 5, 2009

Focus on a Thrasher Special Edition: Garnet Exelby

I really enjoy doing the weekly post called "Focus on a Thrasher." I've learned a lot about my team's players and had the chance to use some pictures. I have a very specific order in which I chose my players. I am super anal and OCD about following the sequence I came up with. I think I might have a contest at the end of the summer to see if anyone can figure out the order(it's kind of easy). I'm breaking the sequence (kind of) for Garnet Exelby this week. It's technically not breaking the sequence as it is a special edition of Focus on a Thrasher. At least that's what I tell myself so I can sleep at night.

This week we lost two Thrashers in a trade. I've already done the Focus on a Thrasher for Collin Stuart. Garnet was scheduled to be in a few weeks, but since he is no longer a Thrasher I thought I would do a special focus on him this week.

While Garnet was known in Atlanta for his tough play, hits and blocked shots, what made him the most fans was his off ice personality. He had tons of fans, but only one #1 fan, Gretchen, or "Gretchelby" as she calls herself. When the news came out that Ex had been traded, my first thought was "What is Gretch gonna do??" I wasn't the only one, Gretchen's Facebook was filled with people asking if she was okay. Gretchen has numerous jerseys, paraphernalia, and her car is covered in Exelby stickers. Exelby even gives her used equipment sometimes. Her latest treasure is a used helmet that he signed to her "to the best fan ever." When I first saw her I thought "that chick is kind of nuts." When I got to know her I found out she is one of the nicest most genuine people you will ever meet.

Another thing that Gretchen is known for is bringing signs to the games for Ex. She brings one to almost every single game, all for Ex.

So I'd like to dedicate this special edition of "Focus on a Thrasher" to my buddy Gretchen. With his personality, it's a given that Ex will have fans in Toronto, but he will NEVER have another Gretchelby.

Garnet Exelby was born on August 16, 1981 in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, but raised in Craik, Saskatchewan.

Ex began his career with the WHL's Saskatoon Blades in the 1998-99 Season.

In the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Ex was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 8th round (217th overall).

After being drafted by the Thrashers in 1999, Exelby continued playing for the Saskatoon Blades for another 2 1/2 seasons.

Ex split the 2000-01 season. He played 43 games for the Saskatoon Blades and finished up the season by playing 22 games with the Regina Pats.

The 2001-02 season saw Exelby make the move to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. In his rookie season with Chicago Exelby scored 7 points and racked up an astounding 257 penalty minutes in 75 games. Ex was a top four defenseman for the Wolves and went on to help his team win the Calder Cup.

Ex spent most of the 2002-03 season with the Chicago Wolves but did get his first taste of NHL action when he was called up to the Atlanta Thrashers. Ex made his NHL debut on March 11 against the New Jersey Devils.

In the 15 games that Exelby played with the Thrashers during the 2002-03 season, he scored two assists, tallying his first NHL point against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

When the 2003-04 season began, the Thrashers were ready for Ex to have a spot on their roster and he spent his first full season in the NHL. Ex scored his first NHL goal on February 27, 2004. He tallied 10 points in 71 games and ranked second on the team with 134 penalty minutes. He had 20 minute of ice time on 36 occasions. Ex also received another honor that season. He became the inaugural recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Award. This award is presented annually to the team’s unsung hero who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed. The award was created in 2004 to commemorate Thrashers forward, Dan Snyder, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident in September 2003.

For the 2005-06 season Ex tied his career high with nine assists and 10 points in 75 games. He scored his second NHL goal against the Washington Capitals on April 17. Ex was third among the team's defensemen with 75 penalty minutes and he led the Thrashers with 125 hits. Ex played his 100th career game against Pittsburgh.

Ex describes himself as " a physical defenseman who likes to throw the body around. And get in a couple of scraps here and there, just play a simple game, moving the puck out of my own end and stay on the plus side of things. In the 2006-07, Ex got to play his game. This season Ex played in 58 games registering a career-high 10 points (2 goals and 8 assists) along with 58 penalty minutes. Both goals he scored this season were in an 8 game span. The goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 13 was his first shorthanded goal. He blocked a season record of 8 shots in one game against the New York Rangers. This is also the season that he had his famous bout with mono. There is a rumor that this is the reason Ex still marks his water bottles on the bench with his #2. This was a good season for the Thrashers as they won the division and went on to make their first post season appearance. Ex played in all four games against the New York Rangers.

In the 2007-08 season, Ex recorded 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists) in 79 games. He led the Thrashers with 176 hits and ranked second on the team with 137 blocked shots.

For the 2008-09 season Ex played in 59 games, tallied 7 points and racked up and 120 penalty minutes. Garnet also shared the Gilner-Reeves Community Service Award with Eric Boulton this season.

So there is the numbers on Ex. But, as previously mentioned, Ex's fans love him for his off-ice antics and personality as well so let's look at some of that.

Ever wonder what Ex and other players do on those long road trips out west? They try and kill each other of course. Well they try and kill each other in online games such as SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo, a tactical warfare game. Bryan Little, Eric Perrin, Colin Stuart and Boris Valabik teaam up against Colby Armstrong, Garnet Exelby, Rich Peverley and Todd White.

Ex is a good Canadian boy and there for drives a ginormous truck. At practice you can see that most of the Canadian guys have some huge truck or SUV while the Europeans have luxury sedans or sports cars. BTW Ex, Cory Feldman called and he wants his hat back.

Another thing Ex loves....HATS! Ex has his own sense of fashion and loves to flaunt it.

More stylin' head gear from Ex at Casino Night.

Some extra Ex pics for Gretch

Ex loves to hit. Let's take a look at a few hits.
Keep your head up, Mats!

Get thee behind me, Satan!

The third time is a charm!

We will miss Ex for his tough play and bone crunching hits on the ice. What I will miss most though is his sense of humor, generosity in the community and never being afraid to make a joke at his own expense. Good luck with the leafs, Ex!


Anonymous July 6, 2009 at 7:16 AM  

I'm going to miss Exelby so very much, I teared up a little reading this post.

Sunshine36616 July 6, 2009 at 9:12 AM  

I know! I think about all his funny videos. Remember the one he did for New Year's where he had the funny mask on and kept blowing the little horn. Best ever was his summer vacation one. I've never known the Thrashers without him :(

Candace July 6, 2009 at 12:24 PM  

What a fun and photogenic young man :-D

More like what a NUT :-)

I wish I'd have had the chance to see him live.

Wonderful post; learned a lot about Ex. Hey, I have a blank Leafs jersey...I could always personalize it for him! :-P

gretchelby July 6, 2009 at 6:28 PM  

OMG...I was just feeling sad again...It comes in waves:, because a lot things people have written have meant to be funny and light, but I guess I am not ready for jokes! I had just lost faith, until your post. I have never truly known the Thrashers or hockey without X either, and a part of me is afraid I won't like it in the same way! I am a little nuts but not in a harmful way...:) and I always wanted him to know I supported him. I did it for my enjoyment too, but when he told me that he always looks for my signs I "signed" on! I successfully had a new sign for him every home game for the last almost three years. But I absolutely love everything about this player. He's tough and works hard. He does appear to be in it for the love of the game. He lifts up other players on and off the ice. And even though it's ridiculous to believe that a fan and a player could ever be friends, which we are NOT, he always made you feel like you were.:) I feel he was the heart of Blueland. THANK much for this fabulous tribute to this wonderful human being and amazing player....and I guess to me too. I loved making signs for was NEVER a chore. I can't wait until the Leafs hit the South so I can make some more. I'll be licking my wounds for awhile, but Toronto is in treat!

gretchelby July 6, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

oops in FOR a treat!!!!!

gretchelby July 6, 2009 at 7:09 PM  

Forgot to thank you for the picks...I love the one of hiom stretching...I think his inside thigh in lunge position! That is so him...I stole it. Great don't give yourself enough credit! I think you are great too. Moose is so lucky to have your signs at the games! God Bless you! Thanks for the "Pick me up!"

Sunshine36616 July 6, 2009 at 9:32 PM  

Yay! I'm glad you liked it, Gretch. You are the good kind of nuts...the me kind of nuts :p
That is so cool he said that about your signs. I would have been on a high for DAYS!

mapleleafsforever December 19, 2009 at 7:05 PM  

She became a Leafs fan ! :)


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