Making noise (of a different sort)

Stewart Cink is a huge hockey fan. There can’t be many bigger Atlanta Thrashers fans. He and his family have had season tickets from Day 1, and the team congratulated him on its Web site last year when he won the British Open.

(Cink has two playoff victories on tour, and unfortunately, that’s two more than the Thrashers have had in a decade in the NHL.)

Because I’m slightly out of my mind, when word came down yesterday afternoon that the Thrashers had made a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, my first thought was, “darn it! Stewart Cink was 15 feet away from me an hour ago!”

So I waited for him today with a couple of other reporters. One asked the golf question I wondered about. When they were done, I pulled the trigger (to at least one cohort’s disbelief). Cink knew they were getting Dustin Byfuglien, one of the heroes of the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff run to a Stanley Cup championship. We went over the other principals.

“I like it,” Cink said. “I think the Thrashers have been a team that’s been reluctant to make noise in trades, or in the free-agent market. I know the Blackhawks were dumping salary: I don’t care.

“There’s a new GM, a new coach, a whole new hierarchy of leadership,” he added. “This is something that can light a fire under the fan base.”

Cink finished his round at even par, three birdies balancing three bogeys. He wasn’t particularly happy — this is the course where he won in 1997 and 2008 — but he knows a good day tomorrow can get him back into the mix.

“You don’t have to shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under-par to keep pace,” Cink said. “No one shot 9-under today. The golf course has some kind of defense. It’s almost imperceptible when you play.”

(By the way, with about 25 golfers left on the course, the skies just opened up here.)

Michael Fornabaio