Coach John Anderson Fired by Atlanta Thrashers: What Does Team's Future Hold?
The Canadian Press broke a story confirming the Atlanta Thrashers have fired coach John Anderson and promoted GM Don Waddell to President of the club.
Assistant coaches Randy Cunneyworth, Todd Nelson, and Steve Weeks were also released.
Consistent with Waddell’s promotion, Thrasher co-owner Bruce Levenson also promoted associate GM Rick Dudley to the general manager position.
The Thrashers finished the season in the 10th position, barely missing a playoff berth with a 35-34-13 league record.
There is some irony in the fact that the moves come right after unkind remarks about Thrashers management by both former team captain Ilya Kovalchuk and veteran Slava Kozlov.
After the Kovalchuk trade, the Thrashers did a good job of pasting the team back together for a playoff drive.
With the additions of Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Clarke MacArthur, and Evgeny Artyukhin, the Thrashers were able to make a surprise run, even besting the Philadelphia Flyers in a tough back-to-back series.
Dudley begins his tenure as GM with several advantages. He has served as assistant GM for a considerable amount of time. He has travelled extensively scouting teams and is keenly aware of the available talent and the talents availability. Dudley also is in tune with Waddell on the needs of the team to reach playoff contention.
With the eighth position in the 2010 NHL Amateur Draft and players like former first pick Patrice Cormier coming off a year-long suspension, the Thrashers do have some talent to work with.
One of Dudley’s priorities will be to sign some of the club's unrestricted free agents.
Max Afinogenov, Pavel Kubina, Bryan Little, MacArthur, Colby Armstrong, Eric Boulton, Artyukhin, and several others will all either be restricted or unrestricted free agents.
The second priority will be to unravel the goaltending problem. Johan Hedberg cannot stand up to the pressure of the No. 1 spot anymore, and Ondrej Pavelec has proven inconsistent.
Waddell and Dudley and their new coach will have very little time to make key decisions, which will ultimately affect the Thrashers' future next season and beyond.
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