Atlanta Thrashers Fire Head Coach John Anderson, Appoint Don Waddell As Team President

The Atlanta Thrashers did some extensive cleaning on Wednesday, firing head coach John Anderson and selecting Rick Dudley as the new general manager to replace Don Waddell, who will now be team president. The entire coaching staff leaves along with Anderson. 

Tim from SBN's Thrashers blog, Bird Watchers Anonymous, is surprised by that.

But not only is John Anderson out, the entire coaching staff is gone: Steve Weeks, Todd Nelson, Randy Cunneyworth.

I'm somewhat shocked by this, as I considered Cunney to be a contender for the next coaching gig here. That may still be the case, but for the moment, it looks like everybody is out.

Atlanta started the season with promise, but fell into old -- re: losing -- habits again. A four-win-in-15-game December was the largest cause of their demise, and that was with Ilya Kovalchuk. Shortly after narrowly missing the postseason, veteran Vyacheslav Kozlov criticized Anderson's coaching style.

"To me, this was the best team in 11 years of the organization," Kozlov said on Sunday. "This franchise had the best players. Right now, they can not blame [Ilya] Kovalchuk or [Slava] Kozlov. They have to take responsibility, because I think ownership did everything right, signed good players, they have a good goalie, good defense -- but something is missing. I think we are missing from the coaching staff. Looks like they have fun, but unfortunately in the NHL you have to work. You have to prepare for every game.

"There are lots of good teams in the NHL and you think you are a good team if you see the roster. That doesn't work in this league. You have to do homework and work hard. I think I can put a big question mark that they weren't preparing."

 Anderson responded on Tuesday with this:

"He played on every power play right up until January. It wasn't just him. I sat out [Todd] White. I sat out [Bryan] Little. Everybody wants to be coach, but no one wants to make the crappy decisions. I said when I [first scratched Kozlov], this was the hardest thing I've ever had to do as a coach, is to sit a player of his stature. But I had to think of what was best for the team at that time. Maybe I'm wrong. I just want you to know I did it with a heavy heart."

As president, Waddell will shift his attention to the business aspects of a team that's ranked near the bottom in average attendance. Since their inclusion into the league in 1999, the Thrashers have had three winning seasons, earned one playoff berth and have yet to win a playoff game.

Change was inevitable, but are the Atlanta Thrashers going to be better for it?

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