April 11, 2010
On HNIC Hot Stove last night, Pierre LeBrun reported that Atlanta Thrashers Coach John Anderson might be fired this offseason, and the vibe on the panel had a forlorn "good guy turned scapegoat" tone.
That's at least the impression from outside the locker room. Listening to Slava Kozlov(notes) torch Anderson in an exit interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is an eye-opener. He argued that Anderson misused his players and coached an easy system to defend. From the AJC:
"This system, for two years they tell us it's going to work but unfortunately everybody knows what we are going to do. Our breakouts, we make two, three passes in our zone and we don't beat anybody. I saw that in the New Jersey game. New Jersey just waited in the neutral zone and we make two or three passes and make one mistake in neutral zone and boom, they counter attack us. ...
"I'm very positive (this group of players could win under a different system). It's not the system, but the way they feel the game. We lost lots of games by one goal and I feel when it's a tight game, like one-goal or tie game, you have to start playing two or three lines. Nothing against players like [Chris Thorburn(notes)], [Eric Boulton(notes)] or [Marty Reasoner(notes)], but to get the feel of the game you have to use your key players more. When it's 5-1, you can play everybody but when it's a tie game you can judge a good coach from the great coach. The great coach sees how the team is playing, who has to play right now, what do you need to change right now. Not after the game or before. I think we missed that part."
Bitter missive from a player moving on? Perhaps, and a reason why Kozlov can't be considered the ultimate judge of Anderson's effectiveness -- along with the treatment of Kozlov by Anderson during the second half of the season. He's got a few bones to pick on his way to the KHL (one assumes).
But it wouldn't be a surprise to see Anderson fired; unfortunately, it would be a decision made by the guy who really should be shown the door.
Stick-tap to Wayne B. for the story.