April 14, 2010
Upon hearing that the Atlanta Thrashers are trashing their coaches and reconfiguring their front office, the word "likability" came to mind.
Coach John Anderson has it, and that's why you couldn't help but root for the minor league stalwart getting his Bruce Broudreau moment for the last two seasons. But he didn't get results; as much as Anderson was dealing from a deteriorating deck, he also couldn't help this team to close the deal when it had the chance in this year's playoff race.
There were probably nuggets of truth in Slava Kozlov's(notes) bitter missive the other day about Anderson's coaching style. Good guy, tough job, and he'll find another.
Leaving with Anderson are assistants Todd Nelson, Steve Weeks and Randy Cunneyworth, who many moons ago was one of the hottest minor league coaching prospects in hockey. Bird Watchers Anonymous, which was one of the first to report the GM shuffle for Atlanta, is stunned that the entire staff was cleared out.
Don Waddell also has likability, at least from the perspective of his peers and from media. There's a protectionism for Waddell that's in contrast with both his record as GM and the fans' feelings about him. But instead of a house cleaning, he moves to a larger presidential bedroom while Rick Dudley takes over as GM.
Waddell said Sunday, the day after the season ended, he expected to return to the organization next season but would not be specific when asked in what role.
Dudley joined the Thrashers in June of last year and spent his first season with the team as associate general manager. Dudley, with over 40 years of experience in professional hockey as a player, coach and executive, spent the previous five seasons with the Blackhawks. He spent the last three years at assistant general manager.
The good news is that Dudley is one of the best talent evaluators in the business and his elevation to the big job is an absolutely positive step for the Thrashers. There's no question the team had a better offseason last summer than usual, though did the Russian free agents come for Kovalchuk?
The frustrating news is that this isn't exactly a dramatic course correction for a franchise that's made the playoffs once in its existence. Unless you believe that Waddell is handing over all hockey-related matters to Dudley, which is what he claims (via the AP):
"My role within the company has evolved and grown the last few years, and the owners and I agree that it’s the appropriate time to have Rick assume all hockey-related responsibilities while I shift my primary focus to the business side of the Thrashers," Waddell said.
"I will be less involved with the team on a daily basis, but will continue to make myself available to Rick and to lend my experience in any way that allows him to succeed and for us to build this club into a perennial contender."
This topic was debated, rather hotly, on last week's Hot Stove on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Ladies and gents, it's Milbury Time:
God, we hate it when we agree with Milbury. But ouch, Pierre. Ouch.
Glenn Healy, by the way, will be our guest for a playoff preview chat at 2 p.m. EST on Puck Daddy.