20 June 2008

Meet the new coach: John Anderson (Woo!!)

From the very awesome Ben, of Blueland blog:

John Anderson hired as head coach

June 20, 2008 at 1:59PM EST

I spoke to GM Don Waddell about Anderson's hiring about what made him choose Anderson over other candidates and here's what he had to say:

"There's no doubt that we had a great pool of candidates to pick from and John brings a wealth of experience to the table and most importantly he's had great success at every level he has coached. He played 12 years in the National Hockey League and had a great pro career and now we've given him the opportunity to coach the Thrashers. I think it's a great move for our franchise and it puts our franchise in the position to take the next step."

Waddell also sees Anderson's hiring as a sign of maturity for the franchise as it draws from within to hire a coach.

"John's done everything we've asked him to do in the American League by not only winning championships but also by helping to develop some of our key young players," Waddell said. "We see that as a big benefit moving forward as he get a chance to coach some of the players he's had a hand in developing. He's going to get the opportunity to take those players to the next level."

Anderson has worked very closely with many of Atlanta's prospects and has done nothing but win in Chicago since the Wolves became the Thrashers' AHL affiliate. Anderson likes to play up-tempo hockey and wants his players to enjoy coming to the rink every day, whether it's for games or practice. His 800+ games of NHL experience will help him earn the respect of his players as he makes the jump from the AHL to the NHL. Click here for Anderson's playing and coaching stats. Players who played for the Thrashers in 2007-08 and are under contract for next season who have played for Anderson include:

Garnet Exelby
Brad Larsen
Jordan LaVallee
Kari Lehtonen
Bryan Little
Ondrej Pavelec
Jim Slater
Brett Sterling
Colin Stuart
Boris Valabik

John Anderson will be at the draft tonight and will be in Atlanta next week.


I just finished speaking to John Anderson a little while ago and he's obviously excited about the job. He's been in pro hockey in one capacity or another for 30 years now and has been coaching for 13 seasons. It's been a long road for him to get back to the NHL and now that he's here he's finding it both overwhelming and exciting.

"When Don offered me the job last night it had been such a long time since I was in the National League that I went up to my room and cried," he said. "I couldn't believe it and I was so excited. My family can't believe it either. They're so excited about going to Atlanta. I can't wait for the future now."

Coming from the Chicago Wolves is certainly going to make the transition easier for the veteran coach as he already has a strong working relationship with many of the players. In addition to all of the guys he's coached in Chicago he has seen many current Thrashers at training camp.

"I've been to the Thrashers training camp the last six years so I know most of the players that are with the Thrashers now, or I at least have a good idea of them, so that will make the transition a lot easier. Plus working for the Thrashers the last six years I have a good relationship with the staff."

Fans will probably wonder what type of hockey they should expect to see in Blueland next season and they're in for a treat. The Wolves played an exciting offensive style in the AHL without sacrificing defense. Chicago scored the most goals in the AHL last season, beating their closest competitor in that department by 20 goals. They also scored 74 more goals than they gave up- tying them for the best GF/GA differential in the AHL. They also scored almost a full goal per game more than they gave up in the Calder Cup playoffs.

"We like to play an attack type game," said Anderson this afternoon. "We don't like to sit back. I will tell you this though- we change our systems throughout a game sometimes and it takes a little while to get all of the sub-systems implemented. But because I've had some of the players already they know some of the thing we do so hopefully that transition will come easier. But it's going to be a lot of hard work in practice though, a lot of positioning and just understanding what I want as a coach."

Anderson will let Don Waddell and his staff put together the roster for next season and then he'll begin the process of teaching his systems to the entire team.

For those who are curious about what all of this means for the Wolves, they will have the final say in hiring their coach but the Thrashers will be consulted during the process. Don Waddell and Kevin Cheveldayoff (Chicago's GM) have a very close working relationship so don't expect there to be any conflicts there.

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