Management Changes in Atlanta
Only a few days removed from the firings of Rick Tocchet and Brian Lawton in Tampa Bay, Atlanta has jumped onto the firing boat, removing John Anderson from his position as head coach, ''promoting'' Don Waddell to team president and making Rick Dudley General Manager, bumped up from Associate General Manager.
"We have a lot of important pieces in place, and I look forward to building this organization even further and working closely with Don, the owners and our staff towards achieving our goals," Dudley said in a statement. "I've been in this situation before and we will accomplish our objectives. I appreciate Don and the owners giving me this opportunity to build on what has already been put in place."
Dudley is a former general manager in Ottawa and Tampa Bay, where he is credited for putting together much of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004. He replaces Waddell, who is the only other GM in the Thrashers' 11 year history. In that span, the Thrashers have only been to the playoffs once, and have never won a single game. To call Waddell's move in the organization is a promotion may not be quite fair, but the Thrashers weren't going to fire a man that's been so important to their organization. Despite the fact that he's traded superstars such as Marian Hossa, Dany Heatley, and, most recently, Ilya Kovalchuk, traded to the New Jersey Devils right before the Olympic Break.
"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."
Of course, not all the blame could be placed on Waddell's shoulders, but after a decade of failure, something had to give. With rumors of the Thrashers being on their way out of Atlanta, in favor of, potentially, a Canadian market, next season may be the Thrashers last chance to prove they belong in Altanta, and Rick Dudley is definitely well suited for the job.
As for Anderson, he was only the coach of the team for two seasons, amassing a not-so-bad 70-75-19 record in the process. His three assistant coaches will be on the way out with him, and the search for a new coach will begin once Dudley settles in.
This marks the second team that has removed both their coach and GM from their duties, begging the question as to whether there are any more firings on their way before the non-playoff teams get into draft-mode.
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