The Thrashers have not decided to retain the services of the coaching staff this year, presumably because of how far short of their goal the Thrashers fell this year (i.e. 10 game and 6 game losing streaks are unacceptable in NHL level hockey). This might well be as close to a wasted roster and talent as I have seen on a team, and I’ve pointed my finger of blame at JA and the coaches on and off again this season.
Anderson was interviewed this morning by Chris Vivlamore of the AJC, he had this to say:
“Absolute disappointment,” Anderson told the AJC Wednesday morning. “From last year, I don’t like to use the word rebuilding mode, but that’s what we were in. Two years later, I think we left the house in pretty good order. We almost made the playoffs. I wish we had. It might have been the difference in my job and some other guys’ jobs.”
True, if we had made the playoffs it might have been ok. But to say that making or not making the playoffs was the only issue is completely incorrect. It’s not as though we were out of contention all season. It’s not like we were just a few points out the entire year. We were as high as 5th place at one point, until the team went on a prolonged death spiral of a losing streak in December. Granted, I’m sure that a decent amount of that had to deal with the uncertainty surrounding the Kovalchuk situation, but coaches have been fired for less. The six game losing streak (five game pointless) in March would have been the final nail in the coffin yet Boston and Philadelphia had to fight to keep their head above water. Really, what wound up being the nail is the lackluster play in the games that truthfully mattered most – the 4-0 loss to Boston, the 4-1 loss to Carolina, and the 3-0 loss to New Jersey. If you can’t motivate a team when your franchise’s success is on the line, there’s something wrong. Bad bounces and black clouds aren’t why teams miss playoffs, and no team – not even this one – has 10 games straight of bad bounces.
Vivlamore interviewed a few players; other than Slava’s “I told you so,” the most interesting response was Hedberg’s: “As a player you feel bad because you had a part in doing it to them.” Hedberg has a point, but unless there’s a carefully crafted mutiny of “let’s tank and screw up so all the coaches get fired,” it’s not the players’ fault. People react to certain people different ways, and if Anderson was no longer motivating the team, well, so be it. Andy Murray was outstanding last season in St. Louis, and then this past year he lost the locker room with the same group of guys. Changes happen, people get tired of personality traits that we were once useful, whatever.Maintain most of this team, get a qualified coach, and we’re in the playoffs next season. Bank on it.
Dudley was quite possibly brought in with the intention to, after a season of acclimation, promote him to the GM position. I’m very pleased that Waddell has been promoted to president. He might not have always made the best decisions, but he did have the best interest of the team at heart, and he’s always been dedicated to this franchise.
Let the rumors of replacement coaches commence! And you know that somewhere, probably on a beach, Slava Kozlov is laughing his ass off.