Head coach John Anderson of the Chicago Wolves celebrates with members of his team on the bench as they close out the Calder Cup Final. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
John Anderson just may want to send his old pal Bruce Boudreau a thank-you card.
Given Boudreau’s success this season – he was named NHL coach of the year after a lengthy coaching stint in the minors – it made it easy for the Atlanta Thrashers to sign Anderson as their new coach.
Like Boudreau, Anderson has been a great success story in the minors, winning five championships including the American League crown this year with the Chicago Wolves.
Anderson has been considered NHL coaching material for years, but nobody seemed willing to take a chance on him despite his considerable success. He said he was so overwhelmed when the Thrashers hired him, he went to his hotel room and cried.
That may be a scene repeated over and over again next season. The 51-year-old Toronto native now has his work cut out for him. The Thrashers finished 34-40-8 and while they have one of the most explosive players in the league in Ilya Kovalchuk, they don’t have a lot of depth.
And since Scott Mellanby retired prior to this season, there has been a serious void in leadership in the organization.
After a horrible start this season, the Capitals fired Glen Hanlon and replaced him with Boudreau. The Caps immediately took flight and made it into the playoffs, losing to Philadelphia in Round 1 in seven games.
The Thrashers would be delighted to enjoy similar success, having made it to the playoffs just once in nine years.
Anderson is a proven winner. What remains to be seen is if GM Don Waddell can provide his coach with the quality players it takes to be successful. If not, it will be Waddell’s job on the line, not Anderson’s.