Tag Archive | "Don Waddell"

Thrashers Fire Coach Anderson and Promote Dudley & Waddell


Below is the press release by the Atlanta Thrashers explaining the restructuring of their front office that includes firing coach John Anderson and promoting Rick Dudley and Don Waddell.

ATLANTA, GA. – The Atlanta Thrashers have promoted Don Waddell to President and Rick Dudley to General dudleyManager, according to Co-Owner Bruce Levenson. The team also announced that it will not retain Head Coach John Anderson and Assistant Coaches Randy Cunneyworth, Todd Nelson and Steve Weeks.

In his new role, Waddell will focus primarily on all business aspects of the organization, and as General Manager, Dudley will be responsible for hockey operations.

“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,” said Waddell.

“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.”

“Don has been an important part of this organization since its inception and will continue to play a vital role for our franchise as we transition primary control of our hockey operations to Rick, who has had an immediate impact during his first season with us,” said Levenson.

“Rick has played a key role in building highly successful hockey teams, including most recently the Chicago Blackhawks. He has nearly 40 years of experience and is very well-respected in the hockey community for his expertise in evaluating and developing talent. We are confident that he will do an outstanding job of guiding all hockey-related activities as we move forward and build on the young foundation we have in place. We also thank John, Randy, Todd and Steve for their dedication and contributions to the organization during their tenure.”

Dudley joined Atlanta on June 22, 2009 as associate general manger after five years with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he served as the team’s assistant general manager for his final two seasons. He originally joined the Blackhawks in 2004 as a consultant and was named director of player personnel prior to the 2005-06 season.

“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,” said Dudley. “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.”

Before joining the Blackhawks, Dudley served as the general manager of the Florida Panthers for two seasons (2002-03 to 2003-04), spent two-and-a-half seasons as senior vice president and general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning (1999-00 to 2001-02) and was general manager of the Ottawa Senators for one year (1998-99).

He is credited with improving each organization he has managed, which includes playing a vital role in building the nucleus of the Lightning’s 2004 Stanley Cup Championship team.

Dudley, 61, was the general manager for the Detroit Vipers of the former International Hockey League for four seasons before joining the Senators. With the Vipers, Dudley led the team to a 200-92-35 record and the 1997 Turner Cup Championship. Overall, as a general manager he has led his teams to the league finals on eight occasions and captured four championships in the American Hockey League, the IHL and the ECHL.

Dudley also has a lengthy and successful record as a head coach in both the NHL and minor leagues, earning a lifetime record of 592-321-105. He spent two-and-a-half seasons as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres from 1989-90 to 1991-92, posting an 85-72-31 record while leading the team to the playoffs on two occasions. During the 2003-04 season, he spent 40 games behind the bench of the Florida Panthers, earning a 13-25-9-3 record.

He has also served as a head coach with the Detroit Vipers (1994-95 to 1995-96), the Phoenix Roadrunners (1993-94), the San Diego Gulls (1992-93) and the Flint Spirits (1986-87 to 1987-88) of the IHL and the New Haven Nighthawks (1988-89) of the AHL and the Carolina Thunderbirds (1982-83 to 1985-86) of the ECHL.

The Toronto, Ontario, native played seven NHL seasons with Buffalo and Winnipeg, recording 174 points (75 goals, 99 assists) in 309 games. He also appeared in 270 World Hockey Association games over four seasons with the Cincinnati Stingers, where he earned 277 points (131 goals, 146 assists) and tallied back-to-back 40-goal seasons from 1975-76 to 1976-77.

After retiring as a player, Dudley became the owner, general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Carolina Thunderbirds. He also served as the league’s president from 1983-86. Prior to retiring, he was part owner and vice president of the Ontario Hockey League’s Belleville Bulls.

Waddell, 51, was originally named the Thrashers general manager in June 1998 and has become one of the league’s most experienced and respected executives over that time. With 30 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and manager, Waddell has guided the Thrashers since its inception and has established an organization that is primed for success now and in the long-term.

Anderson, who was named the team’s fourth head coach on June 20, 2008, earned a 70-75-19 record in 164 games with Atlanta over the last two seasons. During his 15-year head coaching career, Anderson has captured five league championships, most recently guiding the Chicago Wolves to the American Hockey League’s 2008 Calder Cup. He spent 11 seasons with the Wolves, the Thrashers primary minor-league affiliate, earning a 506-283-99 regular season record and a 105-60 post-season record.

The Toronto, Ontario, native played for 12 seasons in the NHL with Toronto, Quebec and Hartford, posting 631 points (282 goals, 349 assists) in 814 career games. He also notched 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 37 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Toronto and Hartford.

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Thrashers Recall Defenseman Chris Chelios from Chicago Wolves (AHL)


ATLANTA, Ga. – After losing three games in a row and dropping down to 10th place in the Eastern Conference, the NHL Chris Chelios PhotoAtlanta Thrashers have recalled defenseman Chris Chelios from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League in an attempt to spark the team and bring veteran leadership to a young core of players at a critical time of the season.

Executive VP and GM Don Waddell hopes Chelios can bring stability to and inspire his young team.

“Chris has been an outstanding leader and mentor for our young players in Chicago and his level of play has made him deserving of this opportunity,” said Waddell. “He’s a tremendous competitor who strengthens our group of defensemen and instantly adds a veteran presence to our locker room.”

Originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, 40th overall, of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Chelios, 48, has appeared in 46 games with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League this season, recording 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) while ranking fourth in the league with a plus-34 rating.

The Chicago, Ill., native has registered 948 points (185 goals, 763 assists) and 2,891 penalty minutes in 1,644 career NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens.

In a NHL-record 266 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Chelios has collected 144 points (31 goals, 113 assists) while capturing the Stanley Cup three times, once with Montreal (1986) and twice with Detroit (2002 and 2008).

In his 25-year NHL career, Chelios ranks fourth in games played, eighth in all-time assists by a defenseman, and ranks 10th among defensemen in points. Among American-born players, he ranks first in games played, second in plus/minus (plus-352) , and third in points by a defenseman.

The 6-0, 190-pound defenseman has earned the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman three times (1989, 1993, 1996), has been named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team five times (1989, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002), and has participated in 11 NHL All-Star Games.

Chelios has represented the United States in international competition 12 times, and served as team captain at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics. He led the U.S. to a Silver Medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and also won a Gold Medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

He has also appeared in the 1984 Winter Olympics, the 1984, 1987, 1991 Canada Cup, the 1982 IIHF World Junior Championship and captured the 1983 NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship with the University of Wisconsin.

© 2010 Sports ClimaxTM

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Thrashers Sign Unrestricted Free Agent Defenseman Chris Chelios


An Atlanta Thrashers Media Release contributed to this article.

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Atlanta Thrashers have signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Chris Chelios, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. Chris Chelios Chicago

Chelios, 48, has appeared in 44 games with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League this season, recording 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) while ranking second in the league with a plus-35 rating.

The Chicago, Ill., native has registered 948 points (185 goals, 763 assists) and 2,891 penalty minutes in 1,644 career NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. In a NHL-record 266 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Chelios has collected 144 points (31 goals, 113 assists) while capturing the Stanley Cup three times, once with Montreal (1986) and twice with Detroit (2002 and 2008).

In his 25-year NHL career, Chelios ranks fourth in games played, eighth in all-time assists by a defenseman, and ranks 10th among defensemen in points.

Among American-born players, he ranks first in games played, second in plus/minus (plus-352) , and third in points by a defenseman.

The 6-0, 190-pound defenseman has earned the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman three times (1989, 1993, 1996), has been named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team five times (1989, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002), and has participated in 11 NHL All-Star Games.

Chelios has represented the United States in international competition 12 times, and served as team captain at the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics and led the U.S. to a Silver Medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and Gold at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Note: Chelios was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, 40th overall, of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

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Teflon Don is the Matt Millen of the NHL


Revised on February 10, 2010.

Now that Ilya Kovalchuk is donning a New Jersey Devil sweater and ‘goaltender of the future’ Kari Lehtonen has traded in his Thrashers blue for a Dallas star, it may be time to switch our (AP Photo/John Bazemore)speculation from ‘what team will win the Kovalchuk sweepstakes’ to ‘what city will the Thrashers be moving to’.

Don Waddell who was an assistant GM of the Detroit Red Wings and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1998, has all but bombed since taking the helm for the Atlanta Thrashers and his journey has ‘Matt Millen’ written all over it.

Not to be outdone by Millen, in the same week he dumped Kovalchuk, he also traded another first-round pick Lehtonen. Add those two players to the other stars like Dany Heatley and Marian Hossa who have also left the building.

Know as Teflon Don for his ability to survive ‘sticky situations’ and somehow hang onto his job as his team remains near the cellar of his league for much of his 10 years as GM, he has set up the Atlanta Thrashers for failure by allowing his star players (again) to leave the building.

Many expect these latest moves to bury the franchise. With an arena that on many nights is blanketed with empty seats, this move may prove to be the team’s demise. In a recent column, Hockey News columnist Ryan Kennedy opines, “The future is bleak.”

Former GM and Hockey Night in Canada analyst Mike Milbury was highly critical of the Thrashers’ GM, and doesn’t believe Waddell got fair value in return for his star. “I think he misplayed his hand, and I think he badly misplayed his hand,” Milbury said. He went on to say that Waddell has a history of making bad trades.

In a more recent published piece in The Hockey News Rory Boylen explains, “In trading away Kari Lehtonen to the Dallas Stars Tuesday night, the Thrashers have now disconnected themselves from all but one of their six first round draft picks from the first five drafts of the team’s existence.”

That should sound familiar to Detroit Lions fans as they witnessed a similar situation under Matt Millen. Of the first round draft picks for the Lions between 2002-2006, only one player remains on the team and like the Thrashers many of those were high first-rounders.

Waddell jumped into a sort of ‘save face’ mode with a press release last week explaining in detail to the fans and media the millions that were offered and turned down by Kovy and his agent Jay Grossman but that dog and pony show may not go far with the fans here in Atlanta. The bottom line is Teflon Don let the face of his franchise go and could not convince the player to sign on the dotted line.

It has to be embarrassing to the franchise when a player refuses to accept $100 million to play NHL hockey in Atlanta. Shunning an offer of this magnitude speaks volumes and may represent what lack of faith Kovy may have in Waddell’s ability to build a winner.

Normally in sports negotiations, real estate transactions and corporate buyouts when lucrative offers like Kovy’s are put on the table they end up signed and done as long as the people at the top have the ability to close it.

After the trade Waddell had the audacity to say “I don’t think it sets us back at all. I think it moves us forward.”

That statement reminds me of when Millen, who is regarded as one of the most incompetent GMs in NFL history, was asked by the Detroit Free Press about his 0-2 Lions start and their record-setting string of losses under his management, he responded, “What we are doing is the right thing to do . . . stay the course.”

If Waddell truly believes that removing a superstar like Ilya Kovalchuk from the team and replacing him with a rookie who hasn’t scored in 13 games, a draft pick and a few other unproven players, then like Millen it may be time for him to move on. Millen also believed and he said it himself, “My initial thought was this: If you can’t get it done in five years, get out.”Problem in Detroit was, Millen said those words but did not live by them and years later he had to be pried from his seat.

Atlanta fans are experiencing a similar situation where a GM has been granted more than an adequate amount of time to produce a winner and has not.

Waddel made a few more comments that may have the fans shaking their heads. “We’re struggling with our attendance as it is,” said Waddell, whose team is tied 11th in the Eastern Conference standings, just a few points out of playoff spot. “The only way we’re going to bring fans back is by winning hockey games.”

So do you do that by trading away your leading scorer and one of the greatest players in the world?

It’s common for GMs to deal away players for a lot less value if they believe they will not get a deal done in the off-season but this is a case where the team could have kept Kovy and at least tried to make the playoffs then possibly coax him to accept one of the deals that was offered. This would have certainly put more fans in the seats for the remainder of this year, especially if they could have gotten hot like early in the season and gone on even a short playoff run.

Now that Waddell was once again unable to retain a star player, will the ownership have the guts to make the move that many fans in Atlanta (like Detroit with Millen) have been begging for, for years? Millen never willingly agreed to resign and the same is expected of Waddell.

Over the past several years it has been more than challenging for Waddell to get players to sign here even with Kovy on the team. UFA Brian Campbell turned down a reported $60 million contract that Waddell was said to have offered and opted to go to a team located in a snow belt who hadn’t made the playoffs in years.

Last year, that trend looked like it may possibly be changing when having Kovy in a Thrashers’ uniform convinced players like Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina to lace them up in the south. Now that Kovy is in New Jersey, many people expect these players to move on elsewhere when the opportunity arrives.

Also with Kovalchuk gone there is a strong possibility of losing two other players of the Thrashers Russian trio as well. The Thrashers obtained Maxim Afinogenov for $800,000and after a comeback season that has produced (17g-27a-44pts) ranking him first on the team in scoring, expect him to test the free agent market.

Ex-Red Wing player Slava Kozlov is the other of the trio we should expect to move on and possibly try to follow Kovy. Owning some of the league’s best shootout stats, Kozlov would help whatever team picks him up.

During this roller-coaster week of trade talks and negotiations, Kovalchuk spoke to the media. “You don’t want to be a distraction. We are in a playoff race and we are only one point from the playoffs, said the star winger. “Hopefully, we are going to figure something out.”

Waddell believed Kovy sincerely wanted to stay and said this after trading away the franchise’s best hope, “I think, Kovy right to the last day, wanted to be a Thrasher. But it’s a business decision.”

Yes it was Teflon Don, and a really bad one.

More Thrashers:

Waddell Releases Statement to the Media

Kovalchuk Showing Great Leadership in Atlanta

Copyright © 2010 – Sports Climax

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Statement from Don Waddell Regarding Ilya Kovalchuk


Below is a statement just released by Atlanta Thrashers GM Don Waddell concerning signing Ilya Kovalchuk:

Our goal from the start of this negotiating process was to sign Ilya Kovalchuk to a long-term contract. During the (AP Photo/John Bazemore)process, Kovy affirmed his desire to be a Thrasher for life. We’ve spent several months exploring scenarios with Kovy and his agent to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, and offered many lucrative packages in an attempt to meet his financial objectives. Unfortunately, we’ve reached an impasse and at this point he has declined all of our proposals and we can’t reasonably go any higher.

Ultimately, we offered Kovy more than $101 million over 12 years, which would have been the highest contract signed by an impending unrestricted free agent in the history of the league. If accepted, this contract would have been the second highest offer ever to any NHL player. We also met his desire to be the highest paid player based on average annual salary with a separate offer of 7 years at $10M per year ($70M). This offer is $0.5M higher per year than any other player.

If we went beyond these offers, we would not be able to retain the young players on our roster when it came time to sign them, or invest in other top tier players needed to assemble a truly competitive team. Therefore, we are aggressively exploring all of our options as we move forward.

Other Thrashers Articles:

Kovalchuk Showing Great Leadership in Atlanta

Atlanta Goalie Allows 180-foot Shot to Score in Loss

Copyright © 2010 – Sports Climax

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NHL Thrashers have Huge Void to Fill


ATLANTA – It seems like an eternity ago when the Atlanta Thrashers’ roster was overflowing with high-profile, star-caliber players, won the Southeast Division and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Philips Arena was rocking with wall-to-wall fans in blue with dreams of their team orchestrating a long playoff run . . . a run that could possibly lead to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.

It may feel like distant history but that was actually April 2007 and that dream ended abruptly when that star-studded roster was easily swept by the New York Rangers 4-0.

Just like that, four games and out! Barely a week into the playoffs and the high-salaried, underachievers from Blueland had an early exit onto the golf course.

GM Don Waddell carefully built that roster around proven veterans with tons of playoff experience and leaders who had been on Stanley Cup winning teams. The main acquisitions were Bobby Holik who signed for 4.25 million per year and Marian Hossa, one of the brightest NHL stars, who went on to tally a club record 100 points that season.

In addition to Holik and Hossa, Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Kozlov, Alexei Zhitnik, Keith Tkachuk and captain Scott Melanby wore Thrashers blue that year but a lot has changed in Blueland since then.

After under-achieving again last season and unable to make the playoffs, this year’s 2008-2009 roster is looking quite different. When the Thrashers take the ice at Phillips Arena this October, all the above-mentioned stars have exited through trades or free agency except for Kovalchuk and Kozlov.

Last year’s Thrashers Mark Recchi and Pascal Dupuis have also moved on. The only transactions worthy of mentioning since the ‘garage sale cleanout’ are the signings of puck-carrying defensemen Ron Hainsey and Mathieu Schneider and forward Jason Williams.

Hainsey, a former first-round pick and Schneider are expected to add much needed help on the blue line on this roster packed with young less experienced players, including No. 3 overall pick, Zach Bogosian.

Waddell made an aggressive attempt to sign premiere veteran free agents like Brian Campbell and Brian Rolston before they decided to sign in NHL cities where it snows several times a year. Working against him was the fact Atlanta is considered one of the least desirable places to play in the NHL.

A few months ago, Lightning’s Dan Boyle who loved it in Tampa finally agreed to waive his “no trade clause” when he was threatened with being placed on waivers and landing on the Thrashers. He was then traded to the San Jose Sharks.

The bottom line here is approximately 60 goals departed with Hossa, Dupuis and Holik and in today’s low-scoring NHL that’s a huge void to fill.

Kovalchuk is one of the most talented players in the league but he will be forced to carry a majority of the load, game in and game out, and with a grueling 82 game schedule, it may wear him down to the point of inefficiency.

With this current roster, an injury sidelining Kovalchuk could put an immediate end to any hopes of the Thrashers having a productive season.

With a new man behind the bench, John Anderson, who has never coached at the NHL level, it will be interesting to see how the team responds. Thus far they are 1-3 in the preseason and have some final roster moves to make.

The regular season opens against Washington on Oct. 10th at Philips Arena. With mountains to climb and the outlook bleak, the biggest challenge facing Waddell and the Thrashers organization may be trying to NOT make the arena feel like a ghost town; they need to sell some tickets.

Copyright © 2008 – Sports Climax

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