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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