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Head Coach Anderson: Pros and Cons

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John Anderson will be the next Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, I'll leave it at that. This news has been great with much rejoicing among certain quarters. I'm a bit less enthused, in fact, I have a some fairly serious reservations. Let's take a stroll down the pros and cons of the Anderson hiring.

pros:

  • Coach Anderson has won everywhere he has coached and has won multiple playoff championships.
  • SNL Lost Finals
  • CoHL Champions
  • IHL Champions
  • IHL Lost 3rd round
  • IHL Champions
  • IHL Lost Finals
  • AHL Champions
  • AHL Lost 2nd round
  • AHL Lost 2nd round
  • AHL Lost Finals
  • AHL Missed Playoffs
  • AHL Lost 3rd round
  • AHL Champions

  • Coach Anderson has worked with many current and future Atlanta Thrasher prospects. He has seen what they can (or can't) do already.

  • Coach Anderson is by all accounts a decent person. His personality will be a stark change for Coach Hartley and his irrational tirades. Anderson is beloved by Wolves fans.

  • Coach Anderson seems to get a lot out of his goalies. His treatment of other prospects can be criticized but the goalies have flourished.
cons:

  • Can he motivate NHL players? One of the reasons that Braydon Coburn is wearing a Philadelphia Flyers uniform today is that he looked bad in a Chicago Wolves jersey. If Coburn had played well there he probably would not have been dealt in my opinion. Coburn is hardly the first prospect to get angry about being demoted to the minors. If Anderson can't motivate a 20 year old who wants to get to the NHL how is he going to handle a multi-millionaire veteran who just mails it in?

  • Can he win with less talent? In the old days, the Chicago Wolves spent more on their roster than just about any other franchise. They were the Rangers, Flyers, Red Wings of the AHL. Now to his credit Anderson turned that advantage into regular season wins and playoff championships (something the Rangers and Flyers didn't always do). The question is can he win when he has a talent deficit--nobody knows the answer to that question yet.

  • Can he win without having the best goalie? The Wolves three trips to the AHL Finals all occurred when they had one of the best--if not the best--goalie in the entire AHL. In 2002 they rode Pasi Nurminen to a championship, in 2008 it was Pavaelec and in 2004 Lehtonen got them to the Finals (which they lost to Kari's arch nemesis fellow Finn Antero Nittymaki). In Atlanta Coach Anderson will not have Brodeur, Luongo or Nabokov.

  • Can he improve our defense? Coach Anderson prefers an offensive style of hockey as does the Thrashers GM. But the harsh reality is that the Thrasher defense has been among the NHL's worst for 7 of their 8 years in existence. I am very concerned that the defense will remain as porous under Anderson as it has been under Fraser and Hartley. Without better defense this team is not going to contend for anything.

Conclusion: I hope a year from now I have to write a blog post proclaiming that I'm wrong and that John Anderson is a coaching genius for getting this collection of young players into the playoffs. I would be more than happy to write that, but right now I don't think it is very likely.