Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Big Changes for the Thrashers!

The Atlanta Thrashers have promoted Don Waddell to President and Rick Dudley to General Manager, 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.

These are big time changes to the organIzation and they have been a long time coming! I agree changes needed to be made; I am just not sure these are the right ones. I am glad to see Waddell moved out of the GM role, but I really don’t think he deserved a promotion. I know how well respected he is in the NHL community but I am not sure why? He hasn’t done much for the Thrashers franchise in the 10 years he has been here. Unless you consider his blown draft picks that have either been busts or were traded away for nothing because they were not going to resign with the team. Or maybe it is all of the older players that he signs that don’t fit in with the team or the system? Or maybe it is his lack of commitment to a coach? Just look at all of the coaches that Waddell has hired and then turned around and fired after a few years. Well, I guess he has done a lot for the hockey club!

I feel bad for Coach Anderson and his staff. They were 70-75 in the two years they were here and that is not a bad record for the players they had to work with. Also, when the best player on the team is traded away halfway through the season, the moral tends to drop. I think if the Thrashers make the playoffs, these changes don’t happen and that is unfortunate for the coaching staff, they were only 5 points out of a playoff spot. But maybe these changes will have a positive impact on the team and on the franchise. The real problem I see with the Thrashers is the ownership group. The Atlanta Spirit LLC doesn’t seem interested in having a winning hockey team. They have always been stingy with the money and this has tied Waddell’s hands when trying to sign players. The first glimpse of the owners opening their wallets was in the negotiations with Kovy. But now, they are going to have to spend a great deal of money to hire a quality coach and that will mean less money to resign or sign the top players. So, that will mean another rebuilding year which might doom the franchise in the city of Atlanta.

Living in or around Atlanta for most of my life, I know that there are great sports fans in this town. Only, they don’t go to the games unless the teams are winning and the only way to have a winning hockey team here is to spend money to sign a top coach and several top free agents. There is a nice core set of players for the Thrashers but now that Kovy is gone, we are missing one or two big names to complete the roster. I hope Rick Dudley (the new GM) will have the resources to make some top signings and take the Thrashers a playoff caliber team. His past track record shows he knows how to turn a team around and I just hope he can do it one more time!

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