Updated: Waddell says no coaching change this season

Running behind today but here is the news from Thrashers practice.

I spoke with GM Don Waddell this morning. The full interview is below.

Here are the highlights:

*I asked if there was a chance that a coaching change with John Anderson could be made this season considering the six-game slide and slipping playoff chances. Waddell said no. Asked about the possibility of a change following the season, he said everything would be evaluated at that time – including himself by ownership.

*Waddell has not given up on the playoffs, but wants the focus to be the next game on Tuesday. Don’t look any further nor get caught up in numbers or scenarios.

*He said the poor play of the both special teams has contributed to the current slide. He also said missing a key contributor like Evander Kane has had an effect.

*There has been no real movement on signing potential unrestricted free agents. He said he had conversations with the camp of Pavel Kubina and Colby Armstrong, but such talks have been put on hold due to the packed March schedule.

Other news from practice:

Zach Bogosian’s injury is to his right thumb. He is wearing a splint. He briefly took the ice in a warm-up suit but did not practice. I will update when further results are available but to my knowledge he had not had the MRI before I left practice. I wouldn’t be surprised if the injury was not some kind of fracture.

Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina and Johnny Oduya were at the facility but did not practice.

Q. What are your thoughts about where this team is right now with a six-game losing streak?

A. Back up 10 days ago after the game with the Islanders and we woke up in the eighth spot. Then you go five losses and an [shootout] loss and you find yourself five points out with the games counting down. You go from feeling pretty good about where you are headed, because you like not only where you are headed but you like the way you are playing, six without a loss. Then you hit a road block and it hit us hard. I like the way we played. We played I thought two pretty good periods Friday night against the Rangers and I thought we played very well [Sunday] night. I thought we deserved a better fate.

We’ve got our backs against the wall. We can’t look at who we play on Thursday. We have to look at who we play on Tuesday. It’s one game at a time and all we can do at this point is chip away. I still believe we can get there [the playoffs], but we don’t control our entire destiny. We can only worry about winning our games and we are not going to give up.

Q. From your GM seat, what has gone wrong between the win against the Islanders and your current situation?

A. It’s interesting because you analyze everything. You look at what changed. The one thing that has changed is we lost Evander Kane. It’s hard to imagine I’m going to put that much on an 18-year-old player, but if you just look at what he was doing prior –and if he is in the lineup we might have lost five in a row – I thought he was playing his best hockey when he got hurt with speed and the intangibles. I think that’s a part. Is that the reason? Absolutely you can’t put it all on an 18 year old. But I think that’s part of the reason.

I also think that we were getting away the last few games with our special teams not being as good as they can be. And then they went fully where we weren’t very good. I’ve said from Day One here, special teams are going to win and lose you hockey games and I think it’s starting to cost us games. We are running a fine line because we are still able to score goals five-on-five, but when we start getting shut out five-on-five then not scoring on the power play, and the other team was scoring every game on the power play, I think that’s a big difference.

Q. Is this season a disappointment now [with your struggle to make the playoffs] or will that come once the season is over?

A. I always believe you take the positive approach. Am I disappointed we went through this stretch? Absolutely. Am I happy the way we looked [Sunday] night? Yes. Now we’ve got to build off that. We are not going to dwell on that right now, these last five games. At the end of the year we will break down the months and weeks [of the season]. We had a couple other five-game losing streaks. Obviously, this is going to gain all the attention because when it happens. That’s why we talk about those points in October and November are just as important as they are in March and April. You’ve got to look at the entire season once you are all done.

Q. Is the fact that you are in a position where lines are still getting juggled part of the issue?

A. Some of it is injury. Part of it is trying to find guys that can click. You’d like to think you can be stabilized and have lines for the entire year, but obviously we’ve made some changes. Particularly when we brought [Niclas] Bergfors in, with [Bryan] Little and [Nik] Antropov they went really good. Now they’ve seemed to hit a little dry spell. Max [Afinogenov] looked pretty good with [Antropov] earlier in the year, so I think the coaches are just trying to find the combinations to give us some spark.

Q. You haven’t been consistent all season with putting a winning streak together and you have had a nine-game losing streak. Is there some reason for that?

A. We’ll have to look at that at the end of the year. If it was that easy and I could pinpoint it, it would happen once and never happen again. We’ll have to take a hard look and see.

Q. Will you make a coaching change between now and the end of the year?

A. No.

Q. Will that be something you would look at as part of the end-of-year evaluation?

A. I think everything has to be evaluated. Obviously, if we don’t get to where we want to be all positions need to be evaluated. It’s part of the business. We all want to win and have success and make the playoffs and if we don’t reach our goals that we feel were  attainable you have to look at every avenue in the organization.

Q. How about you and your position?

A. That’s up to the owners. Every year you go through an evaluation and see what happens. I expect the same this year.

Q. With several unrestricted free agents, are you working to re-sign any or will you wait until the season is over?

A. During the Olympic break, I did talk to [Pavel] Kubina and [Colby] Armstrong. There was nothing that was pressing to get a deal done. With the schedule that we have going, I don’t want any distractions for these players. If we get into April and it’s gone one way or another, then maybe we can re-visit it. It’s just another month. They can’t go somewhere else in the next month. Sometimes if the player is more anxious, the agent will be more diligent. In this case I’ve talked to both guys and they are fine.

Q. So, Kubina and Armstrong are two players you’d like to bring back?

A. There are a lot of guys we are going to talk about. … I don’t see anything happening any time soon.

Q. In your opinion, to make the playoffs are you looking at a certain number of wins? How do you look at it?

A. I think we got caught up in that a couple of weeks ago, trying to figure out how many points it’s going to take. Right now, we should worry about Tuesday night. That’s what I’ve stressed around here. We are about Tuesday. When we get through Tuesday, we’ll worry about Thursday. Stop watching the big picture. Last week when we had the eighth spot, everyone was trying to figure out magic points. My line has always been, you don’t have enough points to get in right now, so don’t worry about it. Just keep putting points on the board.

Q. Are you still confident with the home games this month that will be a help?

A. I said all along our schedule was set up that if we were going to have success it was a favorable schedule. We’ve got to take advantage of it. This is a huge week for us. It starts Tuesday. We’ve got to take advantage of it.

125 comments Add your comment

Falconsforlife

March 15th, 2010
2:37 pm

Waddell has to go. I’m not on the fire Anderson bandwagon yet, but I’ve been on the fire Dwad bandwagon for years now.

Netminder

March 15th, 2010
2:38 pm

ASG better be evaluating DW as well as the coach. We need a change and I got the feeling it will have to start at the top.

Jeremy H

March 15th, 2010
2:39 pm

As much as I like the guy, it’s time to cut bait with John Anderson. He prides himself on a high-flying offensive system, but has a team in capable of scoring over the past 6 game stretch. His PP is terrible, his PK is almost as bad, and his SO decisions are atrocious. This guy is a minor league talent, and nothing more.

Here’s to another failed experiment.

Falconer

March 15th, 2010
2:50 pm

Is this Bogosian thumb injury the same problem he had back in January, or is it different? Has he been playing hurt for a long time?

TheFan79

March 15th, 2010
2:54 pm

I strongly believe that DW will be gone after this season is over.
Let’s pray .

MB

March 15th, 2010
2:55 pm

Hmmm, don’t I remember comments on here shortly after the Kovalchuk trade that a Kubina signing would happen “any day now.” That was almost two months ago.

Jeremy H

March 15th, 2010
2:57 pm

Could you imagine seeing this headline?

STEVE YZERMAN NAMED ATLANTA THRASHERS GENERAL MANAGER!

What, I can’t hallucinate? Close your eyes and imagine that, just for a moment.

How’s that for gaining some respect?

R. Stroz

March 15th, 2010
2:58 pm

Waddell has not given up on the playoffs

Did DW seem really hungry or snacking when he stated his view concerning the playoffs?

Talk about delusional.

Stinker

March 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

Waddell is just enjoying, with amazement, the fact that he doesn’t have to peddle Port-O-Pottys for a living anymore.

(technically, that’s what he’s peddling right now — big, blue, stinky — but the pay is a tad higher)

darn...

March 15th, 2010
3:03 pm

I have lost all faith that JA can rally the troops.

Rich

March 15th, 2010
3:05 pm

MB said: “Hmmm, don’t I remember comments on here shortly after the Kovalchuk trade that a Kubina signing would happen “any day now.” That was almost two months ago.”

He also said he would sign Ilya Kovalchuk “any day now”, for what it’s worth …

If ASG cannot sell this team to someone who wants them, and more importantly who will keep them in Atlanta, at the very least I hope they blow it up and start over, beginning with Waddell.

lord stanley

March 15th, 2010
3:05 pm

Anderson is not the problem its the joke we call wadell and ownerrship. He has fired coaches before and we still get the same results. The coach is not the issue its about getting good players that want to stay in the organization

darn...

March 15th, 2010
3:08 pm

I disagree Lord Stanley, Coaching is a problem. We should be getting more out of our players.

Atlanta Spirit Hater

March 15th, 2010
3:20 pm

Does anyone know if Belkin failed to make his $2-million payment by the deadline?

Can we trade our ownership?

darn...

March 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

He paid it. :/

Greg

March 15th, 2010
3:22 pm

Let’s fire Waddell AND the owners. They run this team like a bunch of baboons then get off on blaming the failures on their coaching and players… um sounds like there might be some need to look in the mirror… MUch more to blame than the coach.

BYE BYE THRASHERS

March 15th, 2010
3:23 pm

does not look good for the thrashers, no wins, no playoffs, no real producers, when they traded kovy, the beginning of complete rebuilding. it seems to be the neverending story with this franchise. sorry guys, i wish we were competing, but you have lost me for a while. maybe one day, the owners will get serious about winning…

darn...

March 15th, 2010
3:25 pm

My point is of course we are not happy with DW and ownership. But that is a broken record. I am saying I no longer have hope in JA.

MASHAPlayer7

March 15th, 2010
3:45 pm

I think the players need also need to accept blame. It’s not just about ownership, GM and coaching. For the first time in franchise history, we actually have NHL pedigree players on our team…it’s up to them to perform and earn their professional status…

Lord Stanley

March 15th, 2010
3:46 pm

Well you need players in order to coach, right now we do not have players, so its hard to coach. Thus its impossible to win the Daytona with a Smart Car.

bugman

March 15th, 2010
3:48 pm

Jeremy,

You can’t lump all this at JA’s feet. Look what D-Wad has left him to work with.

“Crap, we’re having offensive problems and can’t score to save our lives. Let’s bring in an over-the-hill minor league defense-man. That should solve our offensive dilemmas.”

Nobody but the D-Wad could think like this. Especially after he traded a 70 point scoring wing away!

Just imagine what Anderson could do with a roster that reflected his playing philosophy!

Lord Stanley

March 15th, 2010
3:49 pm

Chelios for GM

bugman

March 15th, 2010
3:51 pm

Sorry, that should read “forced a 70 point scoring wing out of Atlanta.”

Lord Stanley

March 15th, 2010
3:55 pm

Either way bug man you are absolutely correct. The old GM for Chicago has visited Waddell multiple times this year maybe DW will retire and he will come to Thrashland

Jeremy H

March 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

Bugman –

I hear ya… but I do think that after almost two solid seasons here, JA has had a hand in picking and choosing the types of players we ice each night. I think proof of that is benching Kozlov; That’s not a DW move by any stretch of the imagination.

Certainly our roster could stand to be improved, but we do have some capable talent on the team that *should* be able to at least play above .500.

rob

March 15th, 2010
4:11 pm

Accountability here is the problem. Top to bottom there is none. We kept people on and off the ice who don’t produce. We didn’t force a 70 point wing out. We never developed him into a complete player. We let him dictate the last 2 years of this team and now have nothing to show. The guys we have CAN play. They now need leadership, REAL leadership, to show them the way (that and a real goalie). Will it happen? Who knows, we shall see what the future holds. I guess we just hold our breathes and wait as the FANS have done year after year. The team is ripe for a sale I think, but again, who knows. Top to bottom a good spring cleaning is needed as soon as the golf clubs come out.

[...] no wonder that GM Don Waddell told Chris Vivlamore that special teams are the key to this team’s [...]

Atlanta Spirit Hater

March 15th, 2010
4:25 pm

To what date has that Winnipeg Thrashers press conference been rescheduled?

Midfield

March 15th, 2010
4:27 pm

I feel sorry for Anderson, just as I feel sorry for Bob Hartley. Bob has become a damaged goods after his tenure here; Anderson is following his steps. Whether or not he deserves it, I can’t really tell. The team obviously sucks all the way around, but it sucks for ten+ years now. Players and coaches are not the constant here. Waddell and the owners – for slightly lesser period of time – are. Regulars here are talking about UFAs’ aversion toward Thrashers. Think about qualified coaches and – hopefully – GMs. Who wants to deal with ASG suites?

litz

March 15th, 2010
4:29 pm

I wonder if Chelios is interested in coaching … we could cut him a package deal, so he can open a chili restaurant out near the Ice Forum …

shawn

March 15th, 2010
4:35 pm

For Waddell to keep his job after his horrible records, it is unblievalbe. As they say: ” He has a naked picture of ??” you know the rest

Lee

March 15th, 2010
4:35 pm

There doesn’t need to be a coaching change there need to be a GM change.

Dave

March 15th, 2010
4:39 pm

FIRE ANDERSON! It’s obvious that these guys aren’t motivated by Anderson. I think they’ve tuned him out. It’s also obvious that he is slow to adjust. Last night he finally puts the D-Men on their strong hand on the PP so they can rip the one timer, and mentioned it in his post game press conference. I’ve been saying to switch the D-Men for weeks now, and I am no NHL coach! He’s a little stubborn too, I think. He’s gotta go. Maybe Waddell knows that Anderson will be gone, but is going to wait until after the season. WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU WAIT? This team needs a spark, obviously.

FIRE ANDERSON!

GSUFan

March 15th, 2010
4:39 pm

How can you not be on the Fire Anderson bandwagon? He’s a TERRIBLE coach. He always has been, and he always will be. I would rather have a good coach and have Rick Dudley be the puppet master behind DW than get rid of DW and KEEP Anderson. What INSANITY.

Alan R.

March 15th, 2010
4:40 pm

so he can open a chili restaurant at the CNN center.

There. Fixed that for you.

Dave

March 15th, 2010
4:43 pm

and btw, this is a decent team on paper, at least a team that should be in top 8 in their conference. This year you can’t put on Waddell. Maybe years past were his fault, but not this year. This year it is on players not producing (Little, Armstrong, Kozlov, White) and Anderson. Those four players had over a hundred goals combined last year. This year I doubt they have over 40 combined.

Coaching and poor performance are to blame this year, not Waddell.

Tom Davis

March 15th, 2010
4:46 pm

Dam it Waddell. For the love of Jesus Christ, please stand down.

d

March 15th, 2010
4:49 pm

Come on Chris, there is no way the ASG can replace JA without first letting go DW. Remember, DW let Hartley go to give him one last chance to save his own rear.

Dickie Dunn

March 15th, 2010
4:53 pm

What we need is a GM change! “Joe McGrath” has got to go !!!

Who Cares?

March 15th, 2010
4:56 pm

Even worse than being upset about the current state of affairs with the Thrashers, is that most people don’t even care anymore. There is no motivation to see a game in person. What’s the point? See you next season in Winnipeg or Hamilton!

Otto

March 15th, 2010
4:59 pm

The fans are asking for GM change not a coaching change.

josebenzaca

March 15th, 2010
5:01 pm

How can you morons want to fire the coach? The one and only constant in all this mess has been Don Waddell. He is the Matt Millen of hockey, and this ownership group keeps him around. Why?
The club will be sold soon. I do not care what agreement you may think there is with this ownership group, team will be sold. Hockey could be great in Atlanta, but we keep getting owners who are cr@p.

darn...

March 15th, 2010
5:07 pm

Guys, the people saying let JA go are not saying KEEP DW but fire JA. We want DW gone as much as the next person.

MB

March 15th, 2010
5:24 pm

Decent, Dave, but I don’t know that you can claim we have talent indicating we should be top 8 in the conference.

After ten years of favorable draft position, we find ourselves with no true top-line talent. The closest we have is probably Antropov. Kane and Bergfors may well end up there, but right now both are 2nd or 3rd liners on most teams and probably don’t make the cut on the better ones.

Peverley’s one of our best players and just last season he was waived by Nashville. Max was wasting away on Buffalo’s 3rd line when he wasn’t sitting in the press box.

Kozlov? Washed up, should have never been given a NTC so we could have gotten a decent return for him last season or three seasons ago. White? Clearly over-achieved last season and should have been dealt. No way he was going to replicate that.

I won’t disagree that a number of players have underachieved, and I admit to being disappointed in Anderson’s inability to motivated and coax better performance from them. And then there are his press conference comments…sigh.

But remember, it all goes back to the architect, Don Waddell. After firing Hartley, he commandeered the bench and took his time deliberating on a head coach. Anderson was his selection. There are always reasons, but the fact is, we’ve been one of the worst teams in the league for 9 of the last 10 seasons, all under Waddell’s watch.

I’m tired of the excuses. It reminds me of John Belushi as Jake in the “Blues Brothers.” Here comes Jake (Don Waddell) trudging through the sewer with Elwood when, all of the sudden, shots ring out. Waddell hits the ground, face down in the sludge (comforting given his background), and there stand the season ticket holders cradling a M-16.

DW: It’s good to see ya, sweethearts!
STH: You contemptible pig. We remained faithful to you. For ourselves, for all Thrashers and hockey fans everywhere, and for the common good, we must get rid of you.
DW: Oh please don’t fire me! You know I love ya! It wasn’t my fault!
STH: You miserable slug! You think you can talk your way out of this? You betrayed us!
DW: No I didn’t. Honest! There was a car crash. I had bad coaches. I didn’t have enough money for free agents. Kari’s back wasn’t healed by the doctors. Hossa left because of Kovy. Kovy left over money. Monkey pucks. There was an earthquake! Terrible floods! Locusts! It wasn’t my fault…I swear to G-d!!!!
DW looks imploringly at the crowd from behind the podium…
STH: Oh Don…sweet, kind Don.
DW shakes hands, pats backs, kisses babies, then tosses STHs down to the sludge. Motions over to Levenson and says, “Let’s get outta here.” Levenson looks down at STHs, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Take it easy,” and both walk off to enjoy surf n’ turf and a nice cabernet at Bone’s.

Jeff

March 15th, 2010
5:58 pm

Firing JA isn’t going to fix anything until Don is gone. If you think that free agents are reluctant to come to Atlanta coaches will avoid this place like the plague.

I am not saying that Anderson should not shoulder some of the responsibility but letting a 9 game losing streak go on with out a trade to wake up the team is the GM’s fault not just the coaches.

In nine out of ten years this team could not make the top 8 out of only 15 teams this organization is not even average and with so many coaches and players coming and going only DW remains how sad is that. Every year we hear that this is not a rebuilding year because we are in the middle of a playoff push so guys like Armstrong who are not going to resign leave and we get nothing in return. It is clear that this organization is unable to make a playoff push no matter who the coach is or who the players are in fact the only time they did it was when Don gave away everything the Thrashers had in trades to just to keep his job.

Sage of Bluesland

March 15th, 2010
6:15 pm

“Q. How about you and your position?”

Finally, a reasonable question to that bumbling, blustering little fraud of a GM. If ownership doesn’t get rid of this laughable clown, then there is simply no hope at all for this organization.

None at all–despite the BullSmoothie shoveled by sects of sheep and the organization’s minions…You all are smarter than that–much smarter.

Stop with the emotion and treat this like the business that it is…Want results? Cut the funds.

It’s just that simple.

Sage of Blueland...

March 15th, 2010
6:22 pm

was right all along.

Sherry Taylor

March 15th, 2010
6:34 pm

Number one: the team needs solid leadership on the ice. Kovalchuk was captain, but he wasn’t a leader. He was all about Kovy and he threw a temper tantrum until they made him captain, but he did NOT embody what captain should do. He did NOT provide leadership, he did NOT rally players when they needed it and I doubt he kicked any butts either. He was lazy the past two seasons because he knew he could be. Hartley tried to grow Kovalchuk into the player he could be, even benched him a couple of times and all of you griped about it, but Kovalchuk threw another tantrum and stopped playing for Hartley and soon his unhappiness oozed through the locker room.

This team has a minor league mentality. It is staffed by as many minor league players as Waddell can possibly get in and he hired a minor league coach. What did we expect?

They need to seriously go goal tending shopping in the off season. I think Moose has done an admirable job this year, he has provided a measure of stability the team has needed but the team needs some one stellar and as much as I love Moose that isn’t him or Pavelec (yet).

Just before and right after the Olympic break they were winning and playing well. What changed? Kane got hurt and instead of just fixing that line, finding someone to step into Kane’s spot, instead they messed with all of the lines trying to fix the one and now it is a HUGE mess. Fix the one that’s broken and leave the others alone. Geez, even I know that.

This team is young, for the most part, and there is talent there. There is, whether you want to admit it or not. But, it’s young and a characteristic of young is the inability to stand under pressure. And this young team, and the ones of the past, have been unable to stand under pressure. That’s what you get when you hang all of your hopes on youth. That’s why the really good parts of life are wasted on the youth, they are too stupid to realize what they have and live up to it.

There’s enough blame for this teams lack of success to go around and it starts at the top and goes right on down to the GM, the coach and yes, the players. I think there is a lot of hope and potential in he clubhouse, but there are definite changes that need to be made. The question now is, does the Atlanta Spirit (makes me gag to us the word spirit in reference to this group of yo-yo’s) have the nerve and fortitude to make the changes that need and should be made. Me thinks not. Oh well.

jake

March 15th, 2010
6:38 pm

Prediction: Waddell resigns after the season. Hockey’s such an old-boy network, he’ll find work somewhere else by blaming the Thrashers’ owners for non-support. Someone else will have to clean up after him.

Jim

March 15th, 2010
7:23 pm

Why do we have this same conversation every f’ing year?!?!?!?!!!!!