Anderson answers back

I was able to speak to coach John Anderson today, after he finished player exit interviews, about the comments made by Slava Kozlov Sunday on the team’s failures.

As a matter of fairness I probably should have waited to report Kozlov’s statements until talking to Anderson.

As I did with Kozlov, here are a selection of Anderson’s comments. I will let you decide what you think:

*“He could have spoken to me. The door is always open. I played him that last game. That’s how much respect I had for him. I didn’t want it to come to this. Quite honestly, if you look back on it if he had the type of season he had the year before, would we be having this conversation.”

*“I think he went to our management and wanted a new contract and they said ‘Let’s see how the year goes.’ Isn’t that the normal thing that anyone would say? I don’t understand why he felt that way from the start of the year. He played on every power play right up until January. It wasn’t just him. I sat out [Todd] White. I sat out [Bryan] Little. Everybody wants to be coach, but no one wants to make the crappy decision. I said when I [first scratched Kozlov], this was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a coach, is to sit a player of his stature. But I had to think of what was best for the team at that time. Maybe I’m wrong. I just want you to know I did it with a heavy heart.”

*“He talked about the minutes played of our third and fourth line. He averaged 15 and a half minutes a game. Eric Boulton averaged six. For him to say I’m just turning lines over, that’s not true. If we needed a goal our top lines played. Absolutely they played. If the other team needed to be shut down, our checking lines played. To say I’m playing our fourth line too much or too little doesn’t make sense.”

*“He said in Detroit he had great coaches. They played four lines in Detroit. That’s how they won the Stanley Cup. Maybe Washington will win [this year] because they have four good lines and they play them all. When we needed a goal, he was out there.”

*”One thing I understand about professional sports, is that ultimately if the team doesn’t do well the coach accepts all the responsibility. And I do rightfully so, no problem. When the team wins, the coach gives the players [the credit]. That’s how it is. … I understand the reality of it. We didn’t make the playoffs. I accept responsibility for that. Whatever happens, happens.”

*”It was not a personal thing. I love the guy. He acted like a real professional. He practiced hard right up until the last day. Until now, I don’t think what he did was professional, but that doesn’t change my opinion of him. I’m hurt. I don’t like the fact that he brought his teammates into it. That hurt me, maybe even more. As the assistant coach of this hockey team, that’s hard.”

*”I don’t want this to be a he-said, he-said. He’s upset and I understand because I lived it. It’s not like I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday. I do understand because he is angry. For me, it was the start of something new and went I went to Fort Wayne [after being waived by the Hartford Whalers]  it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m not saying that he should go to the minors, I’m sure there are other teams that might be interested. The other reason I went back was because I felt I could still play. Two years later I was the MVP of the American League at age 37. I’m glad I did it, but it wasn’t for the money. This is probably why he is angry because he’s pride is hurt.”

*”If you know Kozzy, he is very straight laced, very rigid. I was brought in to try and change the culture here. I believe you are allowed to smile at practice and you are allowed to have fun. I want to be a workplace where you say ‘Man, I’m glad I’m here.’ That’s what I tried to convey. If he portrayed that I don’t work hard, then I think he’s wrong because we have film [work] every day, every power play even. We are prepared.”

*”Until you step back there and have to make decisions, you have to decide who goes on, who plays. It’s not just the one No. 13. I have to deal with 25 other guys on a daily basis. For him to have that one perspective like that, is not right.”

*”I know I paid my dues. He talked about what works in the minors. Well, guess who I coached against? {Pete] Babcock. [Dave] Tippett. [Randy] Carlyle. [Bruce] Bodreau. I can go down the list because where do you think we all start from? The minors. They all said that’s where we came from. You are dealing with a different animal up here and that’s a learning curve that I do have to go through.

*”This isn’t about me and Kozzy. This is about a guy who feels bad because his career is coming to an end. Maybe not to an end, but getting there. It’s frustrating and you get angry and I do understand. I wish him well. I wish everything works out for him.”

49 comments Add your comment

thrasher dave

April 12th, 2010
6:23 pm

Sage of Bluesland

April 12th, 2010
6:25 pm

Actually good comments from Coach Sunshine…It’s just a shame that our lisping, blustering, little fraud of a GM will still be here…and still be talking of ‘rebuilding’…

What a joke this organization is. The fans deserve better than this–well, except when they subsidize this incompetence…


April 12th, 2010
6:29 pm


April 12th, 2010
6:32 pm

Solid retort. It doesn’t change the fact that they are STILL a completely irrellevant hockey franchise… but if not being a winning hockey team and losing vast amounts of money is fine with the ownership……

thrasher dave

April 12th, 2010
6:40 pm

The worst news is it appears Don is coming back. I have actually met Don a couple times, very nice sincere man, but as GM of the Thrashers he has been a total failure. There is no way to sugar coat it. One playoff birth, ( which the teamed paid for dearly with to horrible trades) no playoff wins.
No other team in hockey has had such an inept run under one GM.

Take a look at the drafting, the trades, the free agents signings or lack there of. Yes ownership has not given him a lot to work with but that still does not make up of all the bad decisions

I could spend a hour here reviewing all the bad moves, but watching the U.S. team almost win a gold metal, reminded me of the poor showing of the American team in 06. The hero this year was the goalie, Ryan Miller, the same person who was unexpectedly left of the 2006 team. Who made this decision? You guessed it. Don Waddell.


April 12th, 2010
7:01 pm

Please Lord, make it stop! If Waddle is moved away from any decision making role with the hockey team, season ticket sales would go up almost immediately.


April 12th, 2010
7:07 pm

Thrasher Dave, I think the New York Islanders under Mike Milbury would beg to differ. This is a guy who drafted a goalie in the top 5 twice in less than 3 years. He traded Luongo, Chara, Bertuzzi, Jokinen, Palffy, McCabe, Tommy Salo, Choosing Rick Dipietro over Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik.


April 12th, 2010
7:16 pm

True that. Well done Coach. He definetly looks like the better person, and Kovy looks like the village idiot/cry baby. Looks like the Thrash are copying the Falcons and moving there Goof Manager (GM) to president. Hopefrully the thrashers will have the same success. At least Dudley came from a solid organization(Chicago)


April 12th, 2010
7:20 pm

Hossa, Kozlov, Kovalchuk, Antropov all have the same thing in common. They’re a bunch of soft players who are content in collecting a paycheck. These are not character guys. You don’t build teams around players like these. Right now what Atlanta needs to do is build that team around Evander Kane. They need to get more big bodies and bring in a North American style hockey game to the rink.


April 12th, 2010
7:28 pm

Good point Eugene.

I actually think DW put together a solid team this year. If he moves up to Team President and Dudley is GM, I’m ok with that. But DW doesn’t deserve to be fired. I advocated for him to get fired for years, but he’s begun to turn it around.

DW bought some decent groceries this year, and Chef Anderson cooked up CRAP. Reading this article and Kozzy’s comments, I think Kozzy and Anderson have some valid points, and I think Anderson will have to pay for it with his job. Rightfully so.

Sounds like Anderson knows its coming, too.


steve brown

April 12th, 2010
7:33 pm

I just plain confused. Brendan’s blogged the other day he was upset because the European players go out to dinner in Buckhead after a loss (or something like that). Okay lets start there, we only bring in players that are too upset to eat after a loss!

steve brown

April 12th, 2010
7:33 pm

I can’t even write in English anymore!


April 12th, 2010
7:34 pm

There are two sides to every story. I am glad JA defended himself. Both sides have their own way of seeing the situation. Good luck to both.


April 12th, 2010
7:36 pm

what could DW do to get fired? If 10 years without a playoff win won’t do it,what will? 11 years? Maybe 12? The Thrashers have no past and no future. I give. Please move.


April 12th, 2010
8:18 pm

He coached against Pete Babock??? THAT explains it!


April 12th, 2010
8:38 pm

I honestly cannot believe that Don Waddell has not been fired. It is a slap in the face to any fan that has bought a thrasher ticket. I have sent numerous emails and complaints to the ASG for last 6 years. Every superstar that has been drafted or picked up in free agency is gone. Most of the other draft picks are career AHL players. Time to make DW get in line at the Department of Labor and look for a new job. The coach can only work with the players the front office gives him to play with.

Joe Friday

April 12th, 2010
9:22 pm

Get ready for Anderson to be this year’s proverbial lamb while the real problem keeps his job.


April 12th, 2010
9:36 pm

I have to say I am extremely impressed by Anderson’s comments. JA seems like a straight shooting-don’t throw you under the bus guy. In today’s professional sports world, that is extremely important.

However, his team’s performance on the PK, PP, and 4on4-were terrible. This is where coaching matters most and we lacked in all 3 areas.


April 12th, 2010
9:39 pm

Anderson may try not to lose his composure in public, but the results speak for themselves. I wonder if there’s worse training staff & GM in the NHL (maybe only in Tampa)


April 12th, 2010
9:47 pm

…or Edmonton


April 12th, 2010
9:48 pm

The jury is still out on John Anderson, but I do like him and think a more offensive model is much better than watching the Devils Trap for the whole game…even if it is in the playoffs.

It would be good to build something that can last more than one year. We could have had Pat Quinn or some other old standby like FL Panthers seem to get every other year and it hasn’t worked for them.

Time for the players, even if we are outmatched, to step up and start playing like they want to be champions. Play like a team, win one-on-one battles, and make a bad night for the other team even if they win.

As for JA, time to get tough…no more “primadonna” Superstars that need their ego stroked…have fun but break these guys down and get results.


April 12th, 2010
9:59 pm

Oh yeah. True. – BTW, are there any stars in Atlanta left? Primadonnas that shouldnt have their ego stroked?


April 12th, 2010
10:02 pm

Just a bunch of inexperienced youngsters and mediocre seniors. – Make no mistake about it, I don’t think Oduya will stay


April 12th, 2010
10:39 pm

Agreed, Gonna have to have some things fall in place to make an impact next year.


April 12th, 2010
10:39 pm

Anderson replied by knocking down a straw man. Kozlov did not really complain about not playing enough minutes and not having the proper facial expression in practice. He really complained about coaching staff not being able to adjust line rotation over the course of a game and virtually no tactical home work prior to games. So, from where I stand, the fact is that Kozlov did not have a good season for sure, but everything he said about Anderson and his crew is not an overstatement by any stretch. I’m not impressed, John, sorry, and better luck somewhere else, as far as I’m concerned.

Ilya Kovalchuk

April 12th, 2010
10:46 pm


April 12th, 2010
10:56 pm

JAs comments were sincere and Kozzys were too.
Unfortunately JA doesnt have it as coach and Kozzy doesnt have at as a player anymore (slow).
I wish them both well. As for Waddell, nice guy but can no longer be GM….We all know that this would be a solid hockey market but this guy has blown so far. New vision is mcuh needed.

Andre Arshavin

April 12th, 2010
11:40 pm

It would be strange if JA said something else in his situation. Facts and numbers are against his opinion that he did his job well.


April 13th, 2010
12:58 am

No one can intelligently argue about Kozlov’s strategic, solid, observations regarding the faults in Anderson’s system. Kozzie stayed away from making his criticisms personal.

Anderson, on the other hand, goes right at attacking Kozlov’s character and trying to brush him off as a sour old coot. Bullsh8t.

Let’s just look at who has the credibility on an NHL level:

Kozlov, winner of 2 Stanley Cups, veteran of 1182 games in 17seasons in the NHL, 356 goals, 497 assists, 853 points, 118 playoff games with 42 G, 37 A. And he’s the still-current Red Wing record holder for game-winning playoff goals (10) in a season.

Anderson: Zero Stanley Cups, 814 games in 13 NHL seasons (forward), 282 G, 348 A, 631 points and a whopping 37 playoff games.

Who cares about minor league experience? You’re in the NHL now, Big John. And in 2 seasons as Thrashers coach, he doesn’t even have a .500 record.


April 13th, 2010
1:24 am

If someone asked me … whose word I’d place more faith in, Slava or Waddell?, my answer would be Slava. Same question, Anderson or Waddell? My answer is Anderson. If the choices are Slava or Anderson?, I don’t rightly know.

Don Waddell probably is a very decent man. He’s likeable. He’s personable. He’ll take time to talk to you. He’ll shake your hand at a Town Hall Meeting. He’ll answer your emails, if you’re not too overly rude to him.

But he spins more than a blue-haired widow on her rocking chair porch. Don Waddell’s fabrications are well-documented. From “Zhitnik’s a big part of our future,” to “playoff guarantees,” to disavowing the playoff guarantee because, “I was just trying to deflect attention from Ilya Kovalchuk’s illegal sticks.” Waddell said of Jaroslav Modry, “He’s a big, strong, swifting skating defensemen who is just what we need.” “I wanted Lehtonen all along.” “If I owned the 1st overall pick in 2000, I would have taken Rick DiPietro.” “We were targeting Alex Bourret at # 8 (in the 2005 draft,) and we still got him at # 16.” “I think we got a lot of guys in the 7th round that NHL scouting had going in the 2nd round,” from last year’s draft.

And it goes on like this. Look, I don’t exactly expect ‘total honesty’ from a GM. There is, actually, an appropriate time to lie. Such as? A player’s injury that you want to conceal. Which goalie you ACTUALLY intend to start. If you’re going to fire your Head Coach at season’s end, if asked at Christmas. Etc. But Waddell has certainly had his chance here. Stop to consider this. 2010 will be the tenth time in twelve (10/12) years that Atlanta will own a Top 10 draft pick. (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 (8th overall, initially), 2008, 2009, 2010.)

Okay HALT!!!!! Stop DEAD in your tracks. Just by being a “bottom feeder” team, able to make first crack waiver claims and using these TEN (!!!!) high end first rounders … don’t you think even crack addict might have earned a playoff win or two along the way???? And that’s with the WORST OWNERSHIP IMAGINEABLE on the planet. And “no, the Spirit aren’t the WORST owners on Earth.” There’s only so much blame we bloggers can assign to ownership. Decision-making falls on the GM. The ownership didn’t know who Devin Setoguchi was, back in 2005. They couldn’t pick out Alexei Zhitnik in a police lineup in 2007, when the Thrashers traded Coburn for him. They don’t know hockey. They DEFER JUDGEMENT to their GM, whose name is Don Waddell. Don Waddell had his chance … times twenty. He failed. He blew it. He’s traded away the first six (6) first (1st) round picks in the franchise history. (Stefan, Heatley, Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, Coburn and Bourret) Can Valabik be next? We’re only a DECADE OLD, and yet, all the building blocks of this franchise have been squandered. We’re now talking about Kane, Bogosian and Little being our remaining hope for 1st rounders, along with perhaps Valabik, as well. These promises always ring hollow. There is a ‘track record’ that is undeniable.

No top tiered player will sign here, who wasn’t drafted or traded here, and thus TRAPPED here, pending unrestricted free agency. The ownership’s answer? Stick with Waddell. Tough it out. Salvage what you can for high-end first rounders. Is this any solution? How much more disrespectfully can the Atlanta Hockey fan be treated? We just barely avoided the bottom third of the Eastern Conference, yet again.

Who would honestly complain if Waddell got canned? Don’t promote him. Fire him. Send a message, to the players, that Atlanta is a viable consideration for their UFA years. Nothing will change until this ‘meaningful change’ occurs. As fans, it seems unconscienable not to buy tickets for our favorite team, but out of options, what choice do we have … to bring about the necessary changes for our NHL club?


April 13th, 2010
2:15 am

We are so screwed.

Ten years without real success = GM needs to go. Let someone else judge the talent and put the pieces together. Ownership must pull the trigger. Let new GM make the call on JA as coach. Do it now.

Or just declare bankruptcy, hand the team over to the NHL and let them run it. See what it did for Phoenix? 50 wins! 107 points! Have the Thrashers ever achieved anything close to that? We are so screwed.


April 13th, 2010
5:20 am

Atlanta Thrasers fans will never taste success as long as the ASG owns the team. Does not matter who the GM, Coach or players are. They have never been committed to anything but making money. The NHL had to develop a minimum spending rule for the ASG, enough said.

Wesley Alexander

April 13th, 2010
6:05 am

Sounds like Kovy ran the team and he and Kozy didn’t want to play Anderson’s system. Team-play and puck control have been SOOOOOO much better since Kovy left. Anderson’s system gets credit for this. DW’s failure was to build a team around one guy and offer that guy the keys to the kingdom. Kovy was a fool to turn it down. The team is headed in a good direction. Thrasher hockey has been good the last 25 games. Forget the past.

The Real Thrash

April 13th, 2010
6:53 am

Lighting fire GM and Coach.

The Real Thrash

April 13th, 2010
7:01 am

Anyone who thinks that comparing ice time of Kozlov to Boulton, an enforcer, is a fair comparison is deserving of Waddell forever.
By the way yeah those Russian players are all soft. How’’s that Russian working out for the caps? The players don’t pick themselves or coach themselves or play themselves. Place the blame where it belongs or we will have this regime for good. (or bad).


April 13th, 2010
7:18 am

The problem is not the coach – the problem is from above – upper management – that insists that the coach change tactics.
Good lines , that were working well and scoring early in the season were suddenly changed and mixed up – WHY ? because upper management stuck their noses in – and that gentlemen, is a fact !!!
If your coach is to be held accountable then he also needs to have the final decision on team selection ….


April 13th, 2010
7:23 am

JA really makes Slava look like a whiney cry baby. Which was my take from the beginning, he was playing terrible and ALL of us wanted him benched. If you don’t believe me go back and look at the blogs. I also don’t know why Antropov was called out as soft. He was clearly willing to do the dirty work and was always sticking up for team mates you don’t HAVE to drop the gloves to “stick up” for your line mates. He also played the majority of the season with an injury and was STILL the best player on the team. Slava had a really good career, but it is time for him to MOVE ON!!

Big Al

April 13th, 2010
7:30 am

Anderson is a Minor League Coach……..He doesn’t have a clue what needs to be done to outsmart or outplay an opposing coach or team. Kozzie we love you and will miss you! Good luck wherever you end up! I wish you and your family well…..JA should go back to Toronto and improve on his cheeseburgers and poutine (I ate there last summer and they sucked too!)


April 13th, 2010
8:18 am

Anderson is over his head in the Pros. Not qualified. Waddell wanted someone who would not challenge him. Not Anderson’s fault. Just not ready for the bigs.


April 13th, 2010
8:21 am

Let’s hope the Thashers have the guts to do what Tampa Bay did. Fire the GM and Coach!

Andre Arshavin

April 13th, 2010
9:04 am

Wesley Alexander,
do you know why Kovy and Kozy didn’t want to play Anderson’s system?


April 13th, 2010
9:13 am

Tampa has a new owner out of Boston I believe, and I bet he wants to put his mark on the team asap. Thus adios to the GM and Coach.

On another note, I hear from a credible source inside the Hawks that playoff tix are moving very, very slow. Even if the 1st round opponent is not very glamorous, the Hawks should be a draw in the playoffs by themselves. Just think how elated Thrasher fans would be if we were a fourth seed. The regular season attendence numbers still have them in the lower third of the league. I’m not that big a basketball fan any longer, but they should be drawing better than they are. That goes straight back to ownership not having a real clue on how to properally market either team. One passionate owner for each team, or both, is the best thing I could wish for.

Vivlamore-Really nice job on the Kozlov/Anderson interviews. Would love to see more of those type articles. Maybe you could track down some former players over the next few weeks as the playoffs get rolling and interview them for candid thoughts as to why this franchise can’t seem to get it right? Maybe a few players like Campbell or Gomez too that were rumored to be coming here also. Why wouldn’t they commit? We know the answer, but everyone else may not.

For the Record

April 13th, 2010
9:29 am

Waddell: Can’t pin ALL of the critical playoff run failures on him. He (and Dudley) did well in putting talent on the roster late in the year. Bergfors, Oduya, Big Arty, Stapleton, MacArthur – Solid guys with solid performances down the stretch. Chelios, not so much. While I understand – and agreed with at the time – bringing Cheli in for “leadership” in a young team’s locker room (that had just lost its Captain and franchise player), he was on the ice too much late in games that mattered. True that he was forced there because of injuries…..But in hindsight, Kulda would’ve paid more dividends and quite possibly would’ve put the team in the playoffs. But hindsight is always easy.

Kozlov: Are you still here? I think it’s clear that Kovy & Kozzy wanted JA to change his system to a “Russian” system. It wasn’t going to happen. How you react to that “failure” is what counts. Kovy didn’t care to stick around anymore and Kozzie mouthed off to the Russian press…..Which I might add DID contain specific attacks on JA including his qualifications to be an NHL coach. OK…..You’re Old School Russian…..But isn’t that just pretty STUPID if you want to continue playing the rest of the season for the same coach you just publicly trashed? Kozzy made his bed and had to lie in it. No tears shed here. Another storied NHL (and Thrasher) career that ends in a less than steller final season. Happens every year.

Anderson: There’s no doubt that when the team needed to win late in the year (and most of the time it was in Blueland), they failed to show up. The first one, even two, can go to “inexperience in pressure situations”. After that, no more Mulligans. You put your gameplan together and everyone shows up like professionals who want to be in the playoffs. Still didn’t happen. Is that a coaching failure or player apathy……Or both? Doesn’t matter since JA is claiming responsibility, as he should. We went through a stretch where we lost games by the end of the 1st period. That was corrected and we were then losing games (or going to OT) in the 3rd period. That shows some competence by JA and his staff, despite Kozzy’s opinion. However, failure to win on multiple occasions when the playoff door was wide open is simply unforgiveable. I don’t see how the situation improves with the same coaching staff next year if they couldn’t do it this year.

Prescription: Promote Waddell. Give Dudley full GM. Go searching for a new coach that convincingly believes he can consistently win with the core talent on the current roster. If you find him, then hire him. If he doesn’t exist, give JA even more talent to work with during the off-season. There are still many great hockey fans in Atlanta and it doesn’t take much to get them excited. Just win consistently and avoid the wrenching gut shots of the team not showing up when everything’s on the line. Easy to say……Apparently not easy to do with this franchise.

Spud Webb

April 13th, 2010
10:41 am

Nice job by Anderson…especially since he is essentially a lame duck as a coach now.
Kozzy shouldn’t have called out specific players to make his point, wasn’t necessary.


April 13th, 2010
10:58 am

I don’t know if Waddell is a good GM or not, but if they do not fire him, the Thrashers will have no credibility as an organization that is making a serious effort to be a contender. On second thought, they have none now.


April 13th, 2010
11:53 am

Anderson and Waddell both need to be FIRED asap.

This team is a laughing stock of the NHL b/c of this kind of crap…and the lack of support from the ownership.

The fan “in me” wants to support the Thrashers but at the end of the day after 10 years, 1 playoff appearance and now playoff wins…ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

New leadership is needed!

Wolves Fan

April 14th, 2010
11:50 pm

Andy is a class guy. He knows how to win and how to coach. The Thrash needs a few better players. The best player traded to NJ. The starting goalie traded for a minor league defensemen. Kudos Waddell.


April 15th, 2010
12:06 pm

OK, I’m a Canadian and I came across this site, and I must say- you guys have pretty high standards. I think Toe Blake would have trouble coaching your team to the playoffs. You go from being a lottery pick team last year to expecting to make the playoffs? Wow, are you serious? Most teams, judging from watching 20 years of NHL hockey, don’t jump that far in one season. Sure there are exceptions and always will be, but the majority of teams don’t. Its kinda like expecting the 16th place team to win the Stanley Cup the following year. You guys came close, and hell, I was impressed. I’m a Sens fan, I live in Ontario where people live and breathe hockey. I DO NOT see the Thrashers as a joke of a franchise at all. I was amazed and blown away by how close you did come to making the playoffs without Kovalchuk.

With the recent Evander Kane fight, your organization has earned the respect of most hockey clubs in the NHL(minus ‘burgh, of course). So please hang in there. I have no doubt in my mind next year will be your year to make the playoffs. I for one will be cheering for Atlanta.


August 6th, 2010
1:35 pm

John anderson is a better coach for Chicago wolves, the thrashers need to send him back down there.