Thrashers talk to Ramsay, one of five candidates

Back from seven days of Braves coverage and a couple days off. Below is my story on the Thrashers talking to Craig Ramsay for the head coach position over the weekend. He is one of five candidates.

I’m hearing that Jim Slater may be the first of the Thrashers’ unrestricted free agents to be re-signed.

Upcoming: I did a story on Thrashers strength and conditioning coach Ray Bear leaving to work with the Army. Look for that in the next day or two. Also, meeting with new father Chris Thorburn on Wednesday. Look for a story on him soon.

Here is the coaching search story:

The Thrashers interviewed Craig Ramsay for their vacant head coaching position over the weekend. Ramsay, currently an assistant with the Boston Bruins, is the third candidate to be interviewed by new Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley.

Last month Dudley interviewed AHL head coaches Scott Arniel, of the Manitoba Moose, and Don Lever, of the Thrashers’ minor-league affiliate Chicago Wolves. Dudley met with Arniel at the Memorial Cup and with Lever following the junior hockey tournament.

“I’ve been pretty impressed with the people we’ve talked to,” Dudley said. “These guys are all ready to coach in the National Hockey League. I’m amazed at the level of coach right now. It used to be you would talk to coaches and you would have one guy that would be head and shoulders above the rest because he had learned his craft pretty well.”

Dudley indicated that there was one, or possibly two, candidates he would still like to speak with but could not because their team “was still working.” Chicago Blackhawks assistant John Torchetti is considered the final serious candidate. The Blackhawks are currently in the Stanley Cup Finals, leading the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 with Game 6 Wednesday. Bill Peters, who coaches the Blackhawks’ AHL-affiliate Rockford IceHogs, could also be a candidate. Dudley has stated that it is not his philosophy to speak to a potential candidate while his team is involved in the playoffs because he believes it’s a distraction.

“I was trying to throw questions that were not normal questions that they would get … and they didn’t even flinch,” Dudley said of the interviews. “If I asked them about the neutral zone and playing against a passive fore check, what would you do? They just answered like it was water off a duck’s back.”

Dudley and Ramsay have a history. They played together for three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. They even skated on the same line at times. Dudley hired Ramsay as associate head coach, to work with John Tortorella, when he was general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Dudley considers it the best hire of his career.

“I was very proud of that,” Dudley said. “… The truth is John Tortorella is a volatile guy. He needed an intelligent guy to come in and know what his role had to be. We didn’t need another volatile guy in there. Craig softened all the blows there. When John undressed somebody, he would go and make them feel good again. He knew that was his role and he did it really well.”

Ramsay has served as head coach of the Sabres (1986-87) and the Philadelphia Flyers (2000-01). After six seasons with the Lightning, including a Stanley Cup title in 2003-04, Ramsay has been an assistant with the Bruins since 2007.

“All [the candidates are] very good in their own way,” Dudley said.

Dudley was also involved in the hiring of Torchetti, when he was assistant general manager with the Blackhawks before joining the Thrashers.

Dudley said the Thrashers were unlikely to have a new head coach in place before the NHL Draft on June 25-26. The Thrashers announced that they would not pick up the option on head coach John Anderson and his staff two days after the end of the season, the same day Dudley was named general manager and Don Waddell was named team president.

28 comments Add your comment


June 7th, 2010
6:30 pm

Great to hear Slats will be back next year. A great heart and soul guy whose skills are progressing. If Dudley puts a coach in place with a system and incorporates a patient and disciplined approach, he will flourish.

Cliff Fletcher

June 7th, 2010
6:45 pm

How about Max and Kubina?


June 7th, 2010
7:28 pm

Anything on Boulton??


June 7th, 2010
7:33 pm

Sounds as a bit of an oversell:

Dudly: Craig, how do you play against a passive fore check?
Ramsay: Well, Rick, remember, I used to dump the puck in and you would have to chase it, but that’s only because you had wooden hands and couldn’t settle a tape-to-tape pass for nothing. Not to worry, it’s all water under the bridge. Let’s go and have beer.


June 7th, 2010
7:34 pm

Awesome… great update!


June 7th, 2010
8:13 pm

Ben Wright tweet… Thrashers did not retain the rights to prospects Jonas Enlund and Niklas Lucenius. Enlund is now a UFA. Lucenius can go back in the draft.


June 7th, 2010
10:19 pm

Well, you can take Scott Arniel out of the running for the position. He is headed to Columbus.


June 7th, 2010
10:30 pm

Chris Vivlamore, wonderful blog. Thank you for the update. Any sense as to who the inside guy is? The impression I get is that Dudley doesn’t even know, himself, and he’s the guy who will do the hiring. Well, the name plate on his desk says “GM.” I just assume he’ll do the hiring. I know the Atlanta Spirit, LLC, has this “by committee” approach to decision-making, to insulate everyone in the process. As in, “it was the cumulative ‘WE’ that made the choice of (supply Coach’s name here).”

One point of curiosity I have … is this. Don Waddell was the GM of the Thrashers for 10 seasons. And yet, when he was removed from his position, there was never an article, in the AJC, summarizing the totality of his years of service to the team. I would have thought, especially, that Jeff Schultz would conduct a thorough and proper ‘roast’ of Don Waddell. I hope I didn’t miss it.

Instead, seemingly, the story is that Waddell was promoted. Which is true. But did we ever get a quote from the ownership as to WHYYYY Don Waddell was removed from office? If we did, I’m sorry I missed that. And I’d surely like to read it, or have a link provided to that story. I mean, why promote Don Wadell out of a GM position, if they were pleased with his performance as GM? Or, is the story now … that ownership felt that Waddell could best serve the organization as “Chief of Budgets,” or something?

If the ownership is/was displeased with the results of the Waddell Administration, shouldn’t they say so? Even discreetly? How so? Well, here’s a good example. “We felt that infusing a new GM might give the organization a shot of adrenaline. We felt that we needed to venture in a new direction.” See? That doesn’t read like, “Don Waddell was horrible, and thus, we removed him.” But it would provide some form of explanation as to why the change was made. Officially, I mean. I just want to hear it from their lips. They kept this guy around for a long, long time in the GM chair. They should at least EXPLAIN why they made the change.

The Real Thrash

June 7th, 2010
10:50 pm

The fact that no coach will be in place by the draft shows that the ownership group is still very much involved in the decision-making. Same as the long time to hire a coach for the Hawks.
Don’t want to spend to much money after all.

The Real Thrash

June 8th, 2010
6:52 am

So much for Arniel, gone.


June 8th, 2010
8:17 am

Guy Boucher turns down the CBJ job and takes the coaching job at Tampa Bay instead… interesting. That’s a small victory for southern hockey I suppose.

Scott Arniel gets sloppy seconds on Columbus.

hip czech

June 8th, 2010
8:50 am

Hokie, where would you rather live, Columbus or Tampa? :-)

I think the reason no coach is in place is not so much the ownership as Dudley waiting on Torchetti. I would think it might be safe to say he has the inside edge.

I’ve been very impressed with the interviews Dudley has given over the past few weeks. What a breath of fresh air after the 10 years of noxious fumes spewed from DW.


June 8th, 2010
9:33 am

Although Duds is waiting on the Hawks to finish things up so he can give an interview his “boy” Torchetti, it would be foolish to discount the strong ties he has with Rammer. My guess at this point is that Craig Ramsay, if he shows definite interest in the job, will be the leading candidate. Obviously, Duds is very fond of Torch, but I would not be surprised in the least if Ramsay gets the nod.


June 8th, 2010
10:06 am

I like Ramsey’s defensive ideas. The guy was awesome as a back checking forward, and I would be happy to see him land here and teach our guys the trait, or elevate it for those who already do. That being said, If we are looking to become more defense oriented it might go a long way towards explaining why Max was only offered 1 year, as he is a bit of a defensive liability, though he showed a lot more hustle on the back check last year then I ever saw in him in Buffalo. Knowing Ramsey’s philosophy I would like to know a little more about Torchetti’s and what we could expect out of him also.


June 8th, 2010
10:18 am

rob – a very salient point about Ramsay indeed! Looking at the relative success he had coaching the 2000-01 Flyers, a team that won 43 games, he did it with a team lean on offensive talent, but got them to buy into a hard-checking, defense first type team that emphasized solid-two way play. Take a look at the roster and stats:

Only 3 players with more than 20 goals but 6 others with 12 or more not to mention 45 goals from the blueline. I could see the Thrashers doing something similar this year.

Antro\Bergs\Kaner\Pevs\Max? — 20 – 30 goals each
Little\C-Mac\Slates\Machacek — 10 – 20 goals each
Bogo\Tobes\Hains\Oduya — 30 – 35 goals total

Joe Friday

June 8th, 2010
10:18 am

It’s got to be Torchetti. No other reason for not hiring someone yet. He interviewed Ramsay out of respect for their relationship, but Torchetti is going to be the guy.


June 8th, 2010
10:30 am

I hope Torchetti is da man. Weather you are rooting for the Flyers or the Blackhawks, you know that either of those teams have a coaching system if they made it this far…..

Chris – I bet those last seven days were good ones, except for last night, which I think they lost….


June 8th, 2010
11:20 am

Was it Craig Ramsay that had cancer a few years back?


June 8th, 2010
11:26 am

Just get us somebody who knows how to win. The rest of the division is getting better, we need to step it up.


June 8th, 2010
11:46 am

The rest of the division is getting better

I keep reading this, and it keeps on not being true. The only team in the division that has “gotten better” over the last few years is Washington. Florida is stuck in mediocrity, along with Carolina. At this point, TB is a huge question mark, given their front office overhaul, along with us.

This isn’t to detract from your ultimate point. Just pointing out a fallacy. It’s like how everyone keeps saying TB is going to be the most improved team, or the surprise team of the season, and they keep falling short.


June 8th, 2010
11:53 am

C Viv via twitter …ajcthrashers Thrashers have agreed to terms on new contract with UFA Jim Slater. Details to come.


Rip Van Winkle

June 8th, 2010
12:04 pm

Waddell STILL has a job…and he got PROMOTED??


June 8th, 2010
12:19 pm

Here’s the link to the Slater contract re-signing.


June 8th, 2010
12:46 pm

anyone know what style of play Torchetti might bring/implement?

Sage of Bluesland

June 8th, 2010
12:57 pm

“Waddell STILL has a job…and he got PROMOTED??”

Indeed, Rip…Indeed.

Only in the figurative joke otherwise known as “Blueland” would such a pattern of incompetence lead to not only continued employment–but a ‘promotion’!

Yet, just look around at some of the sheep who actually believe things have changed! If we were only in Kansas, folks…

I don’t know which is more humorous? It’s a tough call…


June 8th, 2010
1:01 pm

Darn, now the blog is tarnished like the Gulf of Mexico. Oh well.

But I’ll still deliver news from C-Viv that Jimmy’s deal is for 2 years worth $2 M total — $900 k this year and $1.1 M the next.

Congrats to Jimmy for earning his just reward. Hopefully, the fruits of his labor will be bountiful this year. Well, as bountiful as a 10-15 goal scorer can be. Good luck to Jimmy Skandalous!


June 8th, 2010
1:18 pm

who cares about slat. mediocre player with some stupid penalty at important decisive time of the game (pittsburg last year) skill is limited. don’t see anybody poor like him in chicago or philly. perfect candidate for “C” position in thrashers organization. seriosly what about real players asg? suspect not enough money. can’t borrow, but i am not owner, you are fubas.

The Kid

June 14th, 2010
11:08 am

Don Waddell Promotion had better be like the promotion the Falcons gave Rich McKay two years ago. Get him in an executive role and limit his input on player decision and development…He had 10 years to get ‘er done….That is a fair amount of time….Now Dudley is on the clock. Hopefully it will not take 10 more years…