Dudley would like to speak with pair of AHL coaches

My apologies for being scarce these past few days…there was much to do around the house and time to be spent with the family. Given the schedule over the past several months with work, hockey, the younger tax-exemption’s ROTC schedule & the stage production he has been rehearsing for, the older tax exemption preparing to graduate from high school…knocking wood…and getting things set to transition into college this summer, things have been a tad helter-skelter.

So, the Devine Mrs. R and I simply decided to take a big “time out” from any and all things not directly affiliated with the family and home this past weekend.

Bruins cnter Marc Savard celebrates his overtime goal against Philadelphia. It was his first game played since suffering a head injury on March 7 (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Bruins cnter Marc Savard celebrates his overtime goal against Philadelphia. It was his first game played since suffering a head injury on March 7 (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

However, I have been able to catch a good deal of the playoff action as well. I thoroughly enjoyed watching game-one between Boston and Philly…very dramatic ending as Marc Savard returned to the lineup and scored the game-winner in overtime.

Interestingly enough, this marked the third time so far this post-season that a player who used to be employed by the Thrashers organization has engaged in overtime heroics. On the final Saturday of round one, Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis…both of whom traded from Atlanta to Pittsburgh in 2008 for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, prospect Angelo Esposito and a first round draft pick…also ended games in overtime.

Now, in news directly regarding the Thrashers…there is this story in the Winnipeg Free Press from late last week. Tim Campbell of the WFP reports that the Atlanta Thrashers are one of a few teams that would like to talk to Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel. Here is a part of the article posted on April 29…

The Columbus Blue Jackets are first in line, but Manitoba Moose head coach Scott Arniel is on a wider radar for an NHL job in 2010-11.

The Blue Jackets and their GM Scott Howson have received permission from the Vancouver Canucks, Arniel’s official employer, to speak to the Moose coach about their head-coaching job for next season.All inquiries must go through Canucks GM Mike Gillis or it’s tampering under NHL rules.

Arniel’s interview with Howson is likely to take place within the next three days. The Moose coach is scheduled to join the Canucks on Monday to help their coaching staff, particularly with the extra skaters, or “black aces.”“We have talked to each other and we’re trying to work out a game plan,” Arniel said Wednesday afternoon when asked if he’s heard from Howson.

“I have to go to Vancouver for Monday, so we might try to get that done before.”

There will be other teams in the mix, however. There are also coaching openings in Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Atlanta, and the Thrashers and new GM Rick Dudley are confirmed as parties interested in Arniel’s services, two NHL sources said Wednesday.If he already hasn’t, expect Dudley to make the permission-seeking call to Gillis any time.

Dudley and Arniel have a long connection, dating from Dudley’s head-coaching days with the Buffalo Sabres when Arniel played there. He also coached Arniel in San Diego of the IHL.

Arniel was the 22nd overall draft pick by Winnipeg in the 1981 draft and played in 730 NHL games…splitting time with the Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins. He scored 149 goals and 189 assists in the regular season at the NHL level and 3 goals and 3 assists during the playoffs.

During Arniel’s four seasons coaching in Manitoba, the Moose are 181-106-33 and have made the playoffs all four years. Last year following a 50-win performance, he was awarded the Luis A. R. Pieri award as AHL coach of the year. The Moose then advanced all the way to the Calder Cup Finals where they fell to the Hershey Bears four games to two.

Between 2002 and 2006, he was an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres.

Also reportedly on Dudley’s list to discuss the coaching vacancy here is Don Lever, the head coach for the Thrashers’ AHL affiliate in Chicago. Currently, he’s busy with the Wolves as they take on the Texas Stars in round two of the AHL playoffs after advancing there by defeating the Milwaukee Admirals in seven games.

In 2007 Lever was the head coach for the Hamilton Bulldogs, who finished the season 43-28-9 on their way to the Calder Cup, AHL championship. Between 1987-’89 and 1992-2002 he was on the coaching staff for the Buffalo Sabres. He held an assistant coaching position with the St. Louis Blues for the 2002-’03 and 2003-’04 seasons before taking over the head-coaching job with Hamilton following the lockout. In the 2008-’09 season, we was an assistant coach in Montreal.

Lever played in 1,020 NHL games after being drafted 3rd overall in the 1972 draft by Vancouver. During his NHL career, he scored 313 goals and 367 assists during the regular season…spending time with the Canucks, Flames, (both in Atlanta and Calgary), Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres and was an All-Star player in 1982.

During 30 playoffs games…as a Canuck and Flame…he scored a total of 7 goals and 10 assists.

I’m sure there are others on Dudley’s short list of candidates…some we’ve discussed here recently. But these are the two names I’ve read this weekend that the new Thrashers GM has shown definite interest in.

108 comments Add your comment

Brendan

May 2nd, 2010
8:10 pm

Don Lever is a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. I just hope the right guy is picked. Uhhh, by Dudley. Not Waddell.

World Be Free

May 2nd, 2010
8:25 pm

We talked a little bit about Lever awhile back. My issue with Lever is that he’s been an assistant for so long, why nobody ever tapped him as a head coach. You wonder, the Bud Carson of hockey (I know, Carson finally got his NFL chance with the Browns).

Arniel is a surprise to me. I have heard some real good things about Scotty in Winnipeg-he’s done a good job there. He was an excellent 2 way player during his days. Not a bad candidate.
Another AHL coach that should receive strong consideration is Kevin Dineen in Portland. He did a very good job with the Pirates this season.

Craig Ramsay has moved to the top of my list. I think Rammer would make an excellent head coach, again. Gee, look at all the former Sabres here-Dudley, Arniel, Ramsay, current Sabres AHL coach Dineen.

Smoothie

May 2nd, 2010
8:25 pm

1) The Sharks are SWARMING like the sea is RED with wings. Yet Howard has been brilliant thus far. Still tied at zero.

2) The Chicago Wolves blew a 2-goal lead but came away victorious thanks to Chris Stewart’s big brother Anthony Stewart who lit the lamp in the 2nd OT stanza. Series tied at 1.

3) Did not realize Lever had such a solid NHL career. He has a wealth of experience but for some reason I still feel in my gut that Stevens is the man for the job. He’s jobless, other than a once in awhile appearance on VS, so why hasn’t Dudley spoken with him yet?

4) Lastly, check out Falconer’s blog for some poop on Colby Armstrong. Not literally, but it seems the one known as “Armdog” wants to stay put in his “second home.” Fine by me and what’s Russian for “sianorah” Arty?

Smoothie

May 2nd, 2010
8:28 pm

World – Dineen was a Sabre? Loved him for the Whale, man those were the days. Bring back Pucky!

JoePa, Pavelski that is, strikes again knotting the score at one apiece!

Matt

May 2nd, 2010
8:31 pm

I think that going the AHL route after Anderson would be extremely risky. Would prefer and NHL veteran with some success and ability to develop young talent. (No to Keenan or retreading with Hartley)

Rawhide

May 2nd, 2010
9:29 pm

I think that going the AHL route after Anderson would be extremely risky. Would prefer and NHL veteran with some success and ability to develop young talent. (No to Keenan or retreading with Hartley)

Matt – I would have to agree with you…but really it’s more perception than anything else. There are some very qualified coached at that level, and the two mentioned here would certainly be counted in that number. The problem the Thrashers would have in hiring one…escpecially Lever…is that so many fans would dismiss the hire as simply doing the same thing they did two years ago.

It wouldn’t matter to some that, unlike Anderson, both Lever and Arniel have experience coaching at the NHL level as assistants…some would just see that they came from the AHL.

Again, I don’t know if etheir of these two will be or should be hired…that’s for Dudley to decide.

jeff97

May 2nd, 2010
9:41 pm

i would not mind to see a guy like Dineen get a shot. he is such a competitive guy. However, we just tried a coaching staff that had all former Whaler ties…so maybe not.

HookyBob

May 2nd, 2010
10:00 pm

Rawhide: Good to know you are OK. Not hearing from you in awhile is sort of like not hearing from a child (who recently moved away) for a few days. You worry that something ungood may have happened.

I don’t argue that Stevens may be a good coach. What I don’t like is how often his players stepped over the line with dirty hits. Don’t get me wrong, I want us to play much tougher than we have been,…but I don’t want to lead the league in suspensions, or games suspended.

I believe this blog has already discussed (back when Anderson was fired) fan perception in hiring an AHL coach vs a proven NHL coach. Even though the AHL coach may be the best option, I think the fans (read ticket sales) will be more skeptical of another AHL coach. This is but another example of where Duds is handcuffed by the previous GM’s actions.

Injuries are starting to mount in the 2nd season. As in the past,…the strong (read depth) will survive.

Sherry Taylor

May 2nd, 2010
10:06 pm

No! No! No! we’ve done the AHL thing and it didn’t work! He needs to focus on someone with NHL experience. Fans, especially season ticket holders are looking or something different and if he goes the way of Waddell, he (Dudley) might as well come out and say to the world ’same old, same old.’ I’m not sure I’ll bother to worry about the Thrashers if he goes this way. I may finally have had enough.

Mr. Heat Miser

May 2nd, 2010
10:14 pm

This will be the first step in seeing if Dudley is holding the reins or DWad is merely holding a puppet by the strings.

Wayne stuck in AL

May 2nd, 2010
11:00 pm

I hate to say it, but I prefer a coach with prior NHL head-coaching experience. Furthermore, as much as it kills me to say it, I think this next coach will have to teach “THE TRAP” to the Thrashers. Why? This team’s SOG average and totals have been awful during their history, and the trap (the worst 4-letter word in the NHL since the “gunk” of 30 years ago) may be the only way the Thrashers can stay in games. Furthermore, Carolina and Florida, two teams we used to beat like a drum in years past, are now using the trap vs. Atlanta, and I think the only way you can learn to beat the trap as a young team, is to play against it every day in practice.

ben

May 3rd, 2010
6:07 am

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Dear God!

Maybe he doesn’t feel that the current talent level warrants an NHL coach.

Lee

May 3rd, 2010
6:50 am

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
7:20 am

Smoothie-Dineen was never a Sabre player, but he’s coaching in their organization. As a player, he was actually a Sabre-killer at both ends of the rink.

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
7:26 am

On hiring an AHL-let’s not get foolish enough to believe that all AHL coaches are not qualified to be successful NHL coaches. A number NHL assistants and former head coaches get their start in the AHL in some capacity. I still say Ramsay is my favorite choice, though I doubt I will be disappointed with Dudley’s final choice.

Let’s put away the puppet thrings talk folks. So far, you have no evidence that Waddell is calling any shots. Do you think Anderson and his staff (chosen by Waddell) would have been fired if Waddell had the final say? Dudley has never been a puppet before, I doubt he’s going to start now.

rob

May 3rd, 2010
7:56 am

If the coach actually has experience teaching a system that will work at this level, has experience at this level, and has shown in the past he can adapt to changing circumstances, all while succeeding, why knock them? An unemployed coach with NHL experience doesn’t mean the perfect fit here. John Anderson now has NHL experience, you think he’s gonna get many calls or looks? Exactly. As long as we get a good knowledgable, hockey savvy, coach who can work with younger guys on teaching them the finer points of the game and motivate them, he can be an AHL head coach. Many of them have assistant level experience at the NHL so what is the problem? Just my opinion though.

rob

May 3rd, 2010
7:58 am

Also, the more people he interviews for the job, the more likely he will be to find someone he thinks will have the best fit here.

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
8:03 am

rob-exactly, and as long as Dudley has the final say, I am cool with his choice. McLellen in San Jose was a gutsy choice by Doug Wilson; obviously, a guy that Wilson was comfortable with.

Savannah Blueland Fan

May 3rd, 2010
8:20 am

Detroit was robbed.

Dwayne

May 3rd, 2010
8:45 am

kracker

May 3rd, 2010
9:02 am

The thing w/ these two AHL head coaches is that they have several years as NHL assisstants, which I don’t think Anderson had. Plus, I think Dudley will understand what system(s) the coaches that he hires propose to play. And that those systems will work with the current players and prospects and with the type of players Duds will try to acquire.

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
9:21 am

Dwayne-you go it!

glovesave29

May 3rd, 2010
9:47 am

There is a coach out there now who has experience coaching at the NHL (as both a head and as an assistant), the IHL (ditto) and the AHL (ditto – again). He currently works as a head coach for the farm team of one of the most successful organizations in the NHL. He has over 17 years of coaching experience. His teams have done well at the minor league level. In the minors, he has coached Michael Peca, Jassen Cullimore, Jason Blake, Justin Abdelkater, Jimmy Howard, Michael Nylander and Darren McCarty. Sounds great, right? Should we bring him in to talk? He was a tough as nails NHLer for 13 season! Didn’t really get the tools to win with the first go around in the NHL, but has been paying his dues ever since to get another chance. If we go just by statistics, well….

It’s Curt Fraser…

In other words, lets get a proven commodity (one that in not named Mike Keenan). Let’s get serious here. The team is at a critical point. This is the precipice…we either take a step back to more solid ground and build on the decent foundation we have here, or we go cheap and easy again and go over the cliff…which will wash us downstream to another market and we fail as a city with NHL hockey twice.

Nate

May 3rd, 2010
9:48 am

It seems pretty likely that Dudley is going the assistant coach route as far as NHL experience. That being the case, I’d prefer he go with an assitant from a franchise with a history of recent success. So a Detroit assistant, San Jose assistant, Chicago assistant, Pittsburgh assitant, etc. Just getting an AHL coach with NHL experience means little to me if those teams didn’t have success or didn’t have success in the post-lockout NHL. The game has changed…

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
10:07 am

Good one Glovesave-you had me going.
With all the successes you noted, interesting that his name has not come up for consideration for any of the opening the past 5 years.

Nate-toss in Boston too as a successful franchise

Red Light

May 3rd, 2010
10:12 am

I hope Dudley chooses someone who has won something recently and the only guy on the list who won recently at the NHL level is Ramsay.

Don Lever What did he ever win?
Scott Arniel Won IHL championship as a player in 1996
Mike Keenan Won an AHL and NHL title but not since 1994
Craig Ramsay Associate head coach Stanley Cup champions 2004

Red Light

May 3rd, 2010
10:14 am

I’d like to see what Scotty Bowman could have done with the roster and goaltenders Curt Fraser had to work with.

Smoothie

May 3rd, 2010
10:51 am

So no one cares that Colby wants to stay in ATL as a Thrasher??

I know it’s hearsay, but you gotta think things are changing a bit for the better when Max has made it obvious that his first choice is staying here, Kubina seems open to the idea of re-signing and Colby has now expressed his affection for ATL. Now I know it’s a business and if Duds really is as high on Cormier as he says he is, then Colby may be seen as expendable due to his relatively high price-tag. But I wonder if a rotation of Crabb, Machacek and Cormier for the bottom 6 along with Boults, Reasoner, Thorburn and Slater is good enough. Might be wise to sign Colby to a 2 year deal worth right around $5.8 to $6 M and give Cormier, Klingberg and Morin more time to develop.

Midfield

May 3rd, 2010
10:53 am

When Hartley replaced Fraser in Atlanta, the team has noticeably impoved in a relatively short period. I don’t think the roster changes had much to do with that. I’m under impression that Hartley did not have a lot of say about the roster – but I may be wrong, of course.

kracker

May 3rd, 2010
10:58 am

Making Colby an offer makes sense to me, Smoothie, unless Duds has a better plan.

I mis-understood (Bush speak) you above, thinking you were saying Colby wanted to go. I didn’t take the time to go to the Falconer’s blog, as they reasonably expect me to do a certain amount of work throughout the day.

glovesave29

May 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

RL – absolutely nothing, that roster was garbage. Scotty was the coach in StL when they were an expansion team. Go see the roster on opening day vs. the playoffs. Doug Harvey actually joined the team ONLY for the playoffs. He understood the need for veteral leadership. Of course, in those days the expansion teams were all in one division and one of the HAD to make it to the finals. The 5th place Leafs missed the playoffs from the east, and would have won the division out west…but I digress. My point was to not be attracted by statistics alone. There is something to be said to have been to the dance before. The experience gained has been paid for by another employer. That experience is invaluable. I’d like to see a proven coach.

Joe Friday

May 3rd, 2010
11:00 am

“This will be the first step in seeing if Dudley is holding the reins or DWad is merely holding a puppet by the strings.”

Yep. And any mention of AHL coaches being considered reeks of Waddell. Please just say no on the Chicago coach, one bitten and all.

“So far, you have no evidence that Waddell is calling any shots.”

What? Dudley himself said he was going into Waddell’s office the day after he was named GM and sitting down with Don to figure out the new coaching candidates. Then we also had HNIC reporting that Waddell was spotted scouting some junior games a couple weeks ago, after his supposed move to the business side of the operation.

“lets get a proven commodity (one that in not named Mike Keenan). Let’s get serious here. The team is at a critical point. This is the precipice…we either take a step back to more solid ground and build on the decent foundation we have here, or we go cheap and easy again and go over the cliff”

Spot on. I still think they’re biding time to talk to the Chicago asst., if (please) Dudley has enough pull in the decision. Halak still en fuego, glovesave, makes me jealous of not having a goalie, man we need to fix that!

Russian

May 3rd, 2010
11:02 am

**to Smoothie**
No way to pay Army $3.0 per year. If he wants to stay he has to take a cut of paycheck. He got only 29 points (15+14). Pever got more points and sign for $1.3. No way. Army is good friend, but he is 3-d line or 4-line player.

Russian

May 3rd, 2010
11:15 am

I like to see Comrie play for us next year. He is young, big and hungry. Not like Army.

Smoothie

May 3rd, 2010
11:15 am

Russian – I agree, but the UFA market can be quite strange especially when there are so few good options available. Why Dicky Pevs signed for only $1.3 M / season is beyond me, but then again I can’t blame him for wanting some stability after several years of not knowing if he’d even stay in the NHL. If he puts up two more 50 point seasons, we’ll have to ante up big time to keep Peverlicious.

I’m inclined to let Colby walk unless he wants to put his supposed feelings for ATL above the desire to get an ego-stroke in free-agency. Personally I think a 2nd line of Kane – Pevs – Army could be very good assuming Evander takes the next step, which I think he will. But if we re-sign Max, that clogs up the Top 6 unless you bump Little down to the 3rd line. A 3rd line of Slater – Little – Army (more likely for Colby to stay on the 3rd line) could prove to be quite the handful due to its speed and savvy play.

Dwayne

May 3rd, 2010
11:18 am

No big pay day for Colby. He does bring a few more tangibles than Pevs, hitting, agitator…maybe something else, i don’t no what else tho, but not to the tune of 1.5 to 1.7 million more than Pevs. Plus you have a “new” gm and a new Coach and the Coach will have to be on the same page as RDuds, which will have a impact on the roster. The more names that come up the more difficult it will be to pin down 2 or 3 canidates. Seems RDud has a lot of ties to former Coaches and Asst. Coachs’. I thought Torchetti was a lock, maybe I was hoping their goaltender Coach might jump ship too. Wishful thinking. So….How bout them Hawks?? NBA or NHL??

Smoothie

May 3rd, 2010
11:29 am

Dwayne – that reminds me! Thank God the Hawks (NBA) didn’t choke in Game 7 as the ASG needs all the money they can get their grimy hands on! Let’s pray for 7 games vs Orlando too as the tkt and TV revenue from 3 more home playoff games would be huge. Perhaps some of that money might be used in NHL FA? Especially if Joe Johnson walks.

glovesave29

May 3rd, 2010
11:33 am

JF – you obviously missed game one, Halak got shelled. Again – not writing him off, but not making him the Conn Smythe winner either. I look at the big pic. You cannot judge by one game, a group of games or even a series. SC Playoffs are a long aduous climb. The Habs are still 11 wins away from the big prize.

Old Time Hockey

May 3rd, 2010
11:46 am

So what if Dudley does his due diligence and determines that one of the AHL guys is the man? I’m inclined to listen to him. There is a reason the coaches who have NHL experience are available…they were all fired/dismissed/not re-signed.

Halak is a perfect fit for the Thrashers. He plays better the more shots he faces. That means he’d be really, really good for us seeing how many shots we give up per game.

kracker

May 3rd, 2010
11:56 am

Old Time Hockey, I don’t think the Habs let Halat go. Price is more likely, I think. But to your point, I’d rather cut down the sog by 5 or 6 than try to find a goalie that likes to face 30-35 or more per game.

Frankly, with a system a bit more balanced than Anderson’s offense, offense, offense all the time, I think the Thrashers projected defensive core will get that sog average down next season.

The Real Thrash

May 3rd, 2010
12:05 pm

Please no more minor league coaches!

The Real Thrash

May 3rd, 2010
12:09 pm

If a coach without NHL head coaching experience is chosen it will be because Waddell and the owners do not want to pay the type of salary required.

Alan R.

May 3rd, 2010
12:22 pm

Halak still en fuego, glovesave, makes me jealous of not having a goalie, man we need to fix that!

We have a goalie. We just never had a quality goalie coach.

rob

May 3rd, 2010
12:26 pm

Watching Colby’s streaky play this year I would hope that the only way he resigns is with a pay cut. I don’t think he showed the consistency that warrants that kind of money, even with his nice check on Hossa. If he wants to stay, it should be at a lower rate and with the knowledge that there are a lot of people around who may be willing to give him a run for his job this summer. I think a new coach/Dudley combo are gonna see a lot of our youth get a serious look this year to further the hunger our core needs to find within themselves again.

GaVaHokie

May 3rd, 2010
12:38 pm

Part 1 of the Dudley interview is up on the mainsite… interesting reading, but I’m more interested in Part 2 (Tuesday)…

http://www.thrashers.nhl.com

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
1:13 pm

Smoothie-guys wanting to stay.
I think it is a combination of liking it here in ATL and seeing how many teams are up against the cap this summer. Better the devil you know…..

World Be Free

May 3rd, 2010
1:21 pm

Armstrong-as rob noted, Colby was a bit streaky this year. I thought he just disappeared for long stretches, then picked up his game near the trading deadline, especially when he threw that beauty of a check on Hossa in Chicago.

That Chicago loss to Vancouver on Saturday night was as pitiful as the Thrasher’s loss to Boston when they were “fighting” for the 8th spot late in the season.

New coach-whoever it will be, there will be people who like the selection and others that do not. Real Thrash points out something we have not mentioned lately, how much dioes mngt want to pay for a coach. I am availale and I have a bunch of nice suits for gametime.

rob

May 3rd, 2010
1:41 pm

WBF,
Can we count on you NOT to blame the bouncing puck but still continue our just getting started Whiskey Tango Foxtrot shot game?

Viking

May 3rd, 2010
1:46 pm

Smoothie, just picking on you, but “what’s Russian for “sianorah” Arty?”

I do not know the Russian, but Japanese spelling is “Sayonara”.

Alan R.

May 3rd, 2010
1:49 pm

WBF: I’m available as an assistant coach!