Friday, June 20, 2008

Thrashers Name John Anderson Head Coach

The Atlanta Thrashers have named John Anderson the fourth head coach in team history, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell.

Anderson, 51, has won five championships in 13 seasons as a head coach and most recently guided the Chicago Wolves to the American Hockey League’s 2008 Calder Cup Championship. He has 30 years of experience in professional hockey as a player and coach, including the past 11 years as head coach of the Wolves, the Thrashers primary minor-league affiliate since 2001 During his tenure with Chicago, he has earned a 506-283-99 regular-season record, a 105-60 post-season record and captured two Calder Cups (2008, 2002) and two Turner Cups (2000, 1998) when the team was a member of the International Hockey League. Anderson earned his first of five league titles as a head coach with the Quad City Mallards of the Colonial Hockey League in 1997.

“John has an impressive record of success as a head coach and we are excited to be adding him to our organization,” said Waddell. “He’s a proven winner whose leadership and experience behind the bench will play a vital role in the resurgence of our hockey club.”

Throughout his 13 seasons as a head coach, Anderson has made the playoffs on 12 occasions, including 10 of his 11 seasons with the Wolves. Overall, he has led his teams to the league finals eight times and has advanced to the conference finals 10 times. He has won 40-or-more games in a season 10 times, including 50-or-more wins on four occasions, and has reached the 100-point mark seven times. He is also the Wolves all-time leader in regular-season wins (506) and playoff wins (105).

Under his leadership, the Wolves have set several single-season team records, including 55 wins (1997-98); 114 points (1999-2000); 29 home wins (1997-98, 1998-99, 2007-08); 27 road wins (1999-2000, 2006-07); 331 goals (2006-07); and 208 goals-against (2003-04). Anderson collected his 500th career regular-season coaching victory with the Wolves on March 22, 2008 at San Antonio in the squad's 3-1 win. Since the team joined the AHL in 2001, Anderson has racked up 306 regular-season wins and has led the squad to a 16-4 series record in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He also led Canada to a 15-13 win in the 2003 AHL All-Star Classic.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago but I’m thrilled to now have the opportunity to take those achievements and advance my career in Atlanta with an exciting organization like the Thrashers,” said Anderson. “This team has some great talent, and I look forward to the challenge or maximizing our potential and returning to the playoffs.”

Prior to joining the Wolves, Anderson spent the 1996-97 season as head coach with Quad City (CoHL), leading them to a 51-20-3 record and the Colonial Cup Championship. The previous season (1995-96), he began his coaching career with the Winston-Salem Mammoths, leading them to the Southern Hockey League finals and a 30-23-7 regular-season record.

In July of 2007, Anderson made his international coaching debut when he led the United States squad to the Gold Medal in the World Jewish Cup in Metulla, Israel.

During his 12-year NHL playing career from 1977 to 1989, Anderson amassed 282 goals and 349 assists for 631 points in 814 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1977-1985), Quebec Nordiques (1985-86) and Hartford Whalers (1986-1989). He also notched nine goals and 27 points in 37 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests with Toronto and Hartford. Originally selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round, 11th overall, in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft, Anderson registered five 30-goal campaigns, including four straight from 1981 to 1985. His most productive season came in 1982-83, when he led Toronto with 80 points (31 goals, 49 assists) in 80 games.

Anderson played three years in the International Hockey League with the Fort Wayne Komets (1990-91) and San Diego Gulls (1992-1994). As a player/assistant coach with the Gulls, Anderson helped propel the club to an IHL-record 62 wins and a berth in the 1993 Turner Cup Finals. Two years earlier, he tallied 40 goals and 83 points in 63 games to help the Komets reach the 1991 Turner Cup Finals. Overall, Anderson compiled 115 goals and 211 points in 200 career IHL games. With the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks in 1991-92, Anderson became the oldest player to win the league's Most Valuable Player award at age 35. That season, he notched 41 goals and 95 points in 68 games, while capturing the league's Sportsmanship Award and earning a spot on the AHL First All-Star Team.

At the beginning of his professional career, the winger split the 1977-78 season between the Maple Leafs and the Dallas Blackhawks of the CHL, earning the Max McNab Trophy (CHL) as the league’s most valuable player.

A native of Toronto, he represented Canada in the World Championships in 1983 and 1985, recording seven goals and four assists for 11 points in 15 games over the two tournaments, while earning a Bronze Medal and Silver Medal, respectively. He also competed in the World Junior Championships in 1977, amassing 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in seven games, helping Canada to a Silver Medal.

During his four-year junior career, Anderson competed for the Toronto Marlboros and tallied 327 points (154 goals and 173 assists) in 211 games from 1973-77. He led his team to the Memorial Cup Championship in 1974-75 with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in four games.

Anderson, who played for Waddell (General Manager) with San Diego in 1992-93, will go behind the Thrashers bench in place of Waddell, who served as the team’s head coach after relieving Bob Hartley of his duties on Oct. 17, 2007.

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