Anderson ousted as Thrashers head coach

The Atlanta Thrashers fired head coach John Anderson on Wednesday, in a move that included the removal of assistants Randy Cunneyworth, Todd Nelson and Steve Weeks.

The Atlanta Thrashers fired head coach John Anderson on Wednesday in a move that included the removal of assistants Randy Cunneyworth, Todd Nelson and Steve Weeks.

The Thrashers finished 10th in the NHL's Eastern Conference this season with a 35-34-13 record for 83 points, five behind Montreal for the final playoff spot.

It marks the third consecutive season the Thrashers have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup post-season.

Anderson, named Atlanta's fourth head coach on June 20, 2008, compiled a 70-75-19 mark during his two-year stint.

"Absolute disappointment," Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after being told the option year in his contract would not be picked up. "I think we left the house in pretty good order. We almost made the playoffs. I wish we had. It might have been the difference in my job and some other guys' jobs."

Before joining Atlanta, the 53-year-old former NHL forward spent 15 years coaching in the minors, winning five league championships.

Anderson captured five league championships, most recently guiding the Chicago Wolves, Atlanta's American Hockey League affiliate, to the Calder Cup in 2008. The Toronto native spent 11 seasons with the Wolves, going 506-283-99 in the regular season and 105-60 in the playoffs.

Also Wednesday, the team promoted Don Waddell to president and Rick Dudley to general manager, according to co-owner Bruce Levenson.

The moves come after veteran Thrashers forward Slava Kozlov blamed the coaching staff for the team's failure to make the playoffs.

Waddell shifts focus

Waddell, 51, will be responsible for all primary business aspects of the organization, while Dudley takes over the hockey operations.

"My role within the company has evolved and grown the last few years, and the owners and I agree that it's the appropriate time to have Rick assume all hockey-related responsibilities while I shift my primary focus to the business side of the Thrashers," said Waddell in a statement. 

He was originally named the Thrashers GM in June 1998 and boasts 30 years of professional hockey experience as a player, coach and manager.

Dudley, 61, joined Atlanta on June 22 as associate GM after five years with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he served as assistant GM for his final two seasons.

Dudley previously was GM of the Otttawa Senators in 1998-99 before assuming the same role in Tampa Bay, where he spent three seasons and helped put together much of the nucleus for a team that won the Stanley Cup in 2004.

He will attempt to add to a lineup that dealt its top player, Ilya Kovalchuk, at the trade deadline.

"We have a lot of important pieces in place, and I look forward to building this organization even further and working closely with Don, the owners and our staff towards achieving our goals," said Dudley. "I've been in this situation before and we will accomplish our objectives. I appreciate Don and the owners giving me this opportunity to build on what has already been put in place."

With files from The Canadian Press