Daily Herald
Wolves coach seeks shot at Thrashers job
By Scott J. Powers | Daily Herald Correspondent
Published: 10/18/2007 12:36 PM

John Anderson has been waiting his entire coaching career for a shot at the NHL.

With the firing of Atlanta Thrashers coach Bob Hartley on Wednesday, that shot may arrive for the 10-year Chicago Wolves coach.

"I would hope so," said the 50-year-old Anderson. "It's not a good thing that someone gets fired, but someone has to pick up the pieces. If I don't, someone else will. If there's an opportunity in Atlanta, I'd like a whack at it. I think I could fill the job."

Anderson has done everything else. He starred in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1970s and '80s. As a coach, he has succeeded at nearly every minor-league level. Since becoming the Wolves coach in 1997, he has won two Turner Cups and one Calder Cup, and he made the playoffs eight times and has had a winning record every year.

"If I'm not ready now, I'll never be," he said. "I've coached teams that have won championships. I've played in the National (Hockey) League. I've played on Team Canada. I'm ready. I'm ready for that job."

The decision will come down to Thrashers general manager Don Waddell. Waddell fired Hartley on Wednesday and has taken over as the interim coach until someone can be hired permanently.

Waddell and Anderson do have a past.

"I was Don Waddell's player-assistant coach 14 years ago (in San Diego)," Anderson said. "It's not like he doesn't know me. It's not like I've fallen out of a tree. He knows my coaching style. He knows me as a person."

Anderson also knows the Thrashers well. He has been with Atlanta during its training camp. He has coached players on its current roster. He uses its system.

"I would probably be the guy with the easiest transition of all," he said. "I would hope they would talk to me. I don't think there's any reason they wouldn't. At least have an interview with me."

Wolves general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff gave Anderson his support Wednesday night.

"Johnny's a tremendous coach," said Cheveldayoff, recently a finalist for the Phoenix Coyotes' GM position. "His record speaks for itself to what he's done in the IHL and the AHL. He's a very, very capable coach.

"Would we be excited for him? Certainly."

Other names thrown around as possible job candidates have been Dave Lewis, Pat Quinn and Mike Sullivan.

Anderson is an employee of the Wolves, so the Thrashers must get permission from owner Don Levin to speak with him. Levin said he hadn't heard from Atlanta as of Thursday morning, but he would grant them permission to talk with his coach.

"Absolutely I would," Levin said. "I certainly believe he deserves to be talked to about it. John is as a good candidate as they're going to find.

"He's been here for so long because he's a good coach. He takes individual pieces and makes them better players. He gets guys to work together. They like playing for him. He's not a screamer. He teaches."

The I-90 series

Wolves coach John Anderson wouldn't call tonight's meeting between his team and the Rockford Ice Hogs as an instant rivalry, but it may not take long.

With the proximity between Rosemont and Rockford, and the Ice Hogs being the affiliate to the Chicago Blackhawks, the teams could be bitter rivals quickly.

"Certainly it's more interesting to fans," Anderson said. "Myself, I see it as another regional game. The fans, in their eyes, there has to be some interest."

The Blackhawks are playing at home tonight, but in future games general manager Dale Tallon likely will be among those visiting Allstate Arena to watch his AHL club.

Colin Fraser, Evan Brophey and David Bolland are three Ice Hogs to watch. Fraser has scored 4 goals in four games, Brophey has 4 assists, and Bolland has 3 goals.