Calder Cup champs lose coach to NHL

anderson2_250.jpgAfter leading the Chicago Wolves to their second Calder Cup championship earlier this month, John Anderson has been named the new head coach of the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers.

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’ top development affiliate in the AHL since 2001.

One of 12 head coaches in AHL history to win more than one championship, Anderson becomes the seventh current NHL bench boss with a Calder Cup on his head coaching resume, joining Calgary’s Mike Keenan (1983 – Rochester), Nashville’s Barry Trotz (1994 – Portland), Carolina’s Peter Laviolette (1999 – Providence), San Jose’s Todd McLellan (2003 – Houston), Philadelphia’s John Stevens (2005 – Philadelphia) and Washington’s Bruce Boudreau (2006 – Hershey).

“On behalf on the entire Chicago Wolves organization, I want first and foremost to thank John for his many years of dedicated service,” said Wolves general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “It is with great pride that I wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor. He has earned this opportunity and I am confident that his track record of success will continue.”

In seven AHL seasons in Chicago, Anderson compiled a record of 306-211-43 (.585) in the regular season and 63-38 (.624) in the playoffs, reaching three Calder Cup Finals and winning two championships. He also led the Wolves to two Turner Cup championships in the IHL (1998, 2000) and was head coach of the Colonial Hockey League champions in Quad City 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 Thrashers executive vice president and general manager Don 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.”

Overall, Anderson 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-plus wins on four occasions, and has reached the 100-point mark seven times. He collected his 300th regular-season AHL win and 500th regular-season win with the Wolves on Mar. 22, 2008, at San Antonio.

Since Chicago joined the AHL in 2001, Anderson led the squad to a 16-4 series record in the Calder Cup Playoffs and was the winning coach at 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.”

A veteran of 814 NHL games over 12 seasons with Toronto, Quebec and Hartford, Anderson was the AHL’s most valuable player with New Haven in 1991-92 and also earned the Fred T. Hunt Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.