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Thrashers give contract extension to GM Dudley

Thursday, 02.24.2011 / 2:43 PM / News

By John Manasso - Correspondent

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Thrashers give contract extension to GM Dudley
General Manager Rick Dudley, who, in less than one year on the job engineered a series of trades to overhaul Atlanta's roster, gets a new contract reportedly for four more years.
Atlanta Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley, who in less than one year on the job engineered a series of trades to overhaul the roster, received a contract extension on Thursday, the team announced.

Multiple media reports said the contract was four years long.

After Don Waddell, the franchise's only previous general manager, was promoted to president on April 14, 2010, Dudley, who was hired as associate general manager in the summer of 2009, was promoted to general manager.

Dudley, 62, said after he was hired "we didn't put a long-term situation right off the bat" in terms of his contact situation.

"I didn't want to jump into a GM job unless I felt comfortable with everything around me," he said.

Dudley affirmed that he is comfortable.

"As far as building a championship team or building an elite team, I think we're in a pretty good position," he said.

He said he thinks the Thrashers are "two or three pieces" away from being an elite team "without a major overhaul."

Perhaps that is because he began his overhaul almost as soon as he took the reins. In quick order, he traded for Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager from the Chicago Blackhawks, the team with which he had spent the previous five years in the front office, hired coach Craig Ramsay and then traded for Andrew Ladd, currently the team's captain and leading scorer.

Those moves had the Thrashers in first place in the Southeast Division as of late December, but injuries combined with a stretch of poor play have caused the team to fall in the standings.

"I believe this team is capable of much more," Dudley said, as the Thrashers currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.

Dudley previously has served as a general manager with Ottawa, Tampa Bay, where he helped to compose the roster that won the 2004 Stanley Cup, and Florida. In five years with the Blackhawks, he also was a key advisor to general manager Dale Tallon, as they assembled the roster that won the 2010 Cup.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay, a respected thinker and assistant coach for many years in the League, traced his association with Dudley to their days as teammates on the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970s. Ramsay has said he came to Atlanta to be able to work with Dudley.

"He's earned it," Ramsay said of Dudley's extension. "He's earned some recognition. In the long run, things will be successful if he's in charge. It's pretty simple."

Dudley re-signed Byfuglien to a five-year extension last week and currently is working on an extension with Ladd.

"Obviously, I'm very comfortable with Duds and what he brings to the table," Ladd said. "Comfortable that this team's headed in the right direction, for sure."

Shortly after meeting with the media, Dudley was at it again, sending Sopel and minor-league forward Nigel Dawes to Montreal for minor-league center Ben Maxwell, 22, and a fourth-round draft pick.

"Obviously, it's very satisfying," Dudley said of the extension. "I've been through a couple of successful turnarounds in my life. It will be nice to have a chance to be there at the end."

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