Anderson’s hiring is a reunion, of sorts, for he and Head Coach Dave Tippett; both were forwards who played for the Hartford Whalers from 1985-89. Years after that, they coached against each other in the American Hockey League.
|John Anderson. Photo by AP. |
“I’m really excited,” Anderson said. “I’ve seen what Dave and Don (Maloney) have done the past two years with a constricted budget and some other (ownership) problems outside of it. They’ve managed to make the playoffs, and to me they must be doing something correct and I’m just dying to be a part of it.”
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Anderson, who was the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers the past two seasons, is the second one-time NHL head coach to join Tippett’s staff this off-season. Jim Playfair, who was head coach of the Calgary Flames for the 2006-07 season, replaced Ulf Samuelsson as associate coach a month ago.
“What I’m here to do for Dave is to help out with the daily planning of each game, and if there’s problems, whether it’s defensive or offensive, Jim and I are there to give him possible solutions, and then it’s for Dave to decide what we do as a staff and as a team,” Anderson said.
In 11 seasons as head coach of the Chicago Wolves, Anderson's teams made the playoffs 10 times and won four championships. Anderson said the Wolves are an elite minor-league organization that runs its operation like an NHL team, and that made it easier for him to win.
“It was a great experience for me,” Anderson said. “I don’t think I’d have become the coach or the person I am today without being with the Wolves organization for 11 years.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Anderson with the 11th overall pick in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft. He played 814 NHL games with Toronto, Quebec and Hartford, and the left wing finished his NHL career with 282 goals and 349 assists. On Tippett’s staff, Anderson will work primarily with the team’s forwards, including a few recent first-round draft picks – Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker
– who are trying to fully establish themselves in the NHL.
|John Anderson. Photo by AP. |
“When I was a first-round pick it was very hard to get into the clique of the team (because) they treated rookies very harshly,” Anderson said. “(Now) veterans have figured out that these guys are here to help the team and you’ve got to make it as easy of a transition as possible. Certainly as a coach I do understand that … So, if there is anything I can do to help them or ease them into a spot or make it simpler for them, that’s what I’ll do just from my own experience.”
Anderson already is familiar with Boedker; Boedker and his son Spencer were teammates with the Kitchener Rangers not too long ago.
Long-time hockey fans in Arizona might remember Anderson from his two-year stint with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League in the early 1990s. The Gulls often played the Phoenix RoadRunners at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.
Anderson fondly remembers playing hockey in the desert and believes the Coyotes can thrive here.
“I think it’s a great market,” Anderson said. “… If we continue to put a good product on the ice the people will come and see it.”