To the surprise of no one, Atlanta has moved coach Bob Hartley from the hot seat to the scrap heap, and GM Don Waddell is going to take over on an interim basis.
The Thrashers fell apart at the end of last season, and that's something that's continued this year with a lifeless 0-6 start. Atlanta had a 3-7-2 record leading up to the trade deadline last season, and only got back into the playoff race when Waddell bet the farm on a few veterans (Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik), only to see his team swept in the first round by the Rangers.
The Thrashers have been god awful this season. Outscored 27-9, allowing 4.5 goals per game, dead last in shots on goal (23.5), 28th in shots against (34.3), a power play firing at 7.7 per cent and a penalty kill that's been putrid (71.4 per cent).
The strangest part of all of this is that this is essentially the same team that won the Southeast Division last season: Atlanta's biggest personnel losses were depth players like Greg de Vries, Andy Sutton and Jon Sim. Granted, they didn't add much, but there was nothing to suggest this team would struggle more than any other out of the gate.
The two Pats: Pat Burns and Pat Quinn, are being mentioned as potential replacements. Dave Lewis is also available. Brad McCrimmon has been an assistant in Atlanta since 2003 and could get his first head coaching gig.
John Anderson's been a successful minor-league coach for a decade and could finally get a bump up here. He played 814 games in the NHL, the majority with the Maple Leafs, and has coached the Chicago Wolves since their IHL days.
Recent AHL coaches of the year include Claude Noel (2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2005), Kevin Dineen (2006) and Mike Haviland (2007), none of whom currently have an NHL job.
Waddell coached this team for nine games in 2002-03, and is really in trouble if he can't get things turned around here. This has been a franchise mired in mediocrity for an awful long time, and the only thing preventing a housecleaning at this point is the tumult in the ownership situation.
UPDATE Someone had asked in the comments for an update on the Thrashers' ownership situation, and Wayne Fish had a pretty good summary of where we're at on the weekend:
In Atlanta, a local business group (Atlanta Spirit) is trying to buy out one of the former partners, Steve Belkin. It's a messy situation, now bogged down in the courts.The update? It's still a mess, and if you ask me, I think it has more than a little to do with the fact Waddell is still in charge despite the debacle of the last few months of last season.
The NHL wants to get this over as quickly as possible because the Thrashers are having a difficult time moving ahead with day-to-day operations. Court decisions have placed restrictions on management's ability to sign free agents to long-term deals or to operate beyond salary caps, according to the Associated Press.
Here's more info on where the dispute is in the courts.