The Atlanta Thrashers have fired fifth-year head coach Bob Hartley today after their 0-6 start. GM Don Waddell is expected to name himself interim coach, perhaps so he can encounter the follies of his main gig firsthand, e.g. presuming Bobby Holik is a number one center, drafting Patrik Stefan, trading for short-term solutions like Keith Tkachuk, and letting valuable two-way center Eric Belanger go. Well, except for Stefan, who was shipped to Dallas and then deported to Switzerland.
“You know what? If anyone is not satisfied with the team effort, I don’t agree,” Hartley said. “I think those boys work hard. … Let’s keep working, let’s get a couple of breaks going our way and we’re going to turn this thing around.”
“The last thing that those guys need right now is to be hard on them,” he added. “It’s hard enough right now. When people don’t have great confidence you don’t step on them. I’m part of this. We have to find solutions, we have lots of young players, we have lots of new faces, and to get in those guys face and to start yelling and throwing stuff, I think that we would go backward.”
Given that Hartley is only six games removed from coaching the Thrashers to their first playoff appearance in franchise history, perhaps the ax swung a bit too soon. It’s unfortunate that Mike Keenan can’t be cloned for the rare circumstances when a head coaching job opens up and he is gainfully employed.