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Kozlov unhappy with Thrashers coaching

Image (1) Kozlov-thumb-200x300-9322.jpg for post 881

The Atlanta Thrashers had a chance to make the playoffs, when the teams above them in the Eastern Conference started faltering down the stretch. The team never seemed to be able to step up to the challenge, losing several big games that would have put them into a playoff position.

Some are saying it’s just a matter of a mediocre team falling short, while others are calling for a change in the front office. Slava Kozlov, bitter and angry after another disappointing season, is unhappy with the coaches. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the quotes. Here is but a taste:

“I felt pressure since training camp. Coach told me he has pressure from upstairs. I talked to [GM] Don [Waddell], he said he never talked to the coach. Somebody is lying. I don’t want to know what happened and who is lying. I feel like I don’t deserve to be treated like that. Right now, it’s over. The last game, I have lots of support from the fans. I don’t know maybe it was because I’m not coming back next year or it’s my last game but it was nice last night.”

“This system, for two years they tell us it’s going to work but unfortunately everybody knows what we are going to do. Our breakouts, we make two, three passes in our zone and we don’t beat anybody. I saw that in the New Jersey game. New Jersey just waited in the neutral zone and we make two or three passes and make one mistake in neutral zone and boom, they counter attack us. ...

Kozlov, 37, finished with just 8 goals and 26 points this past season and saw his minutes on the ice diminish as the season came to a close. He would go on to say that he felt the coaching staff was just having fun, not taking the game seriously and not preparing the team correctly. He felt this Thrashers team was the best they’ve had, and them falling short of the playoffs should rest on the coaching staff.

More after jump, including a response from the coach.

Vivlamore was able to get a response from coach John Anderson today:

“He could have spoken to me. The door is always open. I played him that last game. That’s how much respect I had for him. I didn’t want it to come to this. Quite honestly, if you look back on it if he had the type of season he had the year before, would we be having this conversation.”

Anderson would fire right back saying how Kozlov is just a player who is frustrated with not playing up to his standards this past season, and how his rigid style of play and approach contrasted Anderson’s free and easy manner of coaching the team.

Anderson is right on one thing: the coach ultimately has the responsibility for when the team fails. But it’s not as if he didn’t try to get the team to succeed; he changed the lines around, and made tough decisions to scratch the established but underachieving players on the team.

He even suggests Kozlov spends time in the minors to find his love of the game again.

One thing is certain: Vyacheslav Kozlov will not be playing for the Thrashers next season.