John Anderson set for homecoming weekend with Wolves
BY MATT HARNESS Sun-Times Media October 11, 2013 10:34PM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins v Chicago Wolves
Updated: November 13, 2013 6:09AM
Bob Nardella said the best move the Wolves made in the offseason was re-hiring John Anderson as coach.
Nardella should know.
The Melrose Park native played nine seasons for the Wolves and won three league championships with Anderson on the bench. Nardella still serves as an unofficial ambassador for the team.
“The aura, the atmosphere here, John created it,” said Nardella, a defenseman who retired in 2006. “He brings stability back to the organization. He wants to be here, and he knows how things work here.”
Anderson will make his homecoming Saturday when the Wolves, who are celebrating their 20th season, host the San Antonio Rampage at Allstate Arena. The Wolves enter the two-game weekend homestand with a 1-1 record.
Anderson coached the Wolves from 1997-2008, leaving the team after winning the AHL title in 2008 to become the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. Following four seasons in the NHL, the last as an assistant with the Phoenix Coyotes, Anderson returned this summer.
While Anderson was gone, the Wolves went from a perennial playoff team to one that made two appearances in the last five seasons. The Wolves finished fourth in the Midwest Division last season with 83 points and failed to make the postseason.
‘‘They couldn’t have brought anybody else in here that would have felt as comfortable as me right away,” Anderson said. “It was a good fit for both of us.”
Anderson won four league titles (two Turner Cups, two Calder Cups) and advanced to the playoffs 10 times during his 11 seasons with the Wolves. But he downplayed his role in the team’s success.
“I didn’t take one shift,” he said. “I had wonderful players. Teams with bad players don’t win championships.”
Center Alex Bolduc is among the chorus of players who are happy to skate for Anderson. Before coming here, Bolduc played in the Coyotes’ organization with Anderson.
“I didn’t play with these guys last year, but from what I heard, it was unacceptable from a Wolves’ perspective,” said Bolduc, who has known Anderson for two years. “One of the reasons I decided to sign with St. Louis was because its farm team was in Chicago. If I ended up in the [AHL], I wanted to be on a team that wanted to win at all costs. That is why they brought Johnny back. They wanted to go back to their winning, and I want to be part of that.”