Background: John Anderson was notorious in the AHL for going ballistic on the bench if his team has been wronged. He doesn't spare the tongue to the media complaining about the refs either. Last spring in Wilkes-Barre I sat next to a referee who was comparing Anderson's comments on him the previous night to what he might say that evening on the next victim.
So at the press conference today, I couldn't help but ask the newly-promoted John Anderson if he thought he'd like NHL referees better than AHL referees. Here's what he said.
I talked to [former NHL linesman] Danny McCourt up in Traverse City. They are well aware that I'm a little harder on referees than most coaches. I even talked to Don [Waddell] about this, because Don's been behind the bench and I asked him some advice. My mantra is 'I'm not going to say very much.' I think I'll fight the large battles as opposed to all the little ones. You have to remember that when I started coaching, the level that I was at, the refereeing really reflected that. I think I've gotten better over the years and hope to continue to improve myself, that I won't be yapping at them for all the little things. Something important. I think you saw Don get mad last year -- we were watching the video of it. I think if you keep you boiling point to something that's really important, the referees will respect me as a coach a lot more. So that's the way I intend to run it. I know I have a reputation of being bad on them, but I will be better this year.
At this point, Waddell jumped in and pointed out that in the AHL, there is only one ref and that they are young. In the NHL, there are two refs and the best in the world. They will be better. To which Anderson said, "we'll see." That got a laugh.
The thing that stood out to me in Anderson's response was him saying he's gotten better. Having seen him flip out rather recently, I can't even imagine what he was like before. I would love to see his final tally of all the fines he paid over the years as well.
One last thought and then I'll go wrap up my preview article -- it's a good thing that Wolves coach Wendall Young isn't coming to Atlanta or we might have bench majors.