Ex-Wolves coach Anderson pumped to return home

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Former Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson is now an assistant coach in Phoenix after spending two years as Atlanta's head coach.

    Former Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson is now an assistant coach in Phoenix after spending two years as Atlanta's head coach. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/14/2012 7:42 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The last time John Anderson was coaching during the playoffs in Chicago, he was guiding the Chicago Wolves to yet another Calder Cup championship.

On Tuesday, Anderson will return to Chicago, but this time with the enemy -- as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes, who will take on the Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals at the United Center.

 

He can't wait.

"The United Center is electric, it's awesome," said Anderson, who still has a house in Chicago. "Plus, my kids get to come watch."

After 11 seasons and five championships with the Wolves, and another two seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, the affable Anderson has found a new home as a member of Dave Tippett's coaching staff.

And to say he's adapted well to the southwestern lifestyle would be a huge understatement.

"It's awesome; I live about three miles from the arena and I ride my bike to practice every day," he said. "Every time you wake up here, the weather's always nice. You don't have to shovel snow.

"There's a reason why people come out here to live."

A nice lifestyle and a solid hockey team, to boot. Not a bad combo.

But ...

"We're not in the mainstream of hockey out here," he said of the Coyotes. "People don't know how good (goalie) Mike Smith is. Or how good Marty Hanzal is, or Radim Vrbata, or Ray Whitney. I see it every day.

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"People don't realize we have a lot of talent out here."

If they don't, they're starting to take notice of a team Anderson feels has what it takes to contend for the Stanley Cup ... this year.

"Oh yeah," he said. "Start with (captain) Shane Doan -- a great, great leader, and that's really where it all starts.

"It's never easy, but who would've picked the Blackhawks to win the Cup at the start of the playoffs a couple of years ago?

"For us, it's a start."

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