Bob Hartley - Coaching Career - Atlanta Thrashers

Atlanta Thrashers

One month after being fired by the Avalanche, Hartley was appointed as the second full-time head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, who were looking for a replacement after original coach Curt Fraser was fired following an 8–20–4–1 start on January 15, 2003. Hartley immediately went to work on the team's fortunes. The team went 20–14–5–1 down the stretch and were in the playoff race for the second half of the season, giving hope to Thrasher fans. Hartley's first full season behind the Atlanta bench began with tragedy following the death of Dan Snyder and loss of Dany Heatley for the majority of the season. The team overcame the adversity and set new franchise records for wins and points in a single season with a 33–37–8–4 record. Under Hartley's guidance, rising star Ilya Kovalchuk became a tri-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy. Following the lockout, the Thrashers endured yet another slow start and multiple injuries at the goaltending position. After original goalies Kari Lehtonen and Mike Dunham were injured, Hartley was forced to use prospects Adam Berkhoel and Michael Garnett along with journeyman Steve Shields, the Thrashers posted the first winning season in franchise history with a 41–33–8 record, but fell short for a playoff appearance after losing out to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final week of the regular season by two points. The 2006–07 NHL season was one of many accomplishments for the young Thrashers under Hartley's guidance. The team won their first Southeast Division title, setting new franchise records for wins and points with a 43–28–11 record, good enough for 97 points and third seed in the Eastern Conference. The team also clinched its first playoff berth in franchise history and played the New York Rangers in the first round. As of April 16, 2007, Hartley is the all-time winningest coach in franchise history. On October 17, 2007, Hartley was fired and was temporarily replaced by Don Waddell, the general manager at that time. Hartley was under fire because the team had yet to register a point in six regular season games, and was league worst in goals, and 27th in the league in goals against.

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