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Hartley loses job in Atlanta

With Thrashers winless, coach is shown the gate

BOB HARTLEY 10 straight defeats BOB HARTLEY 10 straight defeats

ATLANTA - A six-game losing streak to start this season put Bob Hartley's job in danger. A quick ouster in last season's playoffs did not help his cause.

Hartley was fired yesterday as coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, the only NHL team without a victory. General manager Don Waddell will coach the team until a replacement is found.

Waddell said the Thrashers were playing as if they have not recovered from losing four straight games to the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs last season.

"The emotions were so high last year going into the playoffs and we went out quickly and, to be honest, I don't know if we've recovered from that yet," Waddell said. "If you look, we've lost 10 games in a row now, including the last four last year. That's where I believe a change has to be made."

Waddell said he has no timetable for a hiring and indicated he may look for a coach who is less intense than Hartley.

"Maybe we've got to back off a little bit and let the players have some fun in the game," Waddell said.

"Certainly Bob has been here a long time . . . We weren't getting the most, particularly out of our veteran players, and that was a concern," he said.

Hartley, who won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001, was 136-123-32 with Atlanta.

"I was excited to enter the season and face the challenge of building on the success of last year, but things just didn't come together as we anticipated," Hartley said. "I dedicated myself to helping this team reach its potential, and I understand the decision following our disappointing start."

Michael Gearon Jr., who represented the ownership group at the announcement, said there was great concern the team was losing all momentum gained from winning the Southeast Division last season and making its first playoff appearance. The Thrashers have been outscored, 27-9, including a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia Tuesday night.

"From our perspective, it's important to see progress," Gearon said. "From the start of this season we're not seeing that."

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