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Thrashers name Ramsay coach

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 25, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — With patience and acumen, Craig Ramsay mentored a defensive corps that gave up the second-fewest goals in the NHL this past season, one year after he watched over the league’s stingiest defense.

Because of that, the Bruins lost their assistant coach, who was tapped for the top job yesterday behind the Atlanta bench.

“Craig is very well-respected in the hockey community, and we’re excited to add a coach of his caliber to our organization,’’ Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said in a statement. “He is widely regarded as an excellent teacher, and he is the right choice to help further develop our team and lead us to our ultimate goal.’’

The 59-year-old Ramsay, Claude Julien’s lead assistant since 2007-08, will be reunited with Dudley. They were teammates in the 1970s in Buffalo. Dudley was also Ramsay’s former boss in Tampa Bay. As associate coach under John Tortorella, Ramsay helped lead the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004.

“He’s a real calming guy,’’ Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said. “He’s really good one-on-one with guys. Ton of experience. He can communicate with the guys on a level that, when you’re day-to-day and you have to tell guys what they’re doing wrong, it gets tiresome from both sides. He can really connect that way with the players.’’

This will be Ramsay’s third stint as a head coach. In 1999-2000, he was interim coach in Philadelphia, where he held the position for 25 games that season and three more in 2000-01. Ramsay was also the interim coach in Buffalo in 1986-87.

In Ramsay’s most recent role with the Bruins, he was in charge of overseeing Julien’s box-plus-one defensive system. Ramsay played the good cop to Julien’s firm hand and was a favorite of the players because of his level-headed approach.

“He would always talk to me, even when I wasn’t playing,’’ said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who credited Ramsay for helping him adjust to the NHL. “He worked on my foot speed and decision-making. Almost everything about my defensive game, he made it better.’’

In all likelihood, assistant coach Doug Houda, who was positioned in the press box during games, will replace Ramsay on the bench. The Bruins would then begin the search for another assistant to serve in Houda’s position in the press box.

Ramsay, like the rest of the Bruins coaching staff, was scheduled to begin the first season of a multiyear extension in 2010-11.

Talks continue
All indications point toward the Oilers, owners of tonight’s first pick in the draft, retaining their position and selecting Taylor Hall. The Bruins would then take Tyler Seguin with the second pick.

But Chiarelli said he’ll continue to chat with Edmonton counterpart Steve Tambellini about a trade that would allow the Bruins to choose between Hall and Seguin.

In such a scenario, the Oilers would keep the No. 1 pick and the Bruins would remain at No. 2. Edmonton would receive assets in exchange for letting the Bruins pick between the two. Chiarelli, however, reiterated that the gap between Hall and Seguin is so tight that it may not be worth giving up players, prospects, or picks for the right to select one over the other.

Although the Bruins upgraded by acquiring Nathan Horton Tuesday, they would still like to add some scoring punch on the wing.

“We do have a player rated 1, and we do have a player rated 2,’’ Chiarelli said. “But they’re so good, I’m not running over chairs and jumping over things to get that player we have at 1.’’

Recchi up next
Mark Recchi, who will reach unrestricted free agent status Thursday, will be the next player added to the fold. Negotiations are continuing between the sides. Last year, Recchi re-signed July 2 . . . Chiarelli said he has been approached about bundling the Bruins’ second-round picks (Nos. 32 and 45) for a first-round selection. But Chiarelli, who gave up the No. 15 pick in the Horton deal, said he most likely won’t move the 32d selection. “One of the reasons why I put 15 in the deal for Horton,’’ Chiarelli said, “was that we felt the draft was so deep that there’s a good chance we can get who we have at 15 at 32. I’m not inclined to [trade No. 32] right now. Who knows what happens on the day of the draft, who will be there, and whatever first-round pick is offered.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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