The American Hockey League announced Thursday that former Chicago Wolves head coach John Anderson, who directed the franchise to four league championships, has been selected for induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame.
Anderson will be joined in the Class of 2019 by Don Cherry, Murray Eaves and Brad Smyth. The league’s 14th group of enshrinees will be honored during the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic weekend in Springfield, Mass. The Hall of Fame induction and awards ceremony is slated for Monday, Jan. 28.
On the advice of then-Toronto Maple Leafs associate general manager Mike Smith, Chicago Wolves owner and chairman of the board Don Levin hired Anderson and general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Sept. 4, 1997. The Wolves promptly won their first championship in their first year with the organization — and went on to capture four titles in an 11-year stretch.
“He was much, much more than I ever hoped for,” Levin said. “Johnny was one of the first new kind of coaches. Players loved him. He wasn’t screaming all the time. He gave them the freedom to play the game. He was a great coach for us and a great coach everywhere else he went.”
Anderson earned his place in the Hall for his excellence as a coach and as a player. Ten of his 14 years as the Wolves head coach came after the team moved over from the International Hockey League. During the AHL years, Anderson led the Wolves to Calder Cup championships in 2002 and 2008 and 424 regular-season wins — a total that ranks fifth on the AHL’s all-time list.
Prior to moving behind the bench, Anderson spent 17 years playing professionally. He played most of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and stacked up 282 goals in 814 NHL games, then he dominated the AHL during 1991-92 with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks. He piled up 41 goals, 54 assists and a +42 plus/minus rating in just 68 games while also serving as the team’s assistant coach. Anderson was rewarded with the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s most valuable player and also picked up the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
The AHL Hall of Fame was founded in 2006 to recognize, honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the league. It is housed online at www.AHLHallofFame.com and is accessible to fans worldwide as part of the AHL Internet Network.
The Wolves open their 25th anniversary season on the road at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday against the Colorado Eagles. All AHL games this weekend are available for free on the league’s new HD stream. To access the games, go to AHLTV to sign up for a free account.