Former Atlanta Thrashers coach to lead Belarus at 2007 Ice Hockey World Championships

Curt Fraser, former head coach of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, has been appointed to succeed Glen Hanlon as coach of the Belarusian national ice hockey team.

The news was unveiled at a news conference held in Minsk on Tuesday morning, with Mr. Fraser and representatives of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation (BIHF) participating.

Mr. Fraser, a US citizen, arrived in Minsk on Friday.

Mr. Hanlon, who has combined the duties of Belarus' head coach and the coach of the Washington Capitals since 2005, led the Belarusian team to the sixth place at the 2006 World Championships in Riga, its best achievement ever. The BIHF expected the Canadian to remain in the post until at least the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but Mr. Hanlon said he would quit his coaching job with Belarus because of a heavy workload in Washington. However, he is still expected to continue cooperation with Belarus.

The 48-year-old Fraser coached the Atlanta Thrashers between the 1999-2000 and 2002-2003 seasons but the team never made the playoffs.

The 2007 World Championships will take place in Moscow. //BelaPAN