One Piece of the Puzzle: Flames Set to Bring on Craig Hartsburg

Brent Sutter will have a new assistant coach to terrorize next season.

Somehow, amidst all the damage control resulting from the Erixon deal, the Flames found time to scout out an assistant coach, as the organization will reportedly soon announce the hiring of former Ottawa Senators and Team Canada U-20 head coach Craig Hartsburg. 

Hartsburg is well-remembered for his Major Junior coaching career and guiding Team Canada's juniors to two gold medals in 2007 and 2008, but his career as an NHL head coach has been fairly unimpressive. In seven seasons behind the bench for the Blackhawks, Ducks, and Senators, Hartsburg's teams advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs only once, missed the post-season twice, and he was twice let go--in his last season with the Ducks and in his first and only season with the Senators.

Former Senator Mike Fisher attributed his struggles in 2008-09 to Hartsburg's system; "I found we were always in the defensive zone. We couldn't get the puck out of our own end. Forwards were never getting pucks with speed," he said at the beginning of the 2009-10 season. 

Those criticisms sound similar to the ones heard about Brent Sutter after his first season as Head Coach of the Flames, when the team fell to the bottom of the league in scoring. What is it about former junior and U-20 coaches being defensive sticklers? As an assistant coach, Hartsburg won't be in charge of developing and enforcing a system per say, but he seems to fall in line with Sutter's philosophies. It will be interesting to find out how long the Flames sign him for, as Brent's contract expires at the end of next season. 

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