Not who I expected and a bit of a head scratcher.
On first blush it seems like a choice far down the list of what I would have considered top candidates.
Few links for your reading pleasure on the hire.
A little commentary to follow as I try to make sense of this one for Calgary. The Habs were the heavily rumored team to be signing Hartley as recently as two days ago.
This one has terrible optics for Feaster, as Hartley is the Godfather to Feaster's son, so it reeks of nepotism but on the flip side, it will certainly quell the persistent rumors that Feaster is a puppet of Ken King and Murray Edwards. This choice is clearly all his.
So what is the skinny on Hartley?
- He is 52 years old.
- He has never played a game in the NHL as a player
- Began his coaching career with Junior A team called the Hawkesbury Hawks where he lead them to a championship.
- He then went to Laval where he coached the Titans
- Onto the AHL where he was assistant coach to Jacques Martin in Cornwall. Martin went up to the Nordiques and Hartley became head coach and lead the Aces to two division titles.
- Then the Feaster connection begins when Hartley goes to Hershey to coach the Bears for 4 years, including one Calder Cup in 1997.
- He was promoted into the NHL to coach the Avalanche and replace Marc Crawford in 1998. Lets not toot the Hartley horn too much here, Hartley started his NHL career with a powerhouse Avalanche team that had already won a Cup in 1996. (He is getting the opposite in Calgary today)
- He won the Cup with that elite Avalanche team in 2001
- He was fired from the Avalanche and hired by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2003. He had a reasonable record with the Thrashers, given the situation he was in but was fired in 2007.
- He headed over to Switzerland in 2011 and lead the under dog ZSC Lions to the Swiss Championship.
There is your skinny. French is actually Hartley's first language, hence all the hot and heavy rumors he was going to be the Habs coach. He won't have any problem chatting with Alex Tanguay.
He has a good finger on players in Swiss hockey, that may help. He has done decent work in a tough situation in Atlanta and shown he can take a top team to the Cup.
Hartley was going to find work somewhere in the NHL this year, he wasn't the front runner for the Flames but he isn't terrible either.
The optics look a little dicey due to his relationship with Feaster, this coach is all Feaster's and they both will sink or swim with each other in the future here.
A GM and Coach having a close relationship can work for or against a team. There should be good communication between the two parties BUT if the relationship is too close Feaster may hesitate to fire Hartley if the time comes...
Update: Jacques Cloutier, Hartley's assistant in Quebec/Colorado, has apparently also been hired.