No one can really get a good sense of Brian Burke. The whole truculence facade... the hair... Nick Ritchie. Who the hell knows what is actually going on in that big mug.
What we do know is that by all indications (albeit early) the managerial moves that the team has made this offseason have been big wins, going in the opposite direction of what some may have thought when Burke was hired; a pleasant surprise.
Not renewing Troy Ward's contract as coach of the AHL Flames also came as a bit of a surprise to most, but new General Manager Brad Treliving is executing his plan to glowing reviews thus far. Brad Pascall, Craig Conroy and now, Ryan Huska.
We now know the names of the foundation and thanks to Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier, we get to find out a little bit more about Huska and the hiring process.
*All quotes are as told to Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier, some of which appear in his article from June 23rd. Larry was also kind enough to forward the rest of his notes from his conversations. I've taken all Flames-related material.*
After an initial phone interview, he went to Calgary last Thursday to meet with the Flames’ new management group and was offered the job on Friday morning.
"I never applied; I’ve never sent a resume out. You talk to teams along the way . . . but this just felt right," said Huska..."
"I left there feeling really good about what they were looking for with their minor-league team and, really, what their vision was. I felt that their minor-league coach was going to be an important piece of their puzzle," continued Huska, who will get right to work with Calgary hosting a prospects camp in early July following this weekend’s NHL draft. "I feel really comfortable with their staff, and I’m looking forward to learning from (Flames head coach) Bob Hartley and his crew."
Bruce Hamilton, Owner/President/GM of the Kelowna Rockets, hints that Huska was being courted by other clubs first.
"The team that he signed with was not the team I thought he would have originally, but the more he met with Brad Treliving, he became more and more impressed with Brad and I have been since they hired him. I think he’s going to be a great general manager in the NHL."
"When Barry Trotz went to Washington, I thought there might be a chance there. Some coaches think they should go right to the NHL as an assistant and some think you should go and run your own team. In this case, I think he’s going to run his own team and it’s a new general manager there and who knows what’s going to happen. They have a head coach under contract for another year . . . but it’ll take time and there are changes because you’re dealing with older guys. But they need to be taught how to play and I think he’ll do just a tremendous job of that."
More praise for Brad Treliving, something Flames fans are starting to get more and more.
Lastly, Huska speaks about his role with Adirondack, the makeup of the roster and making the jump from junior to pro.
"It's a development job. My main responsibility is to work with the people in Calgary in an effort to try to get their guys ready to play for the Calgary Flames. With where I'm going, for starters, development is going to be the priority. They're going to want to see their players that they're putting into their minor-league program in Adirondack, they want to see them improve and develop to the point where they're going to be able to contribute eventually for the Calgary Flames. If you do that, then you get an opportunity to continue to work with the organization that you are with. That's my challenge, but part of developing is winning, so that also comes into play. We'll do our very best to make sure our team in Glens Falls will be competitive and that the players are going to develop the way Calgary wants them to."
"There's actually quite a few names. (Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart, Tyler Wotherspoon, Michael Ferland) There are a lot of Western League guys that have been on their roster and some faces that I'm familiar with. I have an idea of how they play and now it's just a matter of getting to know them a little bit better as people."
"I don't know if there's going to be too much adjusting. It'll be the same thing that we try to do here as far as building relationships with our players and getting them to know that we're on their side and we want what's best for them. It's not so much a coach telling them that you have do to this and that, because it just doesn't work that way for the best. It's a matter of working together with the player a little more so and coming to ideas or suggestions that both groups work on. That's typically what coaching professional hockey is all about."
That's good stuff from Ryan Huska and Bruce Hamilton.
Slowly but surely, the direction of the club is showing. All indications are positive but it remains early. At the beginning of the offseason I would have settled for anything that made me forget about the Jay Feaster era; not only are they achieving that, but they're making smart and progressive changes that have been sorely lacking for years.
Enjoy draft week!