With Glen Gulutzan officially axed today by the Calgary Flames, the focus now shifts to finding a new head coach for next season. The vibe put off by Brad Treliving at today’s press conference hinted that the Flames seemed to be leaning towards finding a coach with experience in the NHL after trying the new coach route with Gulutzan.
Here are a few names that the Flames could be looking at.
I’ll start off with the fun name that’s been bounced around lately, and that’s former Calgary Flames head coach and general manager Darryl Sutter. Most recently Sutter coached the Los Angeles Kings, leading them to two Stanley Cup titles during his six year tenure there. He didn’t coach in 2017-18.
Obviously there’s a lot of nostalgia at work with the idea of bringing back Sutter, but would he fit in well with this current team? He would certainly bring the hard-nosed grit that so many fans were foaming at the mouth for at the end of this season.
There are questions whether his coaching style would still work in today’s NHL as well as it did 4-6 years ago when he was winning Cups. In his final three years with LA, they only made the playoffs once and were out in five games in 2015-16.
A common theme with this year’s playoffs have been the that young and fast teams have been winning, while the traditional rough/gritty teams (Anaheim, LA) are on the verge of being knocked out.
One of the issues in his time with Los Angeles was that he made some questionable personnel decisions, especially when it came to playing younger players. With Calgary entering a time of roster turnover as prospects start graduating to the NHL, maybe it isn’t a great fit. Maybe he’s also enjoying retired life a ton.
Certainly the name that has been linked to the Flames the most over the past week has been that of Bill Peters who is still under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. Peters reportedly has an opt-out clause in his contract which lasts until Friday if he chooses to coach elsewhere next season.
During his last four seasons with the Hurricanes he has a 137-138-53 record and no playoff appearances. Not the best looking statline by any means, but he has been saddled with some pretty bad rosters in Carolina.
A lot of comparisons can be drawn to the 2017-18 Flames and 2017-18 Hurricanes. Last season the Hurricanes led the league with a 54.48 CF%, but were second to last in both PDO (97.9) and save percentage (90.88%). They also had the 28th best shooting percentage at 7.03%.
He has a hard nosed attitude and hasn’t been afraid to call out his players before. He would certainly bring that strong edge the Flames were missing. It is worth noting that Peters and Brad Treliving do have a strong relationship after they worked together to help Canada win gold at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. Peters is coaching Canada at this year’s tournament as well.
If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Peters being the next coach.
Treliving likes his Arizona guys and Tippett is certainly one of them, having coached the Desert Dogs for eight seasons. Treliving and current Flames scout Don Maloney hired Tippett in Arizona so you know there is a strong relationship among all three.
Tippett did have some success in Arizona, making the playoffs in his first three years there including a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2011-12. He also has won the Jack Adams trophy, which came in the 2009-10 season where he led the Coyotes to a 50 win season.
As for his fit with the players, Tippett typically employed a more defensive strategy, however it seemed to become stale and may have held some of the younger Coyotes back towards the end of his time there.
Tippett does make sense from a relationship-based standpoint and Treliving seems to like his Arizona guys, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Flames hire him.
Whether or not the Capitals actually decide to let him go after this season remains to be seen, but if he is then Trotz could be another target to consider. Trotz has been a successful regular season coach during his time in the NHL, making the playoffs in 10 of the last 13 seasons, but the knock is that his teams haven’t had success in the playoffs.
In those 10 playoff seasons, his teams only won a total of five playoff rounds, and he’s never made it past the second round. Heck, making the second round would sound pretty good right about now in Calgary.
Whether or not it’s the result of the Capitals roster having taken a step back this season or Trotz’s coaching, the Capitals have regressed in all major stat departments from past seasons. There is the sense that unless the Caps can pull off the comeback against Columbus and make at least the third round, that he’ll be gone after this season.
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