Flames Hire Ryan Huska (and Other Notes)

Ryan Pike
June 23 2014 12:02PM

The Flames made an important announcement today, officially hiring Ryan Huska as the coach of their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Flames.

Huska's just 38 years old (39 next month, but boasts a resume that rivals a lot of established NHL coaches. He's coming from the Kelowna Rockets, where he was a coach for 12 years - 5 as an assistant and then 7 as head coach. The Rockets have made the playoffs during each of his years as head coach, including winning their division three times and a WHL Championship. He was also an assistant coach for Team Canada at two World Juniors and has a silver medal (from 2011) and a bronze (from 2012) to show for it.

FlamesNation fave Mikael Backlund was on that WHL Championship team. Huska also won three Memorial Cups as a player with the Kamloops Blazers, where he played on the team with somebody named "Jarome Iginla." (Never heard of him.)

It seems like a great hire, and Flames GM Brad Treliving raved about his abilities as a teacher when discussing the hire at the 'Dome today. By all accounts, Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall worked on this hire.

Other quick hits from the media availability today:

  • The Flames "list" is more or less set, but a lot of what they're doing right now is preparing for scenarios. As in, if things unfold in different ways (say Florida makes a trade, or Florida picks Player X, or whatever), Treliving wants his staff to be prepared and not caught scratching their heads about what to do. He says they've mapped out nine different scenarios for the first four selections.
  • The Flames are happy to be picking where they are: 4th overall and with 5 picks in the first three rounds. There have been discussions at potentially grabbing 4th or 5th rounders. As it stands, their staff will be sitting on their hands for roughly 90 picks.
  • It'd take something really significant for Calgary to give up the 4th overall pick.
  • Treliving noted that the Flames need help more or less everywhere.
  • Rushan Rafikov is having visa issues but they hope he'll be here for development camp.
  • Treliving had a lot of positive things to say about Flames head scout Tod Button.
  • The travel reductions in the new NHL schedule (10,000 fewer miles over the year due to elongated road trips and homestands) and the switch from Abbotsford to Adirondack will be big for the organization in terms of development and practice time. He did note that the Baby Flames will be playing in the Western Conference (so reductions may not be as dramatic as hoped in the AHL), and that the AHL schedule should be out in late July or early August.
  • Treliving has no updates on the Flames many pending UFAs (Mike Cammalleri, Kevin Westgarth, Chris Butler, Chris Breen, Joey MacDonald, Derek Smith, Blair Jones and Ben Street) and RFAs (Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, T.J. Galiardi, Chad Billins, Ben Hanowski, Joni Ortio, Olivier Roy, Mark Cundari, James Martin and David Eddy). He noted he hasn't spoken to any of them yet (in regards to Chris Butler's status specifically). RFAs need to be qualified by next Monday, so we'll know pretty quickly.
  • Treliving expects the next week or so leading up to the draft to be busy.
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Now in his fourth season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers and the Wrestling Observer.
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#1 Dave
June 23 2014, 12:18PM
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This all sounds very good to me! Possibility of grooming Huska to replace Hartley in a couple years.

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#2 Okanagan Flame
June 23 2014, 12:30PM
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Having lived in the Okanagan for the past 4 1/2 years, this is good news as a Flames fan. Huska has done a lot with the Rockets, even when they weren't supposed to be good.

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#3 BitGeek
June 23 2014, 12:31PM
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I wonder if the baby Flames will continue to use the same systems as the parent club now that new coaches are taking over...

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#4 Derzie
June 23 2014, 12:32PM
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Nice update. Some sober and encouraging info coming from the Treliving camp.

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#5 Baalzamon
June 23 2014, 12:53PM
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Nice that they got this done so soon. Makes me think that Treliving and co. had Huska in mind all along. I'm still a bit chapped about Ward, but whatever. Seems like an astute hire.

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#6 Parallex
June 23 2014, 12:54PM
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Dave wrote:

This all sounds very good to me! Possibility of grooming Huska to replace Hartley in a couple years.

Or maybe even the season after next? Hartley's contract is up after this season afterall. Hard to argue with the success Huska has had in Kelowna I've wondered when some NHL team was going to snatch him up... glad it's the Flames.

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#7 Mezzo
June 23 2014, 01:45PM
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Everytime BT talks I grow increasingly fond of his philosophy and decisions (I was weary about letting Ward go, but this seems like a fantastic hiring). I loved that he called BS on the Spezza trade rumours.

With that said I guess I'll wait for the draft to see if I'll eat my words or not. Here's hoping for a Sam!

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#8 SydScout
June 23 2014, 01:50PM
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Makes me wonder what input Huska could have into this years draft, particularly with the ex#4 picks. Although sounds like planning for the picks within the top 90 is mostly done.

Would be silly not to at least get his input for later round picks where his insight into the best of the WHL may uncover a gem. He'd surely have an insight to the 'character' of the Rockets players (at least, if not others across the WHL) that would fit with the organisations demands.

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#9 MonsterPod
June 23 2014, 02:36PM
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My Dad was at a season ticket holder luncheon recently. He talked later to a fellow ticket holder who had apparently stayed after to chat with BB and BT. (so yes there is some grapevine here).

But dude told my Dad that they said they were trying to get the #1 pick. They offered Florida #4 overall, a 2nd rounder, and Baertschi.

They said they were turned down.

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#10 suba steve
June 23 2014, 02:53PM
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@MonsterPod

If the #1 overall pick is moved by Florida, I would be shocked if it was done before Friday; I don't see them accepting any offer before that. Come Friday, they will look over all offers and determine what clubs have offered the best packages and try to extract a little bit more, then they either trade the pick or they make the pick.

It could still happen, I'm just not sure that it would be for the betterment of the Flames.

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#11 ChinookArch
June 23 2014, 02:55PM
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MonsterPod wrote:

My Dad was at a season ticket holder luncheon recently. He talked later to a fellow ticket holder who had apparently stayed after to chat with BB and BT. (so yes there is some grapevine here).

But dude told my Dad that they said they were trying to get the #1 pick. They offered Florida #4 overall, a 2nd rounder, and Baertschi.

They said they were turned down.

Good, because that's an overpayment.

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#12 Parallex
June 23 2014, 03:23PM
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MonsterPod wrote:

My Dad was at a season ticket holder luncheon recently. He talked later to a fellow ticket holder who had apparently stayed after to chat with BB and BT. (so yes there is some grapevine here).

But dude told my Dad that they said they were trying to get the #1 pick. They offered Florida #4 overall, a 2nd rounder, and Baertschi.

They said they were turned down.

Good. Difference between #1 & #4 is not worth Baertschi and a 2nd.

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#13 wot96
June 23 2014, 03:54PM
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@MonsterPod

I'm completely with Chinook Arch and Parallex - that's an overpayment.

I'm not sure why Florida would want even a talented left winger when their need seems to be defencemen.

Offering Sven and a second, plus a top six forward (like Hudler or GlenX) sounds more like something BBBT might consider offering Nashville for their first. But I don't think that gets it done either.

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#14 MontanaMan
June 23 2014, 04:05PM
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Maybe it's me but I can't see your POHO and GM revealing confidential information at a season ticket holders function. The NHL is big business and sensitive info doesn't get out or it kills the franchise. It's a great rumor but I doubt it's remotely factual.

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#15 theCalgaryJames
June 23 2014, 04:19PM
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MonsterPod wrote:

My Dad was at a season ticket holder luncheon recently. He talked later to a fellow ticket holder who had apparently stayed after to chat with BB and BT. (so yes there is some grapevine here).

But dude told my Dad that they said they were trying to get the #1 pick. They offered Florida #4 overall, a 2nd rounder, and Baertschi.

They said they were turned down.

This is pretty much exactly what I hate about trade rumours and why i wish they'd stay in the annals of hockey buzz and far away from anything resembling real journalism...

There's a big difference between the flames "offering" Florida this deal and Florida saying that's the only offer they would accept. I have no doubt that Florida may be asking for that kind of a deal but I doubt STRONGLY that the flames would just up and offer that package. Especially when the return at number 1 isn't really going to be that appreciably better than the one you get at 4. But most people who hear or tell rumours are easily capable of mishearing or miscommunicating hugely important distinctions and so the entire speculation over trades that may or may not be in the works from 'unknown sources' becomes the most absurd game of telephone.

Rumours are fun but treating them as fact and condemning or exalting those being speculated about is ludicrous.

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#16 Stubblejumper
June 23 2014, 05:15PM
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Assuming there is some truth behind the rumour, which there likely is, I think there are a couple concerns.

1) Lack of faith in Sven Baertchi's potential. Perhaps I'm just too entrenched as a diehard fan but I have been very positive on Sven and his potential to "make" it to the NHL.

Sven has a good ppg, had some teething issues, turned it around and performed well with the Heat, and looked to be on the fast track back with this experience in hand.

However where there's smoke there's fire, and between this rumour and several others Sven's anme would appear to definitely be in play.

I'm not close to Sven's situation, but I still envision he has the potential to be a 1LW/2LW in the league with just a little encouragementt and good supportive coaching/mgt.

Instead...have the Flames given up on him is the question that comes to mind.

2) The desire by the Flames to make a splash by losing 2 good additional assets (Sven, 2nd rounder) to get a pick 3 spots higher...a very heavy price.

Would rather see the Flames try to use assets to get a SECOND 1st rounder...perhaps something like a Top6 roster player (Hudler?), a good prospect (Agostino?) plus a 2nd rounder in return for a 1st round pick in the #11-22 range...

Getting a second 1st round pick would be a smarter trading strategy than over-valuing(IMO) Ekblad, paying a premium price, and still coming away with just one 1st rounder.

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#17 FlamesinToronto
June 23 2014, 05:28PM
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The more I hear Treliving talk, the more confident I am the Flames don't go off the board with Ritchie or trade down or up. That said, I'll still be nervous as hell when the Flames are on the clock.

As for the RFA's, I don' expect any surprises. I really wish Galliardi would be brought back but I can't imagine that being a possibility with how Hartley used him last season. As for the UFA's, I'd have no problem having none of them brought back but it seems more and more likely that Cammalleri is re-signed this offseason.

No real problem with the Flames not having any picks in the 4th and 5th rounds. It sticks with the theme of this team desperately needing high end talent over organizational depth at this point.

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#18 MonsterPod
June 23 2014, 06:35PM
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theCalgaryJames wrote:

This is pretty much exactly what I hate about trade rumours and why i wish they'd stay in the annals of hockey buzz and far away from anything resembling real journalism...

There's a big difference between the flames "offering" Florida this deal and Florida saying that's the only offer they would accept. I have no doubt that Florida may be asking for that kind of a deal but I doubt STRONGLY that the flames would just up and offer that package. Especially when the return at number 1 isn't really going to be that appreciably better than the one you get at 4. But most people who hear or tell rumours are easily capable of mishearing or miscommunicating hugely important distinctions and so the entire speculation over trades that may or may not be in the works from 'unknown sources' becomes the most absurd game of telephone.

Rumours are fun but treating them as fact and condemning or exalting those being speculated about is ludicrous.

Never said it was journalism. Never said it was more than rumor. And maybe a fan forum is a perfect place to bounce these ideas around, even if it is just speculation. We have the time to kill waiting for the weekend.

We all know the game where 20 kids line up on stage and pass a secret down the line and by the end it is totally unrecognizable.

And I also found it weird that they would mention Baertschi by name because of course it would get out. But I didn't create anything here, just relayed the info.

Back to playing speculative armchair GM: It's not really trading #4 and a 2nd and Baertschi for #1. It's trading all that for Ekblad. So if you put it on the table and look at it that way, the light changes a little.

Now that Gaudreau is signed and since we're overloaded on LW, I don't actually hate the idea.

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#19 MonsterPod
June 23 2014, 06:39PM
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wot96 wrote:

I'm completely with Chinook Arch and Parallex - that's an overpayment.

I'm not sure why Florida would want even a talented left winger when their need seems to be defencemen.

Offering Sven and a second, plus a top six forward (like Hudler or GlenX) sounds more like something BBBT might consider offering Nashville for their first. But I don't think that gets it done either.

I agree that Florida seems to need defensemen, but last year they passed on Seth Jones and now they're effectively shopping Ekblad. I guess Dale Tallon just has different ideas.

Jones/Ekblad could have been their future 1/2. Wow, I hope he knows what he's doing.

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#20 wot96
June 23 2014, 08:10PM
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@MonsterPod

No kidding. In 6 years, people are going to look at the Panthers and say they could have had Seth Jones and Aaron Ekblad. And then they will compare whatever that team looks like then and wonder what might have been...

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#21 DoubleDIon
June 24 2014, 04:41AM
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wot96 wrote:

No kidding. In 6 years, people are going to look at the Panthers and say they could have had Seth Jones and Aaron Ekblad. And then they will compare whatever that team looks like then and wonder what might have been...

I doubt it. Barkov definitely looked better than Jones this year. I'd take Barkov ahead of Jones every day of the week. I can't comment too much on Ekblad since my only viewings were the WJHC. FWIW I thought Morrissey looked better than Jones in the WHL.

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#22 coachedpotatoe
June 24 2014, 06:21AM
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Speaking of speculation(not journalism) after listening to the Fan and reading articles on line it sounds as if 4 teams in the top 11 may be shopping their top pick. Florida we all know(and most would agree that the price to move up is to high), but what about adding another top pick from what the scuttle butt says from the Islanders, Carolina or Nashville. Islanders are said to be looking for a lw to play on Taveres line would Hudler be a fit?(it is Garth Snow), I'm not sure of what Carolina wants, and in Nashville might Glencross waive his NTC clause? I doubt anyone of these straight up gets it done but I hope(and suspect) that management are kicking tires. What would people here think is a reasonable deal for both sides?

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#23 everton fc
June 24 2014, 02:05PM
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Sometimes, indeed often, I think the only hope the Panthers have I to move the franchise to a Canadian city like Quebec. Or to a city like Seattle or Milwaukee. Anywhere but Miami!

Alas... they'll continue to have high draft picks and no results. The offer of Baertschi, our 4th and a 2nd round pick is indeed too much for the first pick overall. 1 thru 4 s not a tremendous difference. Or so it seems...

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#24 everton fc
June 24 2014, 02:10PM
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•Treliving has no updates on the Flames many pending UFAs (Mike Cammalleri, Kevin Westgarth, Chris Butler, Chris Breen, Joey MacDonald, Derek Smith, Blair Jones and Ben Street) and RFAs (Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, T.J. Galiardi, Chad Billins, Ben Hanowski, Joni Ortio, Olivier Roy, Mark Cundari, James Martin and David Eddy). He noted he hasn't spoken to any of them yet (in regards to Chris Butler's status specifically). RFAs need to be qualified by next Monday, so we'll know pretty quickly.

Of this group above, I'd pen the following:

Cammy (unless you find a team willing to take him that Cammy will sign for)

Ortio - No brainer.

Roy - Good insurance on the farm

Street - Earned it.

Bouma

Byron - Earned it

Billins - Good for the farm

Hanowski - though still not the best skater.

Cundari - maybe

Galiardi is a 4th liner to me. Not much more than Comeau many nights. I know Burke will re-sign Colborne. But he'll always score 15-20 pts a season. Maybe. I don't have enough knowledge of Martin or Eddy to go either way. The rest are expendable, though I think Westgearth may actually be able to play some hockey. Maybe.

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