Unfortunately, Rebecca Black decided to take her video off YouTube, so my Friday is effectively ruined. That said, it’s a busy Friday surrounding the Calgary Flames, as they’ve filled out their coaching vacancies and they’ve also got some good and bad news from Hockey Canada. With FlamesNation getting ready to head to the draft next week, a busy summer is just getting started.
First on the docket is Calgary’s new goaltending coach, Clint Malarchuk, who was hired Friday morning. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his work in prior stops, most recently with the Atlanta Thrashers; he’s had prior stops in Columbus and Florida as well. Malarchuk is an old school guy, but a coach the team was instantly high on.
"When we concluded our interview with Clint, I asked Brent what he thought, and without hesitation he said, ‘I think we should offer him a contract right now’," said GM Jay Feaster. "We had interviewed half a dozen candidates at that point, and it was the first time Brent had such an immediate reaction and felt so strongly that we had found the perfect fit both for Brent, but, even more importantly, for our goaltenders. We welcome Clint to the Flames’ family and look forward to a very long and mutually rewarding relationship." In short, Brent likes him, and so he’s hired.
Malarchuk replaces Jamie McLennan, and I’m still a little sad to see Jamie go. I thought he did a strong job with Henrik Karlsson this past season, which is the best indicator on this team as to the work of a goaltending coach. From Karlsson’s first dismal start on October 28th to his final start in the final game of the season, we saw the Swede progress leaps and bounds in his first NHL season. Karlsson got better at playing his angles, handling the puck, and we saw him go down far too early in his first starts, something that was much improved by the end of his first season. I believe McLennan deserves a lot of credit for that.
The Flames also announced the hiring of Chris Snow as their new Director of Video Analsyis, which continues a very interesting career path for him. Once a sports writer, who covered the Minnesota Wild during the early 2000’s, Snow left the Boston Globe in 2006 to join the Wild as their Director of Hockey Operations; a position he held until the end of last season.
While Malarchuk is an old school hiring, you can put Snow in the new school category, as he’s being brought in to implement new ways of tracking and compiling stats, much like he did in Minnesota. He’s also there to integrate the PUCKS video system, something Snow introduced to Feaster during the season. "Once we started test driving the system, we brought Chris on as a consultant for a few months to work on special assigments," says Feaster. "It didn’t take long for us to recognize that we would benefit greatly by having Chris join us full time. He will be a resource for our players, coaches, scouts and management team, and hiw work will enable us to apply more advanced metrics and analysis to our player acquisition process."
While I don’t think the hiring of Snow means we’ll start hearing terms like Corsi and PDO entering Feater’s lexicon, I do think it’s a significant shift in philosophy from the prior administration. The model of evaluating players, on your team or elsewhere, has changed so dramatically in the last decade that it’s important to cover your bases however you can, and I believe the Flames are doing that here.
Finally, some good and bad news coming from Hockey Canada where the Flames are involved. Kottenay Ice forward Max Reinhart was not among the 46 players invited to World Junior Development Camp at the beginning of August in Edmonton. I was a large fan of Reinhart’s work as the Ice marched to the Western Hockey League title and a berth in the Memorial Cup, playing a large part in their success. He played a key role in neutralizing top end players like Brayden Schenn and Nino Neiderreiter, and many thought he was a lock to be on Hockey Canada’s list of 46. A little disappointing that he’s not.
On the other hand, Patrick Holland does make the cut, as last year’s seventh round pick finished a strong season with the Tri-City Americans. Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Predergast joined Sportsnet Radio on Friday afternoon and spoke of Holland’s versatility, skating ability and hockey sense as the main reasons why he’s on the list. Prendergast envisions Holland in a third or fourth line role with some penalty killing thrown in, so it’s good to see a Calgary pick at the very least in the mix.
FlamesNation leaves for the draft on Wednesday, or at least I do…I have no idea when Kent is leaving. Tune in Thursday night at 6 pm as FlamesNation Radio makes it’s debut on Sportsnet Radio FAN 960, live from Minnesota. We’ll open up a thread on the site with a few different topics, and we encourage you to leave your comments for Kent and I to discuss on the air. We’ll interact on the phone and Twitter as well, so looking forward to it.