The Flames officially unveiled new head coach Bob Hartley on Thursday afternoon. I attended the press conference and have some notes in the aftermath. (More can be found over at The Hockey Writers, especially regarding Troy Ward):
– When asked about coaching a veteran club, it was mentioned by both Feaster and Hartley that he’s coached a bunch of big stars (Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Ilya Kovalchuk were specifically named) and also coached Calder Trophy contenders. Feaster mentioned that he’ll be able to help guys like Sven Baertschi and Lance Bouma become every-day NHLers.
– Asked about his style, Hartley mentioned that he likes to get to know his players as human beings first, then worry about how to push and motivate them. One reporter mentioned his previous nickname ("Bob Heartless") from Colorado, and Hartley admitted that he’s a very demanding coach, but that he’s also human.
– Both Feaster and Hartley explained that Troy Ward will be relied upon as a resource for the organization and that they expect him to be heavily involved in training camp. He’ll probably be behind the bench for some pre-season games, too. Lots of praise for the Abbotsford coach. (After the presser, Feaster indicated that it was very close between Ward and Hartley.)
– Hartley agreed to a three-year contract. Troy Ward is entering the second year of a two-year contract (with a club option for a third year.)
– Hartley confirmed that he had discussions with Montreal about their head coaching position and made up his mind recently that Calgary was where he wanted to coach. In his contract with the ZSC Lions, he was able to exercise an "out" clause to explore offers with Calgary, Montreal or Quebec. Feaster had a lot of praise for the management of the Zurich club, which gave him a window until June 1 to come to an agreement with Hartley and negotiate compensation for their club.
– ZSC Lions assistant coach Jacques Cloutier, who also coached with Hartley in Colorado, was released from his contract in Zurich. He’s expected to join the Flames once a contract can be agreed upon. Feaster indicated that Hartley will meet with associate coach Craig Hartsburg and goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk shortly and "see if there’s a fit." No timeline was given for finalizing the coaching staff.
– Hartley has already begun to contact players to get to know the group prior to training camp. He hopes to speak with all of the team’s players by the end of this weekend. He noted that he’s going to meet in-person with Jarome Iginla, joking that if they discussed everything he wanted to discuss over the phone, they would "run out of minutes."
– Beyond the announcements, the atmosphere was very light. Hartley was cracking jokes. At one point, a photographer lost his footing and fell over, prompting Hartley to declare "that’s two minutes for diving."
Overall, The mood in the Saddledome seemed to be cautious optimism. Hartley has a fairly strong record as a coach and he usually does fairly well for his team early on, as evidenced with strong showings in his first few years with Atlanta.