Bob the Builder Is The Right Man For the Job – For Now

The timing of the announcement couldn’t have been more perfect.

If ever there was a time to make a statement as to the absolute
certainty of the Calgary Flames’ feeling they have the right man for the
job, it’s to extend the head coach of a rebuilding franchise during a
six-game losing streak.

It serves as a reminder to the fans that the team’s brass knows there
will be plenty of growing pains to come and that the early-season
exceeding of all expectations did nothing to change their short or
long-term plans.

It serves as a distraction to those outside the locker-room who are
sulking over the recent losses. More importantly, it’s a welcome change
of topic for those who are inside the locker-room — many also seen
moping or quietly raging after the loss to the New York Rangers the
previous evening.

It serves as notice to those who point to the statistics like shooting
percentage and Corsi as reasons Hartley should not have been re-signed
that things like work ethic and culture are at least as important to a
team at this stage of the rebuilding process as the strong underlying
numbers they’re sure will eventually come when the likes of Johnny
Gaudreau, Markus Granlund, Josh Jooris and Michael Ferland reach their
prime.

“I’ve been nothing but impressed with Bob, his work ethic, his energy
level, the time he puts in to get this team to the place we all want to
get it to,” GM Brad Treliving said during Wednesday’s press conference. “There’s a consistency to him that I admire.”

The team, veterans and youngsters alike, mirror that effort more often
than not. The culture Bob is building is what sets the Flames apart from
a team like the Edmonton Oilers, which continues to make constant
coaching changes while leaving the contentedly underachieving roster
safe.

Hartley’s support is evident in the locker-room. Less than 24 hours
before the Hartley extension was announced, I spoke with Flames captain
Mark Giordano about the coach’s skills and feel for the pulse of the
young team.

“Especially for young guys, and even older guys coming in, he came in
and what he put into our team is details. Bottom line is we all have
good body position and stick position now. We’ve learned a lot
defensively, not only in our zone but defensively in the offensive zone,
being on the right side of guys,” said Giordano, who has continued to
grow as a two-way defenceman who is now considered a candidate for the
Norris Trophy.

“It’s a hard way to play but I think for young guys coming into the
league, to be able to learn like that in their first few years in the
league, it’s going to go a long way and make them good two-way players.
They learn the right way right off the hop. I think for their careers it
will go a long way.”

With at least a couple more years under Hartley, the kids should
continue to grow. Another aspect of his ability to do the right thing
for his players at the right time is allowing the veterans, like
Giordano, to make some of the lectures when they’re needed.

“Yeah. It’s on us as leaders, older guys and stuff to know that line,
too. When things need to be said in here as players, we do,” Giordano
says. “But coaches hold us accountable.”

Hired by the former general manager, Jay Feaster, the odds might have
been stacked against Hartley returning to continue his work with an
expiring contract looming this summer. Similarly, the odds the Flames
face to take this roster to the playoffs are not entirely favourable.

Maybe that’s another message from Treliving for his team. Nothing is
impossible. And management has the patience and vision to make sure the
process is done the right way.

  • RKD

    The culture change we have seen in Calgary has been a pretty dramatic shift. Each and every player is held accountable. The first and probably most important move was naming Gio as captain. Gone are the teams who looked great on paper but roster filled with overpaid and underachieving veterans who were going through the motions. Too many first round exits and cliched answers after every loss. Bob’s got this believing that losing is not acceptable and if you do lose that you gave an effort for 60 minutes. Without a culture or an identity any team would be dead in the water. Every thing is a learning process, if the Flames are not a good possession team then their players can learn it. Backlund was not born a great possession player, he was taught and he developed those skills over time. The Flames may struggle in the face-off dot but Monahan continues to work on it and he will improve. There are lots of skills the young Flames players can learn practice and develop. After Wideman and Gaudreau were scratched early on, they both responded in a big way.

  • Parallex

    I’ve always been pretty lukewarm to Hartley personally (That’s not an insult… lukewarm is better then cold afterall). He’s a decent enough coach with his deployments strategies although I frequently take issue with some of his line-up choices (although stapling McGrattan to the pressbox earns some decent kudos). I do thank the heavans that his extension will effectively close the door on the possibility of Burke trying to push one of his good ol’ boys into the job (I would have wept if Wilson or Carlyle got hired at some point since they y’know… suck).

  • Parallex

    A lot of people have complained about how Hartley has treated Sven, but I think he’ll be a better player for it. I don’t even think a player like Byron would have got a second look from any other coach, but look at how he’s flourished under Hartley.

    I like the culture that Calgary has put in place, making players more accountable and competitive. Giving the young guys in Adirondack the direction and system they need to adjust more to the NHL level. This is the one thing Feaster initiated that was really smart.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I agree with the timing comment. When I heard people saying “but they’ve lost six straight”, I thought… perfect timing – for just the reasons stated here in this article. I believe in BT. All of his interviews I have impressed with. He could have “gotten his guy”, but I believe his goal is to make the Flames better and he is willing to swallow his own ego to make the right call for the team.

    This team is goin places I tells ya… goin places!

  • Derzie

    What’s this ‘for now’ crap? Every coach gets fired eventually with very rare exceptions (Babcock comes to mind). We are at the beginning of the journey, lets not bring up the end of the journey. Comes across as “We all die so why bother living”. Hartley is a great coach. It’s up to the GM now to feed him players and up to the players to execute. Solid foundation.

  • Derzie

    Great Man, he is one of the best teacher that i ever work with to make understand the new generation that with this work ethic and the right attitude you can achieve more and surprise the hockey world. It is a lot more fun to watch the Flames perform with this intensity. With all this “Yes” they will make the playoffs this year. Don’t forget what Jay as brought to that team (Coach,drafts etc.).

  • BurningSensation

    I’d have re-signed him instantly after he trolled Tortorella into a total meltdown.

    He’s smart, experienced, the player play hard for him, and he has a winning record including a cup. All the things you want in a coach.

    Another Feaster leftover working out in spades. Go figure.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Curious as to why treliving felt it was important to underline to the dressing room that Hartley is their guy going forward. Never knew there were problems in the dressing room…

  • ChinookArchYYC

    “Hired by the former general manager, Jay Feaster, the odds might have been stacked against Hartley returning to continue his work with an expiring contract looming this summer.”

    I agree and thought he was a dead man walking after Feaster was let go. I still believe Hartley had to win his job at the end of last season and this one.

    I don’t agree with all of his decision, but I sure like the culture change that he initiated here.

  • prendrefeu

    Happy to hear the Flames are going back to simplifying their game which is what I’ve been saying for a few weeks. Stop pandering to the geek squad. Go back to doing what you were doing. What has winning the advanced stats gotten you? Yeah 6 losses..
    Go back to putting the biscuit in the basket more than the opposition. I think we’ll all be pleased with the results..