The Calgary Flames won on Saturday night, and in addition to being Mikael Backlund’s 300th game as a Calgary Flame, it represented a pretty big milestone for head coach Bob Hartley.
The victory was the 100th regular season win for Hartley behind the bench for the Flames. He joins a pretty exclusive group, becoming just the eighth Flames bench boss to hit the century mark.
The eight guys in the 100-Win Club are all a little bit different in terms of the circumstances that they hit that mark.
- Fred Creighton replaced “Boom Boom” Geoffrion as the Flames coach back in Atlanta in 1974-75. He inherited a group that had gone to the post-season but hadn’t broken past the preliminary round. The Flames back then were a young scrappy bunch that were defensively sound but struggled to score. He made them a bit better offensively, but he still couldn’t get them higher than third in their division – and that quality made it tough for them to eke out a playoff round win.
- Al MacNeil replaced Creighton the following season, as Creighton moved onto the Bruins (and was fired late in his only season in Beantown). The Flames were a maturing team and moved to Calgary after his first season as coach. They made the playoffs in each of his three seasons behind the bench and while they never crept above third in their division, they managed to go on a run in 1980-81 and win the first two playoff rounds in franchise history. Rather than get axed after three seasons, he was reassigned and remains semi-involved in the Flames hockey operations in an informal capacity. He returned to coaching briefly in 2002-03 after Greg Gilbert was fired.
- The legendary “Badger” Bob Johnson inherited MacNeil’s old job and team, and he basically got a car that worked well and was able to tinker with the engine. The club won five playoff rounds in five years, and while they never managed to win the Smythe Division regular season title, they ended up going to their first Stanley Cup Final in 1986.
- Terry Crisp replaced Johnson, and managed to improve upon his record with three division regular season titles in three seasons. He won five playoff rounds in three years, including the 1989 Stanley Cup Championship. As was the general progression since Creighton, he built upon his predecessor’s work rather nicely.
- Dave King came in as Flames coach after a brief, tumultuous stint by former player (and concurrent general manager) Doug Risebrough at the helm. With a great record as a national team coach, King came in and won division titles in two of the three years he coached – and that’s with economic pressures and questionable trades basically gutting the team as he was coaching it.
- Darryl Sutter joined the Flames in 2002-03 – after a brief Al MacNeil interim stint – and returned the Flames to the playoffs after a seven-season absence in 2003-04. Then there was a lock-out. Then the team won the division (for the first time in over a decade). Then he resigned as coach to focus on his GM duties. In three seasons as coach, Sutter’s team won three playoff rounds.
- Brent Sutter was the final coach under Darryl Sutter, and he inherited a pretty decent team that simply didn’t have much gas left in the tank. He coached for three seasons, missed the playoffs in each of those seasons – albeit just barely in each of them – and was replaced by Hartley.
The first four coaches represented the Flames at various points of its initial ascent; Darryl represented the club in its brief resurgence, and Brent’s reign basically led to the team finally getting blown up in the Iginla Era. Hartley’s the first coach to hit the 100-win mark during a full-fledged rebuild.
For the curious, the speed that it took each coach to hit 100 wins:
- Terry Crisp: 158 games
- Dave King: 191 games
- Darryl Sutter: 197 games
- Brent Sutter: 208 games
- Bob Hartley: 214 games
- Bob Johnson: 227 games
- Al MacNeil: 232 games
- Fred Creighton: 237 games