WWYDW: Coaches Challenge

Essentially, what I will argue this week is that the Flames should hire Denzel. Maybe Remember the Titans Denzel, or Training Day Denzel, or Man on Fire Denzel, hell, even Philadelphia Denzel. Really, any Denzel would know not to play Colborne in the top six in my opinion.  

Here at Flames Nation, we’ve discussed the Flames coaching search at length already, and most recently here by Ari. But today we are turning the controls over to you. Let’s find out who you would hire, and it doesn’t have to: a) be a name already associated with the Flames or b) make sense. As long as you want him or her to coach the Flames, I want to hear it. 


I think it is clear that coaches often receive an undue share of blame for defeats and praise for victories, and this is coming from someone who would have blamed Bob Hartley for raising gas prices during his tenure with the Flames. However, knowing how to use the talent at your disposal seems to be one of the most crucial elements of a successful team in the modern NHL.

That being said, sometimes: teams with good coaches have bad seasons, bad coaches coach good teams to great success, bad coaches coach bad teams to the second round of the playoffs, and even good coaches guide good teams into early playoff exits. 

With this in mind, the measure and value of a ‘good’ coach seems exceptionally difficult to tease out of the results of any one season in particular. Finding a good coach, one who is able to put his players in the best position to succeed most often, is a difficult and very important task, especially given the razor-thin margins separating a playoff team from a lottery team. 

So, how are the Flames doing in their search? I won’t get into every name associated with the Flames because there are simply too many at this point. Let’s start with the most recent news. Yesterday afternoon, Darren Dreger noted that Utica Comets head coach Travis Green is definitely in the mix for the Flames head coaching vacancy, as was Vancouver Canucks assistant and former Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan:

Many have identified Green as one of the preferred options for Calgary so far, though Gulutzan’s NHL resume might help his chances as well. However, Green has also been linked to the vacancy in Anaheim and if the choice is left to Green, Calgary might be in tough competing with Anaheim’s roster. 

Personally, I don’t know a heck of a lot about Gulutzan as a coach during his time in Dallas, only that it seems that the Stars had a pretty ugly-looking roster during those seasons and he wasn’t able to lift them out of the mud. Is Gulutzan your man? Do you know something we don’t about him?

Former Oilers coach Ralph Krueger and current Devils assistant Geoff Ward are two names that we discussed earlier and both are especially intriguing given their body of work so far. Ward is a journeyman, who has found success last season running New Jersey’s powerplay. Do you like Ward for this spot? Is his work on special teams enough to earn him the job given Calgary’s astoundingly bad teams play last season?

Krueger, the same man who was unceremoniously fired over freaking Skype by the Hockey Geniuses to the North, had a fairly ‘successful’ season in Edmonton, though that isn’t exactly a glowing endorsment. Krueger is generally considered to be a smart guy and I wouldn’t hate him as a Flames coach, if only as a chance to further annoy dirt city if he is successful in Calgary. 

Come with me to the darkest timeline. The Flames are also rumoured to be at least considering Randy Carlyle, former helmsman and noted toaster hater of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Everything about this story is just… exhaustingly bad, so the source of the most recent update is fitting:

Former Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has interviewed twice for the coaching job in Calgary. The Flames have been in no hurry to name a replacement for Bob Hartley.

Is this as bad as it seems? Do you know something about ol’ Randy that we don’t? Is there any way that he could work for Calgary? Is Flames Nation too harsh on that amicable Jack O’ Lantern? Are we nice people? Do I have bad breath?

One of the most distinctive parts of the head coach search in Calgary seems to be the complete and utter absence of good information regarding who is being seriously considered. Perhaps it is because the Flames themselves are truly undecided at this point, or maybe the Flames run a tight ship. Either way, it’s hard to know how much credence to give any one specific rumour. 

So, as names continue to fly around, I have asked a lot of you the reader, but I want to know what you think. Are there some names you haven’t seen linked to the Flames that you’d like to see in Calgary? Mike Yeo? Brad Shaw? Kirk Muller? Jebb Fink perhaps? Let me know in the comments!

  • deantheraven

    When I heard Dale Hawerchuk’s name tossed around I thought he might be a good fit- experienced winner with a solid pedigree as coach and player before that. Now nobody’s mentioning him. Why?

    • Jake the Snail

      Geoff Ward….former phys ed teacher – can teach…

      Given where the Flames are at in rebuilding with the core of the roster being young players (and hopefully are going to add a couple or three more next season), a coach with a history of being a teacher could be a pretty decent fit.

      In charge of the power play with the Bruins they finished third in the NHL last year on the PP. Ward is a tactical coach not a coach who will say “lets do the stretch pass and maybe we will get lucky”!

  • cunning_linguist

    Geoff Ward, Travis Green, Sheldon Keefe, Dale Hawerchuk…lots of good names out there. Enough good names out there that if Carlyle is hired, it will be a monumental failure on management’s part.

  • Nick24

    Geoff Ward is the most interesting candidate to me. The fact that he ran an effective powerplay with what was essentially a band of misfit NHLer’s makes me optimistic that he could work something pretty darn impressive out here. Including that he’s been coaching at all kinds of levels for a while now, he seems like a coach that could be effective here.

    Also, Taylor, your breath smells fine.

  • freethe flames

    I just can’t wait for the Flames to hire someone as long as his initials are not RC. Once the coach is hired we might have an idea of what the philosophy style of play might be. From there the speculation really begins.

    I tired or waiting for a coach to be hired, contracts to be signed, the draft, trades and free agency. I guess this is what happens when you miss the playoffs.

  • Stu Cazz

    For me Kirk Muller checks all the boxes as head coach. A combination of Muller head coach and Krueger/Ward as associate head coach would make the Flames improve significantly on PP, PK and over all team possession….the gap areas of concern!

  • The Fall

    Can we all just agree this ‘radio silence’ is maddening. Every time I look at my phone I’m expecting some type of Flames announcement: coach, goalie, signing, contract, buyout, ANYTHING…!

    • Stu Cazz

      It’s typical strategy on the NHL who advise teams to keep a low profile during the playoffs….the focus is on the game…stuff will happen at the conclusion of the playoffs….

      • Trevy

        Agree…there’s going to be no announcement until the playoffs are over. As far as we know, the Flames and/or Ducks have probably agreed in principle with their respective coaches. For what it’s worth, I would lean toward Ward, Green, Keefe (although he’s very young) or Muller and for the love of God, I just hope if there’s any announcement before the playoffs end, it’s that Anaheim just hired Carlyle!

        • piscera.infada

          Whenever I see Keefe’s name brought up, I wonder if he’s actually ready to be an NHL coach. I mean, he has two seasons of major-junior and one season of AHL coaching experience. I don’t know a lot about the guy, and I know he’s had success in those three seasons, but he seems limited in the experience department. Of course, I’m in no position to say, and if he’s deemed experienced enough that will be fine for me.

          I really like the idea of Muller.

          • Trevy

            Very true…Keefe will be a good head coach one day but lacks the experience even at the AHL level. Up till now, Treliving has made intelligent, well thought out decisions and I don’t see him gambling on Keefe.

      • Jake the Snail

        Didn’t effect Benning and the Canucks in trading for Huberdeau!

        NOW is the time to announce something even if it is a buyout of a bad contract (pick one any one)…next Cup game not until Saturday…

        EDIT: oops there is a definite time period for buyouts – not this week…

  • Stan

    I am not in ANY way endorsing Randy Carlyle, but with all the people hating on him, I find myself asking why he was interviewed if he is so obviously THE worst? I am quite unfamiliar with him. All I really know is that he was able to win a cup with Anaheim and was able to get a garbage Toronto team into the playoffs. Can someone enlighten me as to why the hiring of Carlyle would be the end of the world?

    Nobody has really listed any reasons as to why the hate him as a candidate, and simply have stated that if he was hired it would be awful. I really am interested in knowing why so many people absolutely hate him.

    • piscera.infada

      If we believe the refrain from Treliving that the team wants to play a more possession focused game, Carlyle would literally be the worst possible candidate. Under Carlyle, his teams have consistently cratered by possession metrics from the previous coach, and then rebounded under the new coaches. In other words, he’s had a negative impact on possession in both Anaheim and Toronto relative to both his predecessor and successor.

      There was an article on this topic when the news of his first interview surfaced. Now none of this is to say he can’t adapt. It just seems to be a strange fit given what management has said about changing the “style” the team plays.

      There’s also a lot written about his previous work that he was difficult on young players, and was somewhat archaic in terms of preferring “grinding” to skill. Now a lot of that is purely conjecture from other writers as I didn’t pay much attention to the Leafs (I try to stay away from them as much as possible).

      I would also say that personally (and I think I speak for some people–certainly not most or all), are ready for a fresh face behind the bench. This organization has gone to the re-tread countless times with limited success (Keenan, Hartley). It also seems to be the way the game is moving. As teams put more and more stock into speed, skill, and possession, we see a lot of hirings geared more towards the up-tempo skilled systems. Thus, you see a lot of “fresh” (or second-time) coaches having success (Cooper, Gallant, Hynes, Hakstoll, Sullivan). Now again, none of that is to say that a relatively new coach will lead to success. I just think the fanbase is ready for it.

    • Nick24

      Crediting Carlyle for getting Toronto into the playoffs would be similar to crediting Hartley for getting the Flames into the playoffs last year.

      That team was largely dragged kicking and screaming into the post-season by James Reimer. And as much as people like to hate Phil Kessel, he had a heck of a year. Kadri had a pretty strong season too.

      If you want to see a system much akin to Hartley’s where the the defense and forwards collapse in the slot, block shots, and hope that the attacking team stays to the outside, then Carlyle’s your guy. Bollig will for sure get lots of ice time, and so will Engellend.

      I don’t think Carlyle is selling anything that the Flames should be buying. To a large part, we’ve probably already seen what his system can do for us.

  • Cowtown75

    I like the idea of Travis Green. A young high profile upstart coach to grow with the team. I would also like the idea of Geoff Ward as his assistant to control the special teams. And for whatever reason Green doesn’t work out, you got Ward in the wings. A lot of great things have been said about Travis Green so I’m interested in what fresh ideas he has.

    It’s a new era and hiring old school coaches like Carlyle doesn’t make sense to me if we are going for a better possession game. The ‘ol dump and chase has always seemed like a “work harder, not smarter” type of strategy to me.

  • The Fall

    Mike Yeo taking interviews in STL. Lets just scratch that name off our list for now.

    Meanwhile, Vancouver Giants GM Glen Hanlon on TSN this morning kept referring to Travis Green in the passed tense.