Glen Gulutzan: ‘an honour’ to coach the Flames

After a long period without a man at the helm, the Flames have officially named Glen Gulutzan as the 16th head coach in franchise history.

Despite his status as a relatively small name in NHL coaching circles, you couldn’t help but be excited by Gulutzan. At this morning’s press conference, Brad Treliving introduced him in a glowing fashion, and Gulutzan’s words helped reinforce that.

Treliving started by taking those present through the coach-search process. He said the Flames were looking for a profile, and that Gulutzan matched it to a dot. Treliving wanted someone who was “Smart, intelligent about the game, structurally, tactically… intra-personal skills… ability to drive players… maximize ability of the players and team.” He emphasized that the Flames were only looking at him as a “coach, but also [a] person.”

The biggest selling point for Gulutzan as a coach was that he answered the “why and how” for players. Treliving feels that Gulutzan can connect and develop
players, pointing to the experience he has working
with youth in the ECHL, AHL, Dallas, and Vancouver. However, he does also believe that Gulutzan can connect with veterans and build trust between coaches and players.

When Gulutzan stepped up, he talked about his excitement to be with Calgary. He was previously with the franchise via the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wrangles (has previously connected with Gio and Wideman at a rookie camp), and felt that he could take the team further.

Guiutzan’s coaching philosophy is something to get excited about. He talked about the team needing “connection” to play a possession game. Under him, the Flames will defend “fast” (getting the puck back and out quickly), use a fast transition from D to O, and use speed while holding the puck. He emphasized throughout the whole conference that he will not change the offensive defencemen system implemented under Hartley, which is a major point of optimism.

He wanted the identity of the team to be a “blend”, especially in a competitive Western Conference. Gulutzan brought up “speed” more often than other words, and felt that the Flames should “play fast, defend fast, have the puck” and spoke out against dumping the puck. 

When asked what steps needed to be taken, he pointed towards making the youth better. Gulutzan feels that the building blocks, specifically on defence (three 40+ point defenders, loves Jokkipakka and Engelland from previous experience), are there. The only thing that needs to move forward is the youth up front. Gulutzan said the Flames have a young core “on the cusp”, but still need “insulation” from veterans. 

The biggest change from his experiences in Dallas was just that: experience. Gulutzan felt that being two years removed from ECHL, he had not learned the right lessons to be an NHL coach. Thanks to his time in Vancouver under two different head coaches, he “learned a lot” from assistants and others.

One of the key names brought up was Sam Bennett’s.

From a Vancouver perspective, Gulutzan said that Bennett was hated. He was highly valued by the Canucks in his draft year, and they knew he was going to be difficult to coach against in the playoffs. Specifically, he liked his “competitiveness, spirit, hockey IQ, and skills and tools.”

All in all, Gulutzan seems stylistically ahead of his predecessor. The impression that I got was that he recognized what was working with the team (active defence, youth up front, speed) and what wasn’t (player mismanagement, lack of relationships, spending too much time in the defensive zone).

Other details from the presser:

  • The interview process included climbing a mountain with Craig Conroy and a six hour interview with only one glass of water. Treliving does not kid around.
  • The search for an assistant will begin shortly, and Gulutzan will be involved in the process. Special teams will be an emphasis. Lake Erie Monsters coach Jared Bednar has been rumoured to be on the list.

For those that missed the full Q&A, it’s been uploaded here:

  • GodsGotSandals

    I’m reserving judgement until I see this guy in action. I will admit however he wasn’t the guy I was hoping for, but I’m not anywhere near a gm though my fantasy team did well ?

  • Baalzamon

    (getting the puck back and out quickly)

    If he delivers on this alone, the hiring will be worth it. One of the biggest issues the Flames have had for like ten years.

    • brodiegio4life

      and how much the players lost faith in hartley… remember in the year end presser when Hartley said one of the flames problems was they weren’t blocking enough shots, good times

  • Brodano12

    Everyone who watched the press conference and researched him is happy with this hiring.

    Everyone who just looked at his coaching record and made a judgement hates this.

    Coaching record is highly dependant on the team he gers. That Dallas team was pretty meh already, and the whole organization was in a shitty state and under sale. It was his first stint in the NHL, so he has obviously learned a lot in the 5 years since.

    Dude is obviously a smart coach and seems to want to play a very Sullivan-style game (speed, transition, active defense). I think we’re going to be very succesfull under him, but ultimately only time will tell.

    Remember, Sullivan and Cooper were both basically unknown until they were hired and they’ve been stellar.

  • Brodano12

    Everyone who watched the press conference and researched him is happy with this hiring.

    Everyone who just looked at his coaching record and made a judgement hates this.

    Coaching record is highly dependant on the team he gers. That Dallas team was pretty meh already, and the whole organization was in a shitty state and under sale. It was his first stint in the NHL, so he has obviously learned a lot in the 5 years since.

    Dude is obviously a smart coach and seems to want to play a very Sullivan-style game (speed, transition, active defense). I think we’re going to be very succesfull under him, but ultimately only time will tell.

    Remember, Sullivan and Cooper were both basically unknown until they were hired and they’ve been stellar.

  • Big Ell

    GG talked a lot about ‘juice,’ and being ‘connected.’

    “All in all, Gulutzan seems stylistically ahead of his predecessor. The impression that I got was that he recognized what was working with the team (active defence, youth up front, speed) and what wasn’t (player mismanagement, lack of relationships, spending too much time in the defensive zone).”

    I don’t agree with your impressions that GG believed that player mismanagement and lack of relationships were issues.

    He talked about building connections through relationships he didn’t infer that Hartley couldn’t or didn’t do this. Nor did he mention anything about players being mismanaged.

  • cunning_linguist

    If you missed it, you need to check out the replay of the interview GG just did on the Fan 960. One of the best interviews I’ve heard from a Flames coach in a long time. Talked candidly about his beliefs in systems, analytics, and is a really good story teller.

    Most encouraging was his opinion that shot blocking is not a strategy, but only a last resort. He talks about structural suppression of shots as the first priority. Very encouraging.

    Consider me officially transitioned from skeptical to cautiously optimistic.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I don’t know if Gulutzan was at the top of anybody’s list here, but plenty voted thumbs down whenever his name was bandied about as the next coach.

      My question remains; what did he do in Vancouver in the last three years to warrant a head coaching job? Clearly, the Canucks team he is leaving is a worse one than when he arrived. Not all his fault to be sure, but his fingerprints are all over the crime scene.

      He also didn’t distinguish himself as coach of the Stars. To be fair, his first year was that stupid truncated year, so he really had just a full year there as bench boss. Interesting that once the Stars rid themselves of super Joe and GG, they started to improve.

      Colour me skeptical about this hiring. His work with the young superstars on the Canucks was mixed: one was recently traded to FLA, Sven was extended, Bo Horvat is brilliant, but the talk that Vertanin is a bust is getting louder.

      A coach is only as good as the players he has to work with, and GG takes over one of the worst clubs in the NHL. Will Tre magically reform the roster this summer? Odds are he won’t, so moving the puck from D to O quickly will be a lot harder with Plug A and Roster Filler B in the lineup.

      • Kevin R

        The year before this last fiasco year, Flames had a real fun playoff run. The margin of difference between contenders & lottery teams isn’t that big.
        Flames have the pieces, they just have to move one of 3 of their bad contracts, add a goalie like Fleury that will give them NHL average or slightly above average goaltending & this team is knocking on the playoff door again. Don’t think any magical transformation is going to be needed this summer. I would love to see if we can scoop Virtanen out of the Cassucks at a discount.

  • Backburner

    I like him so far.. saying all the right things.

    I think the key to his success though will be which assistant he brings in…. a great special teams x’s and o’s guy… they really need to hit this one out of the park.

    I also like how he mentioned blocking shots is essential.. but a last resort (from his youtube clip)

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    If Johnny an Monny were waiting to see who the new coach was going to be before agreeing to a long term deal, they should feel a bit more at ease. He definitely said all the right things but it was hard not to be impressed.

    My thinking is the Flames took all coaching candidates up the mountain and only GG made it back. This would go along way explaining why Carlyle was interviewed twice. The first time was when the went up the mountain while the second was when they organized a search party to bring him back.

    I think the players should enjoy playing for a guy who is genuinely interested in learning what makes each player tick. GG has come in under the radar much like Tree did when he was hired…..and I would do that deal again every time.

    • Nolan Moore

      Yes i think all coaches want to know their players. What gets me is this guy talks alot but history has shown mixed resaults. I’m also starting to wonder if there were 2 players who did a nudge nudge, wink wink, get rid of the coach or im not re-signing. That being said, the best coach ever, players hated him but he won everywhere. They played because he made them work hard. Most successful coaches and managers know the fine line between being a “players coach” and a hard ass. Sounds like this guy just wants to be buddy’s.

  • everton fc

    I like this guy. Scooping Bednar would be nice, as well.

    He’d probably have an “idea” about Shinkaruk.

    As for Vertanin… The Canucks may just be wallowing in a situation that some might call a “rut”. Perhaps anyone would struggle in that type of envrionment.

    He said a lot of good things about Stajan and the vets. Particularly naming Stajan, so the “org” probably isn’t moving Stajan. My sense has always been Stajan will be given some post-career role here. And I hope he does get that opportunity, if it comes… Gulutzan will be fine here. I feel good about this hire.

    Also read Engelland lives in Vegas. His wife is from Vegas. Seems easy to let him retire, in Vegas!

  • freethe flames

    Now that BT has his coach GG the heat is on BT to deliver him the personal to make this team competitive; not in 3 years, not in two years but this year because that is when GG will start being evaluated. BT does not need to address all the issues this year but there is plenty of work that can be done this year. He needs to get a goalie and there appear to be plenty available: MAF, Andersen, Reimer, Kuemper, Johnson and Pickard all better than Hiller and Ramo. He also needs to upgrade the skill upfront. As it sits we are at least 3 forwards short up front. He needs to acquire at least one top 9 forward this year via trade or FA. (2/3 would be better) While Shinkaruk and Prybil might be able to help this grouping one can not be sure. Other prospects might push for jobs as well. The bottom 3 forwards can and should be upgraded as well but this can be done from within if guys push Bouma, Bollig and even Stajan out.

    He has assets in regards to picks and as long as he does not waste them on 27 year old forwards he should be able to find some guys. I firmly believe he can make this team better this year and give GG a chance to be evaluated. If GG starts the season with only an upgrade in net I suspect we will be disappointed in the results. I’m looking forward to what transpires.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    “We need our big guys to play big….right?….we need our fast guys to play fast…..right?…….we need our role players to play their role…….right?………. We have some juice up front, we need juice up front…..”

    Did he actually say anything during that entire interview?!

    Help us all….

    WW

    • Stan

      Did you even listen to the interview? He was talking about how he wants his team to play a blended style of play that caters to the strengths of the individual players. He isn’t going to try and get JG to play a heavy game. He isn’t going to make JG play on the PK. Instead, he is going to cater to JG’s strengths by allowing him to play with speed and skill with the puck.

      I found that comment encouraging because it means he isn’t going to try and stick a square peg in a round hole. For example, Hartleys insistence on having Colborne on the PP and as the extra attacker. Instead, he is going to develop a relationship with his players, get to know them and their strengths and weaknesses and then play them in roles that they are best suited for.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    The first question in the presser was the best; what does it mean to be a possession team?

    He had no idea how to answer it….

    Tells me 2 things:

    1. Possession means nothing to GG, it’s just a word he knows GMs like to hear in an interview…

    2. Treliving never asked him that question in an interview or he would have formulated an answer by now….

    WW

    • Stan

      Gosh your dense. I think he answered that question perfectly and with a perspective that i found very fresh, enlightening and encouraging. But yeah, I’m sure that possession means nothing to GG….

      Like, are you kidding me with that nonsense? As if that comment wasn’t stupid enough, you continue by saying that you think Treliving never asked him about possession during their 6 hour long interview, repeated phone calls and follow up interviews, etc… Do you know ridiculous that makes you sound? Do you even think before you talk? Crawl back into your hole of negativity.

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    Says the right stuff (mostly), let’s see how it goes. WW won’t be happy till he personally is coach, GM, owner, #1 centre, and starting goalie.

  • reidja

    Just listened to all the recordings and watched his Developing D video. I think Gulutzen was the perfect hire for this team. He knows his limitations, uses analytics, knows how the game is developing and wants to be at the cutting edge. Haters gonna hate but this guy was a tremendous hire.