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.
Roger Millions – while asking question – suggests veteran players were concerned the old coaching staff was squandering Bennett’s potential.
— Christian Roatis (@CRoatis) June 17, 2016
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: