The Calgary Flames finally have a head coach following last week’s hiring of Glen Gulutzan. In addition, based on the comments from various individuals at Gulutzan’s introductory press conference, it sure sounds like Martin Gelinas (assistant coach), Jamie Pringle (video coach) and Jordan Sigalet (goalie coach) are going to stay in their previous positions on Gulutzan’s staff.
So that leaves one hiring left: an associate coach to replace Jacques Cloutier.
Based on reputation, fit, availability and social media chatter from media types, here are six contenders for the job.
Arguably the leading contender, Bednar just led the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters to a championship. He did so with smart systems and a really good penalty kill. Another Saskatchewan kid, Bednar played in the WHL as a defenseman and has a lengthy coaching resume spanning the ECHL and AHL – so he and Gulutzan are no doubt acquainted. (He also previously was an assistant coach under Jim Playfair with the Abbotsford Heat, so he knows the Flames organization.)
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 17, 2016
A former NHLer who played 1,054 games (including parts of four seasons with the Flames), Berube’s coaching career has been entirely with the Philadelphia Flyers organization. He was an assistant (and then head) coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, and then assistant (and the head) coach of the Flyers themselves. He wasn’t amazing as a head coach in the NHL, but he was by all accounts a very capable assistant.
Until recently the head coach of the Ottawa Senators, the Charlotettown native has a really impressive coaching resume. He’s got 20 years of coaching experience, including time in the CoHL, OHL, AHL and NHL. He’s coached to two World Junior golds and a World Championship gold. If a veteran assistant to a younger coach is the goal, he might be a good fit.
— Eric Francis (@EricFrancis) June 23, 2016
Hunter arguably has the best resume of everyone on this list. A Calgary native, he played 815 NHL games (including several seasons with the Flames) and made appearances in three Stanley Cup finals – winning in 1989. Once he hung his skates up, he began to amass a really impressive coaching resume. He was an assistant with Washington, San Jose and Toronto, head coach in Moose Jaw (which he still is), and has coached Canada at the World Juniors as an assistant and Under-18 Worlds as a head coach.
Gulutzan’s assistant coach with both the AHL’s Texas Stars and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, he’s currently an assistant with the AHL’s Utica Comets. The Flames aren’t going to pry Utica’s head coach (Travis Green) away, but Jerrard was another contributor to crafting their superb power-play.
A long-time NHLer and experienced coach at the NHL and WHL levels, Lowry is one of the most respected hockey minds in Canada right now. His Victoria Royals club was top six in both power-play and penalty killing this past season. He also previously coached with the Flames, so they’re no doubt familiar with him.