136Glen Gulutzan
Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today Sports

The case for firing Glen Gulutzan, Part 1: Why he should never have been hired

As we approach the trade deadline, the Flames find themselves in an all out battle as they try to secure a playoff spot. It has taken a good run to get into contention: the Flames have gone 11-3-4 in the last 18, earning 26 of a possible 36 points. The run featured a seven-game win streak, but also a six-game losing streak.

I have been an advocate of the Flames making a coaching change since early last season, roughly 120 games ago. With the team in the thick of a playoff race, a change at this point in the season is unlikely to happen now. That does not change the need for the an evaluation of the team’s performance under Glen Gulutzan once the season ends.

Over the next two days, I will lay out the case for the Flames to make an offseason coaching change. Then, next week, I will dig into some of the numbers that may explain why the Flames are struggling.

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We will start by looking at how we arrived at having Gulutzan behind the bench, and why his hiring made little sense in the first place.

Thank you FlamesNation, and in particular Ari, for this opportunity, and your guidance. Let’s begin!

The anatomy of a coaching change

On May 3, 2016, the Flames fired Bob Hartley, citing that he had taken the team as far as he could. It was a late decision, coming three weeks after the season had ended. 

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The Flames appeared to have have parted ways with Hartley in a move to hire Bruce Boudreau. There was almost no indication the Flames were thinking of firing Hartley, and he was was fired four days after Boudreau was let go by Anaheim. Coaching decisions are usually made within days of a season ending; Boudreau was no exception, being let go two days after being eliminated from the playoffs. At the time of his firing, he was the fastest coach in NHL history to 400 regular season wins, doing it in just 663 games. In his 681 regular season games over nine seasons, he had a win percentage of 0.659, best all time for NHL coaches with more than 240 games behind the bench.

If the Flames did not covet Boudreau, then sadly, Brad Treliving is in the wrong business. Boudreau had won his division and made the playoffs in eight of the nine years he had coached in the NHL, and the Flames had struggled for more than two decades to consistently make the playoffs. It would have been a perfect fit.

Unfortunately for the Flames, Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher created a coaching vacancy in February 2016 by firing Mike Yeo, and had neither committed to, nor released interim coach John Torchetti. Fletcher knew he could take his time to find a coach once he decided he was making a change, but he also knew he had to be ready immediately if the right guy became available.

When Boudreau was fired by Anaheim, the Flames were neither ready, nor had they even decided they wanted to make a coaching change. Fletcher was first in line, and Boudreau was hired by Minnesota on May 7, 2016, before the door had even closed as Hartley left.

As far as veteran coaches go, another option would have been Guy Boucher. He was hired by Ottawa on May 8, 2016, just five days after Hartley was let go. The Senators had created a vacancy two days after the regular season ended. If the Flames were looking at hiring Boucher, he too was gone before they had a chance to interview him.

After missing out on Boudreau and Boucher, the Flames may have had a third veteran coach, Randy Carlyle, in their sights. He was interviewed, and was in the conversation. According to Ryan Pike, on June 13, 2016, Treliving revealed that Carlyle, Gulutzan, and Capitals assistant Todd Reirden were the three finalists. Anaheim signed Carlyle the next day. Three days later, on June 17, the Flames hired Gulutzan. If the Flames wanted Boudreau, missed out on Boucher, and fell short in signing Carlyle, they may have been better off holding onto Hartley, but they had already pulled the trigger.

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All appearances are that the Flames fired Hartley to get a proven veteran coach with a history of playoff appearances, namely Boudreau. So how in the world do you end up with Glen Gulutzan?

Gulutzan’s record as an NHL head coach

Let’s take a look at Dallas before, during, and after Gulutzan was head coach of the Stars.

Dallas Stars, season summary (data from NHL.com)

Season Coach Games Wins Losses OTL Points GF GA GF-GA Standings Playoffs?
2010-11 Marc Crawford 82 42 29 11 95 227 233 -6 9th Missed
2011-12 Glen Gulutzan 82 42 35 5 89 211 222 -11 10th Missed
2012-13 Glen Gulutzan 48 22 22 4 48 130 142 -12 11th Missed
2012-13 (adjusted to 82 games) 82 38 38 6 82 222 243 -21 11th Missed
2013-14 Lindy Ruff 82 40 31 11 91 235 235 +7 8th Qualified

Clearly, Dallas was a worse team under Gulutzan when compared to the team before and after his tenure. They earned 95 points the season before he arrived, and in almost any other season, would have made the playoffs. Under his leadership, the team deteriorated to 89, then to the equivalent of 82 in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. After Gulutzan was fired, the Stars rebounded to 91 points, and qualified for the postseason. 

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But the underlying goal stats were not good either:

  • Goals for fell during his tenure, and rebounded after he was fired.
  • Goals against showed an initial improvement in his first season, but imploded in his second season, and improved dramatically after he left.
  • Goal differential deteriorated during his tenure.
    • Dallas went from -6 before his arrival to -12 in the shortened second season Gulutzan was coach, twice as bad in only 48 games. This equates to -21 prorated to a full season.
    • The team was +7, a +28 improvement in goal differential (when equating 2013 into a full year), in the season after he was fired.

Why would the Flames, a team that struggled to make the playoffs year after year, hire someone who had never made the playoffs as a head coach at the NHL level? Why would a team hire a coach that had points, goals for, goals against, and goal differential tank during his time behind the bench, and improve dramatically after he left?

In Gulutzan’s defense, Dallas was a team in transition during his first year. Lost at the time of his arrival were Brad Richards, 77 points, and James Neal, 39 points. The major addition was Michael Ryder, who came in and put up 62. Remaining were Loui Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro, second and third in scoring with 73 and 71 points respectively, and an emerging young star, Jamie Benn, with 56 points, tied with linemate Brendan Morrow. In Gulutzan’s first year, Benn posted a team-high points per 60 of 2.95. His 63 points were second on the team, behind Eriksson at 71.

Gulutzan had a much improved roster to work with in year two. Ray Whitney, Derek Roy, and a younger Jaromir Jagr came in, replacing all and more of the offensive power lost in 2011-12. Benn’s production fell to 2.43 points per 60, however, he did lead the team in scoring. Eriksson and Whitney were tied for second.

A blockbuster trade occurred after Gulutzan left. In a seven-player deal, Dallas shipped out Eriksson and brought in Tyler Seguin. Benn had 79 points, 3.06 per 60, Seguin 83 and 3.26. You would think incoming coach Lindy Ruff had a much improved group to work with. That was not necessarily the case.

Dallas gave up their leading scorer during Gulutzan’s tenure, Eriksson, in the trade. Gone too were Roy, Jagr, and Ryder, three of the team’s top five in points per 60. While the 2013-14 Stars had an elite top two on the first line, the supporting cast was weaker. In 2012-13, six players were above 2.30 points per 60. In 2013-14 after Gulutzan left, only Benn and Seguin were better than 2.00.

Dallas Stars, 5v5 statistics

Perhaps the hiring was based on advanced statistics and 5v5 play. After all, the Flames hired Gulutzan to improve possession, in the belief that process would improve the team.

Dallas Stars, 5v5 stats (data from Natural Stat Trick)

Season Coach Games CF CA CF% Rank GF GA GF-GA
2010-11 Marc Crawford 82 3248 3505 48.10 24th 143 141 +2
2011-12 Glen Gulutzan 82 3585 3611 49.82 14th 144 150 -6
2012-13 Glen Gulutzan 48 1990 2083 48.86 19th 92 91 +1
2012-13 (adjusted to 82 games) 82 3400 3558 48.86 19th 157 155 +2
2013-14 Lindy Ruff 82 3704 3632 50.49 14th 158 149 +9

In Gulutzan’s first season, Corsi improved, despite a weaker forward group. Much of the improvement was lost in his second season. Dallas never achieved a Corsi above 50% while Gulutzan was at the helm.

Increased Corsi for events only translated into one more goal for in his first year, going from 143 to 144. In year two, goals for jumped to the equivalent of 157, but it did this despite having the equivalent of 185 fewer Corsi for events compared to year one. The Stars’ shooting percentage of 9.47% was well above the NHL average. An unsustainable shooting percentage appears to have been ignored in Gulutzan’s hiring, but somehow was a critical fault of Hartley’s positive results in Calgary during the 2014-15 playoff season.

Corsi against was worse under Gulutzan when compared to before he arrived, and this translated into a defensive disaster. Goals against went from 141 before he arrived to 150 in season one and the equivalent of 155 in season two, 14 more goals against during his time as head coach. After he left, the team improved, goals against dropping to 149. Goal differential was better before he arrived and after he left.

Dallas Stars, special teams

To top it off, special teams were not so special in Dallas, much like has been the story in Calgary.

Season Coach PP GF PP GA PP% PP Rank PK GA PK GF PK% PK Rank Net GF-GA
2010-11 Marc Crawford 53 15 18.0 14th 56 10 80.1 23 -8
2011-12 Glen Gulutzan 31 3 13.5 30th 52 5 82.8 13 -19
2012-13 Glen Gulutzan 26 3 17.0 18th 34 2 81.0 17 -9
2012-13 (adjusted to 82 games) 44 5 17.0 18th 58 3 81.0 17 -16
2013-14 Lindy Ruff 46 5 15.9 23rd 49 8 81.4 21 0

The Dallas powerplay for the two years Gulutzan was the coach ranked 29 out of 30 at 14.9%, and the penalty kill was 18th at 82.2%. The goal differential has to be the biggest concern. Special teams under Gulutzan were a detriment at -19 in the 2011-12 season and an adjusted -16 in 2012-13.  Some of this speaks to penalties drawn and penalties taken – discipline – but is also a function of special team efficiency.

All this sounds far too familiar to Flames fans, being at or near the bottom of the league in PP efficiency, average or worse penalty killing, and a team that at times lacks discipline. 

Conclusions on hiring Glen Gulutzan based on his head coaching record in Dallas

While I was concerned that a guy being hired as a possession coach had never achieved a Corsi of over 50% as a head coach in the NHL, and had his second year Corsi drop, rather than improve, the fact that the season after he left, the Stars posted a 50.49 CF% led me to the conclusion he was not a very good coach. I stand by this based on the team’s point drop, win/loss record, goal differential, the fact he had never made the playoffs as a head coach, the deterioration of his team after he arrived, and the improvement after he left. My biggest concern was that rather than a progression, Gulutzan’s second season was worse than his first with Dallas, despite an improved roster.

I decided I would give Gulutzan the benefit of the doubt and a chance to prove he was a capable NHL coach as 2016-17 began. After game 16 that season, a 4-2 loss to the Rangers, sitting in 29th, with the league’s worst win percentage of 0.344, I had seen enough.

  • Off the wall

    I think we should all applaud Ari, for the foresight to allow members who have a great communication – writing style to be given this opportunity.
    I think Skylardog knocked this out of the park. Don’t you?

    We shouldn’t be jealous of this opportunity, we should be lauding it. How many of us get a chance to do something we’re naturally good at?

    We are fortunate to have members who can digest all the data and make it presentable.
    I couldn’t, I know that.

    I make no apologies, I’m a big fan of Skylardog. Not because I agree with him. In fact I fought tooth and nail with him for many months telling him he was off base. But then reasonable logic has a way with overcoming emotion.

    That’s where I couldn’t cut the mustard with Skylar. He presented all the information, I checked and double- checked.
    But I was the one with Swiss cheese logic.

    I’m sure not everyone will agree. That’s normal, but please respect the work that went into this article.

    It’s great work!

    • The Beej

      I agree. Good job to Skylardog.

      I have totally disagreed with him about this on this site. The way I see it is I think some fans dont manage their expectations and to suddenly have contender expectations for the Flames is not quite in order. Aspirations yes… but to put the expectation on it and then to blame Gulutzan for falling short is wrong. This team is still developing and you dont develop a contender overnight. You need to give it a chance to grow and learn those lessons. Gulutzan has been a part of that. Our possesion and scoring chances have improved each so far under Gulutzan. If the powerplay was going this probably isnt an article.

      And to rely solely on his time with Dallas to evaluate him when the Stars were a team in transition I think is a bit erronious. He was a rookie too. He’s learning. Dallas was not in the same situation we are now. Our defense is way better than what they had then.

      That said well written and focused article. Good job.

    • The GREAT WW

      What’s the pay?
      At my age I don’t fight or write for free….

      A sneak peak: I don’t think Backlund sucks (most nights…), I think he is a good 3C on a contending team and we should pay and play him as such….otherwise trade him before the deadline.


  • Guest

    Quick drive by on this… Fire the coach has long been a weak sports narrative because its easy to cherry pick data and take opinions.

    First of all, well done for putting the effort in even though I disagree with several contexts of measurements and sample volatility. Its not easy – kudos.

    Second, the Flames under GG are a borderline dominant 5v5 team. They are a young team that makes some terrible lineup choices (Brouwer, Glass, Bouma, Russell… – side note – dominant game against the Islanders and no Brouwer???).

    In the end, special teams is an abomination. Assuming we all agree the high end offensive talent is here (D corps, JG, SM, MT, and more) and we generate 5v5 offensive chances at an elite rate, why does our special teams stink so terribly.

    I’m not a coach buster but Cameron is an absolute goner after this year. GG is partly responsible for giving him the rope, but really aside from weird lineup choices and the Bennett/Brodie regressions, Calgary is a very good/borderline elite team destroyed by horrendous special teams.

  • Thumper

    Man, I forgot about Boudreau. I was so excited when he got fired, I thought for sure he’d be coming to the Flames. The roster seemed a perfect fit for his coaching style.

    Very confused and disappointed after the Wild got him and Flames brass said that they didn’t even consider him (hogwash).

  • Skylardog

    After going through the process, we should all be grateful for what the writers do to provide this site for us.

    Thanks for the support and kudos for all who choose to disagree. That’s what makes the site work, a wide range of opinions.

    A couple of things.

    This has been 2.5 weeks in the making, and a ton has changed in that time. You can set up an article ahead, and then it can all change over night. I suggested to Ari as the Flames got on a bit of a role, that we postpone it. She disagreed and asked that I push on.

    Part 2 will continue to lay out the case, the meat will be next week. Part 3 is already mostly done. Just the prospect of a Smith injury could have an impact on it.

    As for the info. I do not think Hartley should of stayed. There are no coaches out there to hire, however I do think Minny played it well in 2016 when they went interim.

    Thanks FlamesNation and Ari!

    • Stu Cazz

      You are in essence suggesting a loser Oiler model of frequent changing of coaches….I’m glad you and other posters are not running the organization. BT is a smart man and has not only the acumen but the patience required recognizing a typical NHL season is long and all teams will experience challenges at various times. I think GG was hired with a longer term perspective that many FN posters would like meaning if the team hasn’t shown sustained improvement from year 1 of his contract then decisions will be made in year 2 or 3. Making the playoffs in year 1 despite inconsistent goaltending, having the Flames in the hunt in year 2 I’m afraid does not justify a change. Hiring and firing coaches is not a practice that successful teams employ with Chicago’s past success and Tampa quickly coming to mind….Year 3 will be critical for the organization in determining if GG is the coach that can take the Flames to another level…not before.

      • JusAFlamer

        3 years to show they belong behind the bench.
        are you being sarcastic or serious?

        When GG only shows emotion because his job was on the line (just before the 7 game streak) and when he has come right out and said he wants to play for overtime (not for the win), when he continuously makes baffling moves on all aspects (ice-time/line matches at home/PP/PK etc etc etc)

        Too late in the season now for a change but i sure as heck hope there is one in off season. (the 3rd period “shell” is ridiculous too)

      • BendingCorners

        Stu: you may be correct that BT will not fire GG till after year 3 but I believe Bylsma was available and has the experience necessary to run a bench in the NHL. Like Skylardog I’m not clear to this day why BT preferred GG to Bylsma and presumably others. Maybe GG is improving his bench management and maybe he will improve enough to be worth keeping during a Cup run; that doesn’t solve the mystery of why he was hired in the first place. Not even BT can be credited with that degree of foresight.

        • Stu Cazz

          Good comment BendingCorners…however coaches are judged on overall record for winning not day to day details such as line combinations, apparent lack of emotion, etc. If the wrong decisions are made with the detail I mentioned then that will result in losses and potential termination. GG is 1/2 way through his contract term and he has made the playoffs in year 1 and has the Flames in a very good position to make the playoffs in a very competitive environment in year 2. That is not justification for firing especially when BT takes a longer term focus. As well player usage and line combinations may involve other factors beyond the coaches decision…the ugly business side of hockey always comes into play i.e. Brouwer. With regards to your comment on the mystery of why GG was hired you can bet a very detailed evaluation process approved by ownership is in place that you and I will never have privy too and not all fans will be in agreement.

          • BendingCorners

            You may be right – it might be the summer of 2019 before BT makes a coaching change. Not convinced he should wait that long.
            I went back and found a BT quote about what he was looking for in 2016. “To me it’s not as much about where you’ve coached, but what you’ve built and what your piece was in growing it,” said Treliving. “It’s being involved in winning programs.”
            By that criteria I really don’t understand the hiring.

      • Glensgel

        Holly crap I hope there is not a year three of this clown! The difference is Tampa and Chicago have good coaches. This was a bad hire by BT. I don’t think I can handle year 3 of Glens insane hot garbage.

  • Justthateasy

    Wow! An epic article!
    My feeling at the time of hiring was also dismay. I thought there was a better choice given the descriptions and not knowing anything about anything.

  • Greatsave

    I’ve not been on FN as frequently lately, so I’m surprised to see maybe the mood has changed around these parts about Gulutzan. Yes, there have always been angst about his player usage and his special teams, but I don’t recall seeing articles that outright call for his sacking. Until now.

    This being an “opinion piece” (without being called out as such), I’ll assume the author’s view does not necessarily reflect that of FN’s staff in general. I just wanted to point out that, a) the loss to the Rangers was 4-1, and b) I was mildly amused at the fact that the author’s mind was made up after 16 games of Gulutzan in charge, and his record of 69-42-11 since (I’ll even include the playoffs and say 69-45-12) has done nothing to persuade him otherwise.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Good work, Greatsave. Just know that at least one of the writer’s here doesn’t like being held accountable. Look above for when I asked the same thing you just mentioned, about whether was the opinion of the writer or FN.

      For me, Gully has earned a full two seasons at least, and the record and the 5v5 prove it. The only struggle is the PP.

      As another fine person said in a previous article; “It’s single-handedly killing us” .

      Remember that everyone? Good times.


      100 percent correct. A former flames player who has a son that was on my son’s team last year confirmed that Hartley was a POS. Regardless GG needs to be fired.

      • nijames

        That is 150% correct. Had a family member playing for the Flames and Hartley and he was an awesome guy away from the rink but when it came to coaching not a player on the team respected him. Old school coaches like Hartley and Keenan don’t work in the NHL these days.

    • deantheraven

      Certainly true, and GG is as much to blame as Cameron for that. Both seem unable or at least reluctant to adapt the style or upgrade the on-ice personnel.

    • wot96

      Incorrect. There was a prior article that tried to assess how many points this cost us and if I recall correctly Ari asserted a position that was more aggressive than some of the more sage commenters could justify. Anyway, it’s maybe half a dozen more points.

      Gulutzen’s issues do not stop at the powerplay (and PK). His player usage and the fact that the defensive system permits few errors without breaking down are two more examples of his shortcomings.

  • Just.Visiting

    Great job on the article, SkylarDog, and a tip of the hat to Ari and FN for providing the opportunity.

    I loved the way that the Flames played for Hartley and how he conducted himself with the press and public. On the other hand, I struggled with some of his player usage choices, some of the strategy choices and had heard some very negative things about how it was like to play for him. On balance, I supported a change.

    I had an open mind about GG, and liked that he was saying the right things and seemed to be a good communicator.

    How has that turned out?

    Whatever I may have thought about Hartley’s team, I knew that I was always going to see an entertaining game. I certainly can’t say that about this team.

    Where GG has ultimately lost me, as noted above by another fan, though, is on player usage, particularly with respect to the stubborn approach to a PP that obviously was not working, the apparent bias towards certain veterans and the overuse of Smith. Some of the players, most notably Brodie and Bennett also seem to have regressed significantly.

    The newly revamped PP with Dougie on the first unit bombing away from the point and Stone on the second doing the same look like those moves could finally turn the PP around. The real question is why TB needed to be injured before those moves were made, when moving Dougie to the first unit was noted so many times by so many for so long.

    As I noted before, no one in the workplace wakes up one morning and suddenly transforms into someone completely different. However far this team may go this year, it is my belief that it will be despite GG, not because of him.

    I can’t help but wonder how the team would have fared if we had gone with Green instead.

    • JusAFlamer

      that is one of the biggest things many have stated over and over and over.
      that the changes just dont come until GG is forced into it.
      really a PP that sucked that bad for that long and it took an injury to get them to shake things up? (almost 1/2 the season it been a stinker)

      looking forward to off season, GG rope must be short by now

    • Avalain

      You don’t seriously want him fired at this exact moment, do you? Who would they replace him with? Chances are everyone’s favorite PP assistant coach would become interim head coach.

  • Mickey O

    Hey Skylardog, great to see another member graduate to the article writing big leagues. Good for you!

    Top notch analysis on Gulutzan. Treliving dropped the ball on this hiring, no matter how the team spins it. When coaches start getting axed, you’d better be ahead of the curve.

    • everton fc

      I was not a fan of the GG hiring. Still feel the same. Yet, we are 10 games over .500 and in a playoff spot, on a bit of a roll. But if we miss the playoffs… If we skid… GG and the staff have to go. But when is BT held accountable?

    • Off the wall

      You’re next Mickey, better get ready for the call up to FN!

      I love seeing our members get a chance to write. None better than Skylardog and Mickey O in my opinion!

  • Sol Goode

    Do you think Randy Carlyle is a better option? I wish we hired Boudreau but I also didn’t mind keeping Hartley as our coach. We played our asses off for him and I would like to have seen what he could do with our improved roster. People forget that he has won at every level. The major thing that bothers me about our team is the inconsistency, you never know what team will show up. People might laugh at this but we have a pretty solid group of players. I think if we manage to put it together at the right time we could make a pretty decent run in the playoffs.

    • deantheraven

      The one thing that stands out for me about the Carlyle-Boudreau comparison is the fact that Bruce hasn’t won in the post season, even with a talented roster. We laughed at Anaheim when they hired Randy, then he had early success and people started to say maybe… And then the wheels fell off. You can use injuries as the excuse for their collapse, I suppose, but he has actually won and Bruce hasn’t. Either way Hartley has had more championship success than Carlyle, and more than Boudreau by a lot since Boudreau has had none. . GG came in as a guy with a ‘possession first’ style of play which seemed to be what management (and FN posters) wanted more than experience or championship rings. They saw his ‘potential’ in today’s NHL. When it comes to winning a Cup, he has no more or less experience than Boudreau.
      I didn’t agree with most folks around FN about letting Hartley go and agree with you about his winning ways at every level. We’ll never know if he could have done better with this team, and maybe we missed out on the ‘better’ coaching replacement options, but we’ll never know. The reason GG got the gig is because, Corsi. And what must only be perceived as his potential to coach a winner.
      I get the argument for possession metrics as indicators but it remains to be seen whether this team will translate Corsi success into a championship.The real question will be what Flames management will accept as the final result for the 2017-2018 season.
      Around here we seem to be well aware of the real problem with GG- player usage. And that will be the ultimate downfall of the team, and hopefully the dismissal of GG, if it isn’t further corrected. We’ve seen the painfully slow adaptation and have been (un?)lucky enough to have some injuries force GG’s hand. If the Flames decide to keep him on beyond this year, playoff success or not, he’d better have learned that lesson by April.

      • Crazy Flames

        Hartley was a bad coach. Sure he got the boys to play hard (which is a nice change) but he was very unliked in the dressing room, terrible player usage, and his idea of a d-zone strategy was blocking every shot (not a strategy rather a tool that can be used with a strategy).

        Go find Cory Sarich’s interview on the Fan 960 from a couple weeks ago. He isn’t shy about his dislike for Hartley.

        • Cfan in Van

          Yeah, the team played hard under Hartley, until they didn’t. He could only press them so hard before they realized his usage and strategies were going no where. BT pretty much had no choice but find someone else after Hartley lost the room.

          Now the hiring process… Definitely open to criticism. GG isn’t the answer either.

      • Avalain

        So GG might not be the best answer, but Hartley had to go. He’s a very tough coach who many players hate. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that as they can pull a lot out if their players. But in the long run, these kinds of coaches tend to have shorter shelf lives because they lose the room.

  • Cheeky

    Great job Skylardog! I get the idea that GG was hired due to a great interview and a 2nd chance at head coaching. My problem with the hiring has to do moreso with experience elsewhere. He had average success in Ahl, he was assistant coach on horrible teams in Van, neither dominating in special teams he was responsible for. Those were red flags for me at the time, whereas Reirdon dominated his powerplay, on very good Washington teams. Either way I kept an open mind but hiring Cameron confirmed my doubts.
    I believe another reason for his hiring was BT wanted someone with less experience than him (someone less willing to argue points which I think Hartley did, remember Hartley has won before and BT was a rookie GM). I also believe that’s why GG hired Cameron compared to others with more successful coaching resumes. Good leaders surround themselves with even better leaders to make them successful, poor leaders try to make themselves look the best at all times…
    I think with this very good roster (on paper), we should be not only in the running for top clubs but dominating games. Neither is happening and this points to coaching….

    • BendingCorners

      Not sure the experience comment is fair. The boss is always the boss and no employee can get away with ignoring that boundary. I suspect BH might have been a bit full of himself after winning that trophy. Just a guess though.

      • Cheeky

        Experience is refering more with comfort level. If GG had hired say Mark Crawford as assistant, he may be worried that players would listen to Mark over him (I know assistants buy into coaches game plan but some think like this). Cameron was a safe choice for GG, he didn’t have to fear him taking over. Same goes for a rookie GM. Now I’m not suggesting this was the case for BT, but GM’s have egos (they wouldn’t be in their positions if they didn’t) and having a more “submissive” coach when starting out helps…

    • Guest

      We literally just dominated the Islanders yesterday, and looked as good or better than Nashville and Vegas two weeks ago. Hockey is pretty f’ing random is the short term and special teams matter!!

      BTW, if you want to look at a team hugely over reacting to special team disaster, look north. Edmonton is a decent 5v5 team with 87% PP + SH%!! Thats almost 1 goal per game against on special teams losses. I mean they have wasted talent and cap space, but that isn’t a bad team that is roasted on bad assistant coaching. And haven’t repaired it.

      Most of the best teams by points are well over 100% in this category. We will see what it means in the playoffs. Historically not much.

    • nijames

      it was a great article but if the Flames were genuinely looking at hiring Boucher then thank god they hired GG. Boucher is the one coach in the NHL that has no right to be a head coach, he is so brutal. GG is a decent coach and BT is one of the best GM’s in the game so he will make the right decision when the time comes. Have 100% confidence in BT.

    • Ari Yanover

      When I saw Skylardog’s lengthy, data-filled comments I reached out to see if he’d be interested in writing a guest post.

      If anyone else has any ideas and is up to writing a full-fledged article you can pitch to me via email ([email protected]).

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        Yeah. I’d like an article explaining what you’ve heard about how happy the team and organization is with Gully.

        Then I’d like to know what statement FN is making with a headline that makes a case for a firing. What with it being under the masthead, and all.

        To be honest, I want to know what a professional, experienced journalist like YOU think about firing Gully? I’d put more faith in that than a guy from the comment section. Care to let us know, our can we assume Skylar is speaking for you on this?

        • Ari Yanover

          what even

          The post is under Skylardog’s name so I think it’s pretty clear this is Skylardog’s opinion…?

          I personally don’t think Gulutzan should be fired. It has been a common theme in the comments section all season, however, and with the team’s overall underachieving, a topic that can’t really be ignored. One user in particular was passionate enough about the subject to continuously provide data points to back up his arguments… so I offered him a chance at a better platform to express his opinion.

          I don’t agree with everything that’s been written on this site. Occasionally while editing some of our usual writers’ works I’ve sat back and thought “what the hell???” but I don’t change the point they’re making if there’s logical basis to it. This blog isn’t intended to present a monolithic set of opinions. It’s intended to do deeper dives into the Flames as a whole, backed up by data and well-reseasoned arguments, which is exactly what Skylardog did here.

          If you’d like to present a rebuttal feel free to do so in the comments or, if you have a lot to say on why Gulutzan should stay, hit me up with a pitch and I’ll work with you for a full-fledged article of your own. I’d love it if some of our commenters who get bit by the writing bug feel passionate enough to do a guest post or two, it’s exciting and the chance for different voices should always be welcomed. That or you can just complain I guess.

          • Skylardog

            Ari actually believed that she was unable to write an article on letting GG go because she doesn’t believe he should be fired.
            As far as guidance, Ari spotted a hole in my argument and asked that I provide data to close the hole before someone blew the argument wide open. I was actually surprised when I did the research on the hole, that it helped my argument, and did not end up being a lame excuse.

          • Off the wall

            Cheeky, that’s a great idea.

            BTF, you seem keen on expressing yourself.
            Why don’t you provide us with your views on Gulutzan’s current tenure and why he was the optimum choice for coaching the Flames?
            Also what we’ve accomplished under his watchful eye and what we can expect statically speaking of future progress?

            I am being serious. I’d love to read the opposing side of why we should see Gulutzan complete his coaching contract with Calgary.

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            The only reason why I asked the questions is that if you reach out to someone with such an opinion, is it unreasonable that the pro who is providing the amateur with; “guidance” answer a question about neutrality?

            Other than that, thank you for you fine, (almost) completely professional response.

        • Off the wall

          I knew you’d appear and make a big stink over this.
          I read the title of the article ? I assume you did too?
          Where does it say fire GG?
          It doesn’t, but you love the drama it creates for you.

          Just disagree, no point in making a mockery of yourself and FN.

    • HOCKEY83

      Smith plays as much as the other top goalies in the league. That’s what he does. The Flames Defensive corps makes so many stupid moves every game that smith almost…almost always bails them out of I fear rittich would not be able to do the same.

    • Skylardog

      I so wanted to post a reply last week when you got attacked for pushing the fire GG button.

      I so wanted to post, but just could not given the circumstances.

      So here is me watching your back now:

      “Hold my beer Stockton, I got this!”

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        Why couldn’t you post, Skylar? I’m curious. Is it because as a sudden writer for the site it would be in appropriate for you to get involved in the comments like that? Is THAT the point you’re trying to make? That there needs to be separation from the meaningless ramblings of fans and the people who are paid to report on hockey for a living?

        Because I agree with that point, Skylar, I agree with the conflict of interest thing, if that’s your point. Which it seems to be.

        • Skylardog

          Nope, not a conflict. I did not want other readers to be aware of the upcoming articles until they were actually up on the site. If I just wrote “Hold my beer I got this” it would have had looked really strange.

          The sad part is, that a fan of the Flames felt bad about expressing an opinion last week, when he is completely justified in holding that opinion and posting a comment on it.

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            No, that’s a conflict. You could have “stood up for him” without mentioning you were writing for the site.

            No Skylar, as usual I handed out some pwnage and you have no rebuttal because I’m right.

    • Cheeky

      Hey SF, speaking of coaches – how is Huska’s style? I remember under Hartley he had to coach a similar style so guys coming up had an easy transition. Wondering if that’s same under GG or if he coaches his own style. Cheers…

  • Greg

    I’m pretty ambivalent to GG either way. But I’m also pretty ambivalent to the impact of a coach in general. There’s a few real top-notch guys out there, a few terrible ones, and everyone else is clustered pretty much in the middle.

    GG might be somewhere in the bottom half of that middle cluster, but unless you are making a clear upgrade, or there’s a clear problem* that needs to be addressed (see Hartley comments), you’re just shuffling deck chairs.

    * on that note, did anyone catch the comment in GG’s press scrum today? Asked about the lineup for tomorrow, he said something like “I know Tre likes to get that set the day before, but I prefer to sleep on it and tell the guys at morning skate.” The disagreement with Tre on setting lineups was completely unprompted, so the fact that’s what came to GG’s mind when he answered could be a hint they aren’t entirely on the same page.

  • FlamesFanatic

    I’m not the biggest Gully fan, far from it. But this whole article really seems predicated on “I decided I didn’t like him after 16 games”. Nobody would have liked this team after 16 games last year.

    Corsi is not the be all end all that everyone loves to hype it as. It’s informative, it’s useful in context, and while you touch on some of the major changes in Dallas, to pin all of it on Gulutzan is farcical. Advanced stats are incredibly important in analysis I won’t deny, but a lot of this post comes off as a bitter HF poster as opposed to something a journalist would write. As someone who comes to this site daily to read, I find that a little disappointing. We’ll see how the rest of the series goes.

  • I should be GM

    Dear Mr. Treliving,

    You fired Mr. Hartley because you felt he took this team as far as he could. Well maybe it’s time to fire the current coach because I don’t think he can take this team to the promise land.

    I’m not sure if Bob was the answer either, but he always got the boys to over achieve. Why does Gully find a way to get the boys to under achieve?

    Many forwards have outright struggled with this coach. Is it a problem with the coach or the players? I’ll let you decide. Bennett and Lazar are the obvious ones.

    Everyone was talking about how this defence was going to be lights out this year. Why is the defence only average?

    In regards to goaltending, is Gully trying to get Smith 70 starts this year plus playoffs? Ask the crew up north how well that works with overplaying your goalie?

    I won’t get into his questionable player usage, however I will point out the fact that anytime there is a big game, this team has come out completely flat. Isn’t it the coaches job to motivate his players and get them ready for big games?

    If the Flames make the playoffs, I guess we will see if Glen can improve on his 0-4 playoff head coaching record…

    Btw great first article skylardog!

    • The Doctor

      There are two sides to most arguments, and this piece does a fairly good job of presenting one side. As such, it’s quite a glass-half-full assessment of GG and his tenure here. I’m well aware of some shortcomings that GG has: I haven’t agreed with some of his player usage, and the power play this year has been unsatisfactory. There appears to be a much be argument for sacking Cameron, if we’re going to sack anyone.

      In GG’s defence: this is a tough league to win in with the parity, salary cap and progressive draft etc. Hartley only got us in the playoffs once and we regressed the year right after that. In four seasons, Hartley’s Flames only had a winning record once and only made the playoffs once. The year we got in under Hartley, our shooting percentage was stratospheric and every analytics geek out there correctly predicted that it would fall back to earth. We were a lousy possession team under Hartley. GG was hired with a specific mandate to make us a better possession team, and we are now. We also made the playoffs in GG’s first season. As I write this, we are sitting in a playoff spot.

      I have my issues with GG, but all of the above doesn’t scream out hang him high to me.

      • Kevin R

        Agreed, which is why no way anything happens in the season. As they say the proof will be in the pudding, who cares how you got everything into the bowl. So, as I am sure Treliving will be doing, let’s see where this team is at after game 82. If we are out of the playoffs, that will not bode well for the coach. I know I get very frustrated with the coach & tend to vent on this site, I find very therapeutic but we have to see this one out with GG, for better or worse.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      If the Flames make the playoffs, how could you possibly not bring back Gully for 2018-19? As coach of the Flames, he’ll have a winning record over two full seasons plus 2 for 2 in making the playoffs. That spells winner to me.

      • Off the wall

        Wait for part 2 Nigel.
        Skylar is just getting warmed up for the answer to your question.

        What is a winning record?
        Making playoffs is fine, but is that our goal?
        4 and done (playoff) doesn’t seem like something that we should be satisfied with.

        I think you’ll have your answer soon enough.

      • HOCKEY83

        He won’t get fired this season and he will be back next. Ya’ll can have your reasons for why you think he should be fired but your reasons don’t matter to the organization. If what any of you or the fans thought mattered they’d a hired a real coach to begin with.

  • Off the wall

    Skylar, you dog you!
    I’m so proud of you for doing this.
    Great article, I love the analysis and the thought process behind it. It certainly fits the understanding of underachieving that has benchmarked this team.

    It wasn’t the Rah rah, fire GG because I don’t like him, it was extremely well written and concise. As are all of your comments.

    Looking forward to part 2.

    Thank you Ari!

  • WildfireOne

    Part 2 is gonna be why he should be let go in the off-season..?
    I was hoping for “Why he should be fired now”.

    My rationale is simple. When you break your leg and need surgery to fix it, you schedule surgery asap, not two weeks later. Why suffer for an additional two weeks? Because you like hobbling on crutches? No, you get it over with so you can start the recovery/rehab process asap.

    Does anyone here REALLY believe GG will get us a Cup this year? Then why hobble around uselessly wasting Johnny and Money’s contract time? Get the firing over with so we can start the recovery/rehab process sooner.

    Besides GG winning a Cup, the only other reason to put off his firing is that the desired new coach isn’t available yet. Not sure if that is even a reason, given the purported whole Minnesota-got-Boudreau-first issue.

    • Cheeky

      I think it’s too late in the season now (should have been done back in Dec), and Hartley is still being paid (management won’t want to be paying for 2 fired coaches and it that would fall onto BT)…

  • Derzie

    Now this is an article I like to see. Something that proposes a theory and backs it up with solid data. When someone, who on paper is underwhelming, talks themselves into a job you know that someone got sold a bill of goods. There is a reason that at the time of GG’s hiring, many fans were puzzled. I can understand giving a guy who’s never coached in the NHL a shot but to give one to one who has and was poor at it, is a real puzzler.
    Part 2 will be the ‘see I told you so’ chapter of the story. The meat on the bones of what makes him a bad coach. Can’t wait, and only hope that someone in the Flames org reads even the titles of these pieces. Great stuff. We all want our team to be better. This is part of the steps to get there.