Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect any big changes until the season is over

Watching something in its death throes and not being able to do a thing about it really does suck. But it’s not like the Flames will never be back. In sports, every single new season is a second chance, over and over and over again.

There’s a lot of ire to go about right now. The players aren’t even trying. The coach is maybe on his last legs. The general manager spent a summer wheeling and dealing and has negative net value to show for it. Just about everything that possibly could have gone wrong did, a complete, near-uninterrupted unravelling since about mid-January.

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It would have been a panic move to make any major change then, and it’s completely pointless to make any major change now.

When it comes to trading any players, the handicap is obvious: 16 teams will still have a postseason to play out. They aren’t thinking about how to improve their club for next season at all; they’re focused on winning in the immediate. To try to make any major deals at this stage, before everyone is done playing hockey, would be to eliminate a broad pool of trade partners and, with them, the potential for better deals.

If there are deals to be made that are fair and not an overreaction. The Flames still have an Art Ross contender signed long-term who will be 25 next season (Johnny Gaudreau). Same for a top-scoring defenceman (Dougie Hamilton). Same for a relatively consistent sniper (Sean Monahan). Same for an elite shutdown centre (Mikael Backlund). We’re still waiting on Matthew Tkachuk to get a long-term deal of his own but he’ll be in that group as well, easily. The Flames still have a lot of high end talent in place and just because in one season everything went wrong is no excuse to make a hasty move and ruin the top end core that has been built.

As much vitriol as the coach may presently be getting, and as much as some of it is deserved, it would be a purely emotional move to drop him before the final games of the season have been played. Is Glen Gulutzan really doing much of anything right now? Well, Tanner Glass has been playing, so… no. Is the season toast? In every way but officially, yeah. We’re all wasting our time here, but firing someone won’t make it pass any faster.

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In fact, firing a coach with under 10 games to go in the season would probably be roughly akin to shooting oneself in the foot. I’m sure it relieves some emotional stress and/or frustrations on some level, but in the end, you’ve still just hurt yourself. Let’s say, totally hypothetically, that Joel Quenneville is available in the offseason. Has won a ton of games at the NHL level as a coach, has a bunch of Stanley Cups to his name. You really think he’d entertain coming to a franchise that just unceremoniously booted its previous head coach out on his ass, without even the courtesy of exit interviews? You think any coach worth his salt is going to see that and think, “Ah, yes, that’s who I want to work for.” Sure, an argument can be made that it was clearly coming for Gulutzan and he deserved it, but nobody looking for a job is going to think of it that way. They’re going to think, “If anything goes wrong, that’s going to happen to me, too.” And then they’re going to pass on the opportunity.

Brad Treliving, meanwhile, isn’t even a year into his extension with the Flames. The most recent offseason has ultimately proved to be poor – maybe half-assed is the better word for it – but nothing so disastrous has happened that it should call for the organization to wipe its entire slate clean. It’s been a bad year. It shouldn’t have gotten this bad. It did. But this is still a general manager who has advanced the Flames to the point we were right to have raised expectations, and just because they came crashing down one year does not mean it’s a good idea to clean house and start over.

If anything, hope for a learning opportunity.

And for the next two weeks to go quickly, so then everyone can be put out of their misery. Because absolutely nothing is going to happen before then, nor should it.

  • JoelOttosJock

    Totally disagree about the firing gg with 10 games is like shooting oneself in the foot. If the Flames are unsure of their replacement they could fire gg and use an intern to see if they could be a fit or the more realistic go eternally for the intern..no more blind shots at guys with good hair.

  • nikkomsgb

    What I want, as a long suffering fan old enough to remember the cup win, is someone in media close to the team to ask some real questions. Namely… what is so fundamentally wrong with this organization that in the last 28 years they have only managed 5 playoff series wins. Take out ’04 (and it was incredibly improbable) and you have 1 playoff round win.

    I can’t speculate as to what exactly is wrong with the organization, but clearly things aren’t right. The Leafs even figured it out eventually and overhauled the whole upper management.

    Fans can be angry about the season, obviously, but they should be furious about the big picture. I can hope that changing the coaches, for the umpteenth time, or a few players will make all the difference. However, I would say the problems seem to run deeper than that.

    • BendingCorners

      FX rate and no cap. The 90’s and early 00’s were lost years because very few Canadian teams could afford to complete. The Flames stayed after the city gave them 100% of the Saddledome revenue from all sources, but even then the pressure to make the playoffs every year so as to generate some kind of positive return precluded a full rebuild. Then the team got lucky in 2004 and tried to ride Iginla and Kiprusoff without spending enough on the rest of the team. Some putrid trades didn’t help. It happens that teams are good or bad for decades at a time; if they succeed in building up the rest of their pipeline and collecting some top-six RHS forwards this summer and next, the Flames could be good for quite a few years.

      • nikkomsgb

        I get the weak Canadian Dollar was a huge contributor to not being competitive with the Leafs, Rangers, Red Wings etc. on signing free agents and winning it all. However if you look closely at the teams that made the playoffs during that era, they weren’t all big money, huge market teams.

        Then have a look at this teams drafting during that time, it was absolutely shocking. Maybe the very worst in the NHL. The organization has never hired proven management with excellent track records. They clearly didn’t understand the importance of an experienced, quality scouting department. Even if they were drafting and developing skilled players they couldn’t keep…it would have been better than what the fans got during those years.

  • I'm Just Going To Put This Out There

    Why would BT even sign GG to three years? It should be have been on a year by year basis considering his lack of success as coach. Stupid. Signing TB to that long at that rate. Stupid. Trading a 2nd for Lazar. Stupid. Giving up 1st round picks and not lottery protecting them. Stupid. Having a three goalie circus. Stupid. Signing Grossman. Stupid. I could go on but that would be stupid since we all know how stupid it’s been thus far. Stupid.

    • Rudy27

      Lazar is better than a few our round 1 picks that haven’t panned out. So giving up a second rounder wasn’t that big of a gamble. Not to mention that through this ruff stretch the past few weeks, he seems to be one of the few playing hard.

    • MontanaMan

      There isn’t a coach around who would sign a year to year contract. You won’t see it for a coach or any player. It’s called security. The Flames are fortunate as most coaches demand a 5 year deal.

    • Beer League Coach

      Did you check on GG coaching record in his career before posting this? Check this out.
      2003/04 Las Vegas Wranglers ECHL .646% Lost in round 1
      2004/05 Las Vegas .486% out of playoffs
      2005/06 Las Vegas .778% Lost in round 3
      2006/07 Las Vegas .736% Lost in round 3
      2007/08 Las Vegas .736% Lost in final
      2008/09 Las Vegas .521 Lost in round 1

      2009/10 Texas Stars AHL .619% Lost in finals
      2010/11 Texas .575 Lost in round 1

      2011/12 Dallas Stars NHL .543 out of playoffs
      2012/13 Dallas .500

      Dallas Stars were a borderline team at the time GG coached them, maybe even a little less talent than the current Flames team. They were owned by Norm Green at that time and Green was having financial problems from his other business ventures and was finally forced to sell the team. New owner took over and wanted his own people running the team. So out with Joe Nieuwendyk as GM and GG as coach. In with Jim Nill and Dave Tippett.

      It seems to me that GG has a pretty good track record as a head coach. True has not won a championship in any of the 3 leagues he has coached in but in 8 years he has only 1 (one) sub .500 regular season. 3 seasons with a win % over .700. Two seasons when his team lost in round 3 of the playoffs and two season when his team lost in the finals. Saying GG has not had success anywhere he has coached is simply not correct.

      The only coach I can recall that signed 1 year contracts was in baseball. Walter Alston signed them for about 30 to 35 years in a row with the Dodgers between Brooklyn and LA.

        • Beer League Coach

          31 teams in the league, but only 1 can win the Cup. So 30 coaches are going to have to take a loss somewhere along the line for the season. Does that mean that all 30 of them should be considered failures and be fired because they did not win the Cup?

          • Glensfunnyface

            No but you listed 10 years of nothing but the words “out” And “lost”. Most NHL coaches at some point have “win” or “champions” somewhere in their history even if it is not in the NHL. He is NOT a winner……at all…..except his hair. He is the NHL hair champion.

  • buts

    Sorry Ari but firing the coach in january would not have been a panic move….it should have been thee move to make after a year and a half of utterly terrible coaching and we maybe could have made the playoffs…in fact with the talent we have I believe we definitely would have made the playoffs had BT changed the staff and inserted anybody. There are many examples of teams turning around there season with coaching changes mid season. The thing that bothers me the most was how bad the usage, specialty teams etc was so clear and obvious. Not only did they underperform, it was not entertaining to watch, actually quite painful.

    • Cheeky

      I totally agree with canning GG back in Dec however I can see why BT didn’t. He was already paying Hartley and GG so paying a 3rd coach would have been GM suicide. He gambled that GG could somehow right the ship, it never did and he will have to own that (just like hiring GG). This summer will see the true BT – will he cut ties with this coaching staff and bring in experience and get us back on track? If not we are in for another long year…

        • oddclod

          I give a masochistic yes. Even though Feaster was not a legit GM. He had good scouts though. Button has earned his job with Gaudreau and potentially another mighty mouse that tore up the Dub again.

      • Bob's Hockey Stick

        GG and Cameron both should have been shown the door in November. Replace with Gelinas, and call up an assistant from Stockton. small raises nothing excessive and would have let the organization ride out the season maybe even a firmer shot at playoffs. Then replace the whole coaching staff in the offseason. But hindsights a wonderful thing.

  • Korcan

    IMO last year’s success is the primary cause of our current collective angst about the Flames. It was only one year earlier that they had drafted Tkachuk at number six and fired Hartley because they were that bad. Last year’s success was a bit premature, IMO, but as a result, we had heightened expectations (as did management) for the team this year, which they obviously didn’t meet. But should we have?

    The trading of Iginla, five years ago, officially kicked of Calgary’s rebuild. Generally, five years is the expected standard for becoming a perenial playoff caliber team (and hopefully contender) after initiating a rebuild. Some teams get lucky (e.g. Edmonton and Toronto) and have generational talents fall onto their laps; however, for the rest it is about hard work: good scouting, astute drafting, smart trading, strong development, and patience (e.g. Winnipeg and Nashville). When I look at Calgary, they fall in to this second category.

    And based on this five year standard, the Flames have done okay. Two playoff appearances and by all accounts a surprising miss this year. Some of this year’s miss can be attributed to arguably weak coaching (e.g. brutal PP, questionable player usage, etc.), some to poor or questionable management decisions (e.g. Troy Brauwer, Jagr), and some to plain bad luck (e.g. a slew of injuries to key players at the worst possible time of the season, shot metrics). Still, had they made the playoffs, it would have made this their third time in the five years since officially starting the rebuild. By all standards that would have been quite an accomplishment.

    Add to this the promising stockpile of prospects and depth in the organization and I would say things are not nearly so bad as they currently “feel”. If Tre can offload Brauwer and Stone (especially if he can get something in return), recoup some draft picks, and have another productive summer of trades and signings, the Flames might be a lot closer to being a legit contender than things currently seem. Regardless, I foresee another interesting offseason for Tre and co.

  • The GREAT WW

    From the day GG was hired, how could BT have been impressed by this gibberish?!

    Glen Gulutzan on being named the Flames’ head coach

    “There will definitely be a little bit of a style change in how we play,” Gulutzan said. “It will lead to an exciting game. It’ll be an exciting, connected team that you’re going to see here.

    “What we want to be is a real connected group here. We want to be connected in fives in all three zones. We want to defend fast; we are going to defend fast. We are going to utilize the assets we have here. For me the trend is how quickly we can transition from offense to defense, how much we can stay connected so we can hold onto the puck but still play fast, and how quickly we can get it back and utilize the strengths of the players that we have here. The only way you can play that way is to stay connected as a group.”


    • JoelOttosJock

      More Arizona and Vancouver left over garbage..awesome..wouldnt be surprised if the Flames hired the canadian womens coach Melodie whatever..might as well..they are already the laughing stock of the west..

      • FL?MES

        So you know that inevitably a woman will coach in the NHL, right? And when she does I don’t think people will be laughing.

        PS your western geography is bad and we have good company in our struggles.

        • JoelOttosJock

          It is inevitable, it will be a cute publicity stunt. I left out part of what i had intended yo say..but as far as coaching goes, the Flames are the laughing stock of the west..really the league..Willie Desjardins would be worse, if that is GG replacemeent, we might have to start a keep GG site..

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Hall of Famer, three-time Olympian, Order of Canada recipient and world all-star Danielle Goyette is my choice to be the first female coach in the NHL. She has done it all in hockey from player to coach to administrator. She’s a peach.

        • JoelOttosJock

          I just won 12 cups in a row on my ps4 be a gm..maybe i should get a shot..my track record is proven. Yes she has proven herself in a weak, 2 country sport of WOMENS HOCKEY. No merit towards the NHL.

  • Flamesfever

    BT must fires GG to get better coach, and otherwise BT will gone with GG next season too. You need an upgrade coach, and know how put the team together. Such as: leadership, PP, and PK.

  • moodyblue2

    I’m placing my money on Darryl Sutter as the next coach! If Edm picked him up, I suspect we may be envious as in uh oh oil will be better next year! So let’s grab him While we can! Q and Trotz are not going anywhere!

  • RKD

    What bothers me the most: The players aren’t even trying. That is very disturbing, it’s one thing to tune the coach out but when the team knew they needed to step up and make one big last push they lost game after game. Regardless GG should be gone there are some seasoned coaches also facing some major issues with their teams.

    • YYCFlames

      Agreed. If the room is so close why in the heck did they not play for Stajan’s 1000th game?!?! Come on, and I blame the “leaders” on the team not named Gio and Monahan. That “A” was given to the wrong guy and does everyone remember one of his comments at the end of last year. What a wasted “A”. Don’t care what they do with him but he better not be playing next season, staple him to the popcorn duty. Stupid NMC or NTC that he’s got.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      In your opinion, what message, if any, should Tre take from the players who “aren’t even trying?” What does it say about the leadership in the dressing room?

  • oddclod

    Which GG was worse Greg or Glen? Greg had Savard Iginla Regher St.Louis, Glen had Gaudreau, Monohan, Tkachuk, Gio & Hamilton. I’d have to say Glen cause he had a deeper defence and maybe better top end. He tops one of the worst coaches in Flames history but because they are both G.G. I’ll call it a draw.