30Bill Peters
Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Peters had his interview with Brad Treliving two years ago in Russia

Professional hockey is very much a “what have you done for me lately?” world, and it’s very rare that a hockey operations regime can burn through coaches before they, too, are cast aside. So it’s completely logical to expect that barring a parade of some sort over the next three years, Bill Peters will probably be Brad Treliving’s last coaching hire as general manager of the Calgary Flames.

To some it may be perplexing that Treliving is betting big on Peters – who coached the Carolina Hurricanes to zero playoff games – rather than somebody like Darryl Sutter or Alain Vigneault, given that his job is on the line. But when you consider Treliving’s last coaching search the move makes a lot of sense.

When Treliving was named co-GM of Canada’s entry at the 2016 World Championship, the Flames were 10 games below .500 and swirling the drain. Given his NHL team’s performance, it’s likely that he was already pondering what to do behind the bench. His coaching search for Team Canada lasted three weeks and resulted in the announcement that Peters would be at the helm for Team Canada’s trip to Russia. A month later, Treliving gave Bob Hartley the axe and began searching for a new Flames bench boss.

Three days after Hartley’s firing, Treliving was in Russia for the World Championship. Canada’s grouping was in St. Petersburg. What tends to happen when a group of hockey people are stuck in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language is they hang out a lot together at the hotel and talk hockey. Having just watched his team fall flat down the stretch and having just fired his coach, it’s inevitable that Treliving talked extensively with Peters about coaching philosophies and their personal similarities. The success Team Canada had likely cemented some positive feelings between the two men.

Both guys are from Western Canada. Both guys are hockey lifers who have worked their way up from the lower levels. Heck, both guys have put in their time working in NHL organizations with precious few resources: Treliving was assistant GM in Arizona throughout their perpetual (and ongoing) ownership crisis, while Peters had to make due coaching an NHL team that spent $16 million below the salary cap with regularity due to its owner’s financial troubles. There’s likely a bit of a kindred spirits thing at work here.

If you’ve ever spoken with Treliving or watched one of his press conferences, it’s apparent that he has a clear philosophy about the game and how it should be played. Given those philosophies, and his termination of Hartley having watched two seasons of his style of play, it says a lot that Treliving hired (a) Peters for the World Championship team and (b) Glen Gulutzan for the Flames job over the course of a few months – especially given the similar styles of hockey the Flames and Hurricanes played in recent years.

Gulutzan got the Flames playing the style of game that Treliving desired, with an emphasis on puck possession, speed and generally going after the puck (rather than playing counter-punch hockey) – a style of play that the Hurricanes played in all four years under Peters. But there were obviously some things that didn’t quite click with Gulutzan and the team this past season given the on-ice results. Given Treliving’s familiarity with Peters from the 2016 World Championship and his critical examination of the unraveling of the Flames’ past season, two things can probably be gleaned from this coaching hire:

  1. Treliving feels like he has a good handle on what didn’t work with Gulutzan behind the bench.
  2. Treliving feels like the things Peters does behind the bench can fix what didn’t work with Gulutzan without fundamentally altering their playing style.

The Flames aren’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater with the Peters hiring. If anything, they’re trying to alter the temperature of the bathwater slightly. The type of hockey that Peters likes his teams to play is the exact type of hockey that Treliving wants the Flames to play. Heck, I’d be willing to bet that if Peters had been available in 2016, he probably would’ve gotten the job instead of Gulutzan.

Is the hiring a gamble? Yes. Somebody who has never coached an NHL club to a playoff berth is going to be expected to get them deep into the playoffs. Repeatedly. Failure to do so probably results in a scorched-earth culling of both the coaching and management staffs. But Treliving knows Peters and his coaching style as well as he knows anybody’s, and when you gamble it’s usually best to bet on what you know.

We’ll see if it works out this time.

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      I don’t think your looking at the whole picture. Carolina was rebuilding the whole time peters was there and not much was expected of the team till this year. They hung around the playoff race till the last few weeks of the season. All while being a budget team that did not ever come close to the the salary cap ceiling. Given the cap situation in Carolina while he was there and the fact they were rebuilding I think he did quite a good job given the lack of resources he had to work with.

      • McRib

        “He said he will give Brower the opportunity to bounce back.”

        Yuck. Brouwer actually did bounce back from last year, he went from being abysmal back to bad. The days where Brouwer is an NHLer are long gone though, there is not bouncing back to respectability that was four or five years ago. Brouwer must be the nicest guy in the world, only explainable reason he is still in the NHL.

        • Mickey O

          He didn’t say on which team Brouwer is going to bounce back…

          Treliving would be nuts not to move on from Brouwer. Swallow your pride, bite the bullet, and remove him from your team. Give his ‘A’ to Tkachuk.

  • oilcanboyd

    Like everything Peters has been saying in the Presser and the interview on Fan960, except his belief that Brouwer can turn it around. GG attempted the same by putting Brouwer on the #1 Powerplay, etc and he failed. Hope his belief in Brouwer will not get past training camp. Maybe it was a condition of employment to pump up Brouwer. lol

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Just as Gully’s hands might have been tied with Brouwer, so too might Peters’ if management insists on giving Troy playing time that commensurates with his contract. No way will the team buyout Brouwer with two years left and it would be professionally embarrassing to Tre and ownership to demote Troy to Stockton. Brouwer is untradeable unless the Flames take back an equally bad contract or sell low on a blue chipper on the condition that Brouwer is part of the deal like Ottawa is supposedly trying to do by linking King Karl and Ryan in any deal.

      • McRib

        Brouwer is going to drag this team down next year like he has the previous two. If Treliving doesn’t see that then it will be his head next June when we’re on the outside of the playoffs looking in again.

    • Flamethrower

      @ oilcanboyd
      My sentiments exactly, I feel with a few obvious changes, Brouwer etc. that this could turn around.
      I also feel that Tre came up short by not releasing Siglet. 6 goalies careers have been severely altered due to this mans teaching methods.

  • Garry T

    Let’s give the man a chance. If the systems are similar, it’s the execution that is vital. I would expect that Peters will not fool around with this group. They will execute or he will see that they are gone. I am sure the word is passing between any and all players right now that the slow and easy days are over and that this coach is no fool and will not be intimidated. I for one am looking forward to camp and will travel 600 kms from home to Calgary and back daily during training camp daily to watch the process. So go to Micky D’s and buy yourself a happy meal and relax.

    • Rudy27

      Not only will word be going around that he is a no-nonsense type of coach, but the rule of thumb in the NHL has been – Firing the coach is easier than firing the team, but once that happens and there are no better results with a new coach, then the players start getting shipped out for those hungry enough to give it their all!

        • Rudy27

          Nope. I still believe players will be next on the list. And we may likely see some of that before the season starts. Can’t see ownership getting rid of Tre that soon, seeing as he just signed on for three more years. Anyway, it’s all a moot point. The Flames will perform much better this season under a new coach and some personnel tweaks. GFG!

  • Day1-Cfan

    So now we need asst. coaches, then wait for the 4th round at the draft. After that get through the July 1 free agent splash and hope that 1 year from today we are in the second round of the playoffs. Sounds easy enough. GFG!

  • SoCalFlamesFan

    It seems the things people didn’t like about GG are addressed in Peters. Better defensive play, potentially better power play, more motivated team, still a possession team, not dump and chase team, still fast and young, open to playing the youth etc. Yes he has some similarities with GG in a statistical way, but he is completely opposite in others because only on computer games and in “star wars” can you “clone” people.

  • dontcryWOLF

    I’ll give peterbillt a chance. The flames problems may more be a failure of the players, though …no system or coaching attitude can make a player score.

    • McRib

      Yeah, for example Garnet Hathaway never even came close to breaking a point per game in the NCAA, so it’s no coincidence that he couldn’t score in 42 Games in the NHL, no matter the coach. It’s like they look for players who can’t shoot the puck. I mean I even freaking love Dillon Dube, but dude is not a finisher at all and his offensive upside is limited to being a great third liner.

      Meanwhile Emile Poirier who once scored 43 Goals in 63 GP in the QMJHL is buried in the AHL, while Hathaway someone who never score more than 6 Goals in the NCAA is on the third line in the NHL. It’s so weird, it’s like they don’t want goal scorers and see them as selfish or something.

  • The Doctor

    Obviously we became a much better possession team under Gulutzan, but I don’t entirely agree with the author that we played with more speed. First of all we had players like Brouwer who are physically incapable of being fast. Plus there’s skating fast and moving the puck fast. On the latter point, we sucked compared to elite teams like Vegas and Boston. Too often our set up and passing in the offensive zone were slow and pedestrian. Vegas is a fast team. We were not.

  • HAL MacInnis

    I watched a bunch of Peters’ interviews and nothing he said was damning. When certain comments looked like Gulutzan 2.0, he tempered it with something reasonable. He’s just being politically correct before he takes that “A” away from Brouwer and fires Sigalet, is all.

    I like the fact that he’s older and wiser than Gulutzan. He’s a much better speaker, as well. I hope he talks to the guys before and after games and instills a mental work ethic, just as much as a physical one. He seems more aware of the team and the players in his comments than Gulutzan ever was.

    I am curious about his thoughts on our goalie situation throughout the last few years. Could be a touchy subject with Sigalet still here though.

  • McRib

    Every time Brad Treliving signs or hires a new person there is always a story of how they had some lunch together at the draft or how their wives got along and how get of people they’re (see Brouwer, GG, Lazar, Peters, etc)….

    This is called Neoptism in the real world and all successful businesses avoid it at all costs. I hope this works, but it seems like much the same to be honest. From Murray Edwards to Brian Burke and down on to Brad Treliving it just seems like one big “old boys” club where having “nice guys” that agree with them is more of a priority than winning. Case in point the Flames were more interested in getting Matt Stajan to 1000 games this year than making the playoffs this year. Time will tell, but outside of a couple drafts (scouts should get that credit), since the Dougie Hamilton trade I haven’t been a big fan of Brad Trelivings body of work (Brouwer signing, Hamonic Trade, Lazar Trade, etc).

    I think Peters will be better than GG (not a high measuring stick), but he ain’t no Babcock or Quennville that is for certain.

    • SydScout

      Hey, I just hired a guy I don’t know. He looks good on paper, never met him though.

      Great strategy for success. Nepotism is one thing. You’re describing stupidity. One thing that we will disagree on is the intellectual capability of Treliving. I believe BT to be a highly intelligent GM and I like his measured approach to management.