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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames zeroed in on Geoff Ward, and other things we learned about the Flames’ coaching hires

As has become tradition when big news breaks, the principal members of the Calgary Flames coaching staff and hockey operations department did the media rounds following yesterday’s announcements. Our friends at Sportsnet 960 The Fan had general manager Brad Treliving, head coach Bill Peters, new associate coach Geoff Ward and new assistant coach Ryan Huska on to chat about the big news.

Here are the takeaways from those chats.

Geoff Ward had time left on his contract with New Jersey. Treliving had to get permission from Devils GM Ray Shero to chat with him, and Shero emphasized that he’d only give permission if Ward was a strong candidate, not one of many. Given this context, it seems likely that once they zeroed in on Ward the intention was to bring him in as an associate coach. (Teams will usually allow their coaches to leave, but only if there’s a promotion involved.) Ward interviewed with Treliving at the 2016 World Championship in St. Petersburg for the then-vacant head coaching job, so there was a level of familiarity.

The Hurricanes had permission to talk to Huska about a coaching role in the recent past. Peters said “a couple years ago,” Treliving said “last year.” Either way, Huska was on Peters’ radar. According to him, they essentially had Huska unofficially committed to joining the Flames’ staff right after Peters’ introductory press conference. Treliving went out of his way to mention that the job wasn’t just given to Huska, but his experience and progression in the organization definitely helped.

They’re looking for an AHL coach. The upside of zeroing in on Huska for a job relatively early in the process is that the team knew they’d need to replace an AHL head coach – a role Treliving called the second-most important in the organization, behind the NHL bench boss. Stockton assistant coach Cail MacLean will get “a great deal of consideration” and, by coincidence I’m sure, he’s in Calgary right now.

With the staff complete, the breakdown of coaching duties under Peters is as follows:

  • Ward will be responsible for the power play, forwards, and focusing on in-game analysis and adjustments.
  • Huska will be responsible for the penalty kill and the defensemen.
  • Martin Gelinas will remain the eye in the sky, but they’ll look at adjusting the role a bit.
  • Jordan Sigalet is the goalie coach and Jamie “Chips” Pringle is the video coach.

Peters reads the articles. He’s got a lot of ideas and video from different sources about changing up the power play and making it less predictable. Generally, he wants to improve and emphasize team speed. Unlike predecessor Glen Gulutzan, who vehemently denied reading about the team but knew all about theories and analytics and totally did read stuff, Peters mentioned he read The Athletic and cited an example of the Devils’ success with defensive zone faceoffs and scoring chance suppression. He totally reads everything, particularly during the offseason when he has more free time. (Hi, Bill! Thanks for reading!)

Adam Ollas Mattsson won’t be signed prior to June 1 deadline. The 2014 pick had to be signed to a contract by this deadline or else the Flames will lose his NHL rights. With an eye towards their contract limit, Treliving noted they’re not going to offer him a contract but they wouldn’t rule out signing him to another AHL contract.

  • Al Rain

    A week ago I went off on another reader (Fan in Van?). Something about we should all try to be constructive, offer real solutions. I said no one in the Flames org cares what we say. Turns out he was right and I was wrong.

    So let’s see all your ideas for player usage. Peters reads everything.

    And if coach is reading this, then GM might be as well. Get your ideas in soon – the draft, free agency and the buy-out window are fast approaching.

    • Cheeky

      Well if Brad and Bill are actually reading this: Jordan Sigalet is a bad choice to keep as goalie coach. He may be good at the AHL level but has done nothing but regress our goalies. Hire someone with a proven track record – this is the last missing link in the coaching staff. Oh and get rid of Brouwer somehow and stay away from July 1 frenzy….

      • Jimmyhaggis

        I totally agree, goaltending has been our icilies heal, there hasn’t been one decent draft pick goalie work his way up the organisation to a starting role. Why is that, other teams draft and develop goaltenders, we always trade or sign other teams goalies to be our number one guy. It’s obvious to me!

        • piscera.infada

          Yes, the organization needs to do a better job of drafting and developing goalie talent. But, part of developing goalies is a matter of time and patience, something many in this fanebase doesn’t want to exercise. “Oh, half of Gilles’ first 13 NHL starts were rough? Never gonna be an NHL goalie… Trade the bum”.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    If you are in fact reading this Bill – please, please, please give Bennett a fighting chance at a top six spot. Give him some good line-mates for more than just a game or two to see what he can do. By all means shelter him, but do so with some higher end team mates. Don’t be afraid to break up 3M if it means the creation of 2 solid scoring lines. Don’t be afraid to try Tkachuk on RW with Sammy on left wing.

    Please cut-back Brodie’s minutes. There’s no way Dougie should be playing the 4th most minutes among defencemen. He should probably be #2 behind Gio if not #1 given his superior offensive capabilities. Also, Dougie should be a 3 on 3 and first power play unit staple.

    Get some movement on the power play – not just the puck – but the players.

    Give call-ups a chance to play in their projected future position in the lineup. If a 4th liner gets injured, sure put in Hathaway. If Gaudreau or Tkachuk gets injured put in Mangi somewhere in the top six. Same goes for defense call-ups.

    I trust in you Bill! You can do this!

  • Garry T

    If you are doing a deal with Pittsburgh, make sure you are not only getting Kessel from the Pens but Daniel Sprong and possibly Zack Aston Reese as well. Those are Pits top to forwards expected to make the NHL in the Fall of 2018

    • supra steve

      “make sure you are not only getting Kessel from the Pens but Daniel Sprong and possibly Zack Aston Reese as well”

      And how much is that going to cost (in addition to Brodie)?

      • Beer League Coach

        We could give them Brouwer (veteran RW, with leadership possibilities, to replace two RW prospects). Bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush. We could also throw in the rights to Bartkowski and let him go home and play for his home town team. He is probably more likely to end up playing for Wheeling in the ECHL rather than Pittsburgh.

  • freethe flames

    Dear BP and BT: If you want some free advice about how to make this team better you need to first access what is wrong with this team. To begin with your top 2 RW from last year are both LHS and your remaining RW are all 4th liners at best. Your assistant GM Maloney has already identified adding a top 6 RHS to your forward group. I would suggest adding 2 one who can play center and win face offs; something I know you stress BP and the other someone who play up and down the lineup like Ferland but is a RHS. There are lots of possible targets but I won’t be so bold as to limit your choices as to who they should be. Making these changes upfront will help make your team more competitive. BP your experience in the Eastern Conference should give the organization a few more options to consider. Good luck.

  • Raffydog

    Keep seeing all kinds of posts on here about how to improve the team by trading or signing for players to help with the forwards. Although the Flames do need a lot of help with scoring goals, I think most of you are forgetting how putrid and useless the defense was all season. The Flames have one of the worst defences in the league, so maybe instead of only focusing on the forwards, we should look at ways to improve the defense first. They say defense wins championships and at the moment the Flames have a terrible group of defenseman.

  • StajansFinalPaycheck 3.5

    Please let there be no more ” nice guy” contracts on this team. Skill, speed, and grit. Nice guys can join the team for beers after the game is played.

  • Vernon30

    Again, the new NHL is speed and youth driven. It’s 1987 fast and open, but with better goalies. If you cant score, you can’t win. If you keep the pace up and the petal down, you win. Fix the goalie question, move Stone and Brodie, in exchange for youth and speed, and don’t ever protect a lead, build on it.

  • oddclod

    Peters said something nice about Brouwer like he was mismanaged and needs a fresh start instead of Bennett your highest ever pick. I’m allowed to be a pessimist. But maybe just maybe it was coaching that convinced Brouwer (your leader) to skate past every graveyard until he was officially demoted to the 4th line? Nah. One checkbox covered firing Gulutzan & one strike not buying Brouwer out. One step forward two steps back CFSE. Same old.

    • piscera.infada

      Peters said something nice about Brouwer like he was mismanaged and needs a fresh start instead of Bennett your highest ever pick.

      That’s a pretty gross overstatement of what he said.

  • Off the wall

    Well I’ve gotta hand it to FN, some actually think that Peters’ (Rebar) or Treliving give a flying fart about our opinions.
    Maybe for amusement, yes.

    Last week I had a problem with my work truck. I googled all kinds of things and narrowed it down to the problem I was having. Assuming I was a genius for figuring it out, I tried to fix my truck. I watched all the YouTube videos I could and was confident I had all the necessary information and tools to repair it on my own.

    Even after I managed to get it running, it wouldn’t stay running.
    Swallowing my pride, I had a REAL mechanic look at it. He hooked it up to his mechanics’ laptop and showed me the reason I couldn’t keep the truck running. It had a security device installed that I tried to bypass, so everything I did was futile because the truck needed the security system reset.

    Only after his expert level of competency was the truck able to be properly repaired.

    So you may have an opinion about what needs fixed on our team, and I’m sure I agree with many of those opinions, however it takes an expert to realize what it takes to repair a team.

    I think we’re in good hands with Treliving and Peters. Both are experts in their field.

    If your truck ever breaks down don’t call me, call a REAL mechanic…

    • Raffydog

      Treliving has shown nothing in regards to building a winning team. He’s been the GM for how many years now? And the Flames are no better now than when he took over. Garbage gm=garbage team.

      • Off the wall

        Ok Raffy, you have my undivided attention. What would you theoretically do to make us competitive as a team?

        I’m all ears .. well that and two big eyes that Puckhead quibs, “remind him of a mans anatomy” although I don’t think he used those exact words..

      • Rockmorton65

        Raffy – you’re thinking of your boy Chiarelli.

        The Flames have improved every year under Tre. Contenders aren’t built overnight. Tighten up the D, a power play in the top 16 and this team is challenging for a home playoff spot. Add in some secondary scoring and coherent lines and this team can make some noise.

    • freethe flames

      Even though we might write as if they are reading does not mean we really believe they are reading. I write b/c I don’t really have a group of friends who want to talk hockey. It’s not like you don’t share your views as well. I like to think I’m having a little fun while trying to be serious about something I enjoy.

  • Garry T

    Supra Steve … The Flames get a ton of calls on the availability of Brodie.
    Brodie was our best defenceman in my eyes and a lot of other people’s two years ago and prior to that. My reason for going after the two kids in addition to Kessel is that we are absorbing a salary problem for Pittsburgh.
    That gets you one of the kids. The other plus Kessel is real value for Brodie.
    Too many participants on this website give away far too much for our more gifted players when they are looking at being ” Managers ” . Those two kids are going to be marvels. There is nothing wrong with asking for them. Don’t write Brodie off just yet. If he is moved to the right side and has a good partner, we could see the old Brodie and as a defenceman, he is worth two Kessels any day of the week.

    • freethe flames

      I read this morning on the Spector report that Rutherford has suggested that Kessel is not on the trading block.(although I suspect that like any good GM he is always open to the right deal) Who is your inside source about the Flames getting a ton of calls on Brodie? Do i think they are getting calls probably; do I think they have made calls about moving him again probably but I don’t actually know that. Personally I am not a Kessel fan so he would not be the guy I would want. He rubs me the wrong way.

    • supra steve

      I agree that Brodie is a valuable asset, just not as valuable as 2 years ago (when he was thought of as a top pairing guy). But while you are properly valuing our “more gifted players”, you are vastly undervaluing Phil Kessel…who at 30 years of age, with 2 Stanley Cups, $6.8M cap hit for 4 more seasons, and 92 points in 82 games this past season. Those stats don’t sound like the kind of player that you have to give up 2 top prospects to enable a trade for a second pairing D man.
      If the Pens had only one or two possible trade partners, then their hands may be kind of tied as you imply. Kessel’s NMC allows for at least 8 possible trade partners though. They are not merely going to be happy to be rid of him and throw in some of their top prospects to sweeten the deal.
      Additionally, after Phil’s experience in Toronto, it would not at all surprise me is he excluded most or all Canadian teams with the trade list that he submits.

      • Kevin R

        Yup, a lot of chatter about something that probably will never happen. Also, why would they trade a key piece (92pts) when they only have their window open for Malkins & Crosby remaining contracts. The fit is undeniable for a trade, just lots of roadblocks. Rutherford isnt what you call Mr Reasonable to deal with either. His ask will be huge, as probably it should be.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The more the coaches speak to the speed of the game and the importance of quick transitioning, the more I feel Brodie stays put. He is an elite skater but lacks the high level decision making and a pro level shot. He is easy to defend because he is a pass first, second, and third type player.

    We now have two coaches that specialize in working magic with defenders that are likely up for the challenge. Personally I think Brodie is our best trade chip to enhance or top 6 RW scoring. I honestly think that people are under estimating what a top 6 RWwould do to the make up of the line up. I would move heaven and earth to get Johnnie a sniper this year.

    Johnny-Monny-Hoffman
    Matty-Janko-Ferland
    Bennett-Backlund-Foo
    Mang-Shore-Fro
    Brouwer/Lazar

    Gio-Mamilton
    Hamonic-Ras
    Kulak-Stone
    Tspoon
    Now the team is harder to play against with better balance at the cost of Brodie for Hoffman which is reasonable.