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.