In the life of National Hockey League clubs and personnel, there’s one simple truth: everyone is hired to be fired. If you’re a new general manager, you only get a certain number of bites at the apple with your coaching hires. Eventually your own time runs out and you’re replaced.
That brings us to Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving and head coach Bill Peters. If one goes, both probably do.
When Jay Feaster became interim GM of the Flames way back in December 2010, he inherited Darryl Sutter’s existing staff. His head coach? Darryl’s brother, Brent. Rather than go scorched earth, Feaster allowed Brent to coach the remainder of his contract and then the two sides parted ways.
In the spring of 2012, Feaster hired longtime friend Bob Hartley as his new coach. After inheriting a prior staff, Feaster finally had his guy and a chance to enact his plan for the organization. Asked by the media if he would be able to fire his good friend if it came to it, Feaster had a pretty astute response:
“If I do, he’d better help me pack.”
The implication was pretty clear: you don’t get multiple chances to enact your plan at the NHL level. Barring immense success earning a GM goodwill to go through multiple iterations of a plan, typically you only get to hire one coach. That’s often why you see executives not make wholesale changes immediately upon being hired – they want to make sure they know what moves to make, because they probably won’t get multiple kicks at the can.
And that brings us to Treliving: he’s already had his mulligan.
When Treliving joined the Flames front office in 2014, he inherited Hartley. After a couple seasons, he booted out Hartley and hired Glen Gulutzan after a lengthy coaching search. After two seasons, he fired Gulutzan and hired Peters. He began his plan and midway through effectively went “whoops, I actually meant to hire this other guy.”
You don’t get to do that more than once. He’s already had his mulligan.
If Peters gets the heave-ho, he’d better help Treliving pack. For that reason, it seems likely that the Flames are going to stick with this coach and this GM for the next while.