6 head coaching candidates for the Calgary Flames
9 months ago
In a surprising move, the Calgary Flames relieved Darryl Sutter of his head coaching duties on Monday.
From a team culture perspective, this move was necessary and not a surprise.
But considering Brad Treliving’s departure in part due to not being able to fire Sutter, Sutter’s two year extension, and Sutter’s relationship with the ownership, all make the move a surprise.
But regardless of the situation, the Flames now need to hire a new head coach. The new general manager will be responsible for making this hire. I don’t get the sense that the Flames are interested in hiring a veteran NHL coach. Because of that, I will only be listing candidates who are regarded as up and comers in the industry.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some potential head coaches for the Flames.
Huska is ready to take on an NHL head coaching job. He interviewed with the Blackhawks and Red Wings last year. If the Flames don’t hire him, someone else will.
Huska has had success everywhere he has coached. He won a WHL championship in 2009 with the Kelowna Rockets. He helped turn around the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate in Adirondack and Stockton who have been part of graduating many players to the NHL. And he now has NHL experience as an assistant coach with Flames.
He is incredibly smart, thoughtful, and perfect for building a positive culture in the modern-day NHL.
The reigning two-time AHL coach of the year has done a terrific job with the Stockton Heat and Calgary Wranglers. He led the Heat to the third round of the playoffs in the 2021-22 season. And he led the 2022-23 Wranglers to the top spot in the AHL standings and up 2-0 in their second-round playoff series against the Abbotsford Canucks.
Love was the head coach of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades from 2018-19 to 2020-21. He was also an assistant with the Everett Silvertips from the 2011-12 season to 2017-18 season.
Love has had a lot of success and has already been listed as a favourite for the Flames head coaching opening by Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.
Outside the Organization
The reason why so many people have already connected Brunette’s name to the Flames head coaching vacancy is because of his connection with Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from their time together in Florida.
The Flames are going to need to get a lot more out of Huberdeau next season if they are going to have any success. Huberdeau had his best season in the NHL under Brunette in 2021-22 when he put up 115 points. Brunette will be a desirable candidate If the Flames think he can get Huberdeau back to being a point per game player.
Brunette had a long successful career in the NHL playing in 1,110 games putting up 733 points. He has also held roles in the front office and as an assistant coach in Minnesota and Florida.
Carbery is regarded as an up-and-coming name in the coaching realm. He is currently an assistant coach with the Leafs running their power play, an area the Flames desperately need to improve upon next season and beyond.
Carbery has a ton of coaching experience at the professional level. He ran the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays from 2010-2018. And he was the head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears for three seasons before joining the Maple Leafs in 2021.
It’s only a matter of time before Groulx gets hired as a head coach at the NHL level. He has been coaching at the junior and pro level since 2000. He has coached in the QMJHL with the Hull/Gatineau Olympiques, and in the AHL with the Rochester Americans and most recently the Syracuse Crunch.
Groulx coached the Canadian World Junior team to a gold medal in 2015.
Adding someone who has worked the past six seasons in the incredibly successful Tampa Bay organization is never a bad idea.
Leach is currently an assistant coach with the Seattle Kraken. Before joining the Kraken for their inaugural season, he was the head coach of the Providence Bruins for four seasons.
By all accounts, Leach is highly regarded around the NHL. He was rumoured to be the finalist for the Bruins coaching job that went to Jim Montgomery last off-season.
Those are some examples of the type of coaches the Flames will be looking for. There are a lot of other great candidates in the industry. There will be no shortage of great candidates for the Flames to interview and eventually hire.
Let’s hope they get this one right as the Flames have had a difficult time hiring a coach that lasts more than two seasons.
Who do you want to see become the next head coach of the Calgary Flames? Let us know in the comments section!
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