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Brad Larsen is back to work with the Calgary Flames after a season away from pro hockey

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Photo credit:Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
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In a lot of ways, Brad Larsen is a hockey lifer. A British Columbia product that grew up in the Okanagan, the 46-year-old Larsen’s been involved in major junior or pro hockey as a player or coach perpetually dating back to his debut in the Western Hockey League in 1993.
But after his dismissal as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets in April 2023, Larsen consulted with his family and opted to do something he hadn’t done in literally three decades: he took a year off.
“I was in pro hockey for 26 straight years,” said Larsen. “I was 13 years playing, American League and NHL, and I went right into coaching in the American League after my last year playing in Portland. It’s been a long run and to take the year off was great.”
Larsen coached his son’s hockey team for the year. In the spring, after conversations with his family, he sent out feelers to see about getting back into the pro ranks. On Tuesday, the Calgary Flames announced his addition to the coaching staff, filling the vacancy left by Marc Savard’s departure back on May 22.
“The process took a few weeks, obviously,” said Larsen. “It started with a few casual conversations and then it got a little deeper as we got into it. Eventually came down and did some face-to-face stuff. Pretty normal process, really, of just getting to know each other, seeing if there’s a fit. And once we decided it was, then it came together pretty quickly.”
Larsen spent 13 seasons in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization, including two seasons as a assistant with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons (under Rob Riley), two seasons as head coach in Springfield, seven seasons as an assistant in Columbus (under Todd Richards and John Tortorella), and two seasons as head coach in Columbus.
Suffice it to say, Larsen tends to lay down roots. He noted one of the appeals of joining the Flames was building something.
“I like to be part of something and grow with it,” said Larsen. “Calgary made some changes last year, obviously, lost some key players, and they’re a little bit of a transition right now. And I’m very familiar with that. I did that in Columbus. We did it actually a few times. And so I think those experiences I relate to and help out with with the coaching staff and our players and our organization.”
Another thing that appealed to Larsen was the mixture of people and personalities on the Flames coaching staff.
“Honestly, the big decision was the people that I get an opportunity to work with,” said Larsen. “And after having many conversations with Ryan [Huska] and some of his staff, and with Connie [Flames general manager Craig Conroy] a little bit, it just felt very comfortable. With our conversations and their expectations and where the team’s at and their vision, so that was real important to me. When I commit to something, I like to stick to it and I want to see it through. Sometimes there’s hard years in there, and okay. I think there’s lots to learn in those hard years and you grow together. That’s the exciting part, there’s a really good mix of young and older guys here, and I’m just looking forward to getting back to work.”
Larsen deferred to Huska, his new boss, when discussing his role on the Flames staff. As luck would have it, Huska appeared on Flames Talk on Sportsnet 960 The Fan on Wednesday and chatted with Pat Steinberg and Wes Gilbertson about the roles that the coaching staff will have for 2024-25.
As Huska explained it, Larsen will work with Cail MacLean to manage the forwards. MacLean will also manage the power play, while Larsen will run the penalty kill. Dan Lambert will manage the defencemen. (Goaltending coach Jason LaBarbera and assistant coach, video, Jamie Pringle will retain their usual responsibilities.
In 13 years behind the bench, Larsen’s done a little of everything, and is excited to get to work and help out the Flames however he can.
“I like to equate it to, if I were a restaurant owner, I’ve done a little bit of everything,” said Larsen. “I’ve been the bus boy, I’ve been the valet guy, I’ve been the cook in the kitchen. I’ve done a lot of things. I’m really just here to help. Wherever he feels he can utilize me best, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

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