Friedman: Ryan Huska is ‘leading contender’ for Calgary Flames head coaching vacancy

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
10 months ago
The Calgary Flames are currently without a head coach, but it sure does sound like they won’t be that way for long. During the intermission of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final broadcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman referred to Flames assistant coach Ryan Huska as the “leading contender” for the job.
Here’s Friedman:
“So the Calgary Flames are one of two teams right now without a head coach. The New York Rangers are the other. Nothing is done until it’s done, but the word is that Ryan Huska, who’s been an assistant coach for the Flames for the past five seasons, is the leading contender. But nothing is done until it’s done.”
The 47-year-old Huska joined the Flames as an assistant coach in 2018-19, and he’s run the defensive group and the penalty kill for the past five seasons. Prior to that, he was head coach of the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate for four seasons (2014-18) – one season in Adirondack, followed by three in Stockton. As the AHL coach, he helped develop some of the team’s up-and-coming prospects into NHL players. As the NHL assistant coach, he’s managed to keep a constantly changing defensive group fairly coherent, and run a really effective penalty kill – over the five seasons with Huska at the helm, they’re the sixth-most stingy PK group league-wide.
Huska also served as interim coach for the Flames for two games during that awkward period in 2020-21 after Darryl Sutter had been announced as the next head coach, but while he was going through the COVID-19 protocols needed to join the team full-time. The Flames lost both games under Huska, one in overtime and one in regulation.
Prior to joining the Flames organization, Huska was head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets for seven seasons and an assistant coach for six seasons before that. As a player, he was a third-round pick of Chicago in 1993 and played five seasons in their system – including one NHL game – before ending his playing career after the 1999-2000 season. During his time playing in the WHL, he was teammates with Jarome Iginla on two Memorial Cup winning Kamloops Blazers teams.
Presuming that Friedman’s reporting is on the money – and let’s be honest, it almost always is – Huska’s ascent to the head coaching job begs the question of what happens with associate coach Kirk Muller (who was reportedly not a finalist) and Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love (who was a finalist). It’ll be interesting to see what ripple effects this hiring has across the organization.
Filling the head coaching vacancy continues a hectic off-season for the Flames. General manager Brad Treliving’s departure was announced on April 17. Sutter’s departure as head coach was announced on May 1. Craig Conroy’s hiring as new GM was announced on May 23.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

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