Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
Is Mitch Love the front-runner for the Calgary Flames head coaching vacancy?
By Ryan Pike9 months ago
On Monday, the Calgary Flames parted ways with head coach Darryl Sutter. Immediately, speculation started swirling about who could replace him behind the bench in 2023-24.
Our Daily Faceoff colleague Frank Seravalli pointed to a fairly prominent (and obvious) choice: Calgary Wranglers bench boss Mitch Love. Is Love destined for the big league?
At Monday’s press conference, Flames president of hockey operations Don Maloney threw the brakes on any conversation about a new coach, noting that he needs to hire a new general manager and then that person will hire the new coach.
But man, you could argue that Love is the Dustin Wolf of AHL coaches early in his tenure in that league. Love’s coached in the AHL for two seasons and captured the AHL’s award for coach of the year in each season, leading the Wranglers to back-to-back Pacific Division regular season crowns. Aside from playoff success – which still may occur – there’s not a lot left for Love to achieve at the AHL level.
Love’s also really young relative to a lot of other coaches. He turns 39 in June, and will have amassed two AHL seasons as a head coach, three WHL seasons as head coach with the Saskatoon Blades, and seven seasons as an assistant with the Everett Silvertips before that. He’s also coached for Team Canada as an assistant at two World Juniors, a Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and two Under-17 Hockey Challenges.
Not bad for somebody that didn’t start coaching until 2011, when his playing career ended.
Love is old enough to be relatable to young players, old enough to have built a good amount of varied experience fairly early in his coaching career, and successful enough to command respect.
Is he the front-runner? Well, that depends on who ends up as GM and what their preferences are. And heck, the Flames have two successful previous AHL coach coaches on their staff in Ryan Huska and Cail MacLean (who both have NHL experience), and an experienced NHL player and coach in Kirk Muller, too. There are a lot of good candidates, and that’s if the Flames don’t bother to cast a net outside of the Saddledome.
But right now, with the Wranglers still active in the AHL post-season, Love’s doing a good job at making a case for his candidacy. We’ll see how this story develops over the next couple of months.
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