Alex Tanguay, Mitch Love, Gerard Gallant among rumoured candidates for Calgary Flames head coach job
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould6 months ago
Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love, Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Alex Tanguay, and recently fired New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant — among others — have all been mentioned in recent reports as potential candidates to become the 19th full-time head coach in Calgary Flames history.
Love, 38, has been named the American Hockey League coach of the year in back-to-back seasons after guiding the Flames’ farm club to a 96–33–11 record in 140 games. Before joining the Stockton Heat in 2021, Love spent nine seasons coaching in the Western Hockey League, including three as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.
Here’s what Friedman had to say about Love’s candidacy for the Flames job in his “32 Thoughts” column on Tuesday evening:
8. Calgary must decide on Mitch Love. When you’ve won the AHL Coach of the Year Award two seasons in a row, an organization is pretty much put on the spot to indicate if it considers you NHL material or not. Same goes for Ryan Huska and Kirk Muller. (Muller, I believe has been interviewed in Columbus and one other team.)
As Friedman indicated, the Flames have no shortage of internal candidates to consider for promotion, particularly after they already elevated assistant GM Craig Conroy to the main chair this week.
But, as Friedman continued, the club undoubtedly also has its eyes on a collection of external figures, including ex-Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green (who was a candidate when the Flames hired Glen Gulutzan in 2016) and current Red Wings assistant Alex Tanguay.
Other names to consider here: Andrew Brunette’s history with Jonathan Huberdeau is intriguing; Gerard Gallant, Travis Green (who I could also see with Anaheim), Marc Savard (as mentioned by Jeff Marek) and Alex Tanguay. Conroy and Jarome Iginla — who eventually will join the organization — think very highly of Tanguay. The Flames want to modernize the way they attack.
Tanguay, 43, played for the Flames from 2006–2008 and again from 2010–2013. While Friedman did mention the connection between Flames star winger Jonathan Huberdeau and current New Jersey Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette (who previously coached Huberdeau in Florida), it could also be worthwhile to imagine how Tanguay — one of his era’s top passers — might be able to revitalize Huberdeau’s game.
One other variable: Tanguay arrived in Detroit as a member of Jeff Blashill’s staff, one year before current head coach Derek Lalonde took over with the Red Wings. It remains to be seen whether Lalonde will make any changes to his staff, and, if not, whether Tanguay would leave Detroit for anything less than the head coach gig in Calgary.
Savard, 45, is another former Flame and an up-and-coming coach with the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires. One of the NHL’s top playmakers during his heyday, Savard’s playing career ended prematurely in 2011 due to post-concussion syndrome. Under Savard’s guidance, the Spitfires have gone 88–35–15 over the last two seasons.
Gallant is much older than the other candidates mentioned by Friedman, but the 59-year-old Prince Edward Islander has experience coaching Huberdeau with both the Panthers and the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. The New York Rangers relieved Gallant of his coaching duties with the club on May 6; on Tuesday, TSN’s Darren Dreger described Gallant as a “prime candidate” in Calgary.
Finally, via Friedman, here’s one name completely out of left field:
9. I also think the Flames will, at least, reach out to Peter Laviolette to gauge his interest.
Peter Laviolette has never coached in Canada, but he’s a Stanley Cup champion (Carolina, 2006) who has led underdog teams to the Stanley Cup Final on two other occasions (Philadelphia, 2010; Nashville, 2017). The Washington Capitals dismissed Laviolette on April 14 upon the conclusion of his third season with the team.
So, all in all, here’s a quick little list of the potential candidates for the Flames gig who we heard about on Tuesday (understanding, of course, that there could be more still to come or under wraps):
- Mitch Love (internal: Calgary Wranglers head coach)
- Kirk Muller (internal: Flames associate coach)
- Ryan Huska (internal: Flames assistant coach)
- Andrew Brunette (external: New Jersey Devils associate coach, former Florida Panthers interim head coach)
- Alex Tanguay (external: Detroit Red Wings assistant coach, former Flames forward)
- Travis Green (external: former Vancouver Canucks head coach)
- Gerard Gallant (external: former New York Rangers/Vegas Golden Knights/Florida Panthers head coach)
- Marc Savard (external: OHL Windsor Spitfires head coach, former Flames forward)
- Peter Laviolette, maybe? (external: former Washington Capitals/Carolina Hurricanes/etc. head coach)
Who would you like to see become the new head coach of the Calgary Flames? Let us know in the comments!
Recent articles from Mike Gould