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Ryan Huska waited three days before being told he’d be Calgary’s head coach

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
10 months ago
Ryan Huska is a detail-oriented coach, so it should be no surprise that his interviews with Calgary Flames management involved a meticulous slide deck and detailed video breakdowns of systemic tweaks he thought the team should make. Huska was the club’s choice to be their new head coach, but he noted at Monday’s introductory press conference that he waited three tense days after his second interview before finding out he got the job.
“It was a great conversation,” said Huska, of a chat at the Saddledome when general manager Craig Conroy told him he got the job. “I’ll tell you though, after you go through your second interview, you’re always hoping that you’ll hear something sooner than later – whether it’s a yay or a nay. And it was quiet for a day. And hey, there’s probably lots going on. It was quiet for another day. Then I found myself on the third day power-washing my stones in the backyard for like six hours. I don’t have a weed in my yard right now.”
Conroy noted that before he spoke with Huska, the two were in attendance for an event where Charley Kobelka – daughter of Flames head sports physiotherapist Kent Kobelka – was singing. It got a little awkward.
“We actually went to see Charley Kobelka sing, so Ryan and I were there,” said Conroy. “And there were a lot of people around, so I didn’t say anything, which was probably a little awkward. I could feel the tension to be honest, it was a lot of tension… When I went home I texted him, ‘could you meet me at the ‘Dome tomorrow at nine.’ And he quickly got back to me saying ‘yeah.'”
After three days of waiting for word on the job, Huska felt the same tension and awkwardness Conroy did.
“I jumped in the car afterwards, I’m like ‘that’s it, we’re done!’” joked Huska. “So I loved getting the text later that night. I was probably the first guy in here in the morning, for sure.”
Now that he’s got the job, Huska has a lot of work ahead of him. He and Conroy are tackling filling out his coaching staff. At the very least, Huska needs to replace himself, but the statuses of associate coach Kirk Muller, assistant coach Cail MacLean, goaltending coach Jason LaBarbera and video coach Jamie Pringle also will need to be clarified.
“Ideally you bring people in that provide balance to myself and the rest of the staff,” said Huska. “So you want different experiences. You want people that have been around different people, different ideas, so that’s something that’s important. And you also want a group of people or coaches that you can be comfortable with around each and every day. That’s so important because we spend so much time together. But we do have a list that’s being built and that’s going to be a priority now for me to get working on that.”
Aside from the coaching staff, Huska will have his hands full touching base with the Flames’ players. He noted he already spoke with Elias Lindholm on Monday morning, but he planned to speak with everybody at some point. For what it’s worth, Conroy noted that he consulted some players, specifically mentioning Jonathan Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm, during the process of finding a new coach. Huska noted that he and Conroy will work together on selecting a new captain.
Conroy mentioned that out of an initial long list, 15 individuals were initially interviewed and four were finalists for the position. Two of the finalists were Huska and Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love. Not mentioned at the press conference, but per a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman the other two finalists were Pittsburgh Penguins associate coach Todd Reirden and former Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green.
A lot of work has already been done by the Flames this off-season, with a brand-new GM and head coach. But there’s a lot of work left to be done between now and when the puck drops in mid-October.

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