The Calgary Flames should avoid hiring a stereotypical ‘retread’ coach

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
11 months ago
There are so many different things that go into hiring an NHL head coach, and the biggest factor around NHL circles appears to be the experience that a coach acquires through his career. Of course, experience does matter, depending on where the team in question sits in the standings, but the consistent hiring of “retread” coaches might be detrimental to the future of the Calgary Flames in particular.
Before going any further, I feel that it’s pertinent to address the question, what is a retread coach in the general sense? To make the definition as clear and simple as possible, I would say it’s a coach that has been fired multiple times from multiple teams and is still in the running to fill vacancies around the league. A coach like Gerard Gallant feels like the perfect example. This isn’t meant to be an indictment on Gallant, but after being just let go from his job as head coach of the New York Rangers due to some post-season results with a very talented roster and possible stubbornness, that doesn’t feel like the kind of coach the Flames need at this point.
There are other examples of retread coaches as well, and all of them have their pros and cons. However, considering the state of the Flames management team and even the state of the roster, it feels optimal that the search team finds a way to bring in some new blood, or, at the very least, blood that has a small amount of head coaching experience in which there were great results from a process standpoint (see Andrew Brunette).
After a couple of seasons with varying degrees of success in the occasionally dull and not-very-fun-to-watch Darryl Sutter system, a fresh face behind the bench to coach a new kind of hockey to this Flames team might entice some fans to tune back into the team.
The roster is more than capable and more than willing to adjust to a new system as well, which is a big factor here. They do have plenty of older players, but there is likely to be an injection of youth going into the 2023-24 season. A young team with the likes of Jakob Pelletier and Matthew Coronato combined with players like Jonathan Huberdeau, Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane, and Blake Coleman in the forward group, all of whom can play at a fast pace with lots of puck possession, should have a head coach that reflects that style of play.
Of course, there are some retread coaches that employ this kind of style. However, there is something to be said about the kind of reputation some of these coaches can garner after being hired and fired a fair number of times. Coaching is much more than what happens in a system on the ice.
Last season was a tough one for Flames fans, and that’s understandable. But a new coach that the fans are excited for might invite some optimism with a roster that can be used in different ways next season. Young, fast players paired with a roster full of already speedy skaters should be a fun team to watch, and it’s up to management to make the right choices on how to optimize a roster that should perform far better than it did in the 2022-23 regular season.

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