The Calgary Flames fired coach Bob Hartley on Tuesday morning, along with associate coach Jacques Cloutier.
Why was he fired? Who might replace him?
It might be the same answer for both questions.
According to Eric Francis, Flames GM Brad Treliving didn’t leave with Team Canada for the IIHF world championships this week, opting to remain behind for an “emergency meeting” on Monday. Why the sudden decision?
Well, something happened on Friday that might scuttle a few plans: Bruce Boudreau was fired by the Anaheim Ducks.
Boudreau told the OC Register that his phone has been blowing up even since.
“I’ve had a couple conversations,” he said. “I can’t delve into it right now. Let’s put it this way, this is why my voice is so bad. I couldn’t talk at all Sunday. I’ve been on the phone all day Friday and Saturday. For 15 hours a day, it was pretty crazy. Whether it was the support of people talking to me about different things, it was pretty crazy. And fairly exciting.”
The Minnesota Wild have spoken to Boudreau about their opening. The Ottawa Senators have an opening and have spoken to him. And now, quite conspicuously, so do the Calgary Flames.
Hartley coached the Flames for four seasons, going 134-135-25. Calgary was a surprise playoff team last year, winning a round against the Vancouver Canucks before losing to – who else? – Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks.
Hartley won the 2014-15 Jack Adams Award for coach of the year, earning 37 first-place votes and beating out a field of very worthy candidates. This was despite cries from the analytics community that the Flames, near the bottom of the league in puck possession, would have the bottom fall out from them in the following season.
Which, they did: Calgary was 35-40-7 with 77 points, missing the final wild card by 10 points.
(Ryan Kennedy notes that three of the last five Jack Adams winners have all been turfed.)
Hartley signed an extension during the 2013-14 season, and then was given a two-year extension last summer.
While the underlying numbers of Hartley’s teams were troubling, he had his benefits as the coach for this group. From Eric Francis of Postmedia, who didn’t believe Hartley was going to be fired:
He’s helping develop the bulk of the team’s top young players well but the most important ingredient he’s assisted in bringing to the mix is a work ethic that was the base of the team’s success one year earlier and will continue to be the rebuilding team’s lifeblood moving forward. Hartley, whose fortes are communicating and teaching youngsters, has had plenty to do with that.
Yes, he should shoulder some of the blame associated with a horrific start the team couldn’t recover from this year. He owns that, admitting he needed to be better when his team’s pre-season attitude showed signs of being lax.
He’s also the first to admit the three-headed goalie monster to start the season wasn’t handled properly
Well, you know what they say: a coach is only as good as his goalie(s).
There are other interesting candidates out there beyond Boudreau, including Brian Burke’s old friend from Vancouver, Marc Crawford. But the timing of this makes it hard to believe that a coach coming off his third straight 100-point season isn’t the inspiration.
Bruce Boudreau … fired one day, the hottest free agent in hockey the next.
And possibly also a coach killer. Irony!
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