Calgary Flames Fire Glen Gulutzan and Staff
The Flames continue to struggle year in and year out. Since 2009, they’ve made the playoffs twice. In 2015, they made it to the second round where they lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. They returned in 2017 only to get swept in the first round by none other than the Ducks. Following their embarrassing playoff appearance, several adjustments were made.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 17, 2018
A Season of Lost Hopes
General manager Brad Treliving made plenty of noise throughout the NHL this past summer. After acquiring key veterans, Mike Smith and Travis Hamonic, while also re-signing quality depth players such as Kris Versteeg and Micheal Ferland, things seemed to be looking up. Spencer Foo, a Hobey Baker finalist from Union College, signed as a high rated undrafted free agent coming from the NCAA. NHL legend, Jaromir Jagr eventually donned the “Flaming C” for a short stint as well.
Throughout the first three months of the regular season, the Flames struggled mightily. Inconsistency right out of the game brought hopes down in Calgary. They won three games in a row only twice between October and December. The Flames had no problem piecing three or even four losses in a row, however. They did that quite often. Gulutzen became the centre of attention in early January when he threw his stick into the upper bowl of the stadium during a practice.
This was Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan today at practice … Need someone to go get your stick, errrrrr? 😳 pic.twitter.com/VwGNQiFmkK
— #JayAndDan (@JayAndDan) January 5, 2018
Following the coach’s meltdown, things seemed to take a turn for Calgary. The next seven games in a row were won and the playoffs seemed to be once again in the picture for the Flames. Any last minute hopes were shot down quickly after they lost the following six in a row. A pattern of inconsistency settled back in. Throughout the final stretch of the season, the Flames finished with a 7-17-0 record. The playoffs once again carried on without Calgary.
Lack of Direction
The Flames certainly have the right pieces to make a winning team. Key young players such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, and Sam Bennett all have the skill level needed to build a successful franchise around. Veteran players such as Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, and Ferland provide guidance and workmanship to lead the newer players. That being said, several flaws still exist.
A dismal power play severely hindered their scoring ability, sitting at eighth to last in the NHL. The Flames finished fifth to last in total goals scored with only 216 despite having the sixth best shot differential. Lack of quality goaltending can be attributed partially. Mike Smith is 35 years old and has been inconsistent in previous years. He also spent time on the shelf due to injury. Nevertheless, the obvious outlying problem comes down to the poor execution. Thus, Calgary’s front office decided it was time for a change in coaching. Gulutzen becomes the next in line to lose his job behind the bench.
– league-best shot rate for
– better than average shot suppression
– Corsi share comparable to Bos
– best xG share in their division
…annnnnd sh% luck like Mtl, Buf, and Car pic.twitter.com/8G7qnx7n5l
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) April 17, 2018
The search will begin immediately to find the new Flames head coach. It’s still too early to predict who the frontrunners may be. Coaches on the hot seat may still be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs or are simply just not officially fired yet. Speculation has pointed to Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz who does not have a contract for next season. Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks coaches Todd McLellan and Joel Quenneville have been in the same position recently. Former New York Rangers head coach, Alain Vigneault, was relieved of his duties on April 8th. Calgary’s AHL affiliate, Stockton Heat, is also the focus of rumours. Head coach Ryan Huska may be another candidate for the job. However it is simply too soon to determine what’s credible and what’s not, but the process will become more public as the off-season rolls on for the Flames.
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