The FAN 960 Flames Zone

Who should be the next Head Coach of the Calgary Flames?  I want to use this blog to get your ideas on who you think would be a good choice for the job, using comments to have a discussion.

Our Program Director Kelly Kirch, Boomer, and I have come up with a composite list of coaches that we think could be possible candidates for the job.  They are listed below and I’d love to get you thoughts on them or if you have any other candidates, please add them to the discussion.

Mike Haviland

A former assistant with Chicago, Haviland spent the last four seasons in the Blackhawks organization.  He has four years of AHL experience as a head coach and three in the ECHL before that; in 2006/2007 he won the AHL’s Coach of the Year award leading Norfolk to 50 wins.

Bob Hartley

His NHL resume kind of speaks for itself, especially his work with Colorado starting in the late 90′s.  After winning the Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears in 1997, he took over behind the Avalanche bench to start the 1998/1999 season.  Hartley lead the Avs to a 52 win season during the 2000/2001 season culminating with a Stanley Cup win in seven games over New Jersey.  Hartley coached the Atlanta Thrashers from 2002 through 2008, taking them to the playoffs during the 2006/2007 season.  His most recent work has been with ZSC Lions in the Swiss League; he lead them to the league title this past season.

Troy Ward

Ward’s stock has risen a ton since taking over behind the Abbotsford Heat bench this season, taking over for Jim Playfair.  He lead the Heat to a 42-26-3 record, a first round playoff sweep over Milwaukee, and a five game playoff series against eventual winner Toronto.  Ward has been an NHL assistant before, behind the Penguins bench from 1997 through 2000.

Mike Sullivan

Currently in the Eastern Conference Final with the New York Rangers, Sullivan has been a part of John Tortorella’s staff the last three seasons.  Prior to that, he spent two years as Head Coach of the Bruins.  His coaching career followed an 11 year NHL career, with four of those seasons spent with the Flames.

Mike Johnston

Two consecutive trips to the WHL final will boost your profile, and Johnston’s time with the Portland Winterhawks has done just that.  A former NHL assistant with both Vancouver and LA, Johnston has done wonders with the Winterhawks, developing future NHL talent like Ryan Johansen, Nino Niedereitter, and of course Calgary’s Sven Baetschi.

Dallas Eakins

A 12 year NHL playing career saw him play his final game in the show with the Calgary Flames, and after a journeyman career playing it has been the complete opposite behind the bench.  Eakins has spent his entire coaching career with the Maple Leafs organization, spending a year as an assistant with the Marlies before a two year stint as an assistant with the big club.  The past three years, he’s been the Head Coach of the AHL’s Marlies and has them in the Western Conference Final right now.

Jon Cooper

The current Head Coach of the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, Cooper is about to start the Eastern Conference Final after leading his team to a banner 55 win season.  Cooper has been a fast riser through the ranks, spending a year as bench boss in the NAHL before two as Head Coach of the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL; he’s been leading the Admirals the past two campaigns.

Jim Playfair

Eager for another shot behind an NHL bench, is there a chance Playfair could be Head Coach of the Flames a second time?  His one year in that position saw the Flames go 43-29-13, finishing with a first round exit at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings.  He’s been an AHL Head Coach with the Abbotsford Heat (two seasons) and the Saint John Flames (three seasons), and is currently an associate on Dave Tippet’s staff in Phoenix.

Craig Hartsburg

After finishing his first year as Associate Coach with the Flames, Hartsburg finds himself in an odd spot.  The team is going to retain him if a new head coach wants him, but he’s also a potential candidate for the job.  He’s had three prior stops as an NHL bench boss, leading the Blackhawks from 1995 through 1998, the Ducks from 1998 through 2001 and a short stint with the Senators during the 2008/2009 season.

Duane Sutter

I know many will cringe at the last name, but Duane has a decent coaching background to go along with his long playing career.  Sutter was Head Coach of the Indianapolis Ice of the defunct IHL from 1992 through 1995 and Head Coach of the Florida Panthers from 2000 through 2002.  He’s been in player personnel positions the last number of years.

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52 Responses to “Flames Coaching Open Discussion”
  1. 1.

    I hope Bob Boughner gets interviewed.
    I am not sure Feaster would try another Sutter or bring back Playfair (who I would love to see back here)
    From your list I would pick Mike Sullivan to coach the Flames.

    - Dearen
  2. 2.

    1a.) Sullivan
    1b.) Hartley
    3.) Johnson

    Ward should do at least a year or two in Abby before he jumps.

    - Colin
  3. 3.


    Bob Boughner is a really good choice as well; he’s done the job at the junior level and he’s gotten experience as an assistant behind an NHL bench. Great addition.

    - Pat Steinberg
  4. 4.


    I agree on Ward, but that’s in an ideal world. The problem is, the NHL world has taken note of his development job and I don’t think he’ll be around another year or two. On top of that, can you really bring in a new coach and say “you’re just here until we’re ready for Troy Ward”? To me, you either make the decision now or understand he likely won’t be your guy in the future.

    - Pat Steinberg
  5. 5.

    I think it really depends on what our team is looking like. Is it going to be a young group with Bartschi, Reinhart, Horak, in the mix, or is it gonna be a group of old grumpy veterans. I think that makes a huge difference. Young group, I think Ward or Eakins. Old group, just let them coach themselves, cause they don’t buy into a system anyways.

    - Spencer
  6. 6.


    And that’s been my point all along Spencer. If the Flames don’t start making significant philosophy changes, it doesn’t matter who they bring in to coach, because it just won’t matter. The coach is an important position, but the team needs to determine where they’re going here.

    - Pat Steinberg
  7. 7.

    I’d go after Sullivan and make Ward his associate coach. If all parties agree to this, you have a commanding, experienced NHL head coach and what seems to be a heck of a communicator and developmental associate coach in Ward.
    Also, each head coach seems to just go with what Iggy wants or bumps heads with him like Brent did. Trade #12 and give everyone a chance to move on.

    - loudogYYC
  8. 8.

    Edmonton OilKings coach Derrick Laxdal. I’m not saying he should be the guy; I’m just throwing another name out their.

    - Jeff
  9. 9.


    The only question I have there is would Ward accept a job as an assistant? I think your idea is a great one in theory, but would Ward be okay with that?

    - Pat Steinberg
  10. 10.


    Can’t argue with that one man. What a season the Oil Kings have had this year and there could be much mroe to come.

    - Pat Steinberg
  11. 11.

    What about Craig McTavish? Or even Ron Wilson?

    - Murray
  12. 12.


    I didn’t include Wilson just out of spite;) I guess he’d have to be an option because his resume speaks for itself, he’s had nothing but success minus his Toronto stop. As for McTavish, same story, he’s gotta be on the list too.

    - Pat Steinberg
  13. 13.


    He has also been to two Kelly Cup finals with the ECHL’s Idaho Stealheads winning one of those. I think he’ll have an NHL job sooner rather than later even if it doesn’t end up being in Calgary.

    - Jeff
  14. 14.

    Coaching guys who make millions and are superstars is a different world than the AHL. The Flames not moving away from Iginla means they need a serious coach with a record. Hartley, Wilson are two that come to mind. If they go the assistant coach route it could be Mike Sullivan as his years with tiorts will have helped him in Feaster’s eyes. Clouston is one other prime candidate in my mind.

    - Brad
  15. 15.

    P.S. Hartley being Feaster’s kids godfather, if true, would certianly make him the front runner.

    - Brad
  16. 16.


    I hear ya man, he’s come up the right way through the head coaching ranks which is usually a pretty good indicator of NHL success.

    - Pat Steinberg
  17. 17.


    I worry about Clouston, Brad. He was basically told not to come back to a junior team, which raises a lot of questions in my eyes about what happened behind closed doors.

    - Pat Steinberg
  18. 18.

    1. Considering Playfair’s comments a month or two ago, he’s not here if Iginla’s here (and I think Iginla will be here). So he’s off the list.

    2. I don’t think that Ward has proven ENOUGH yet. I’d like to see him with the Heat for 1 more year. If he gets poached, so be it. If things don’t work out with the next head coach and things go well with the Heat, then he may be the next head coach.

    I believe the Hartley would be my choice given the list, if I were Feaster. There’s a personal relationship, he’s won a cup, and I think he’s a veteran coach. I believe this will still be a “veteran team” in the new year, and I’m not convinced that a new NHL Head Coach is the answer… Yet anyway. If the Flames struggle, and Iggy ends up getting moved, my opinion changes, and I look at Ward as the next HC.

    My guess is Hartley gets a 2-year contract.

    - Chad
  19. 19.

    Anybody but another Sutter!

    Seriously though, I think Ward would be a great candidate. If you want NHL resume though I would vote for Crawford,nobody has mentioned him?

    - Sherry
  20. 20.


    Good stuff Chad. I shy away from Hartley just because it seems like it’s another retread, and the Flames need an overall philosophy shift. It doesn’t necessarily need to be Ward, although he’s my choice, but I’d much rather see them go the younger, fresher approach. You can’t argue with Hartley’s resume though.

    - Pat Steinberg
  21. 21.

    I think marc crawford would be a good fit flames need a players coach and he has coached cammalleri before maybe he can get Iggy going

    - kelz
  22. 22.


    A couple people have texted in today mentioning Crawford as a potential coach. Again, I’d be more in favor of the new, fresh approach, but Crawford has had plenty of results.

    - Pat Steinberg
  23. 23.

    What about Crawford? He’s passionate, experienced, great at developing players and able to read other teams and strategize accordingly. Can bring out best in players plus cup experience.

    - Jesse
  24. 24.


    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Crawford’s last stop in Dallas, so I’m less opposed to it than I would have been prior. The feeling is he changed his approach to coaching which is vital, because the game has changed, and the message has to change at the same time.

    - Pat Steinberg
  25. 25.

    Any mention of Pierre McGuire?

    I think he could be an excellent candidate for the coaching position, not to mention I believe he was in the running before the eventual hiring of Jim Playfair.

    I think alot has to do with the direction Feaster wants to have this team go. But my money is riding on the darkhorse McGuire

    - Deer|-|untR
  26. 26.

    Mike Pinball Clemmons shoudl be the coach of the Flames. It would be so entertaining.

    - Sol
  27. 27.


    The thing with McGuire is it sounds like he’s more intersted in open General Manager jobs as opposed to open Head Coaching jobs. So I’m not as confident as you are in him.

    - Pat Steinberg
  28. 28.

    Mike Pinball Clemmons shoudl be the coach of the Flames. It would be so entertaining.

    There certainly would be morale problems among players and media.

    - Pat Steinberg
  29. 29.


    While i agree McGuire has been linked to possible GM positions (most recently the Canadians) he made no qualms about his desire to coach for Calgary and I feel (hope?) that he would really just like to be “Back in the Bigs” in any capacity and consider taking on the challenge that the Flames position would have. I thought he was an excellent coach with the young Penguins in his day. With the Flames looking to bring up some young talent like Bartschi, Horak, Reinhart and the Flames having a lot of veteran presence on the team that respect him, I still think you have to include McGuire in the mix.

    p.s. If they decide to hire McTavish I wonder what Harvey the Hound’s reaction might be?? :o )

    - Anonymous
  30. 30.


    Fair enough in terms of his desire to coach, and that may very well be true. If those guys you mentioned are involved, then Ward, Johnston and a few others have to be in the mix too though.

    - Pat Steinberg
  31. 31.

    Hey Pat,

    I do agree that Clouston may have been at odds there however his approch to Heatley is exactly what Calgary needs. If the effort is not there then the bench will be. I do think Hartley is the guy however.

    - Brad
  32. 32.


    What is Guy Carbonneau up to?

    - K
  33. 33.

    The current version of the Flames does not need a “teacher”, the veterans on the team will not respect a “junior” coach, we saw that with Playfair and Brent Sutter. We need a “manipulator” a la Bowman, someone who can push buttons to get the players to play to their potential.

    - Karim
  34. 34.


    I don’t know, I think Clouston is the type of guy who has a really short shelf life. I think the Flames need a guy who can be a long term fit, and I don’t know if Clouston fits the bill.

    - Pat Steinberg
  35. 35.


    I believe he’s a president of a QMJHL team right now, so still very involved in the game. He hasn’t coached since the Habs let him go in 2009.

    - Pat Steinberg
  36. 36.


    But the issue is, the Flames need to change the current version of the team needs to change. Just changing the coach is ludicrous and makes zero sense, because that line of thinking has gotten Calgary absolutely nowhere.

    - Pat Steinberg
  37. 37.

    The Flames organization doesn’t care about making any big player changes because they will sell out season tickets and have a long waiting list regardless. So if we are going to see this boring hockey moving forward why not spice things up for entertainment sake….make Fleury the bench boss.

    - LT
  38. 38.


    Well if that’s the way they go about things then they are dooming themselves. I really hope sticking to the same group and philosophy when it comes to players is not the way they go about their business.

    - Pat Steinberg
  39. 39.

    Dallas Eakins or Troy Ward or Mike Johnson. I kinda want to see a younger coach than can help the younger players that will be on the team–> SVEN, Brodie, Bouma, and maybe Nemisz. And maybe even Reinhart later on

    - MangoTanker
  40. 40.

    I’d reserve picking coaches until we have a better idea what kind of team Feaster is putting together for us. If we’re sticking with our main core I’d pick Hartely…but if some of our vets are getting the boot in favor or younger talent…I say make the call to Bob Boughner.

    - Ravage
  41. 41.


    That’s my feeling as well. A new coach with a new message that could help with a more youthful look for the Flames. That said, we don’t know if that’s going to be the way Calgary goes going forward. Truthfully, Reinhart is the guy I’m most looking forward to seeing at the NHL level.

    - Pat Steinberg
  42. 42.

    How about one of the media as most Sportscasters i hear on the radio and TV and columnists i read in the papers seem to know more than anyone out there about how a team should be run?

    - RAK
  43. 43.


    I don’t think the coaching decision will be dependent on their direction, I think it will be part of the direction of the team. In that, if the Flames are looking to turn the page so to speak maybe they’ll go with a younger coach.

    - Pat Steinberg
  44. 44.


    I don’t really know what you’re getting at at all. We’re all passionate observers and we all have an opinion. Nothing wrong with that.

    - Pat Steinberg
  45. 45.

    Pat, it just bugs me when some of the media come accross as knowing more than the real high caliber coaches, buy questioning decisions without inside knowledge as to why a decision may have been made or by saying this player should have been played over that player. The Media, You and I are not privy to the inside info and to call Coaches, GM’s, Owners and Players out on non factual supposition just strikes “me” as being wrong. Don’t get me wrong, i love listening to what can happen, what did happen and what (in your’s or my oppinion) should happen, but don’t like media speaking as they are on the inside and speaking as they “know” why things did or should happen. So my comment came from listening to all of these professed experts knowing all and if some of the media do in fact know all they should be a candidate. (Please note I am not painting all media with one brush as there are more good comments made about hockey than bad, but the bad commentators really do stand out as being know-it -alls!)

    - RAK
  46. 46.


    Gotcha. I certainly never profess to question decisions with an inside knowledge, because let’s face it, any coach on this list or any other coach or decision maker is more qualified than I am. This blog is more just being used as a catalyst for discussion, because it’s one of the hottest topics surrounding the Calgary Flames right now.

    - Pat Steinberg
  47. 47.

    The other day I heard Feaster was only in the ” first inning” so to speak
    when it came to coaching candidates. IMO I believe the Flames were hoping that Todd McLellan was going to be available. My dark horse candidate would be Joey Mullen with the Pens. Like Sullivan, former Flame player with some good coaching pedigree. If Feaster is seropusly

    - Franko
  48. 48.

    I suggest the Flames hire Harvey the Hound to coach these bunch of CLOWNS that we have for players. They will not play any system that real coachs try to implement here so until the core players are sent packing the owners can save money by not hiring a coach that the core players will not play for.

    - Dale
  49. 49.


    Looks like you cut your thought off a little there, my friend. I agree that I think the Flames were waiting to see who became available, and Craig Conroy admitted as much with Boomer on Wednesday morning. Joey Mullen would be awesome, just because he’s Joey Mullen.

    - Pat Steinberg
  50. 50.


    And that’s why the team needs to figure out what they’re doing with their roster and make some significant change there while also making the right choice at coach. Just making a change behind the bench is ludicrous and truly is the definition of insanity.

    - Pat Steinberg
  51. 51.

    From this list:

    1. Hartley: Nice resume
    2. Playfair: That crazy edge
    3. Ward: Youth movement

    I’d like to see Crawford.. imagine that

    - Ryan Ross
  52. 52.

    @Ryan Ross

    So Ryan, you’d rather see a guy with sizable NHL experience in this situation as opposed to a newer guy with a different way of delivering the message?

    - Pat Steinberg
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