Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced Friday that Glen Gulutzan has been named the team’s new head coach.
All 30 NHL head coaching slots are now filled with Gulutzan taking over as the new bench boss in Calgary.
Gulutzan, 44, has served as an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks for the past three seasons. He previously served as head coach of the Dallas Stars for two seasons (2011-2013), compiling a 64-57-9 record in that time. He has served as head coach at the NHL, AHL and ECHL levels.
The move comes around seven weeks after former head coach Bob Hartley was fired. The Flames finished with 77 points this past season, failing to qualify for a playoff spot.
Gulutzan plans to make some changes to the Flames’ system and game plan, stressing a strongly-connected team playing fast, exciting hockey.
“What we want to be is a real connected group here,” Gulutzan explained. We want to be connected in fives in all three zones. We want to defend fast; we are going to defend fast. We are going to utilize the assets we have here. For me the trend is how quickly we can transition from offense to defense, how much we can stay connected so we can hold onto the puck but still play fast, and how quickly we can get it back and utilize the strengths of the players that we have here. The only way you can play that way is to stay connected as a group.”
Treliving called Gulutzan the “perfect match” for the Flames.
“This is an individual who is smart,” Treliving said. “He’s intelligent about the game, tactically, structurally. The interpersonal skills is what jumped out to me … his ability to communicate to people, his ability to drive players, and ultimately at the end of the day from my perspectives, to maximize the ability each player has, the team has. That’s the most important quality for a coach.”
When Gulutzan began coaching in Dallas in 2011, he was greatly inexperienced. Now that he has a few years in this league under his belt, he feels more prepared.
“[Coaching in Dallas] was a great experience for me,” Gulutzan said in a recent interview with the Vancouver Sun. “What I didn’t have — and I think what most coaches should have, especially if you haven’t played in the league — is experience in the [NHL]. There were more things that I did well, but some things that I would have changed.
“I think the only way to[sic] you can get to that point is to live it or be an assistant for three or four years in the league. With more experience, I probably would have done some things differently, but that’s what experience is. It’s not so much dealing with players, it’s being in the league.”
Now Gulutzan has five seasons of experience behind the bench in the NHL, and it certainly won’t hurt that he’s taking over a hockey club that many expected to contend for a playoff spot this season. The Flames’ roster has a very strong mix of young talent up front and a steady veteran defense corps.
Plus, Gulutzan already has ties to the Calgary organization. In fact, Gulutzan coached the Flames’ ECHL affiliate in Las Vegas for six seasons and was part of the process of making the affiliation official.
“I started back here in this organization,” Gulutzan said. “When Darryl [Sutter] was running it I was in Las Vegas and it was one of the first calls I made, was to try to get an affiliation. I was there through that ’04 run right behind the Flames … but I was in Las Vegas. I watched [Mark Giordano] and [Deryk Engelland] and [Dennis Wideman] at rookie development camp here, all as free agents. I got my foot in the door here back then.
“I never thought at some point that I would be coaching this team. It’s quite an honor to be standing up here and be the coach of such a distinguished franchise.”
The Flames have a strong on-ice product with a lot of untapped potential. The organization is hoping that a new voice or a change in style will be enough to get the team back into the playoffs. Management is banking on Gulutzan making the most out of his second chance. We will have to wait and see how things unfold in Calgary.
Featured Image via calgaryherald.com