Hey Coach!


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After a 3rd consecutive exit in the first round of the playoffs, Flames GM Darryl Sutter made a statement by firing head coach Mike Keenan.

“Iron” Mike Keenan was brought in for a 3-year contract after replacement head coach Jim Playfair showed Flames fans that he was totally incapable of leading the team to any success in the post-season during the 2006-2007 season.

Keenan managed to break the team’s problem of “respect for the coach” that seemed to plague them after Sutter stepped out of the coach’s role to focus on being a GM. But Keenan was not able to take the team to the next level, despite having a highly-talented team that featured one of the best Captains in the NHL, a top-5 goaltender and a pure “shutdown” defenceman paired up with one of the best offensive d-men in the league.

Surely the Keenan-lovers out there (do these people actually exist?) will argue that the team was destroyed by injuries down the stretch and were forced to play without key players when home-ice advantage was on the line… But there is no disputing that the Flames failed to hit the 100 point barrier again as they finished another season out of the top spot in the NW Division.

The Flames’ faithful will be looking for Darryl Sutter’s brother Brent to take the Head Coach role, but they will also be looking for more dramatic changes to the coaching staff, including the Flames parting ways with assistant coaches Jim Playfair and Rich Preston who don’t seem capable of coming up with offensive and/or defensive systems that compete in the “new NHL”.

If the Flames are to compete for a top spot in the west (and the NHL) next season, they will need a coaching staff that is capable of developing a plan that uses their skill, speed and toughness to their advantage. The future success of the team relies on the coaches’ ability to create a team system that focuses on their combined strengths, not just their toughness.

This is, after all, the “new NHL”.

About Greg Hounslow (558 Posts)

Greg is the founder of Red Mile Blog has been following the Flames through good times and bad since they arrived in Calgary in the early 80s. He has written hundreds of articles on the Flames since 2005 and considers himself an expert on hockey inconsistency and frustration. He shoots right and usually plays defence, but has been known to jump up in the rush. He is a 2-time CAHL men's league champion and knows the sweet taste of beer from a Cup.

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    If Head Coach Mike Keenan has been relieved of his duties, can his assistants be far behind?

    The Flames had a terrible defensive record in spite of having one of the best defensive corps in the entire league (on paper at least).

    Therefore defensive coach Jim Playfair should be next!

    It seems that on every power play, three Flames forwards always gathered in one corner of the offensive end and began cycling the puck so close to each other you could throw a small saddle blanket over them. That stragegy repeatedly resulted in them coughing up the puck; having to chase it back into their own end; and then doing the same dumb-a$$ed thing all over again. Is it any wonder they had such a brutal power play record?

    Therefore offensive coach Rich Preston should follow Keenan and Playfair as they disappear down the road!

    As much as I dislike the Vancouver Canucks, I have to admit they found a hell of a coach that’s been able to turn a bunch of misfits into a respectable hockey team.

    Maybe it’s time to start looking for a coach that hasn’t been re-cycled over and over again and start looking at the successes that teams like Pittsburgh and Carolina are having with fresh new faces.

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