It’s official. The Calgary Flames have hired a new Head Coach and it is Bob Hartley.
Hartley comes to the Flames after a championship season with the ZSC Lions of Switzerland’s National League A. He has won championships at other levels in pro hockey, including a Calder cup with the 1997 Hershey Bears and the Stanley Cup with the 2001 Colorado Avalanche (remember this video… yeah he was the coach of that team).
Bob Hartley, is from Hawkesbury, Ontario, so redneck Flames fans may have to get used to his mild French accent. Despite an English-sounding name, Hartley’s first language is French and it the accent comes through when he speaks English. Does this matter to me? Not one bit. But it might matter to some.
Calgary Flames General Manager, Jay Feaster, had this to say about Hartley:
“Bob Hartley is a winner. Bob has won at every level he has coached, from the QMJHL to the AHL to the NHL to Switzerland, and we are confident he is going to continue his winning ways in Calgary. He is a tireless worker, an outstanding motivator, a great bench boss and game strategist; and a teacher at heart. Moreover, he is a great person as well. We look forward to Bob and his wife Micheline joining the Flames family, and to Bob taking our hockey club to the next level.”
If history will repeat itself, we can expect Hartley to lead the Flames to a lackluster start in their first 10 games of the 2012-2013 season before they go on a tear in December (or maybe November if Iggy lives up to his past history). Hartley’s teaching will cause veteran under-performers to change their approach to the game completely and the Flames will end up as the Northwest Division champions. We may not see the Stanley Cup raised in the ‘Dome this season, but with this new hiring we can expect that the Flames will be champs within 3-4 years (i.e. just in time for my twin boys to be big enough to know what we’re cheering about).
…or we could wake up from our dream and realize that the problem isn’t the coach; it’s the players and senior management’s lack of willingness to blow it up and rebuild.
I feel bad for Bob Hartley. That is, unless he truly does the remarkable and transforms this team into a winning one. However, chances are that Hartley will come in, just like other great coaches before him, and realize that there is nothing he can do with this team. No matter how tirelessly he works, or how much he attempts to strategize and motivate, this team has a losing personality and their leaders aren’t open to much change.
Some may say that Hartley is a transition coach; one that will come in, have a mediocre season and then be fired when the Flames don’t succeed, again. But I think it’s clear that the decision-makers in the Flames organization are hoping that Hartley will lead the team post-season success. If he hopes to do that, the first step will be to actually make the post season.
For that, I wish him the best of luck.