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What can Calgary expect from Bob Hartley?

Jul 30, 2012, 8:55 PM EDT

Bob Hartley AP

The last time Bob Hartley coached in the NHL — 2007-08 — the league had a dramatically different landscape.

There was a team in Atlanta (which Hartley coached, and by whom he was fired) and NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan scored 23 goals for the Rangers.

Yeah, different times.

Now it’s five years later and Hartley’s back in North America, this time as the head coach in Calgary.

So…what can the Flames expect?

Hartley’s rep throughout his career is that of a demanding, high-energy, relentless taskmaster…one that’s not afraid to speak his mind.

Here’s an anecdote from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post from Hartley’s time coaching the Colorado Avalanche:

He’s a winner. He’s also, without a doubt, the most on-the-go, Type A guy I’ve ever been around for any length of time. Hartley can never sit still and just relax. He’s always fidgeting, his mind always one step ahead of his mouth. If you ask him a question, you can see him fighting the urge to answer after the first words are out of your mouth, because he already knows what the rest of the sentence will be.

He wasn’t always beloved with the Avs. A lot of guys called him “Bobby Heartless.” He was tough on rookies. Whenever they might screw up at training camp and he became annoyed by it, he might say loudly “I smell chocolate fumes” – meaning, a trip to Hershey might be in the offing.

Sounds like fun!

It might not be pleasant, but Hartley’s style gets results. Specifically last season, when he led an underdog Zurich team to a Swiss League title — Hartley revamped the team’s style of play, logged hours of video analysis, stressed increased levels of fitness/conditioning and had his players throwing themselves around to block shots.

“By the last series, it was like watching an NHL team play,” forward Jeff Tambellini told ESPN. “They were playing hockey so above their comfort zone, but they were winning.”

“Talent-wise, we didn’t have the best team to win by any means,” defenseman Steve McCarthy said. “We played well as a team and [Hartley] outcoached them. He really did.”

It’s quite likely Hartley will come into Calgary and push a similar type of regime change. GM Jay Feaster said the club was looking for a teacher and motivator to implement an uptempo brand of hockey, something needed after the Flames averaged just 2.43 goals per game last season, 24th in the NHL.

But how will the players respond? That’s the big question. Calgary’s not a young team — Miikka Kiprusoff is 35, captain Jarome Iginla is 34, Alex Tanguay is 32, Mike Cammalleri is 30 — and those guys are the core of the squad.

The even bigger question might be how Hartley connects with Iginla. The captain is the heart and soul of the team and the guy Hartley must win over to sell his style of play. Iginla’s seen a lot of head coaches during his time in Calgary — nine, including three Sutters — and it’ll be curious to see what Hartley does in relation to his successors.

Related:

Calgary desperate for answer at center

Flames prospect Jankowski is off to Providence College

Offseason Report: Calgary Flames

  1. xdatsyukx13 - Jul 30, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Hartley is definitely the type that is used to winning and wants to keep a team in that shape. That being said, i wouldn’t doubt if he has his team pushed a little harder in practice and disciplined after games so that the mistake count is lower and the winning percentage is higher. As an NHL fan, it would be nice to see the Flames doing something other than golfing past the end of the regular season.

  2. polegojim - Jul 30, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Sadly… the real question is: What can Bob Hartley expect from Calgary?

    Mr. Feaster had a responsiblity to give Bob a team that can play up to his talent as a HC…

    Mr Feaster failed horribly and Hartley will be end up the goat for it.

  3. mickboogy - Jul 30, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Calgary is going to keep getting owned by the teams in the northwest. They have zero elite level prospects to look forward to and the remaining talent is gets gassed when the season reaches the all star break. Feaster needs to go, and the flames need a rebuild worse than Greece

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 31, 2012 at 12:53 AM

      Sven Baertschi is about as an elite of a prospect as their is, as is witnessed by the 2 points per game he averaged this year in Portland and also by the 3 goals he scored in 5 games with the Flames as an emergency call up in March. Granted that’s probably the only “elite” prospect the Flames currently have.

      Also if you actually followed the Flames you would know that their issues haven’t been “being gassed by the All Star game” but are as a result of the fact that they’ve been dreadful in the early stages of the season over and over again particularly in November and December. In fact the season before this past one the Flames were the best (or second best I can’t remember) team from December 26th until the end of the season but they couldn’t make up for how bad they were in November and December.

      And finally your point of “continuing to get owned by the rest of the NW division” Calgary was 15-6-3 in division last year, 13-10-1 in 2010-11 and 12-9-3 the year before that. Division opponents have not been Calgary’s problem it’s been everyone else particularly losing games to teams below them in the standings.

      But other than that your post was solid…

      • charleslouis99 - Aug 1, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        Thank you

  4. charleslouis99 - Jul 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    what about Sven baertschi he was good last year but the talent level drops off there

  5. jnealsmeatymember - Jul 31, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Ur comment level has dropped lower than soup cans thick thighs.

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