Last summer, Bob Hartley was standing on a shiny stage in Las Vegas, making jokes with Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau while holding a Jack Adams award for his work behind the bench with the pesky Calgary Flames (45-30-7). He got them to the postseason for the first time since 2009 in addition to winning a playoff series with a team that had the expectation of a grueling year in the middle of a rebuild. This summer, he’ll be looking for new job.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) May 3, 2016
After a 2-7 start, the Flames could just not recover this season, going 35-40-7, the type of campaign that many were expecting them to have last season. A major problem this season in addition to overall inconsistency was goaltending, compiling a team save percentage of .892 and allowing 257 goals (3.13 per game), both league-worsts. Considering that the team was 11th best in terms of shots allowed per game (29.0), the weakness was quite concerning.
Special teams also played a major role in Calgary’s demise. The penalty kill was the worst unit in the league, averaging out at 75.5%. The power play was not much better, scoring 46 goals on the man advantage clicking at a 17% rate, 22nd in the League. Last season, both were marginally better, with the former coming in at 20th (80.6%) and the latter finishing off at 16th (18%).
In 294 games coached for the Flames, Hartley compiled a 134-135-25 record, taking players like Mikael Backlund, T.J. Brodie, Sean Monahan, Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Dougie Hamilton, and Joe Colborne under his wing. Under Hartley, Backlund set a career high in goals (21) and points (47) this season, Brodie has evolved into a solid puck mover and offensive defenseman for his age (25), Monahan has posted back-to-back 60+ point seasons scoring 20+ goals three times, Gaudreau has evolved into an NHL superstar potting 30 goals and 78 points, Bennett scored 18 goals in his first full campaign, Hamilton after a slow start managed to set a career high in goals (12) and points (43), and Colborne is developing into a solid power forward potting 19 goals this season.
The 55-year old Hawkesbury native was not afraid to hold his stars accountable, benching Gaudreau and Monahan for being late to practice. He stressed work ethic and would let his team know when they were not playing to their potential.
“[As a] coach, you’re not there to get the projectors on you; you’re there to put the projectors on your players.”
In his 14-year NHL career, Hartley has amassed 944 games coached, 463 wins, and a Stanley Cup Championship at the helm of the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. In addition to that, he has won a championship at three different levels, capturing a title in the QMJHL, AHL, and Swiss League in addition to the NHL.
It will be interesting to see where Hartley ends up and where the Flames go from here. Anaheim just relieved Bruce Boudreau of his duties due to Game 7 nightmares, so he could be an option. Dave Cameron was also recently fired after a disappointing season following a playoff appearance with Ottawa. Minnesota may be an option, but they are high on retaining John Torchetti. For Hartley, his NHL resume as well as international, AHL, and junior records in addition to presence as a coach will draw some phone calls.
Until then, Hartley will be reflecting on his third 4+ season coaching tenure in the NHL, waiting for his next adventure. He may not be waiting long.
Stats courtesy of SportingCharts, NHL.com, Hockey Reference, HockeyDB, CalgaryFlames.com
Quote Courtesy of Penn Live