Hartley and Feaster Together Again
After a second interview and a thanks but no thanks to the Montreal Canadiens, the Flames officially announced the hiring of Bob Hartley as their new head coach and 15th head coach in Franchise history.
Hartley who had been previously coaching in the Swiss Elite league with the ZSC Lions led the Lions to the Swiss Championship in his first and now only season with the team. Hartley, who hasn’t coached in the NHL since 2007, has won at every level. Starting back in 1993, Hartley guided the Laval Titan to a QMJHL championship, in 1997 Hartley alongside Flames GM Jay Feaster won a Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears and finally his biggest accomplishment of all, Hartley led the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 2001. Hartley also guided the Aves to four straight Northwest Division titles from ’99 to ’02 and led the Atlanta Thrashers to their only Southeast Division title in 2007.
Hartley’s and Feaster’s relationship has been well documented as rumors began to swirl the two might join forces again from the day Brent Sutter stepped down as coach. Feaster contacted Hartley the day after Hartley led the ZSC Lions to the Swiss championship.
There were other candidates the Flames targeted and there were others who received an interview but Hartley was the only one to receive a second interview, both coming here in Calgary as the team, admitted by Feaster, kept him cozy at the Palliser Hotel.
Hartley has been out of the league for five years now but has always intended to get back into it, even to a point to have an out clause in his contract with the Lions which allowed him to get out of his contract (he had another year remaining) if one of three teams came a calling; the Flames, the Montreal Canadiens or the Quebec Nordiques.
There is no question Feaster and Hartley are close but did their friendship get in the way of hiring the right guy?
I believe there were other candidates but why was the Flames one of the teams in Hartley’s out clause? Why did Feaster phone Hartley the day after Hartley led Zurich to their championship? Why was Hartley the only candidate to get a second interview?
Feaster knew who he wanted from the day Brent said good-bye, maybe even before that. This is a crucial time for the Flames organization as a whole as the team is at a crossroad with fans getting impatient with their lack of success so Feaster better be right.
Feaster now has HIS guy and knows he will live and die by his decision. "If I'm put into a situation where I have to fire Bob Hartley, we can probably just help each other pack" (Courtesy of Andrew Walker, Fan 960 Twitter, @fan960walker)
To me this is a classic Flames hiring, another sign I don’t see much changing around this organization in the near future. Hartley hasn’t coached since 2007 and to me that tells me if he was such a great coach, he would still be in the league. The Flames seem so afraid of changing course that they continually dig into the past and go with something that worked then and hope it works now.
I want to see change, something new and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that. If they fail trying something new, I can accept that way more than doing the same thing over and over again. I’m tired of Feaster referring back to his Stanley Cup championship in ’04 and I don’t want listen to his success with Hartley back in 1997. It’s 2012, time to live in the present, this team is far from contending and it’s time that changes.
Going through the gallery of Bob Hartley on the Flames website, there is a great picture of Hartley with the Cup, with Ray Bourque on his left and Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic on his right, the Flames obviously don’t have that explosive team Hartley had in 2001. Hartley mentioned in his press conference today that the Flames were a mere five points behind the now Stanley Cup finalists, the LA Kings and how the gap isn’t that big.
Well the gap is that big and Hartley better figure that out sooner than later. The team Hartley will have in front of him when the puck drops in October still has to take shape with a number of UFA’s and RFA’s yet to be signed but the core isn’t getting any younger.
I’ll always be a fan of the Flames and will always give a guy like Hartley, who unquestionably deserves it with all of his success’, a chance but I get the feeling this is just another bump in the road, one that will lead to what we have come accustom to these last three playoff-less seasons.
Hartley promised the Flames will be an entertaining team and a top team in the NHL, let’s hope he comes through with those promises
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