The Calgary Flames have fired head coach Glen Gulutzan.
The move isn’t overly surprising, with the club coming off a 37-35-10 season and finishing fifth in the Pacific Division. They missed the playoffs by 11 points and posted a home record of 17-20-4, the fourth-worst in the league. Their power play, running at 16 percent, was near the basement of the NHL.
“Ultimately, you are what your record says you are, but I felt in order to get our team to the level it needs to get to, and each individual to the level he needs to get to, that we had to make this decision,” general manager Brad Treliving said.
Gulutzan had a year to go on his contract and was hired as Bob Hartley’s replacement in June of 2016. Last season, the Flames were 45-33-4 and piled into the first wild card spot to make the playoffs. They were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the post-season, but the berth signalled an arrival of sorts.
But this season, that momentum seems to have dried up and Calgary is on the outside looking in.
“We underperformed,” Treliving said. “When you go through the process of underperforming, you pull everything. It starts with myself, player decisions, personnel decisions. You go into the players’ performance, who played well, who didn’t and why?”
Gulutzan put up an 82-68-14 record across two seasons with Calgary and has four seasons of experience in the NHL, having served two seasons behind the bench in Dallas as Marc Crawford’s replacement. He now has the auspicious accomplishment of twice serving two-season tenures.
Gulutzan is known for being a “systems coach” and Calgary’s possession numbers reflected that throughout the season, but it was difficult to pin them down. They received often stellar goaltending from Mike Smith, but there were more than a few issues in how the club looked. Part of this was due to coaching, like how the power play was put together or how the forwards lacked defensive responsibility.
It will be a new era in Calgary, again, and the Flames have made a wholesale change in releasing Gulutzan and his assistant coaches. The search is on for a new boss and there are options on the table, including ex-Rangers coach Alain Vigneault and former Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma.