Gilbert gets Flames' reins

You can take away the 'interim' tag from Greg Gilbert's job title.

Gilbert, who assumed the reins of the Calgary Flames after the firing of Don Hay in March, was officially named the team's head coach by general manager Craig Button at a press conference Tuesday.

"We want to get better as an organization, as individuals, and that's what we're all here for," said the former New York Islander.

Gilbert, a former AHL coach of the year, signed on for two years plus an option year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In 14 games under Gilbert the Flames went 4-8-2. The team finished the season fourth in the Northwest Division at 27-36-15-4 and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Calgary has not won a postseason series since capturing the Stanley Cup in 1989.

"We had lots and lots of talk for hours and hours at the end of the season just to make sure everyone is on the same page and we're all committed to the same things," said Gilbert, a three-time Stanley Cup winner as a player. "We have good players here, but we know we have to get better."

Gilbert will be the Flames' third coach in as many years. Brian Sutter was not retained after a 31-41-10-5 campaign in 1999-00 and Hay failed to last a full season.

"We're not looking back, we're looking forward," said Button. "Greg Gilbert is a winner and we're going to go forward with him."

Before the Flames hired him as an assistant last August, the 39-year-old Gilbert spent four years as coach of the St. Louis Blues' top minor league affiliate, the Worcester IceCats of the American Hockey League. He won the league's coach of the year award in his first season with Worcester.

"He's had success in the minors and he brought a winning attitude here," said Flames captain Dave Lowry. "He's shown he has a clear vision and a plan."

A hard-working left wing during a 15-year NHL career, Gilbert won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Islanders and another with the New York Rangers in 1994. He retired following the 1995-96 season with 150 goals and 228 assists in 837 games.

"Greg brings success both as a player and a coach to our organization," Button said. "He has played for successful coaches such as Al Arbour and Mike Keenan where the pursuit of excellence was an everyday exercise."