Flames fire head coach Glen Gulutzan, assistants after disappointing year
Calgary missed playoffs with 37-35-10 record
Glen Gulutzan bore the brunt of the Calgary Flames' shortcomings this season with his dismissal Tuesday.
With a year remaining on his contract as head coach, Gulutzan was sacked along with assistant Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard less than two years after they were hired.
A weak home record, a wretched power play and a late-season swan dive contributed to Calgary finishing out of the playoffs with a 37-35-10 record.
"Accountability lies with all of us," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said at a hastily-called news conference at Scotiabank Saddledome.
"As a manager I lead that charge. Our hockey staff leads that charge and also our players. When you make a decision [like] I made today, there is lots of blame to go around."
Rough final stretch
Gulutzan coached Calgary to the playoffs in his first season, but the Flames were dispatched in four straight games by the Anaheim Ducks in 2017.
The addition of veteran goaltender Mike Smith and blue-chip defenceman Travis Hamonic were considered to be the pieces of the puzzle that would get the Flames further into the playoffs.
Riding a seven-game win streak and sitting second in the Pacific Division in January, the Flames lost six in a row coming out of their bye week and continued to fray coming down the stretch.
The team held down the Western Conference's final wild-card spot Feb. 25, but managed just two victories in its final 11 games of the regular season.
Smith's performance dropped late in the season after missing a month with a lower-body injury.
Top-line centre Sean Monahan played through multiple injuries that required surgeries when he was shut down for the season March 21.
'We relied too much on too few'
"We relied too much on too few," Treliving said. "Certainly the lack of depth, or the lack of contributions by many, was a big part of the problem we had. "
A 17-20-4 record at the Saddledome and a power play that ranked 29th in the league at 16 per cent were a drag on Calgary's playoff aspirations.
Gulutzan, 46, was Treliving's first head-coaching hire.
Treliving extended the contract of Gulutzan's predecessor, Bob Hartley, in December 2014, but fired him 17 months later and brought Gulutzan on board.
Hartley had a reputation for being hard on players, while Gulutzan was considered more approachable.
"Personality didn't have a whole lot to do with this decision," Treliving said. "I don't necessarily think our group is a difficult group to coach. There's challenges with every group.
"By no means is today's decision letting anyone off the hook. Ultimately you have success when your players perform well. I felt in order to get us to that level, we had to make this decision."
Avoiding emotional decisions
So the Flames will hire their fourth head coach in nine years after Gulutzan (2016-17) Hartley (2012-16) and Brent Sutter (2009-12). Calgary has finished outside the playoffs seven of the last nine years.
"You can't churn [coaches]," Treliving acknowledged. "Having said that, you can't not make a decision for the same reason. Ultimately it's my responsibility to get it right. I really try to avoid emotional decisions.
"This is not a step back from the season and a need to throw a body on the tarmac."
Assistant coach Martin Gelinas, goaltending coach Jordan Singalet and video coach Jamie Pringle remain with the team.
"There won't be any other further coaching moves at this stage," Treliving said.
Gulutzan has a 146-125-23 NHL coaching record that also includes two seasons with the Dallas Stars (2011-2013).
Recently unemployed NHL coaches include Alain Vigneault, Dan Bylsma, Dave Tippett and former Flames coach Darryl Sutter.
"I think having experience in this league is critical," Treliving said.