Calgary Flames Relieve Glen Gulutzan Of Duties As Head Coach

After having served just two years as head coach of the Calgary Flames, general manager Brad Treliving announced on Tuesday afternoon that Glen Gulutzan had officially been relieved of his duties.

Alongside Gulutzan, the club announced that assistant coaches Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard were also let go as the organization looks to re-build from the bottom upwards with a new set of fresh faces for hopefully a better season to come looking ahead.

The news comes just a week following the firing of Alain Vigneault with the New York Rangers as well as days after the retirement of Ken Hitchcock from 22 years of coaching coming to an end with the Dallas Stars.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Gulutzan, a native of Hudson Bay, Sask, originally joined the organization back on June 17th of 2016 after Bob Hartley had been let go just seven weeks earlier. During his tenure, Hartley served in the position of bench boss for approximately 17 months.

It is worth noting that Gulutzan, 46, had one year remaining on his contract at the time of his dismissal.

Before Gulutzan joined the Flames in a press conference at the Scotiabank Saddledome to make things official, the former NHL player had served three years as an assistant to the Vancouver Canucks under the advisement of general manager Jim Benning.

Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press

In a statement from general manager Brad Treliving with regards to the sudden transaction, he said, “The shortcomings of our season are not solely placed on the three coaches. Accountability lies with all of us.”

Further more, he said, “When you make a decision (like) I made today, there is a lot of blame to go around.”

“These are never easy decisions. And they’re made more difficult because of the character of these individuals. I grew to have a close relationship and we want to wish them nothing but the best, thank them and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavours.”

John Locher/The Associated Press

When asked for a statement as to what exactly went wrong on the ice that ultimately compromised this group from a longer stay and perhaps one day success, Treliving said, “There’s responsibility to bear on a lot of shoulders and our players are not exempt from that,” he said.

“While the restructuring of the team comes in the form of a coaching overhaul, the coaches are not the only ones to blame for the team’s “underperforming” this season.”

Leaning the focus more towards that extent, he went on to say, “We underperformed. So when you go through the process of underperforming, you pull everything. Starts with myself, player decisions, personnel decisions, you go into the players’ performance – who played well, who didn’t and why.”

Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press

“I felt, in order to get our team to the level it needs to get to, and each individual to the level it needs to get to, that we had to make this decision.”

While the club hasn’t ruled out further changes like to the roster, Treliving said to that regard, “I think, certainly, the lack of depth or the lack of contributions by many was a big part of the problem we had.”

Treliving went on to thank all three of the coaches, saying they were assets to the organization and the community.

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In closing, Treliving would wrap up by mentioning the fact that a big part of the issue was that they “relied too much on too few” when it came to on-ice performance.

“I felt, in order to get our team to the level it needs to get to, and each individual to the level it needs to get to, that we had to make this decision.”

As for what’s next for the coaching staff, Treliving said there are no further coaching changes in the works at this time aside from hiring while noting that the team would start looking for replacements right away, but was not in a hurry to specify of anyone in mind to possibly take over for the position now left empty behind the Calgary bench.

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Earlier in the season, the Flames had been a favourite to make the playoffs, but struggled through the season, leaving many fans disappointed.

If you take a look back to the final days of February, Calgary held the Western Conference’s final wild card spot but finished 12th overall after closing things out with just two wins over their final 11 regular-season games.

Calgary was a dismal 17-20-4 at home and its power-play was ranked 29th overall at just 16 per cent.

Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press

During Gulutzan’s tenure with the Flames, he led the club to the playoffs in his first season, however, they were eventually swept by the Anaheim Ducks. As for this season, they missed a similar opportunity by closing out the 2017-18 campaign with a record of 37-35-10.

Gulutzan has a 146-125-23 NHL coaching record that also includes two seasons with the Dallas Stars (2011-2013).

Before he joined the Canucks organization serving under both John Torterella as well as Willie Desjardins, Gulutzan had also seen time as head coach of the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL), for the previous two seasons.

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He led the club to the AHL Playoffs in both campaigns and coached the Stars to the Calder Cup Finals in the franchise’s inaugural season of 2009-10. During that time, Gulutzan posted a cumulative record of 87-56-17 (.597 points percentage) during the regular season and a 16-14 (.533 winning percentage) record during the playoffs with Texas.

Before that, Gulutzan served as general manager and head coach for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL from 2003 to 2009. Over the course of his tenure there, he compiled a record of 254-124-55 for a .650 winning percentage which included 100+ points in three consecutive seasons (2005-2008), a first for any team in the 21-year history of the ECHL. Gulutzan led the Wranglers to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2008 and would go on to take them to the Conference Finals a year later in 2009.

In 2005-06, Gulutzan was recognized as the ECHL Coach of the Year after having led Las Vegas to the playoffs in five of six seasons, including their expansion season (2003-04) when the team went 43-22-7 for 93 points. Further more, he was selected to coach in the ECHL All-Star Game a total of three times. Gulutzan led the Wranglers to the division crown in back-to-back seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08 while he has missed the playoffs in only one season as a head coach and holds a perfect 5-0 record in game sevens in the playoffs.

Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press
Of course what happened with the Flames this year arguably shouldn’t have happened by any means and many say perhaps to an extent they should even be ashamed, however, at the end of the day, what is known for sure is that unfortunately, the lack of performance both offensively and defensively ultimately put their coach directly in harm’s way. More than anything else, it comes back on the players at the end of the day and hopefully they can solidify their lineup for a new bout of hope and success for the future that lies ahead.
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