Brad Treliving started out with a lot of love for Bob Hartley.
“Bob did some very good things here,” the Flames’ general manager told reporters today in Calgary. “He built a foundation in this organization. Apart from all else, he put his heart and soul into this team every day. He bled for this team. Bob’s a good coach.”
Then came the brutal honesty:
“I just felt that at this particular time, for us to move forward, Bob has taken this team as far as I feel he can take it.”
Hence, today’s decision to fire Hartley — a decision that Treliving insisted had nothing to do with any other coach that may have recently become available. (Like, for example, Bruce Boudreau.) Nor was it just to “throw a body on the tarmac” after the Flames missed the playoffs.
The decision to fire Hartley was made for one simple reason — the Flames haven’t been playing good enough hockey.
“Our special teams for a good portion of the year were 30th in the league. There’s some style-of-play issues,” said Treliving.
“Our goaltending was not good this year. That falls on the general manager. I need to fix that. [But] the way we play in front of the goaltender needs to be fixed as well.”
The statistics support Treliving’s assessment. In 2015-16, the Flames had the highest goals-against average in the NHL, and the worst penalty killing.
At five on five, Calgary was also one of the league’s worst puck-possession teams. And while that was the case last season as well, when the Flames made the playoffs and even won a round, remember that Treliving had previously chalked up a good portion of last season’s success to luck.
“I don’t want to characterize this as I’m standing in one end of the corner and Bob’s at the other end, and one’s talking chess and the other’s talking checkers,” Treliving said Monday.
“But in today’s game, you need to have the puck. You’ve gotta work like hell to get it. And when you get it, you gotta hold on to it, you gotta play with it.
“I think how you defend in the league, too, is an area we look at. … You really break down the chances that we give up… you’ve gotta be able to defend in this league.”
And so the search for Hartley’s replacement begins.
“I’ll leave this podium and work will start on who the next coach will be,” said Treliving. “But up until this point, this is about making a decision, doing it in what I believe is the right manner, and then we’ll move on.”
To listen to Treliving’s entire press conference, click here.