Bob Hartley watched bosses come and go three times as coach of the Calgary Flames. He will need one more general manager to believe in him to stay in the NHL.
Fired Tuesday by the Flames, Hartley is itching to get back at it and he’s not alone. The Anaheim Ducks’ last two coaches, Bruce Boudreau and Randy Carlyle, are also in the mix for current vacancies.
“Right now, the coaching carousel is spinning out of control,” Hartley said. “It’s the time of the year. So obviously there’s lots of jobs, there’s lots of names and there’s going to be lots of speculations.”
The Flames, Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators all have openings. All four teams have different expectations for next season and beyond, and different requirements for their next head coach.
Anaheim is perhaps in the middle of its Stanley Cup window after winning four consecutive Pacific Division titles but failing to reach the final under Boudreau. GM Bob Murray dismissed Boudreau, citing “the way” the Ducks have been eliminated.
Paul MacLean, who coached the Senators to two playoff appearances during three-plus seasons in Ottawa, was on Boudreau’s staff this season, and former Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins took the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies to the Calder Cup final in 2012. Then there’s Carlyle, who won the Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and has been out of work since the Maple Leafs fired him in January 2015.
Minnesota has also made the playoffs four years in a row and is looking for more. GM Chuck Fletcher fired coach Mike Yeo and replaced him in February with interim John Torchetti, who is a candidate after a first-round exit.
Fletcher flew to California, reportedly to meet with Boudreau, and is looking for a strong hockey person behind the bench.
“I think it’s important that we find a coach that can hold the players accountable and put a system in place and get them to execute the system and hold them accountable to it,” Fletcher said.
In some places, just consistently making the playoffs is the standard.
The Flames missed the playoffs after a surprise postseason run a year ago, and problems that were there all along doomed Hartley. Calgary is the biggest wild card in the entire process because Boudreau knows how to get the most out of young talent, but GM Brad Treliving could think outside the box.
Calgary needs a coach who will improve its special teams. Hartley, who won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year last season, knows his power-play and penalty-killing units weren’t good enough, but he sees the potential of forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, and knows his successor will have success.
“I really believe that this team is just a couple of players away from being a great hockey club despite the fact that they’re still a very young hockey team,” Hartley said Wednesday. “We have done lots of good things that maybe didn’t show in the standings but will show in the very near future.”
Like the Flames, the Senators made the playoffs against long odds in 2014-15 and fell backward in the standings this year, costing Dave Cameron his job. NHL head-coaching experience is a prerequisite, so Boudreau, Hartley, Yeo, Carlyle, Kevin Dineen, Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher are all legitimate candidates.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said on Toronto’s AM-590 that the team was down to its last couple of interviews.
“It’s gone well,” Melnyk said. “There’s some great talent (available).”
Hartley, Boudreau and MacLean have all been named coach of the year, Carlyle and Crawford have each won the Cup, and Dineen helped the Chicago Blackhawks win it as an assistant.
Then there are hot names like Washington Capitals assistant Todd Reirden and Philadelphia Flyers minor-league coach Scott Gordon, as well as college coaches like Providence’s Nate Leaman of and Denver’s Jim Montgomery.
Of course, Hartley and his counterparts won’t go quietly.
“Coaching is my passion, coaching is in my blood, there’s no doubt that I want to coach,” Hartley said. “I’m only 55 years old, and I believe that I’m in great shape and I love this game, I love teaching, I love competing to win hockey games.”