It was only a matter of time.
The Calgary Flames relieved Glen Gulutzan of his head coaching duties on Tuesday, a move many were expecting. In addition to Gulutzan, assistant coaches Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrard were also let go. Was Gulutzan fully to blame for the failed 2017-18 season of the Flames? Absolutely not. In fact, he was one of the lesser concerns.
But the reality is his time in Calgary is done, which presents the question who will replace him? There’s no shortage of viable candidates on the market, so Flames general manager Brad Treliving will be a busy man over the next few weeks.
If there was a favorite to land the Flames’ head-coaching job, it would probably be Bill Peters. While his NHL resume may not be as experienced as some of the other candidates, Calgary is basically home for him. Peters was born in Three Hills, Alta., just one hour and 20 minutes north of Calgary.
Peters spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, missing the playoffs in all four campaigns. While he still has one year remaining on his contract, he has an exit clause that is open until Friday, Apr. 20, 2018, so if the right offer arose he has an out.
A head-coaching gig on a team with plenty of talent in his home province certainly sounds like the right offer.
Most notably remembered for his Stanley Cup victory behind the bench of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dan Bylsma owns one of the more impressive overall resumes of any of the candidates. In addition to his championship season in 2008-09, Bylsma led the Penguins to the playoffs in all six of his seasons in Pittsburgh, which also included two division titles.
Although his following two-year stint with the Buffalo Sabres wasn’t as successful, he’s proven what he can do with a talented roster. With a core that includes Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk and Dougie Hamilton, Bylsma could very well get the most out of the group.
Most recently behind the bench of the Arizona Coyotes, Dave Tippett spent this past season as a free agent. In eight seasons with the Coyotes, he led them to the playoffs three times, which included a Pacific Division title and a conference final appearance.
Prior to his tenure with the Coyotes, Tippett spent six seasons with the Dallas Stars, leading them to the playoffs in five of those seasons, and winning two Pacific Division titles.
Tippett would make sense for the Flames based on more than just his experience. He has a strong relationship with Treliving, having been hired by him for the head-coaching position in Arizona. Familiarity may certainly play a factor in the decision.
Remember this guy? Darryl Sutter is a popular name to most Flames fans, having been the man behind the bench for the Flames’ improbable Stanley Cup run in the 2003-04 season. In addition to his familiarity with Calgary, Sutter also boasts arguably the most impressive resume of all candidates, thanks in large part to his time with the Los Angeles Kings.
In his six seasons with the Kings, Sutter won two Stanley Cups, and made the postseason in four of the six seasons. Prior to his time with the Flames and Kings, he spent six full seasons behind the bench with the San Jose Sharks, reaching the playoffs in all six.
With the hard-nosed, physical style of play he promotes, and his all-business attitude, he may be just what the Flames need to get over the hump.
Probably most remembered by Flames fans as the head coach of the rival Vancouver Canucks, Alain Vigneault was recently fired by the New York Rangers at the conclusion of the regular season. While this season didn’t go as planned for Vigneault and the Rangers, his overall resume speaks for itself.
Prior to the 2017-18 season, Vigneault reached the post-season in nine straight seasons with the Canucks and Rangers combined, including two Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 2010-11 and 2013-14. In addition, he also led the Canucks to five-straight division titles from 2008-09 to 2012-13.
His premature release from the Rangers organization is going to be a big benefit for whichever team scoops him up, and the Flames could very well be that team.
I’ve been writing for over three years and have work published by the Calgary Herald, National Lacrosse League, Hard Knocks Fighting and The Weal at SAIT. Although I’ve covered many different topics as a journalist, sports writing remains my main passion and strength.