Sunday, April 22, 2018

Smart Move or Colossal Mistake? Pondering the Flames Rumoured Interest in Hiring Bill Peters

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Guilty until proven innocent.

Welcome to the NHL justice system when it comes to hiring a new head coach, especially in Calgary where naturally, wild west rules apply.

Forty-eight hours ago the Bill Peters-to-the Flames rumour mill really started to sizzle when he told the Carolina Hurricanes thanks, but no thanks, and took advantage of an opt-out clause in his contract that terminated his deal with one year remaining. He had been the skipper in Raleigh the past four seasons.

“I have a lot of respect for Bill as a person and coach,” said new Owner/CEO/Governor Tom Dundon. “We thank him for his time with the Hurricanes and wish him success in whatever comes next.”

What comes next could very well be a return to his home province for Peters, who grew up on a farm near Three Hills, an 80-minute drive north-east of Calgary and later moved to Killam, a town a couple hours further east.

After taking 24 days to make the decision two years ago to fire Bob Hartley, this time around, methodical and thorough Flames GM Brad Treliving expedited the process by two full weeks in relieving Glen Gulutzan of his head coaching duties last Tuesday, only 10 days after the season’s conclusion. It seems like more than just coincidence that his comparably quick trigger finger aligned with Peters being in the midst of his one-week window of opportunity to explore other job options.

The dots that connect Treliving to Peters is two years ago when Treliving was co-GM of Team Canada for the World Championships alongside George McPhee, they hired Peters to coach that team.

A GM and his coach always form a close relationship and that isn't any different when you're seconded for an international event such as that one that took place in Russia.

In the 48 days from April 5, 2016, when Peters was hired to May 22 when Canada hoisted the World Championship trophy at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow, they would have spent considerable time with each other and getting to know each other very well. When you enjoy success together as they did in winning gold, those bonds tend to last forever too.

As you may recall, during those seven weeks, Treliving was also looking for a head coach for his NHL team with assistant general managers Craig Conroy and Brad Pascall doing the leg work back home in Treliving's absence -- Conroy famously doing the Grouse Grind with Gulutzan. During the search, Peters was not an option as he had one year remaining on his three-year contract with the Hurricanes.

Examining Peters' Time in Carolina

After a 71-point season in year one, Peters arrived at the World Championships having just led his rebuilding club to an 86-point campaign, a 15-point improvement and Carolina's highest point total in five years. He had his club battling for a playoff spot late into the season.

In July of that summer, about six weeks after Treliving had hired Gulutzan, Carolina GM Ron Francis announced that Peters had signed a two-year extension.

"We talked at the initial press conference about changing the culture," said Francis at the press conference. "It’s not easy to do, but I think we’ve taken steps in that direction to where our guys come and play hard each and every night. I would reach out to those fans who left us a couple of years ago to come back and take another peek. They’d be pleasantly surprised at the progress we’ve made and the direction we’re going in, the work effort that’s there on the ice every night."

Trending in the right direction, Peters' club improved again in 2016-17, but only by one point. Stuck in the ruthless Metropolitan Division where four of the NHL's eight 100-point teams resided (Washington 118, Pittsburgh 111, Columbus 108, NY Rangers 102), that wouldn't be enough. Not helping was the Hurricanes 5-10-1 record against that gauntlet of four fierce divisional foes.

They were actually right there for a wild card spot in mid-January at 21-15-7, but they could not sustain that pace. A month later, Francis traded pending UFA Ron Hainsey to the Penguins for a second round pick. The 35-year-old's departure left the Hurricanes with a youthful, but inexperienced blueline in which Justin Faulk, 24, was the oldest. The rest of the new-look top-four also included Jaccob Slavin, 22, Brett Pesce, 22, and Noah Hanifin, 20.
Last season it looked for the longest time like his club’s point total would climb once again. Carolina was sitting in a wild card spot on Valentine's Day. At 27-21-9, they were one point up on the Columbus Blue Jackets and were on pace to finish the season with 91 points. But a six-game winless skid right after -- two of the losses coming to the upstart division rival New Jersey Devils -- would be the team's undoing. By season's end, the Hurricanes finished with 83 points, good enough only for sixth place in a division that would send five teams to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Caveats in Assessing His Time in Carolina

Peters departs Carolina having not made the playoffs in his four seasons. That's nothing new for the thrifty organization, which was last spotted in the post-season in 2009 with Paul Maurice behind the bench, after he took over earlier that season for the fired Peter Laviolette.

After winning the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 (after one season earlier having taken over for a fired Maurice, are you following all this?), Laviolette then failed to get them into the playoffs the next two years. Maurice also couldn't get Carolina back into the the playoffs the next two seasons and he was fired in 2011-12, replaced by Kirk Muller, who eventually gave way to Peters.

Interesting that here we are in 2018 and Laviolette (Nashville) and Maurice (Winnipeg) head up two of the NHL's best teams and could soon be battling it out in the second round. While Carolina certainly hasn't enjoyed much playoff success of late, some pretty good NHL coaches have cut their teeth in that market and gone on to better things.

Getting back to Peters, in assessing his body of work in Carolina, there are three other factors in addition to the difficulty of the division to take into consideration, beyond just his win-loss record, which in a way is a lot like plus-minus for head coaches — a stat that's easy to look up and reference, but has its flaws.

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1. League-Worst Goaltending

Last year, which many anticipated might have been the breakthrough year for Carolina, the Hurricanes goaltending was the worst in the NHL. The team save percentage was dead last of the league's 31 teams. In fact, anchored by the aging Cam Ward, the goaltending has been bottom-four in each of Peters' four seasons:

2017-18 - 31st (.893) | Scott Darling (40 starts, .888), Cam Ward (42 starts, .906)
2016-17 - 27th (.901) | Cam Ward (61 starts, .905), Eddie Lack (18 starts, .902)
2015-16 - 29th (.902) | Cam Ward (51 starts, .909), Eddie Lack (31 starts, .901)
2014-15 - 28th (.902) | Cam Ward (50 starts, .910), Anton Khudobin (32 starts, .900)

You're never, ever going to have success in the NHL with league-worst or near-league-worst goaltending. It's just not happening. The last time a team ranked in the bottom-four in team save percentage made the playoffs was in 2009-10 when Pittsburgh and Ottawa both got in, despite being tied for 27th in that category.

They ended up playing each other in round 1 with the Penguins winning. Pittsburgh was then promptly eliminated by Montreal in round 2.

2. Young Team

Carolina was the third-youngest team in the NHL last year. That was even with aging Justin Williams and Lee Stempniak on the roster. Their age was most evident on the aforementioned blueline where as of January 1, the ages of the six regulars were:
  • Noah Hanifin, 20
  • Haydn Fleury, 21
  • Brett Pesce, 24
  • Jaccob Slavin, 24
  • Justin Faulk, 25
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk, 26

That's a young group at a key position. For context, four of the Flames six defence regulars are older than Trevor van Riemsdyk, the undrafted trade acquisition from the Chicago Blackhawks who was this group’s elder statesman.

3. Small Payroll

Going back three seasons, which is as far back as Cap Friendly has in its archives, Carolina has always been a bottom-three team in payroll during Peters' tenure.

2017-18 - 30th | $59.2M, which was $15.8M below the ceiling
2016-17 - 30th | $56.8M, which was $16.2M below the ceiling
2015-16 - 28th | $61.2M, which was $10.2M below the ceiling

Think about that. Heck, another $16 million would be nearly enough space to fit in a Johnny Gaudreau, Dougie Hamilton and Mikael Backlund based on their 2017-18 AAV.

When you look around the Metropolitan Division and see Washington at $75.4M, Pittsburgh at $74.8M, NY Islanders at $73.9M, Philadelphia at $73.7M, NY Rangers at $72.2M, Columbus at $71.4M and New Jersey at $67.4M, it's not an even playing field.

For Carolina, they're operating at a significant disadvantage and they know it.

"I think in order to win here, everybody has to play well. It can’t be ‘our defense was a little off’ or the ‘forwards could have been better.’ Everybody has to be dialed in. That’s the only chance we have here and I think everybody recognizes that," said longtime Carolina assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour to Hurricanes beat writer Chip Alexander this weekend in the Raleigh News and Observer.

“We do need everybody to contribute and play well. The margin for error for us is not what other teams have and we know that.”

So, What has he Done?

If Peters hasn't made the Stanley Cup playoffs, why is he being considered the solution to coach an under-achieving team in Calgary that is desperately trying to get back into the playoffs?

It's the No. 1 question on the minds of disgruntled Flames fans, already furious about a hiring that has yet to happen.

Until we get a chance to hear from Treliving on this topic, here are few things to ponder:

1. Apprenticed under Mike Babcock

In 1989, Peters' last year of playing Canadian college hockey, Peters was a right winger for Red Deer College, the team coached by Mike Babcock which won the Alberta College Championship.

Over two decades later, Babcock hired Peters in July 2011 to be one of his assistant coaches with Detroit. He spent three years under Babcock, responsible primarily for the defence and penalty kill, before leaving to take the head coaching job in Carolina.

Peters reconnected with Babcock for the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, selected by Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong to join an illustrious cast of assistant coaches in Claude Julien, Barry Trotz and Joel Quenneville -- all of them guys that Flames fans would be absolutely tickled to have come in and take over for Gulutzan.

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2. Won at Other Levels

No NHL playoff appearances is the void on Peters' resume, no doubt. Or at least on his head coach resume. All three seasons he was in Detroit, the Red Wings made the post-season.

But he has won before.

The 2016 World Championship has been mentioned when he won gold with a 2-0 win over Finland. Peters was also an assistant coach under Todd McLellan the year prior when Canada beat Russia 5-4 to claim gold.
Going back to his time coaching in major junior, he won the Memorial Cup with the Spokane Chiefs in 2008. It was after that he left for Rockford in the AHL, where he coached the Chicago Blackhawks' affiliate for three seasons through 2010-11.

While Peters didn't win the Calder Cup, his player development work is worth noting. Nine players came through his team (e.g. Corey Crawford, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy) and graduated to Chicago, where they helped the Blackhawks win Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Also in 2008, Peters coached the Canadian U-18 team that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

The Curious Concept of the 'Proven' Coach

Full disclosure, I have always found it near impossible to assess how effective a coach is. Are coaches that have success great coaches? Or are they merely coaches that have great teams? I have no idea.

Similarly, are coaches that don't enjoy success bad coaches, or merely coaches caught in bad situations of having sub-par teams?

To this day, Ken Hitchcock has a reputation as one of hockey's best coaches and his resume was stellar early in his career. He had three consecutive deep runs with the Dallas Stars in the late 90s including winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 and reaching the Cup final in 2000. He moved onto Philadelphia and enjoyed more success there.

But in Columbus and then St. Louis and then this past season in Dallas before retiring, he accomplished very little and that was with some really great Blues teams.

Given his history with Treliving, Dave Tippett is another name frequently mentioned as a so-called proven coach. But is he really? He missed the playoffs his last five seasons with Arizona. Bad teams though? Sure, so let's give that a pass. So how about his first three seasons in Arizona when the team was better? 2009-10, he had a 107-point season, but was upset in the first round by Detroit. The next year, a 99-point season but was swept in the first round by Detroit. The one year of success is when Mike Smith arrived and played out of his mind (.944 save percentage), leading the Coyotes to the conference final.

Before that in his six years with Dallas with a team that was perennially one of the league's best, Tippett's club was upset in the first round three times. In his final year in which he was fired, they missed the playoffs altogether.

Babcock is another prime example. Highly sought after as one of the best coaches, who had two straight trips to the Stanley Cup final with Detroit in the late 2000s. But then the long post-season runs dried up despite some stellar Red Wings teams with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom. In the last five seasons, he has not made it to the second round. Did he win Olympic gold with Canada? You bet, but he had a pretty good team also.

The point is I think it's very difficult if not impossible to truly measure how effective a coach is. Mike Sullivan had the same amount of NHL head coaching experience as Gulutzan when he was hired in Pittsburgh three years ago. He has won two Stanley Cups. Great coach or the beneficiary of inheriting a great team loaded with star players?

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What we do Know about Peters

1. Plays a Puck Possession Style

What we know about Peters is he is big on playing a puck possession style. When you're on the rush, don't chip the puck in and chase it, if you have the puck, hang onto it and make a play. Same thing when breaking out. Don't just shoot it away if you don't have an option, regroup, go D-to-D to open up the ice and wait for an option to become available.

For what it's worth, the Hurricanes were the No. 1 team in the NHL in possession last year as measured by SAT% Close, which is the ratio of shot attempts for versus against at 5-on-5 when the score is close.

2017-18 SAT% Close

1. Carolina, 55.07
2. Boston 53.40
3. Tampa Bay, 52.95
4. Calgary, 52.79
5. Pittsburgh, 51.81
6. San Jose, 51.72
7. Winnipeg, 51.64
8. Dallas, 51.59
9. Nashville, 51.52
10. Columbus, 51.30

There are some pretty good teams still playing right now at the top of that list. Interesting to see Calgary there too. More on that later.

2. Limited Shots Against

Contributing to the above stat, Carolina led the NHL in fewest shots allowed in 2017-18:

1. Carolina, 28.9
2. Boston, 29.3
3. St. Louis, 29.7
4. Dallas, 29.8
5. Philadelphia, 29.9
6. San Jose, 30.3
7. Vegas, 30.7
8. Los Angeles, 30.9
9. Pittsburgh, 31.1
10. Calgary, 31.1

Considering how young his blueline was, that's quite an accomplishment. The only glaring issue was when there were shots allowed, they often went in.

3. Disciplined Team

How much of this Peters had to do with and how much is just the personnel is impossible to gauge but Carolina was the runaway leader last season in fewest times shorthanded.

1. Carolina, 191
2. Columbus, 214
3. Philadelphia, 223
4. San Jose, 224
5. Arizona, 225

Calgary ranked 24th at 269.

Furthermore, the Hurricanes ranked No. 1 in this category each of the two previous seasons also and were second in 2014-15, Peters' first season at the helm.

If he could have some sort of influence in that area, that would sure be a positive.

The NHL tracks minor penalties taken per 60 minutes and on the Flames, Garnet Hathaway (1.68), Sam Bennett (1.38), Matt Stajan (1.13), Dougie Hamilton (1.09) and Mikael Backlund (1.08) were all penalized more frequently than the highest Hurricane, who was Marcus Kruger (1.04).

4. Youth Got Opportunity

Given his team was so young, this is another one of those areas that can be interpreted different ways but there were a couple of examples that I came across where young players received more ice time than they would have gotten in Calgary under Gulutzan, who freely admitted that he was a stubbornly hard guy for young players to earn the trust of.

Last season, the Hurricanes brought up 22-year-old left-winger Valentin Zykov, who had led Carolina's AHL team in goals. He played 10 games in the NHL, spending his time on the team's No. 1 line alongside Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. He even saw some power play time. In those 10 games, Zykov had seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) while averaging 13:42 in ice time.

It's a strikingly similar situation to the Flames and left-winger Andrew Mangiapane, who also led his AHL team in goals and also got a 10-game look in the NHL. However, the difference was how Mangiapane was deployed, playing mostly fourth line and not getting any time on the man advantage. The 22-year-old failed to pick up a point in his 10 games while logging just 8:56.

For more examples, Aho logged 16:47 as a rookie, Victor Rask played 16:20 in his first year and even Phillip Di Giuseppe at 14:16 in his first NHL season wasn't far behind the modest 14:40 that the talented Matthew Tkachuk had to scratch and claw for in his rookie season.

The other example is on the blueline. Here is the average time-on-ice in their rookie seasons for four Carolina defencemen who broke in on Peters' watch:
  • Jaccob Slavin, 20:59
  • Brett Pesce, 18:46
  • Noah Hanifin, 17:54
  • Haydn Fleury, 16:48

In Calgary, Brett Kulak has averaged 13:16 in his career so far.

Now much of this is opportunity/needs driven, of course, with Calgary having a veteran top-four in place the last couple years. That said, in an organization in which the likes of Rasmus Andersson, Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Oliver Kylington might all be pushing for NHL spots in the near future, it's interesting background.

5. Player Growth

Again, this is hard one to assess from so far away. I'd be lying if I told you I watched countless Carolina Hurricanes games the last few years.

While Jeff Skinner's regression is one to wonder about and even be concerned about, the young Finns Aho and Teravainen appear to be coming along nicely. Again, then there's that young blueline.

Social Media Firestorm

It's been fascinating to watch the reaction to the Peters rumours on social media. This guy has already being run out of town and he hasn't even arrived in town.

It speaks to the unhappiness of the cantankerous fan base who after a disappointing season, wanted coaches heads on a stake -- and got them, now already they're sharpening up the next shoots of bamboo.

Since Peters resigned, a few blogs have made the rounds with a less-than-flattering review of his time in Carolina. Then again, what else was anyone expecting. You don't have to dig very deep to find the same things in New York about Alain Vigneault, same thing in Arizona after Tippett parted ways, and also in Dallas after Lindy Ruff exited. Parting shots, always.

As I see it, NHL coaches and blogs are like hotels and Trip Advisor. You are always going to find a dissenting opinion. Always.

The truth of the matter, but it makes for horrible pub conversation and even worse sports talk radio, is we as fans or media don't know who will be the best guy to guide the Calgary Flames.

Unless you're Treliving and know exactly what the difficulties were last season -- whether it's hard-to-coach players, fragile egos, dysfunction, divisions -- you don't know. All that stuff that goes on behind the dressing room door that a coach needs to deal with as a hockey team's head of Human Resources, that’s information we're not privy to.

Similarly, of all the coach candidates being touted, whether it be Peters or Vigneault or soon-to-be-60 Darryl Sutter or whomever, what makes them the best fit? What is it about how they've operated in the past both on and off the ice that makes them the right choice for this specific situation? Again, it's impossible to know from afar. You need to be familiar with how they operate behind closed doors. Win-loss record is one factor, but it's just one of many variables to take into consideration.

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Final Word

For Treliving, this next hire is his last bullet. He knows it.

Rarely does a GM get to hire a second coach. He inherited Hartley, hired Gulutzan, now he is looking for his second coach in three years. For a guy who is as thorough as they get in information gathering and doing background checks on anybody being brought into the organization, you know it's not going to be any different with this particular hire.

So while the fan base is up in arms, thinking they have some bit of incriminating intel on Peters that the GM doesn't have. Sorry to break it to you, but you don't.
As for whether it will be the right hire, that part we'll have to wait and see. Armed with a solid goaltender in Mike Smith, a superstar like Johnny Gaudreau, a reliable veteran leader on defence in Mark Giordano, an all-in, enormously talented, shit-disturber like Matthew Tkachuk -- four weapons he arguably hasn't had before -- can he put this club over the top?
Two years ago, Peters was highly touted, lauded as progressive and was viewed by many as one of the fast-rising great hockey minds in the NHL. Again, I defer to that elite group he rubbed shoulders with behind Canada's bench for the World Cup. Has he suddenly become a bad coach in the last two years? Or just a victim of circumstances? There are several narratives, either go ahead and make up your mind right now and pick one, or do what I'm doing and just let it play out.
Some of the criticism is he is merely Glen Gulutzan 2.0. But if this upgraded model brings with him an assistant coach that can execute a better power play, if he gives prospects like Mangiapane, Spencer Foo, Dillon Dube and Rasmus Andersson legitimate opportunities to play, and if makes a few less head-scratching personnel decisions, being similar to Gulutzan isn't a bad thing.

Whether you want to admit it or not, Gulutzan converted Calgary's style of game to a more sustainable, conducive-to-winning approach over the past two seasons from the stretch-pass-and-pray system under Hartley. Oh, the latter was great when the cardiac kids 'found a way' (e.g. 2014-15), but when they didn't (e.g. 2015-16), uh-oh.

Will Peters ultimately prove himself to be an innocent man and cleared of all current guilty charges? If so, he'll certainly be owed some restitution.


  1. So you are saying the Flames were visually better understanding GG than Hartley?

    1. From my vantage point, I'd argue the team's current system is ultimately more conducive to sustainable winning than how the team played under Bob Hartley. That's what I was trying to articulate. Did this season end ugly? Sure. But I still think they're far better off than two years ago. My just my opinion.

  2. I usually like Haynes but this is the kind of team friendly garbage I would expect from the media losers up north.

    Using World Championship Golds with stacked Canadian teams to promote his coaching abilities? Come on, especially when glossing over the terrible AHL record.

    Sutter and Vigneault consistently make the play-offs with their teams. They don't need weak excuses like young team, budget team, tough division because they just win. They take the teams they have and turn them into successes. Something Peters hasn't come close to doing.

    Sure he had a tough job but that is what a good coach is supposed overcome. That is what good coaches do is get there teams to play better than their abilities and overcome their limitations.

    As for the SAT and limited shots and other "advanced" stat nonsense. They really mean squat all when coupled with loses and a team not even remotely competitive at all.

    Treliving made a great decision in firing GG but in going to Peters who looks to be at best on par and potentially worse than GG it now seems as if some of those bad moves he has made might be more to him just being a terrible GM rather than a miss step or two. Honestly this hiring should be a firable offense from Treliving. The fact that he looked around and supposedly assessed the team and coaching candidates and thought Peters was the right choice surely shows a lack of hockey knowledge and ability to be a GM. Disappointing from a guy that showed so much promise early on in his career.

    1. "Garbage"... thanks for the feedback. And people wonder why I've stopped writing to the blog.

    2. It may be tough to read Darren, but you have to remember that these are professional armchair GMs.

      Enjoyed the read as always.

    3. Ignore Moon, pretty sure he's been banned from CalgaryPuck twice for posts just like that. He's as angry and ignorant as always.

    4. I wrote out a number of reasons that I disagreed and stated that it wasn't what I expected from you.

      I guess if you can't handle opposite views from yours that would explain why you would stop writing.

    5. Derbyherb would be 100% wrong so pretty clear who should be ignored.

    6. I have always been happy to engage with those with opposing views, but courtesy and respect is a prerequisite. Referring to a view you disagree with as ‘garbage’ is a non-starter for me.

    7. I don't know...not all stacked IIHF teams win Gold. Success at the highest level is certainly worth mentioning when looking over a guy's resume.

      I think the fact Treliving has had success working with him is significant. I also think being invited to coach with 'the dream team' speaks volumes.

      Seems to me the guy was just trying to provide some background and context. Not cheer leading. I appreciated the article.

      As for Peters' AHL career, his winning % wasn't great, but he graduated eight players who went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 or 2013.

      Player development is a coach's primary job in the minors. Good ones have their best players called up to the big club more often and it effects their record.

      That is how an AHL coach's success is measured. The fact you didn't know that pretty much kills your credibility in assessing what may or may not br garbage.

    8. I don't see any reason to not call something what it is just because the writer is too thin skinned to take criticism.

    9. Reddy, your comment on AHL is a good one. He did graduate many players and also, I believe I read that his team in Rockford his final year was one of the youngest in the AHL, if not the youngest. If you want to win in that league, you need to bring in older, more experienced players and use them in prominent roles.

      For example, look at the 2009-10 Abbotsford Heat with Mikael Backlund. That team posted a good record and went a couple rounds in the playoffs because their top four scorers were Jason Jaffray, 28, David Van Der Gulik, 26, Cam Cunning, 24 and Colin Stuart, 27. Who? Meanwhile, no prospects were developed other than Backlund.

      It's why Ryan Huska not making the playoffs isn't necessarily a knock, he's using prospects in key roles and if those guys rise to the NHL, then it's mission accomplished way more than a couple rounds of Calder Cup playoffs.

    10. Yeah but Sutter inherited an unreal LA team and AV got a really good Ranger team. Both were on the cusp of being a legit Stanley cup contender before the coaching change. Also, AV hasn't won either. President trophy yes, but never the big prize.

      Flames are not the Kings of 2011.

    11. The Kings were coming of back to back seasons of 1st round play-off losses and were .500 when he took over.

      They weren't unreal at all. His coaching took them from a mediocre also-ran to a Stanley Cup winner.

      And sure AV hasn't won but his teams consistently make the play-offs and he has twice gone to the Stanley Cup finals which is a hell of a lot more than Peters has ever come close to in the NHL.

    12. @moon if everyone is telling you that it is your approach to criticism which is the problem and you respond with insults as well as repetition of you way is better because it’s what you believe them you are nothing better than a bully/ignorant/arrogant. I have read some of your work(if it’s you on CP) and it’s not always your material which is the problem. There is a quote which a person I hold in high regard said “approach every conversation as if the other person knows something you don’t otherwise it’s not a conversation” (that might be a paraphrase but it’s very close), I hold that your viewpoint is very valid to this discussion but that doesn’t make it better than the ones which are different than yours.

      As it applies to the blog I really appreciate your view and have been missing the posts as I am currently living in Russia and don’t get as much news on the flames/nhl as I would like. Please keep writing as I believe your views are always interesting.

      From what I have gathered from a distance is the flames were unable to convert their pp opportunities when the got them and gave up too many chances. Can you take a look at the available coaches and list out the strengths and weaknesses? While I am okay with peters if he is hired my excitement will really come down to his assistants as I se him a a similar coach(system) to GG with a different personal approach to the job.


    13. @ Darren: Yeah, I remember the team. I live in the Lower Mainland. I was the guy who had season's tickets to the Heat.

      Some fans don't understand the AHL is a developmemt league. Lots of years the team who wins the league has few NHL prospects and a bunch of career minor-leaguers in their late 20s.

      As for Huska, he was dealing with a lot of call-ups, including both of his starters at times. Lots of guys knocking on the door in our org. I believe that and the age of our team is a big reason Peters could be hired.

      Peters plays young guys, unlike some other coaches. He did a good job with the 'canes young d' imo.

      Peters probably has some level of familiarity with Brad Campbell-Pascal too.


    14. Oh moon... you need to grow up already, you've been running this same shtick for years and everyone is wise to it.

    15. Darren,
      Great article, great overview of the coach and current situation. As you so clearly stated, we as fans just do not know the real story. To pretend otherwise is just foolish, but still many do.

      If Peters ends up getting the job I too will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope his history of playing youngsters in meaningful positions and accountability overall will do wonders with the Flames. Of course if we just look at records there may be some concern, but we can say the same about Gallant..... Bra Treliving has the most info and the best insight into what is needed, its his choice and I'm willing to back him.

      Finally, hopefully Darren some of these comments won't keep you from continuing on with this wonderful, insightful blog. I always await your next entry and think you do a terrific job. Whether I agree or not (mostly do) your research and well thought-out comments are really appreciated!

  3. Great article Darren. You covered all the basis....Peters will be a good hire. Will bring more emotion, tenacity and accountability to the Flames. BT needs to do his part and get some scoring (finishers) and a more experienced back up goalie that can play 30-40 games in tandem with Mike Smith. BT has his depth on defence to draw from (Brodie and/or Hamilton).....

  4. Gotta like that fact that Peter's switches to the lines alot. Didn'like how GG just kept rolling the same freaking lines no matter what. Not saying tbaf will translate you wins . But we will see

  5. I wonder if Darryl Sutter and Dave tipper are the assistant coaches

  6. GG had the "square peg in the round hole" theory. He didn't seem capable of putting guys in the best position to be successful. Brodie shoots left, then he plays on the left. Has always been better on the right, but Gulutzen refused to allow that. Seemed counterproductive. Hopefully Peters is a little more flexible and allows players to play to their strengths .

  7. Good review Darren. Your modesty is a much appreciated contrast to the excessive certainty shown by some. The Flames have a fair bit of tent. It will be fun to see what impact the coaching change and other roster changes have on the team's success next year.

  8. Discussions on systems and coaching usually make my eyes and ears bleed. This blog post was actually enlightening, though, and the author demonstrates intellectual honesty (maybe he's actually Jay Feaster) by acknowledging how difficult it is to assess a coach's impact on team performance.

  9. well written and great insight . It sounds like when he hired GG, he was in fact hoping he'd get a coach like Peters, but Peters seems to have the intangibles that GG lacked (player management especially ). So now he gets his real guy .. I'm very optimistic .

  10. Glad to see you write something; i had gotten worried about you. I really have no idea of what to expect; I have heard many comparisons to system style of GG but a very different personality. How many high danger chances did they create vs give up? That's a telling stat for me. The other thing that will make or break his and anyone else who might get the job is the ability to hire good coaches to run the PP and PK; essential.

    The other thing and it si outside of the coaches job is that BT must add some more forward talent so that the coach can slot guys into the correct position.

    Thanks for a different insight than I have been reading.

  11. #1. I really enjoy the blogs so please write more! I must admit I also am cautious on Peter's but feel a little more hopeful reading your blog. I see the lower shots but I wonder about scoring chances. It seemed the defence let a lot of 10 bell scoring chances through that Smith saved especially pre-Christmas otherwise I think we would have been racing edmonton to the bottom. The average goaltending we got later on just revealed how good Smith was early in the year. So I think it was the right decision to fire gg although he is a good guy. But the job is coach, not good guy. I dont think Sutter is the answer either as the flames when they had success under him wine 2-1 with amazing goaltending. Then it was brute force and some skill that over powered opponents in la, (wow did they ever for their first Cup I think it was in relatively few games). So I was hoping AV. Peter's may get us in the playoffs but a coach can help shape the identity and give an edge. Sutter did that for sure but his time has passed I think. Im convinced that if Calgary got in we would have lost in 5-6 games anyways. Other than that, I hope we see more feisty ferland next year..... and Jankowski plays more assertive. Split Brodie and harmonic up by putting stone with Brodie and andersson/kulak with hamonic. Hamilton needs to play tougher.

  12. So how was the PP under Peters at Carolina? Calgary's PP drove me crazy! Every time it was the same thing... a forward would approach the blue line with the puck and then they would pass it back (usually to JG) thus allowing that extra time for the opposing team to set up to counteract Calgary's entry into the zone. It happened over and over again... No wonder Calgary's PP was so bad.
    Also GG refused to play his forwards on their off-wings on the PP. Why I don't know. His stubbornness was so frustrating.

  13. Best Flames writer in the business. Honestly,
    Your blogs here are the best content flames fans have to read.

    I was upset by the move to be honest. I felt it was a sideways move but your article has definitely made me way more receptive to the change, not fully on board yet but not nearly as pessimistic about it. Full disclosure though, I was a huge fan of GG, I truly feel he is the best coach we have had since D.Sutter

  14. I'm cautiously optimistic if Peters is indeed the new hire. I've heard good things from many Hurricanes fans, I also like the he's got more of an old school personality.

  15. Sounds like Peters likes to give his young call-ups the opportunity to succeed which is a good thing considering the number of prospects on the verge of playing in the NHL.. and the continuation of possession hockey but without the seemingly senseless deployment of personnel under GG may not be a bad thing.

  16. Thanks Darren, I enjoyed and truly appreciated everything ya had to say as ya did basically cover all the basis...”moon” obviously has some personal issues that’s far beyond hockey talk so simply ignore him...
    Anyways, I’m not gonna lie...I personally believe that Alain Vigneault is (hands down) the best candidate out there...nonetheless I have the upmost respect for Treliving and I know that whatever he decides on will be the best decision as his job is gonna be on the line for it...
    There’s no doubt that he has assembled a very solid core and with the players (and coach) that will be soon joining, I have 100% faith that they will get it done...After reading the article, I’m not as worried anymore with Peters joining and I thank you for that...

  17. I'll admit that I really wasn't happy when the news broke about Peters because I wanted a more proven track record like AV or one of the other available vets. Reading this has at least made me look at the hiring a little differently, I'm not saying I've completely bought in but there is a glimmer of hope there.

    This team needs to make some changes this offseason if they want to be taken seriously by other teams and their fans. I know more and more fans like myself are becoming less interested and it'll take some work to get us to become the emotional fans we once were.

  18. I hope that the Flames don't get too aggressive in moving players this summer. Gulutzan's insistence on playing veterans even when they are not succeeding did not give an opportunity to evaluate the talent pool. Hopefully the next coach can quickly sort through the young guys and figure out where the team goes in the future.

  19. Is it possible to write an article where you tell the reader not to buy into a W-L record and then say that the coach is a proven winner at other levels?

  20. Skinner's issues may be concussion-related.

  21. Thanks Darren, I really missed your posts to your blog. I really appreciate your work. I don't always agree but its clear you put the effort in, there is logical consistency etc. Please keep writing and I hope the comment section continues to grow! Chheers

  22. Off topic, but in the same vein I am more worried about our GM, than the coach. He is learning on the fly and the guy hired to hold his hand is asleep at the switch.

    I think the entire hockey world re-learned a very important lesson from BB in the Phil Kessel trade: Never trade your 1st round pick until you know the order of the draft.

    I mean seriously; in what other situation would you trade something you owned without knowing the value of it? It is ludicrous on its face, and yet...

    I am not sure whether Burkie forgot this gem of wisdom or allowed Treliving to persuade him that a Travis Hamonic was worth the gamble. Either way, they made Garth Snow look like Sam Pollock.

    The franchise has never recovered from losing Cliff Fletcher...would be funnier if it wasn't true.

  23. Just wanted to comment as well to express how much I (and other Flames fans that I know) enjoy reading your blog. Please don't take insulting posters like Moon too seriously - there's no reason to call someone's work garbage just because they have different opinion. Trolls are better off ignored.

    Your posts are always very well-researched and thought out and I always look forward to reading them. It seems that other flames bloggers do as well, as they are frequently quoting you on your views.

    Having known little about Peters, and definitely a little concerned given his less-than-stellar head coaching track record in Carolina, I'm cautiously optimistic now that it's been officially confirmed that he's our guy. Thanks for the informative post.

  24. A great read, however it doesn't change my mind about Peters. We're not in the Minors anymore, and you still need to go with the proven winners, like Sutter, Coach Q, or anyone that has winning on their resume. Yes, of course the Flames still have no identity, and that was on Gully. Tree's still has to get some 25 goal scorers with grit, that come to play every night. IE: Tom Wilson from Was who plays on the edge every night, big, cheap contract and will be another Tkachuk for pissing people off, to create more PP's. Also we need another James Neale type game breaker, to have 2 to three potent lines. THEN, a coach might be able to hold the Flames as team that other teams won't want to play. They just don't have enough toughness to create an identity yet.

    1. They had an ID under Gully. They were a fragile team prone to coughing up leads and withering proportionally to the pressure of the situation.

      They were also known league-wide to have a defensive structure that was pretty easy to get behind in all thee zones depending on the situation.

      AV was the most creative imo. He got his guys behind our d' for breakaways either two or three times on line changes last time they were in the 'dome. Once for a goal. Yeesh.

  25. Peter's is Treliving's choice, just like Treliving was the Kings choice, and King was the owners choice. From ownership down they all have made a choice who is best serve in the position they hold.

    I would think if you had ownership interfering in coaching decisions you would have exactly what is happening in Carolina.

    The GM and the coach have to work intricately together to build then coach a winning team. If I was Treliving I would hire someone that I think I can work with, someone who shares my vision and philosophy. Someone without internal power struggles that may come from an established name brand coach who thinks he's right and doesn't care what the GM thinks or wants

    Say Treliving builds and drafts for speed and skill, but management makes him hire a coach like Sutter who want truculence, defense and grit. I can't see players drafted for skill and speed becoming a truculent team, defensive 1-0 score every game team.

    Treliving thinks he has the right person for the job so I'll trust his expertise and if he's wrong he's wrong. If he's right time will tell

    Good Luck Tree, from a Flames Fan

  26. Very interesting read. I learned alot about the new coach of the Flames and i must admit, theres alot in this blog to make me excited about the next season. Im a firm believer that to get good results you need the right tools regardless of your experience or knowledge. I think peters in inheriting a much more complete toolbox and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with it.
    Haters are going to hate regardless of who Tre hired so their opinions mean nothing. This blog was based on alot more facts than any armchair GM is capable of. I'll trust in Tre's decision because he knows best

  27. Darren,

    Excellent article, I've missed your blog posts over the last while. They are consistently among, or the best I read and its a crime for some, ahem, 'comments' to dissuade you from the great job of sharing your viewpoint. Some people don't get it, it's a blog!

    Anyway, I hate to say it, but if you're reading this comment...or moreso some of the others, you're seriously undermining the wisdom you clearly hold on the subject of hockey!

    Here's to ignoring the comments!

  28. Great Blog Darren as always, a little disappointed with lack of frequency since December though... very excited about Peters, I think the Flames will be better next year.
    Off-season moves: Trade Frolik - 3rd round pick. Trade Brodie, Klimchuk plus Fox to Isles, get back our First and second round picks, and Ho-Sang.
    Sign James Van Riemsdyk and/or Michael Grabner.
    Sign Carter Hutton as back-up. Sign Jack Johnson or Ian Cole for third pairing D with Hamonic.
    Stajan (resign one year, 1mil)

    1. By your use of the word disappointment, Chris, I don't think you are aware that FF80F is strictly a side-business for me. I've still been writing for The Canadian Press all winter as I have for nearly three decades, but my additional freelancing on the Flames in this format that I have been doing for the past four years has stopped because my site sponsor withdrew last October so my revenue model is currently broken.

      Journalism isn't free. For the blog and podcast to exist, like any business, expenses need to be paid such as all the various costs associated with both of those entities in addition to the labour costs of writing and editing (blog) and recording and post-production (podcast).

      Every now and then over the last few months, I've written something just for fun. But just like if your employer stopped paying you, you'd probably stop going into work, that's pretty much what has happened here.

      As a result though, with the extra time on my hands from not juggling a second job, I've been able to do some other things that I've neglected lately as one tends to do in working 60-70 hours per week. For example, I coached my daughter's midget hockey team this winter.

      Thanks for the feedback, greatly appreciated, but that's the unfortunate situation with the blog. I enjoyed doing it, feedback has always been good, but if this summer I end up with more time to golf rather than sit at the computer rambling on about the Flames, that may suck for you, but not for me. Cheers.


    2. Fair enough! Thanks for the response! Best of Luck (either on the links, or getting a new site sponsor!)