In the first year of the official rebuild of the Flames, after the 2013 trades of former captain Jarome Iginla and defenseman Jay Boumeester, Hartley’s squad currently finds themselves placed 13th out of the 14 team Western Conference. Yet the Flames, by all accounts, have exceeded expectations this year. In a coaching anomaly, Hartley has had heaps of praise directed his way despite his team being near the bottom of the pack.
The Flames were expected to be the worst team in the NHL this season. Actually, they were expected to be the worst team in the NHL by quite a distance this season. Add to the fact the team has been ravaged by injuries with significant periods of time being spent on the sidelines by captain Mark Giordano, Sean Monahan, Michael Cammalleri, Jiri Hudler, Curtis Glencross and the list can go on. If any team could get a pass for mailing it in this season, it is this one. This is exactly why Hartley should be back — they’ve competed.
Hartley has done a tremendous job at maximizing the talent he has been allotted to coach. Despite being hired by Jay Feaster, the previous general manager, Hartley and Brian Burke, the current president of hockey operations and acting general manager, appear to be on the same page as far as what needs to be done to ensure things are on the right track in Calgary. That in itself is a big victory for Hartley as most executives in Burke’s position like to bring in ”their guy”. Hartley was Feaster’s guy, but he is now Burke’s guy.
Hartley’s current contract, set to run through the 2014-15 season, is ideal for Flames management as well. It is widely known that you can get the most out of people as they seek to earn their next contract/pay day. Sure, it would be nice for Hartley if the Flames management rewarded him by adding another year to his current contract so he could have a little job security. Would it be the most productive thing to do in this situation, though? No.
However, there is something that can be done that would be beneficial to both the Flames’ players and coach; announce that Hartley will be back next season. Clearly, the players respond to his counsel and respect his voice. In a rare coaching feat, especially in this day and age of the pampered athlete, Hartley has a young team where no outward signs of disrespect or unrest are expressed to the public by his players; there is no drama following a certain player that the media can chide at.
Coach Hartley absolutely deserves the backing of Flames management, and in a timely manner, heading into the 2014-15 season.