Fleming goes on offensive

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Wayne Fleming believes defence is key to hockey success.

Don't think for a minute, though, the Calgary Flames' newest assistant coach is a proponent of stifling, kitty-bar-the-door hockey.

Fleming, hired yesterday with Jim Playfair's ascension to the head coach's job vacated by Darryl Sutter, believes a great offence can mean great defence.

"I spoke at a conference at the draft and some coaches said goals weren't important. But my comment to that is they seem pretty important when you're down 2-1 with a minute left," Fleming said.

"I don't think you want to say defence is not important because you're going to live and die with it but offensive pressure is a big part of the game. If you're spending more time in the offensive end, it'll make things a lot easier on Kipper and Noodles (Flames goaltenders Miikka Kiprusoff and Jamie McLennan)."

Fleming will bring some of that thinking to the Flames, good news for fans who want to see their team score more goals next season.

His addition to the Flames staff brings his professional coaching career full circle.

Originally from Winnipeg and a longtime head coach at the University of Manitoba, Fleming came to Calgary in 1990 to help build Canada's silver medal-winning team at the 1992 Olympics.

He also had NHL assistant coaching stints with Phoenix, the New York Islanders and most recently the Philadelphia Flyers."

As for what Fleming's responsibilities will be, Playfair said it hasn't been completely hashed out.

"We'll have a general group-creativity mindset and will go from there," Playfair said.

Fleming was offered a couple of other jobs around the league but decided on Calgary after first being approached by Playfair and then meeting with Sutter.

"You can see it written over everybody's faces in the whole organization, we're here for a purpose," he said.

"The future is now as far as the Calgary Flames are concerned, it's not a rebuilding program."


Videos

Photos