SUN Hockey Pool

New Flames coach Mr. Right, for now

Bob Hartley (right) receives a Flames jersey from GM Jay Feaster in Calgary on Thursday, May 31,...

Bob Hartley (right) receives a Flames jersey from GM Jay Feaster in Calgary on Thursday, May 31, 2012. (Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:31 PM ET

CALGARY - Bob Hartley is Mr. Right for the Calgary Flames, at least right now.

History has shown the club’s newest head coach has the ability to work with sometimes temperamental veterans.

Think of the Colorado Avalanche team he guided with Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Ray Bourque, and you know there were some tough battles of will between the then young coach — in terms of NHL experience — and those proven players.

History has also shown Hartley can turn young players into very good players. Sure, his reputation is of being a taskmaster with rookies, but think of all those players under Hartley’s tutelege who have grown into impact players, such as Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay and Ilya Kovalchuk.

That’s the Flames makeup right now.

The Flames have one spectrum with captain Jarome Iginla, Tanguay and Miikka Kiprusoff, and should have plenty of kids in the mix, including Sven Baertschi, T.J. Brodie, Lance Bouma, Roman Horak and Greg Nemisz, just to name a few.

The lack of impact players in their prime years — 25 to 32 — is a big reason the Flames have been on the outside of the playoff race in recent seasons, but that’s another story for another day.

Real or not, the perception remains Brent Sutter and Iginla didn’t always communicate.

Hartley, who talked to the club’s captain on the phone and wants to have a face-to-face meeting because “we can’t talk over the phone. We will run out of minutes” isn’t one to shy away from a conversation, even pointed.

“I know you can’t please everyone but I work honestly and I’m known not to send any more e-mails. I’m a straight shooter,” Hartley said.

“My first year in Colorado, coming out of a factory and the American Hockey League, you have to plan a meeting with Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. I can honestly say I had to think about those meetings for a long time. Experience is a combination of success and failures and dealing with people.

“A player who is going to help me a lot at training camp is Alex Tanguay. He’s the only player in this organization I’ve had history with. I talked to him this morning and he said it was great news. He was thrilled. From systems to dealing with players, he will guide not only the rookies but he will be able to sit with Jarome and Mike Cammalleri and say this is the way it operates.”

Curiously, Tanguay will also be a huge help with the young players. He was one of those who bore the brunt of Hartley’s straight-shooting ways, didn’t always love it, but eventually realized it was good for him.

Hartley admits he reminds youngster of the standards needed in the NHL, but insists it’s for the betterment of the players and the organization.

“It’s all a matter of perception. If you look up the definition of hard, if you are demanding and doing everything for the benefit of the young man’s career,” he said.

“I can give you a list of names of players who are drafted, they go the minors and suddenly they disappear. I always take it very seriously whether I was a junior coach or an AHL coach, you can’t waste one or two or three years and suddenly the GM says, ‘We have to let this guy go. He can’t play.’ Two or three years later, he’s playing on the second line of another team. You need to work with your kids. I don’t believe I’m hard. I believe I’m fair but demanding.”


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