|Flames captain Jarome Iginla says he had a positive first impression of the team's new bench boss, Bob Hartley. (Al Charest/QMI Agency/Files)
CALGARY - One of Bob Hartley's first moves as head coach of the Calgary Flames was to pick up the phone and have a chat with Jarome Iginla.
Apparently, the Flames captain was impressed with what he heard.
Iginla wasn’t available for comment immediately after Hartley was hired last week but issued a statement through the team Wednesday, saying he had a positive first impression of the new bench boss.
“His reputation and accomplishments are very impressive. He has had success at every level,” Iginla said. “I’ve also heard good things about him from other players like Tangs (Alex Tanguay), who has played for him in the past. I have heard he is a very detailed and passionate coach.
“And from our initial conversation, I’m looking forward to learning from him and getting better as a team.”
The Flames’ all-time leader in games played at 1,188, Iginla has already skated for eight different head coaches during his stint at the Saddledome — Pierre Page, Brian Sutter, Don Hay, Greg Gilbert, Darryl Sutter, Jim Playfair, Mike Keenan and most recently, Brent Sutter.
Hartley will be his ninth boss.
During his introductory news conference at the Saddledome last Thursday, Hartley told reporters he was anxious to have conversations with each of his players. His first call was to Iginla.
“I told Jarome, ‘I have a long list for you. We need to meet. We can’t talk over the phone. We will run out of minutes,’ ” Hartley said.
It’s no surprise that Tanguay had good things to say about the 51-year-old head coach. Hartley was behind the bench during Tanguay’s sophomore season with the Colorado Avalanche, when he led a star-studded team to a Stanley Cup final.
Jacques Cloutier, who was hired Wednesday to be Calgary’s associate coach, was part of that celebration, too.
Hartley, who also coached the Atlanta Thrashers and won a championship this spring in Switzerland with the Zurich Lions, usually expects his stars to log a lot of icetime. He’s already promised Iginla and some of the Flames’ other top guns that his team won’t adopt to a yawn-inducing defensive system.
“We want to play a high-tempo game. This is about entertainment and winning hockey games,” Hartley said after he was hired and introduced to the media last week. “Having coached in Colorado for years, we worked hard in a market to keep it on top. Now, I’m in an established market — and winning is the only thing. We will draw a plan with the players.
“They are the performers. We will make sure they are ready.”