June 8, 2012
Hartsburg axed by Flames
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Craig Hartsburg has been a head coach.
He gets it.
On Thursday, Hartsburg received bad — albeit, not necessarily surprising — news from the Calgary Flames that he won’t be back on the bench at the Saddledome next season.
Bob Hartley, who was hired as the Flames’ new head coach last week, will be able to bring in his own guys. In fact, he’d already added longtime sidekick Jacques Cloutier as his associate coach, the title Hartsburg had as a member of Brent Sutter’s staff on the NHL club last winter.
“I think that Craig’s experience and his own personal experiences, it made it for a much more productive and understanding conversation between he and Bob than perhaps it would have been for someone who has never been in that scenario,” said Flames GM Jay Feaster after Thursday’s announcement. “He was very much the consummate professional in the discussions that he and Bob had. He was awesome. He’s been where Bob is. He’s gone into a place as a new coach.
“When Brent was interviewing candidates to come in as his guy (last year) and I sat with Craig, I told Craig, ‘It’s my philosophy that the new coach really needs to have the ability to select his assistants.’ And he told me at that time that he fully agreed with that and he believed in that.”
Hartsburg, whose lengthy coaching resume includes stints as a bench boss for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Anaheim (they were Mighty back then) Ducks and the Ottawa Senators, spent only one campaign with the Flames organization. He was released with one year remaining on his contract.
“I would like to thank the Flames organization and especially Jay Feaster and John Weisbrod for the opportunity to work in Calgary,” Hartsburg said in a statement released by the team. “I’d also like to thank the players. I had a terrific group of people to work with. However, I believe it is best for Bob Hartley, coming into a new coaching situation, to have his own staff.
“I wish the Flames the very best of luck, and I’m looking forward to my next venture in hockey.”
With Hartsburg and former assistant Dave Lowry now seeking employment elsewhere in the hockey world, goalie coach Clint Malarchuk is the lone holdover from Sutter’s staff.
He’ll meet with Hartley next week to discuss his future, although Feaster doesn’t anticipate announcing another release. Cloutier is a former NHL netminder and has experience as a goalie coach, but that won’t be part of his position with the Flames.
“What Bob has indicated to me is that he expects to keep Clint on board as the goalie coach,” Feaster said. “Bob has talked to people about Clint and the job he did last year, and their initial conversations have been very positive. Barring something unexpected when they meet next week, I would expect that Clint is going to be back.”
That leaves one opening on the Flames’ coaching staff.
Eric Veilleux, who skated for the American Hockey League’s Cornwall Aces while Hartley was coaching the team and is currently the bench boss of the Memorial Cup-champion Shawinigan Cataractes, has been linked to the Flames in recent days. However, Feaster insisted there is no front-runner for the vacancy.
“The fact is, Jacques Cloutier is coming in and is going to be taking over a lot of the things that Hartsy had been doing for Brent. In light of that, Bob has to put together exactly what he wants this new position to do and what qualities and qualifications he is looking for,” Feaster said. “But he has not pre-ordained that. As he told me, ‘I’m open to suggestions from you and John and Craig Conroy.’ He said, ‘I don’t have anyone in mind.’ ”
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