SUN Hockey Pool

Gelinas one of the good guys

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:31 AM ET

CALGARY - If Martin Gelinas is as good a coach as he is as a person, maybe things are actually looking up for the Calgary Flames.

Gelinas, whose legacy with the Flames is the three series-clinching goals — two coming in overtime — during the 2004 Stanley Cup playoff run which ended in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, has always been known as one of hockey’s truly good people.

Now, he has a chance to create another legacy with the franchise in the city he’s called home since hanging up the blades.

Gelinas, the fan favourite who became known as The Eliminator after his playoff exploits in the Stampede City, should make a perfect assistant coach under new head coach Bob Hartley. His hiring will be announced Thursday, according to Sun sources.

Hartley’s coaching staff also includes associate Jacques Cloutier and it’s expected the club will announce that goalie coach Clint Malarchuk will remain in his role.

Even though Gelinas hasn’t been an assistant coach at any level, he’s spent the last three years as director of player development for the Nashville Predators, working with the young players throughout that organization.

Throughout his career, the Los Angeles Kings’ first-round draft choice in 1988 — he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers a couple of months later in the blockbuster deal that sent Wayne Gretzky to southern California — was known for being a fitness fanatic.

Last summer, he brought Nashville’s 2010 first-round draft choice, Austin Watson, to his home in Calgary for a couple of weeks and showed him first-hand how to take training to a new level.

That’s an example of what kind of person the Flames have brought back into the fold.

There is also the famous Gelinas positive outlook, which is much needed around a Saddledome that has lacked for happy faces in the past few seasons. His smile and quick laughter will help everybody around the team get through the rigours of a season.

But first and foremost, Gelinas can provide the perfect example of what a player can achieve with hard work.

Sure, he was a scoring sensation in junior, but Gelinas carved out an impressive NHL career by being a true team player while collecting 309 goals and 660 points in 1,273 regular season games with the Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes, Flames, Florida Panthers and Predators.

Lord knows, he can also impart some playoff wisdom to the Flames players, too, if they get there, having skated in 147 Stanley Cup playoff games. Gelinas won the 1990 Stanley Cup and reached the final three other times.

Hiring Gelinas adds another interesting twist to the Flames.

The three-headed executive — GM Jay Feaster, assistant GM of Player Personnel John Weisbrod and the special assistant to the GM Craig Conroy — are all Americans.

The coaching staff has a definite French-Canadian slant, with Hartley, Cloutier and Gelinas all fluent in both of Canada’s official languages.

Seriously, nobody should care where the coaches and team’s braintrust is from.

Hiring someone like Gelinas, whether his first language was English, French, Russian or Martian, is a positive move for a team which needs as many of them as possible.


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