Former player Gels well
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY
|Former Calgary Flame player Martin Gelinas is all smiles as he was introduced as the new assistant coach of the team. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI AGENCY)
That’s all Martin Gelinas spent playing in Calgary during his 20-year pro career.
Based on the positive reaction around the Stampede City after word trickled out the player known as The Eliminator after his 2004 playoff exploits was rejoining the Flames as an assistant coach, you’d think Gelinas was the face of the franchise for a decade.
“Am I surprised? Yeah,” said Gelinas, whose time in Calgary ended after that spring’s playoff run. “I left on a good note because 2004 — if everyone recalls — was an incredible time and an incredible time for this city and this franchise.
“My daughter’s 15 and I’ve got a 16-year-old and they’re tweeting and so on — I don’t understand how that works — but they were showing me the responses. That’s a good feeling.”
The good vibes were all around the Saddledome Thursday when the 42-year-old was officially announced as the final piece to the club’s coaching puzzle.
Head coach Bob Hartley added Gelinas, who made Calgary his home even after leaving the Flames and spending the last three years as the Nashville Predators development coach, to a staff which also includes associate coach Jacques Cloutier and goalie coach Clint Malarchuk.
“It’s a good day,” Gelinas said. “Calgary’s home for me. It’s always been since
I left after the 2004 run, and it was a dream of mine to come back and work for this organization.”
Gelinas was the only person interviewed by Hartley for the job and was a slam-dunk with his on-ice achievements and personality, despite having never coached, save for a week-long stint as an assistant with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals this season.
“Bob said, ‘What he lacks in the experience of being behind the bench as a coach, he more than makes up for it in the other things I’m looking for,’ ” Flames GM Jay Feaster recalled. “One of the big things is the ability to communicate, the ability to connect with players and the ability to have the respect of the veteran players in that room.”
Gelinas will deal with the forwards on the bench during games, and will have a hand with coaching special teams.
As well, he’ll be the buffer between players and Hartley, who has a reputation for being hard on players at times. In other words, Gelinas will be the good cop.
“Nobody’s mean in this business, I think. We all want to win. It’s just to make sure they understand why things are happening,” Gelinas said. “It’s communication. I’ve got no ego. I played the game a long time and can’t say it’s all up. It’s a roller-coaster.
“Those young guys, coming up, there will be some ups and downs, but I’ve been there.
I can feel it.”