Calgary Flames: The good and the bad of Glen Gulutzan

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 19 2018: (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 19 2018: (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /

As the Calgary Flames bid farewell to Glen Gulutzan and welcome a new bench boss in town, let’s take a look back at the good and the bad of Glen Gulutzan.

When Glen Gulutzan was brought in as a head coach of the Calgary Flames, it was somewhat of a surprise. He didn’t have a whole lot of NHL experience and, in the head coaching experience he did have with the Dallas Stars, they didn’t do too well. After two years with the Flames, GM Brad Treliving let him go, along with two assistant coaches.

As the Flames welcome Bill Peters, who will serve as the new head coach for the Calgary Flames, let’s check out the good and the bad of Gulutzan.

Warning: There’s more bad than good.

Related Story: Flames fire head coach Glen Gulutzan and two assistant coaches

The good: Player’s coach

A big criticism of Bob Hartley, Gulutzan’s precursor, was that he was somewhat of a ‘bully’. With Gulutzan, he was known as a ‘player’s coach’. He got along with the guys well and he wasn’t ‘mean’.

There was that one time last season that everyone remembers as “the beers that saved the season”. In a post-game interview after the Calgary Flames had lost their fourth game in a row, Gulutzan basically called the team pathetic three times in six seconds. Later that night on the team bus, everyone was quiet and listening to their music. He went up to Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer, asked them if they needed some beers, to which they obliged. They stopped the bus, went and got beers, and Gulutzan told all the guys to take out their headphones and they’re going to talk about this like a team.

Since that moment, the Flames had one of the best records in the NHL in that time frame.

The bad: Random spurs of emotion

A criticism Glen Gulutzan faced, especially during the 2016-17 season, was that he didn’t show emotion on the bench. While that doesn’t bother me a whole lot (dad if you’re reading this, I know it bothered you a lot, so please don’t call me to complain), what mainly bothered me was those random outbreaks during practice this past season. There was that infamous moment everyone knew where he yelled and swore at the team in practice and threw a stick in the stands, but the Flames went on to win six games in a row after that.

Related Story: Has Glen Gulutzan lost the ear of the team?

People liked to believe it was because of him “setting the team straight”. But something similar happened later in the season, unfortunately, without the same results. While I’m not opposed to the occasional yelling at the team, I’d rather a coach be stern with the team more often when they make mistakes rather than a couple random outbreaks throughout the season. That could also be a downfall of him being a player’s coach.

The good: Mixing up the lineup

Lots of people liked to criticize Glen Gulutzan’s inability to properly utilize players, and I’ll be honest, I was one of them. But we still have to give credit where credit’s due. While he isn’t the best at player utilization (we’ll get to that), he’s also not the worst. He’s the one that recognized Micheal Ferland‘s talents and put him with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. He figured out the 3M line. He’s tried a few different lineup options to try and see where Sam Bennett fits best. And, while it took a bit of time, he finally put Troy Brouwer on the fourth line.

When something wasn’t working, he would change the lineup around to try and ignite something (sometimes).

While he did make some weird lineup decisions at times (we’ll also get to that), when it came to the bottom-six, he didn’t have a whole lot to work with, especially when Kris Versteeg got injured. While we could try and blame him for the secondary scoring issue, it wasn’t completely his fault.

The bad: Not holding vets accountable

Glen Gulutzan loved the old, veteran guys. He also loved the tough guys. I mean, let’s be real, everyone loved Matt Stajan. But like I mentioned above, it did take him a while to finally place Troy Brouwer on the fourth line. And it seemed like the blame was never put on Brouwer.

I remember one game that went to overtime, Gaudreau was in the offensive zone with the puck and gets tripped up and he falls. As a result, he lost the puck and the other team got a two-on-one and they scored and won the game. After the game, he basically blamed Gaudreau for getting caught in the offensive zone. While you should definitely hold your top guys accountable, it was a little unfair. And it’s a little unfair to hold your leading scorer accountable while not doing the same for the guy that gets paid $4.5 million to not exactly do a whole lot.

And while he was good a mixing up the lineup, he also made some weird lineup decisions, like I mentioned earlier. The decision to keep a player like Garnet Hathaway in the lineup while Nick Shore was sitting was weird. In fact, the decision to keep Hathaway at all is weird in general. And then it was his decision to call up Tanner Glass again, for some weird reason, again.

He had some good ideas, but some ideas just didn’t make sense.

The real bad: The powerplay

I was dreading this. The Calgary Flames powerplay was atrocious for a majority of the season. I know we can sit here and say that Dave Cameron was the powerplay coach, but at the end of the day, the head coach still has the final say. And the fact that it took them 51 games this season to realize that Dougie Hamilton was their best offensive defenceman and to finally try him out on the first powerplay unit was inexcusable.

We also have Brouwer on the first powerplay unit for a while during the 2016-17 season and for a bit this season, which was also quite inexcusable. I swear this isn’t a Brouwer-hate article.

Many of the powerplay decisions were head scratchers. And even when the unit was good, the team would spend about half of their powerplay just passing the puck around the perimeter and not exactly setting it up. The powerplay was just bad, there is no other way to describe it.

Next: Flames fans can breathe - Isles get 12th pick from Flames

So the final verdict, did Glen Gulutzan deserve to be fired? It’s hard to say and everyone has a different opinion. While I wasn’t completely on board the “fire Gulutzan” train, I also wasn’t completely opposed to it.

Did he maybe deserve another year? Yes. Should the Calgary Flames have made the playoffs this season? Yes. Was it completely Gulutzan’s fault? Not necessarily.

Hey, anything can happen. Bob Hartley went from Jack Adams winner to getting fired the following season.