Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Flames fire Hartley, one season after he was coach of year

CALGARY, Alberta — The Flames fired Bob Hartley on Tuesday, a season after he was voted the NHL's coach of the year.

Calgary took a big step backward after reaching the playoffs last season. The Flames finished 35-40-7, with only Vancouver and Edmonton posting fewer wins in the rugged Western Conference.

"Bob has taken this team as far as I feel he can take it," general manager Brad Treliving said.

Last season, he led the Flames to a 45-30-7 record and third place in the Pacific Division, but there was no sign of that team this season behind Johnny Gaudreau and Marc Giordano. In February, Calgary dealt forward Jiri Hudler to Florida for draft picks and sent winger David Jones to Minnesota for goalie Niklas Backstrom and a sixth-round pick.

In four years with Calgary, Hartley's regular-season record was 134-135-25.

Treliving met with Hartley early Tuesday and fired the 55-year-old from Hawksbury, Ontario.

"This is isn't just a necessary move because we didn't make the playoffs, so we're going to throw a body on the tarmac," Treliving said. "For us to move forward, I felt this decision had to be made for what Bob can get from this group moving forward."

Associate coach Jacques Cloutier also won't return. Treliving said assistant Martin Gelinas and goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet will remain.

After surprising many by making the playoffs in 2014-15 and beating Vancouver in the first round, Calgary was 26th overall this season, its 77 points 20 fewer than a year ago.

The problems came despite high-profile offseason additions. The Flames acquired defenseman Dougie Hamilton from the Bruins, Michael Frolik signed as a free agent and Sam Bennett had a breakout rookie season.

But Calgary stumbled early, losing its season opener to Vancouver en route to a 2-8-1 start. The Flames weren't able to recover. Unlike last year, they rarely rallied for wins in the third period.

The team began the season with three goalies on one-way contracts. Karri Ramo and Joni Ortio both were waived at different times and sent to the minors. Veteran Jonas Hiller also struggled, his .879 save percentage the worst in the NHL in the last decade with a 25-game minimum.

"Our goaltending was not good this year," Treliving said. "That falls on the general manager. I need to fix that. The way we played in front of the goaltender needs to be fixed as well.''

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The NHL suspended Penguins defenseman Kris Letang for tonight's Game 4 for an illegal hit on Capitals forward Marcus Johansson, briefly knocking him from the game. The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled that Letang, who was assessed a minor penalty, made "significant head contact" well after Johansson had released the puck during a sequence in the first period. Johansson underwent the NHL's concussion protocol before returning to the game, though he complained of neck pain. … Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov had surgery to repair an injury on his right wrist. He can resume full hockey activities in 6-8 weeks.

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