It is always interesting to see who has read my stuff, or helped me promote it. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect most people to do that. But there is the odd person who come along that give me good reason to expect that they’ll maybe check out some of my stuff or promote it. This piece, probably not many people will read it or promote it. Other stuff I do…those people might have damn good reason to back me so to speak. Anyway, that’s pretty coded I know, but I couldn’t think of a good opening and wanted to bitch about that without getting myself into too much trouble.
I’ve had this thought since the start of the season, and it isn’t one that I’ve heard anywhere. I’m sure if I got on a message board somewhere, fan boys will have made the suggestion. But nowhere reputable. That thought is, how long until we start hearing about Bob Hartley being on the hot seat?
On the surface, it’s WAY too early to talk that way. Down the stretch in 2013 after Jay Feaster finally started rebuilding, he got his team to play pretty hard in the final 3 week or so of that season when it looked like they were going to be blown out every game after they dealt Iginla and Bouwmeester (I made A LOT of money on their initial misery).
2014, that continued. Everyone entering that season was certain that team was a lock for 30th in the league. They only finished 27th, but that was a pretty good accomplishment compared to what everyone believed they were headed for.
Then of course you had last season. Outside of the Canuck and Oiler fans, everyone fell in love with that club. Hartley was the Jack Adams winner and it really wasn’t close. That team yet again was expected to finish 30th, and this time they made the freaking playoffs. Ask an Oilers fan, that isn’t easy to do in this league, let alone the Western conference! So Hartley really has done a great job in Calgary.
But now I’m looking at things, and I’m wondering…not if the axe is coming, but if we are going to start to hear about how the axe might be coming?
You have to look at some factors here. First and foremost for me is that he was never Brian Burke’s guy. He became Brian Burke’s guy, but Hartley was never hired by Burke, he was inherited by Burke. And then he was obviously inherited by Brad Treliving as well. I’m not saying they aren’t 100% in his corner, I have no clue whether they are or not. But you have to assume that they aren’t 100% all in with him, simply because it’s so rare that a front office is with someone they didn’t hire.
Another thing that makes me wonder with Hartley moving forward is both in Colorado and Atlanta he wore out his welcome in a big hurry. The Avs under Hartley won a Cup, and lost in game 7 of the West finals every other season. 2 and a half months into the 02-03 season, he was gone.
In Atlanta, he brought them out of the gutter, and while he never won a playoff game and the division they won at the time was a complete joke, the fact is that he got them to be pretty competitive which is more than anyone else could say during the Thrashers time in Atlanta. He took over in 03 and had the Thrashers playing great in the 2nd half of that season. 04 despite everything that went on with the Daniel Snyder tragedy they finished only 4 games under .500. In 06 they couldn’t keep a goaltender healthy and still only missed the playoffs by 2 points. Then in 07 they won the Southeast. He did this working with total shit, let’s be honest about the teams he had. Amazing coaching job…and he didn’t even last a MONTH in 07-08.
Add to all this, a guy with such a terrific track record coaching in the NHL wasn’t hired again until the 2012 offseason. That’s…peculiar…is that right word?
So I’m wondering now with the Flames struggling if this is the beginning of the end in Calgary for Harts? I wouldn’t, but then again I wouldn’t have axed him if I were Pierre Lacroix, and he did. Nor if I were Don Waddell, and he did. The Flames really haven’t been that different of a team this season from last. You have to be honest about the bounces that team was getting last year, everything that could go right did go right. And then obviously the goaltending was MUCH more consistent. I mean the game last night isn’t the catalyst for this piece. I’m well aware of the struggles under 5 different coaches in Anaheim (and to be fair to that stat, the Flames last win in Anaheim was actually in the 2006 playoffs, game 3 of that series). And the Ducks put up 8, this is Nik Backstrom’s last hurrah in the league. He was a guy who made sense for the Flames to take back in the David Jones deal because of the injuries the Flames have had in goal.
The team, at least when I’ve watched, is still playing hard and still look like they’re buying into the system. They’ve just simply come back down to earth, as many expected them to do this season.
So when could it go from talk of the hot seat to actually being on the hot seat for Hartley? I think the start of next season. I’ll say they go into next season with Hartley behind the bench, and should the Flames struggle out the gate, he’ll be in trouble. Brian Burke and Brad Treliving need to help him out by shoring up the goaltending situation. When Kari Ramo emerged as the starter, this was a playoff contender. Without, like any other team, things have been ugly.
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