Following an underwhelming 2017-18 season in which the Calgary Flames finished 11 points out of the Western Conference playoff picture with a 37-35-10 record, general manager Brad Treliving sensed big changes were on the horizon.
Hiring Bill Peters as the team’s new head coach – the second head coaching hire he’s made since taking over as general manager in April 2014 – to replace Glen Gulutzan (now an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers) was the GM’s first order of business.
Treliving, during an in-studio interview with Ryan Pinder on Sportsnet 960 The Fan’s Pinder and Steinberg, discussed the impact he expects his new head coach to have.
“He’s (Peters) certainly a guy, when we made the change, that was at the top of my list … I feel strongly that he’s the right guy for this group right now,” Treliving said. “He pushes. He’s a demanding guy, but in a way that he’s an encouraging and relationship-driven coach with players.”
With hiring a new head coach off the to-do list, the 49-year-old executive turned to his roster, looking for ways to improve a young, up-and-coming hockey club. Recognizing what changes had to be made was the next step in the organization’s off-season overhaul.
After finishing last season ranked 27th in goals per game at 2.63, improving offensively was a must to remain competitive in the West.
“A few things we really felt strongly about (changing) … our depth, organizationally, but specifically at the forward position. I take responsibility that we didn’t necessarily give our coaches as many tools as they probably should have had last year in terms of moving people around.
“We felt we’ve increased the forward depth of our group, and then looking at specific areas, and that’s on the right side for people that can play in scoring roles.”
Signing 31-year-old right winger James Neal to a 5-year, $28.75 million deal highlighted the Flames’ bevy of forward signings this off-season, moves Treliving hopes prevent Calgary from relying too heavily on its star talent.
“One thing that was painfully evident last year is we relied on too many. If two or three guys didn’t score last year, we were going to have a tough time to win.”
With increased forward depth and new young additions in Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm signed long term, Treliving feels his club is ready for a bounce back campaign. The Flames’ architect even declared this year’s crop of talent entering training camp “is the deepest group that’s been here since I’ve been here.”