Former Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley joins Latvian national team

Former Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley has signed a contract to coach the Latvian men's hockey team. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

RIGA, Latvia — Bob Hartley has been named head coach of the Latvian men’s hockey team.

He was most recently the head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, who fired Hartley on May 3 and subsequently replaced him with Glen Gulutzan.

Hartley, 56, will be the second NHL coach to stand behind Latvia’s bench after Ted Nolan from 2011 to 2014.

Hartley’s contract is for one year with an option for a second, the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation said on its website.

The Hawkesbury, Ont., native coached the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 2001 and also coached the Atlanta Thrashers from 2003 to 2007.

He won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 2015 after coaching the Flames to a 45-30-7 record and into the second round of playoffs.

But Calgary backslid 20 points in 2015-16 and Hartley was sacked.

He’s coached in Europe before. Hartley spent the 2011-12 season with the Zurich Lions in Switzerland before he was hired by the Flames.

The Latvian men are currently ranked No. 12 in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Latvia fell a win short of getting into the 2018 Winter Olympics when they lost to Germany in a qualification tournament final in September.

"It will be my first experience working with a national team and I’m grateful to the Latvian Hockey Federation for giving me the opportunity and confidence," Hartley said in a statement.

"I’m looking forward to the moment when the Latvian national team will start its preparation, which will be the foundation of a successful start at the world championship."

Hartley will be scouting the world junior hockey championships in Toronto and Montreal starting Dec. 26, the Latvian federation said.

The 2017 men’s world championship May 5-21 will be held in Cologne, Germany, and Paris. Latvia is in a group with Russia, the United States, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Denmark and Italy.

Canada, winner of back-to-back world titles, is in a pool with Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, France and Slovenia.

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