Flames interim GM Maloney on Treliving: ‘He left us, for his reasons’

Eric Francis and Ryan Leslie react to the resignation of now former Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving, and discuss if it was expected, Don Maloney's job to find a replacement, and how long finding a new general manager could take.

The Brad Treliving era in Calgary has drawn to a close, the Flames announcing Monday that the nine-year general manager and the club have parted ways.

In his place, Don Maloney — who’s previously served in management roles for the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes — has been handed the reins, the longtime executive taking over as president of hockey operations and interim GM in Calgary.

Speaking to the media for the first time since taking over in the new role Monday, Maloney shed light on Treliving’s departure from the organization.

“Today’s not a good day for me, it’s not,” Maloney said. “The Stanley Cup Playoffs start tonight, and we’re not playing, number one. Number two, Brad Treliving is a good friend, and I think a very good hockey man. He left us, for his reasons. But we move on.”

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While Treliving’s contract expired at the end of the Flames’ 2022-23 campaign, his departure prompted questions from Flames fans as to whether the decision to go in another direction was the former GM’s or the team’s.

According to John Bean, CEO of Calgary Sports and Entertainment, it came down to Treliving’s decision to step away.

“You kind of get it — he’s been here nine years,” Bean said Monday. “These are really high-pressure jobs. They’re exhausting at times. And you can say that they look glamorous and it’s all fun, but it’s hard work. And there comes a point in time, whether you’re a general manager or you’re something else, that you come to a conclusion that, ‘Boy, maybe I need to give my body and my brain a break.’”

Factoring into the decision, according to Maloney, was the tumultuous off-season Treliving steered the Flames through last summer, when the club had to navigate the departure of leading scorers Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.

“He was the one that was making all the calls ‘til midnight. And I really do think it took its toll,” the interim GM said. “After nine years, he just needs a break. He needs a break from what he was doing.”

Maloney, whose relationship with Treliving extends decades, back to the pair’s time in Arizona, also shed light on how the situation regarding the future of the GM role progressed over the course of the 2022-23 campaign.

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“Brad, as you all know, as was reported, was offered an extension, was wanted back. In training camp to begin, and several times. So there was a point that John and I had a conversation, full transparency, with Brad,” Maloney said. “Really, I thought for sure Brad would re-sign. I’m as close to him as anybody, and up until he told me Wednesday that he couldn’t do it, that was the first time that the reality was that he just needs to take some time. 

“So, we had some conversations about the worst-case scenario, if Brad does leave, and this is why I’m sitting here today.”

Bean added a caveat, noting that the conversation changed after the Flames failed to qualify for the post-season.

“We attempted early on to [discuss Treliving’s future], and then Brad and I both agreed to pause the decision when he wasn’t prepared to make it early on. So we paused it,” he said. “And then we get to this point in time, that we’re over, we’re out of the playoffs and we meet again. So, at that point in time, we both agreed maybe we shouldn’t extend.”

Maloney said he doesn’t expect Treliving will take another GM role in the league any time soon, though he believes he’ll eventually be back managing another team. As for the future of Calgary’s GM position, the interim manager said the organization has no firm timeline on selecting its next GM. 

“I don’t have a list of names,” he said. “We’ll get the format in place, the template in place — what do we want in a GM? What are we looking for, what’s important for Calgary? … I don’t see it dragging out for a year-and-a-half, nor do I think it’s going to be Friday that we’re going to parade out a new manager.”

Maloney also revealed he was offered the position himself.

“One of the things John had asked me when we originally met was, ‘Do you want to be the manager?’ I can do the job, I know the job, I’ve done it a long time. But I don’t think I’m the right person for this team,” he said. “I think you need somebody younger, progressive, inventive. Hockey acumen and background certainly plays a part, but we’re going to get the best person we think we can win with, and then support that person.”

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Before the club launches into that GM search, though, the next step for Maloney and his staff will be analyzing what went wrong for Calgary in 2022-23.

“My first task, from John and the ownership, is to do a deep analysis of this season. We have a team that I believe should’ve been in the playoffs — not only made the playoffs, but be a hard out in the playoffs. We didn’t. We failed to achieve,” he said. “And that starts at the management level, which I was a part of. It’s the coaching, the players, the training, the entire organization. 

“We have to do a deep look at how we operate, how we make decisions, and fix it.”

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Key among those decisions on the team’s future is what happens next for Flames coach Darryl Sutter. Signed to a two-year extension that will pay him $4 million annually, the coach’s performance in 2022-23 had many among the Flames faithful questioning whether he should remain, particularly given what appeared to be a strained relationship with the franchise’s two new cornerstones, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri.

Asked Monday whether Sutter will be the Flames’ coach next season, Maloney did not commit to the bench boss returning.

“I am reviewing everything in the organization,” he said. “Management, coaching, players, scouting — first of all with the idea of what happened, and why we underachieved, and how we make this the best organization and attain our goals.”

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