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Chiasson hoping to ignite under Gulutzan

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- A familiar face is always comforting. 

And at this stage, there's probably none more comforting to Alex Chiasson than Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. 

It's under the man affectionately referred to as 'Gully' that the man affectionately known as 'Chaser' had the most promising stretch of the 25-year-old's young career. 

"It's huge," Chiasson started.

"At the same time I know from talking to him that things aren't going to be handed to me, also. He knows I'm capable of being successful and in what position, whether it's 5-on-5 or power play … in those types of positions. 

"I think it's going to be up to me, when that opportunity comes, to show what I'm capable of doing. I know it's really important for a player to gain the trust of the coaching staff, and also the coaching staff to trust the player."

The foundation for that trust was laid three Aprils ago when Chiasson burst onto the NHL scene, scoring six goals in seven games to start his NHL career with the Dallas Stars.

The man behind the bench at the time? 


Comforting, right?

"I would think so," Gulutzan said.

"If I was thinking as a player … I tried out for a coach I played for in Lorne Molleken. There's a bit of comfort there, right? It lets you play your own game and lets you be settled a little bit. I can relate. I played for Lorne in junior, then when he was in the American league I tried out for him.

"It was an easier time. Not saying you put less … you put more pressure on yourself. But there's some familiarity there, which makes it easier. 

Gulutzan, who had Chiasson at 22, inherits a 25-year-old in desperate need of a refresh.

After being they key piece acquired by the Ottawa Senators in a trade that sent longtime franchise face Jason Spezza the other way, Chiasson struggled.

Under expectations.

Under pressure.  

"No question. No question," Gulutzan said. "Then add a Canadian market to it. That puts some heat on a young guy. For sure, it does. It comes into play. 

"We've had a couple chats. We've had chats when he was in Ottawa. I know some of the background, and some of what he thinks. 

"I think we can get Alex to a real good spot." 

Chiasson's tenure with the Senators lasted 153 games, and offered up Ottawa just 19 goals and 40 points. 

He was swapped for prospect Patrick Sieloff this summer, offering the Montreal, QC native a shot at redemption back in the Western Conference.

"I think I've got a lot to prove," he said. "Obviously things didn't work out so well in Ottawa. It's nothing bad against the organization and whatnot, but it just didn't fit, the style I played. Hopefully coming back here in the West with a new team and a fresh start … sometimes it's something that can be really good for a player.

"Hopefully I can go back to being more of a power forward and be successful around the net. I think from my early years, that's where I seemed to be successful. I feel like the style of play that Glen uses … I played for him in Dallas my first year … I know he's going to be asking a lot of me.

"For me it's just to go back to those things that made me successful … to be a presence around the net and on the forecheck and use my shot as much as I can as well."

Not surprisingly, it's the exact ask of his former coach. 

"For me with Chaser, it's all about identity," Gulutzan said. "You can see he's a big body. He's strong. He can move. I just want him to use those assets. I'm not asking him to be Superman out here. I want him to get back to the things that make him successful. It's just real little things.

"He's got a real good hockey mind. He's real good around the net. He's a real good kid. He works hard. I just want him to work on those things … just be that player.

"He doesn't have to be anything else."

The opportunity is there.

He sees the Flames needing help on the right side. 

And the man behind the bench.

"I think as a player you're looking for opportunity," he said. "Before the trade happened, in talking with [general manager Brad Treliving] and knowing that Glen was going to be the coach here I knew that there's going to be an opportunity on the right side to play with some good players. 

"I think for me right now, it's just to come in and show what I'm capable of and just have fun with it … go back to the way I know I'm capable of playing.

"Hopefully I have a successful year here." 

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