Outside, snow has begun to drift down. Inside the Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary Flames' head coach Glen Gulutzan is in his office, on the phone. It's oddly quiet at event level, a day off for players.
The NHL season is only days away so there's no down time for those plotting strategy and making final decisions.
Still, the new man in charge of the Calgary Flames took time to sit down with CalgaryFlames.com for a Q&A that ran the gamut from Torts to net size, Guy to No. 99, coaching to fishing to the flat-out goodness of hockey-card bubblegum and the best day possible.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: To kick off, how about a lingering memory of growing up in Hudson Bay?
GULUTZAN: Being a kid, walking home after road hockey in the wintertime. It's dark, around 5:30, right? You've got your stick tucked under an arm because your hands are too cold to grip it. They're scrunched up in your gloves. From the ice on the roads and all the running you've done, the pant legs of your jeans are covered in snow and they're frozen, like cardboard, from the knees down. So you've got these frozen pants, and hands, you're walking in the dark, though the woods, but you've had this great day, playing. That sticks with me.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: First set of wheels?
GULUTZAN: My dad was a car buff. A 1980 Mercury Capri, two door, with a hood scoop. Turbo. Black. That was some car.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: You're king for a day, wielding unimpeachable power. A change you'd like to see made in today's NHL game?
GULUTZAN: I know the purists and goalies will probably hate me for saying it, but I might make the nets a little bigger.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Name an all-time dream team. Any era. Six guys.
GULUTZAN: Well, I'll have to choose from the time I started to follow the game. So up front I'll say Wayne Gretzky, Bob Gainey and probably Steve Yzerman over on the other wing. On D, Nicklas Lidstrom and I'm gonna take Larry Robinson. In net, I'll go with Ken Dryden, one of my heroes as a kid.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Okay, now a dream team pieced together out of players you've coached.
GULUTZAN: Oh, man. I've gotta go with the older guys over the younger ones. So I'll take Henrik and Danny (Sedin) and Jaromir (Jagr). You realize I'm leaving off Jamie Benn?
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Sacrifices must be made.
GULUTZAN: And then on D … I'm picking Trevor Daley and Chris Tavev. In goal, Louie (Roberto Luongo), 'cause he's won.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: What's your perfect day?
GULUTZAN: I'd get up around 8 a.m., get some sleep. Have breakfast, then go fishing with my kids until 10. Come home, work out, have lunch at noon, head to the golf course. Great day, shoot a good score, come home at 5 o'clock, have a nice supper, a beer or a glass of wine, go back and fish with my kids until 8 or 9, then we'd sit and watch a movie until 11 and go to bed.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: You could sit down with one athlete, any sport, for beers, who would it be?
GULUTZAN: Well, I've gotten to sit down with Bob Gainey and that was very enlightening. So, ah, Wayne Gretzky.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: To this point, what do you consider you're greatest career accomplishment?
GULUTZAN: I think my single greatest accomplishment is starting out in the East Coast league and having six or seven of those players graduate to play in the National Hockey League. Derek Engelland, Adam Pardy, Tyson Strachan, Adam Cracknell … I get the most reward out of seeing that.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Favorite vacation spot?
GULUTZAN: Hawaii. Maui.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Best concert you've ever attended?
GULUTZAN: Bryan Adams, 1992, Saskatoon.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Worst travel day, ever? Buses, planes, trains, whatever.
GULUTZAN: When I was with Vegas, leaving there to come here to training camp when we were the Flames' affiliate. I flew from Las Vegas to Denver after being delayed four hours on the tarmac in Vegas. Got to Denver knowing the only flight from there to Calgary on that airline was already gone. They said they'd find me another flight. The I got there and it was: 'Ah, no, sorry.' No hotels available in the city because Denver was shut down (because of weather). Couldn't get the first flight in the morning, had to take the second at 11 or 12. And, because I'd already been to Calgary and gone back to Vegas, I had nothing with me but my wallet. An awful, awful day. One I hope never to repeat.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Players you most enjoyed coaching?
GULUTZAN: Another tough question. I enjoyed coaching Jamie Benn. And a guy by named Tyler Mosienko. Billy (Mosienkno)'s grandson. Real competitive player, only 5-foot-6 but did everything like a pro at the East Coast League level.
The East Coast league was where I got my beginning and I really enjoyed helping those kids.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Do you feel settled yet in Calgary?
GULUTZAN: Yeah, I'm settled. The more my kids settle, the more I'll settle. In our business, you can put my anywhere. I've been all over the place since I was 15, moving every two or three years. I'm lucky. I'm always settled because I have these hockey people around me. But I'll be more settled when my family gets a real life going here.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: So now we come to the Pro or Con portion of our quiz show. Just a straight Yes or No. No hedging. For starters, the World Cup the way it was staged. Pro or Con?
GULUTZAN: Pro. I'd bring it back. I wasn't a fan of the uniforms. I liked the young team, to be honest. I felt bad the Europeans, I'm glad they performed as well as they did. With them, it was almost like: We need another team.
As I said, I just didn't like the uniforms.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Coach's challenge. Pro or Con?
GULUTZAN: Pro. Hey, you're talking to a coach. I don't like how long the process takes. They need to find a way to speed it up. But I like the concept.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: John Tortorella. Pro or Con?
GULUTZAN: Pro. There's the public guy and the private person. The person is unbelievable human being. Passionate. Compassionate. My kids adore him. My wife adores him. He's a generous, charitable human being. A friend of mine. A good friend of mine.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Olympic participation. Pro or Con?
GULUTZAN: Con. Definitely. Not good. I know the players love it but I'm not for (NHLers in) the Olympics. Call me a traditionalist, but I think the Olympics should be strictly amateur.
CALGARYLAMES.COM: So you prefer, say, the old national team approach with Dave King or George Kingston?
GULUTZAN: Yes, I like that distinction.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Fighting. Pro or Con?
GULUTZAN: I still say it's a pro, on the edge side. I don't like stage fighting. I like the good old 'I hate you, I've battled against you all night and now we're going to punch it out' fighting. I like two guys competing and now they're just mad. I'm fine with that. I have no time for the contrived stuff.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Favorite team growing up?
GULUTZAN: The Montreal Canadiens.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Favorite player growing up?
GULUTZAN: I was a big Guy Lafleur fan at the beginning, and then by 12, 13, 14, being a Saskatchewan guy, when the Battle of Alberta really got going - even though I was a Calgary fan - I liked Gretzky. But I liked him more when he was traded to L.A.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Best hockey card you ever owned?
GULUTZAN: I had a lot of 'em but I really wasn't a big hockey card guy. Used to love the gum, though. The pink stuff, remember? In blue wrapping. The hard gum would snap on you sometimes.
CALGARYFLAMES.COM: Favorite Stanley Cup moment?
GULUTZAN: Ray Bourque hosting the Cup. Finally. Brought a tear to my eye. Special, for sure.