I’ve only been here for two-and-a-half months and I’ve learned a ton. He’s really helped me. - Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB -- Bob Hartley is the only coach Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has known in his young 33-game career. A multiyear extension signed by Hartley on Wednesday will keep it that way for the foreseeable future.
He's okay with that.
“He’s done a ton for me so far since the start of the season,” said Gaudreau, navigating through his rookie season. “I’ve only been here for two-and-a-half months and I’ve learned a ton. He’s really helped me. I’m a little bit more comfortable playing here. He’s done a really good job with me and helping me. I really appreciate what he’s done here.”
Hartley’s done plenty in his third season behind the bench with Calgary.
Amidst a rebuild, he’s guided the Flames to a respectable 17-14-2.
It’s come with plenty of growth from Calgary’s young core featuring the likes of Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Josh Jooris among others, too.
“He definitely expects us to perform,” Gaudreau said. “He does a great job coaching so we should return the favour and do a great job playing. I think he’s done a really good job with our team so far here. It’s good to have someone be tough on you sometimes. He does a good job with it.”
The results Hartley has managed with his group are clear.
So too is the message he’s used to get them.
“He sends a clear message,” alternate captain Kris Russell said. “Everyone is treated the same. You earn your minutes here no matter who you are. As a player that’s kind of what you want, especially a player coming into the league or a young guy. It’s good opportunity.”
It’s an opportunity Lance Bouma is trying to make the most of.
Bouma, 24, is a veteran of 152 career National Hockey League games. He’s spent 109 of those under Hartley.
It’s where he’s seen the most progression in his game, too.
“He’s been good and he’s kept us on our toes,” Bouma said. “He’s put a lot of trust in me in a lot of different situations. He’s been very good for me. Last year he helped me a lot, showing me a lot of video one-on-one and things like that. He’s had a lot of confidence and a lot of trust. It’s nice.”
Through 31 games this season, Bouma has already matched his career high of five set under Hartley last season. He’s just six points shy of reaching 15, also a career-best set under Hartley’s watch.
It’s come from the same demand Hartley expects out of all his players, rookie or veteran.
“He’s trying to make you better,” sophomore Sean Monahan said. “If he’s hard on you I think you’ve got to look at it the right way. I think that’s what he does a good job at.”
Hartley can be hard when he needs to. He can display a softer touch when required.
But either route, said Gaudreau, Hartley is direct with his players.
“He’s completely honest,” Gaudreau said. “He speaks his mind. If you mess up he’s going to let you know and if you make a good play he’s going to let you know.
“It’s what I respect about him.”