It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s a dream as a kid to play in the NHL and when you’re done playing, to coach in the NHL. That dream comes true today. - Jordan Sigalet
CALGARY, AB -- Jordan Sigalet was set for Adirondack.
Instead, he’ll pack his bags and take the next step of his career as the new goaltending coach of the Calgary Flames.
“I’m really excited,” Sigalet told CalgaryFlames.com. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. It’s been a bit of a long interview process but everything went well. I really like the direction the team and the organization is going in.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s a dream as a kid to play in the NHL and when you’re done playing, to coach in the NHL. That dream comes true today.”
Sigalet has spent the past three seasons in the Flames organization, serving as goaltending coach in the American Hockey League with the Abbotsford Heat and former head coach Troy Ward. Now, he’ll join head coach Bob Hartley, associate coach Jacques Cloutier, assistant coach Martin Gelinas, skills coach Domenic Pittis and video coach Jamie Pringle in Calgary.
But Sigalet knows it’s his experience at the AHL level that paved the way for his NHL start.
“I think it was huge for my development being there under Troy Ward,” Sigalet said. “His attention to detail is very high, as many people know. I learned a lot from him, not just the goaltending side but other sides of the game as well. It was huge to be there. It was nice to spend those three years there.
“Even if I went back for another year, it would be a great role. I really enjoy the development role. It’s very rewarding. It’s great to see your guys go up and get NHL games. I’ll be on the other end of that now and having those guys come up from Adirondack and getting to work with them when they come up.”
Like Joni Ortio, for example.
Under Sigalet’s watch, Ortio blossomed with the Heat last season. The Turku, FIN native posted a 27-8-0 record while his 2.33 goals against average ranked sixth amongst all AHL keepers. His .926 save percentage was second only to one other goalie, too.
In nine games for the Flames -- his first career NHL call-up -- Ortio went 4-4-0 with a 2.51 goals against average and .891 save percentage.
“I had Joni over here when he was here for his first stint in North America that didn’t go as well as he would’ve liked,” the 33-year-old Sigalet said. “The best thing for him was going back to Finland and playing a ton of games. He’s got a real confident demeanor to him. That’s what makes him such a successful goalie. I think it’s good to be patient with him.
“You see other organizations that are patient with their goalies, whether it’s a Jimmy Howard or a Corey Schneider, guys that put in their time in the AHL and get the experience they need to come up full time.”
While it is expected the 23-year-old Ortio will be shown that patience, Sigalet’s more immediate attention lies with the likes of Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller, who will compete for the starter’s role in Calgary.
After a four-year absence from North American hockey, the 28-year-old Ramo returned to a 16-15-4 record with a 2.65 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.
He’ll battle Hiller, who was signed to a two-year contract this summer after posting similar numbers with the Anaheim Ducks in 2013-14.
Sigalet has already started working on building relationships with his keepers. After all, he’s strapped on the pads against both dating back to his own days tending twine in the AHL.
“When I was playing back in the day in Providence I played against Ramo a little bit, against Hiller a little bit,” said Sigalet, who played three seasons with the Providence Bruins -- Boston’s affiliate. “I’m going to try to connect with Jonas this week, just touch base and start building those relationships with those guys. It’s huge to earn their trust. That relationship with a goalie coach is huge.
“It’s building that relationship and getting to know each goalie as an individual, finding out what they need on a daily basis and go from there.”
From there, Sigalet hopes to add the formula that earned him the promotion from Abbotsford.
“I’ve got to bring all my passion and work ethic,” he said. “I really look forward to contributing to the coaching staff here.
“It’s going to be really exciting for me.”