CALGARY, AB -- Bob Hartley is coming into Calgary with a reputation.
The term "taskmaster" has been attached to the Flames head coach's name on more than one occasion throughout his lengthy career. He pushes his charges to the limit in his unrelenting pursuit of success, demanding 110 percent from everyone at all times.
But he also comes in being known as an excellent communicator. He connects with his players regularly, getting to know them not just as a players but as people. Knowing players off the ice not only helps Hartley understand what it takes to get them to the level needed for success, it also creates personal ties that last for years.
An example of this comes from Flames forward Alex Tanguay. Hartley coached Tanguay, then a rookie breaking into the League, for four seasons in Colorado. The two have stayed in contact ever since.
"We would talk a couple of times a year," the winger told CalgaryFlames.com. "When I played in Montreal, at the time he was working for French TV so he got to see a lot of the games and at times I would call him and ask him to help me out and to give me advice.
"He was always very helpful and accommodating."
While there were times the winger questioned Hartley's demands, he now understands how beneficial they were. The regular season is a marathon but, in Tanguay's mind, Hartley is able to get the absolute best out of his players night-in and night-out throughout a grueling 82 game schedule.
"He's demanding for all the right reasons. He wants everybody to play the way that he thinks they are capable of playing and playing attention to detail. He's a very, very good coach behind the bench. He knows the match-up he wants, he knows how much guys have played."
Hartley insists his players stay in prime physical condition. His infamous drills like Mountain Climbers (blueline to goal line, red line to goal line, blueline to goal line, far end to goal line in 45 seconds) and the Sweet Sixteen (16 laps in under four minutes) are something the team should expect as soon as they hit training camp.
"There is probably going to be much more skating, especially in practice," Tanguay noted. "I've been through Bob's training camp before and he skated us a lot but certainly there are going to be times where we will be skating more than last year for sure."
While Tanguay was with the Avs, Colorado's roster was a mix of veterans and greenhorns. Hartley was coaching established players such as Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy and Peter Forsberg while working with youngsters like Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk (who were one and two respectively in rookie of the year voting during the 1998-99 season). The Flames roster will likely be a similar composition this season with several rookies looking to solidify roster spots. Given his experience, Tanguay believes Hartley is the right man for the job.
"Bob is a winner. He's won everywhere where he's been before. He finds ways to get results. Certainly for those reasons, I think Bob will be a great fit for our hockey team."
Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who spoke with the new bench boss right after he was hired, is also looking forward to working with Hartley this fall.
"His reputation and accomplishments are very impressive. He has had success at every level. I’ve also heard good things about him from other players, like Tangs, who has played for him in the past.
"I have heard he is a very detailed and passionate coach, and from our initial conversation, I’m looking forward to learning from him and getting better as a team.”