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Treliving to begin search for new coach immediately

by George Johnson / Calgary Flames

-- A smorgasbord of names. More choice on offer than an assortment of individually-wrapped Bernard Callebaut confectioneries.

If it’s young and vigorous they’re after, start with ex-Tampa boss Guy Boucher, late of FC Bern. Then quickly move on Utica Comets’ tactician Travis Green, Chicago Blackhawks’ assistant Kevin Dineen and Mike Yeo, deposed by Minnesota.

A trifle more seasoning to their liking?

Well, the unattached Marc Crawford’s name is being bandied about after returning from Switzerland. Old standby Randy Carlyle, a championship conspirator of Calgary Flames’ VP of Hockey Ops Brian Burke in Anaheim, has out of work for 14 months after being sacked by Toronto and looking for a way back in.

And, naturally, the inevitable, immediate Bruce Boudreau link arose.

All in search of a shot.

The right fit.

On Tuesday morning, for those sequestered in a Tibetan monastery or lying inert in a cryogenic chamber somewhere, Flames’ coach Bob Hartley -- politician, populist, quote-spinner and reigning Jack Adams Trophy winner - took the slow fall for the Flames’ fast fall from grace.

Let the handicapping begin.

“I just felt,’’ explained Calgary GM Brad Treliving in making the announcement, on a difficult day for a good man, “that at this particular time for us to move forward and Bob has taken this team as far as he can take it.”

Surprising? Yes and no.

But this is a decisive moment for Treliving in his blueprinting of the Flames. He backed Hartley, liked Hartley, extended Hartley, but he also inherited him.

The next hire will be his hire.

There had been a growing feeling, given the Lourdes-like miracle of two seasons back, that Bob the Rebuilder might well be afforded at least another small sample size to try and re-conjure the tenuous magic that had not so long ago pushed them to vertigo-inducing heights.

Clearly, though, management wasn’t about to risk that not happening and thereby allow another year to slide away by the early stages of November, only to be forced into a change mid-stream.

A 20-point dip in the standings, woebegotten special teams, slipshod goaltending all conspired to trigger Tuesday’s announcement.

Ironically, the glory of 2014-2015 is the biggest single reason for Bob Hartley’s dismissal Tuesday. A case of too-much too-soon.

“It was the body of work,’’ continued Treliving. "I think you go through the process and you make a decision. I don’t think, starting on a short leash … it doesn't make sense. You either say this is the right person to move forward with or it’s not.

“We’ve talked about last year. Ken King made a great quote a while back that I’ve stolen many times. He said: ‘Two years ago we made 18 40-foot putts.’ A lot went right.

“To get the most out of this group and to continue to grow, I thought this decision had to be made.”

The timing of Tuesday’s news, hot on the heels of Boudreau’s dismissal in Anaheim, automatically had people already booking the church, distributing the rice and inquiring about per-plate reception meal costs.

“Today’s decision,’’ insisted Treliving, trying to stamp out that particular brushfire, “was not made upon anybody else sitting in the on-deck circle.

“Today is about Bob.

“This isn’t about having a prettier girl at the dance.’’

Boudreau -- who reportedly has interviews with Ottawa and Minnesota, the two other in-need-of-filling job postings at the moment, already lined up -- is still the one every organization with a hole to fill seems dying to rumba with.

Measuring his level of interest in this job will doubtless be part of the process.

But the idea, the inherent possibilities, of partnering a young coach with a young GM and young core of players may well be the way to go.

“There is no set timetable (to hire a replacement),’’ promised Treliving. “The process will start today. I’ve got a profile in my mind of what I’m looking for. I’ve got a good idea what can give us success, what can drag success out of our group.

“We’re going to be thorough, we’ll be extensive, and we will find the right match.”

Over his four seasons here, Bob Hartley did nothing but ingratiate himself to this community. The kids under his often tough-love care -- Gaudreau, Monahan, Brodie, Colborne, Backlund -- all improved.

With only a year left on his extension, though, a 20-point dip in production and no definitive backing on player-exit day mid-April, he was left hanging in the wind.

“I never coach a day to save my job,’’ he said on that day. “I try to do what’s right. I try to do an honest job. I try to do what’s best for the Calgary Flames or whatever organization I’ve worked for in the past.

“That has always been my way of doing business. I’m not an ego guy.

“I do this because it’s my passion.

“My goal, my passion, my dream, is to come back next season and make the best of it.”

There’ll be no next season; at least not here. That passion he spoke of, the dream he harboured for this team, this town, will be taken elsewhere.

It’ll be up to another to make the best of it.

Bob Hartley has begun the metamorphosis. His successor will be charged with nurturing it along.

That is rarely fair.

It is, however, the customary reality.

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