Sitting down to talk with the Flames head coach after a disappointing four-game playoff sweep wasn't going to be easy. But, thankfully, Glen Gulutzan isn't your typical NHL head coach. Humble beginnings in Saskatchewan has led to a hard-working yet fair approach to the sport and the people who play it.
In the latest Flames Up Close Podcast, Gulutzan opens up on a number of topics that maybe you haven't heard from the candid bench boss. We discuss how his dad was a teacher whose patient approach lends itself to Gully's coaching strategies today.
We hear stories of him and his family cruising across the country in a beat-up old van while nearly being arrested for failure to pay for fuel at a gas station.
Never shy to share a tale from his coaching days in Vegas where he would constantly be in search of players from almost anywhere, including a Neil Diamond impersonator or a member of the Cirque de Soleil troop performing down the strip. It's worth noting that Gully believes the NHL will work in Vegas and shares his thoughts on what it will take to be successful there.
Of course we talk about his first season behind the bench in Calgary. How it started, where it went and how it ended. Gulutzan is fiercely proud of the growth he saw in his squad and his coaching staff.
I ask Glen about this in the podcast and it's worth mentioning here: I've been in every NHL rink, seen a lot of coaches, both young and old, but never have I seen such respect, admiration, fondness and an overall brotherhood-like approach, if you will, for anyone quite like Gully. A hug, a handshake, an embrace and a whole lot of smiles from anyone who's ever crossed paths with him along the way.
Hopefully that comes across in the stories and conversation with a good prairie coach who's always preparing for next season.