The Calgary Flames and coach Bill Peters are a match made in heaven.
For the second time in three offseasons, the Calgary Flames have fired their head coach. Glen Gulutzan’s personnel decisions and his inability to adapt was his downfall, as the team finished out of the postseason race. The Flames didn’t wait long to replace him, as they’re expected to announce Bill Peters as their new head coach at a press conference on Monday.
This fit is natural, for several reasons. First of all, Peters is from Alberta, so he’ll be close to his family. Secondly, he wouldn’t have opted out of his deal with the Carolina Hurricanes if he didn’t have something already lined up. It’s not surprising to see Peters hired after just two full days of unemployment.
The Flames have made a smart hire. Peters is a very good head coach, despite what his 137-138-53 career record suggests. With the Hurricanes, he was consistently dealt a bad hand as far as talent. Peters regularly had to face the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders. Each of them made the postseason at least once during his tenure.
Despite this, the Hurricanes still finished with a point percentage of at least .500 in Peters’ last three seasons with the team. Under his tutelage, Carolina was consistently competitive despite a sub-optimal roster. Peters never had a franchise center or a franchise goaltender.
Let’s take a look at how the Hurricanes’ goaltenders did under him.
- 2014-15: .902 save percentage (26th)
- 2015-16: .902 save percentage (29th)
- 2016-17: .901 save percentage (27th)
- 2017-18: .893 save percentage (31st)
It doesn’t matter how good your team is, it’s nearly impossible to win when your goaltending is that bad. Yet the Hurricanes were still a competitive team despite their horrendous goaltending. It’s worth noting Carolina allowed an above-average number of high-danger chances at first, but this can be chalked up to having a young core of defensemen.
They showed improvement each season, which is encouraging. Peters will be taking over the most talented roster he’s ever seen in the NHL. More importantly, goaltender Mike Smith, when healthy, is a noticeable upgrade over his options with the Hurricanes.
Calgary is a team ready to win right now. They have Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk ready to lead the way on offense. Though some changes on the blueline are likely thanks to young players pushing for NHL spots, the Flames have one of the league’s most talented group of defensemen.
Things couldn’t have worked out better for both sides. Peters gets to take over a talented roster and gets to work with a general manager he’s familiar with. Meanwhile, Calgary, thanks to acting swiftly, got the coach they wanted all along.