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Conroy On Next Flames Coach: ‘We’re Not Going To Be At Odds’



Hunkered down for amateur scouting meetings ahead of next month’s draft, new Calgary Flames GM Craig Conroy will barely have time to breathe.

But he knows how important it is to get moving on a search for the next head coach. And, yes, he’s already given it plenty of thought.

When asked about some of the qualities he’s looking for during his introductory media availability, Conroy was quick to share some. And it wasn’t hard to figure out just how aware the new GM was about the disconnect between former bench boss Darryl Sutter and his players, and former general manager Brad Treliving.

“We need to work together — we need to be a team, we’re in this together,” Conroy said.

“We’re not going to be at odds.”

That doesn’t mean they’ll agree on everything. But the basic philosophy — things like integrating prospects into the lineup — has to be shared. The vision must align.

“We’re going to have the same vision and passion for this team, and have the same direction it’s going to go,” Conroy said. “We’re not going to be lock-step all the time, but we’re going to have the same vision and passion for this team and the direction it’s going to go, and we’re going to work together.”

The same way Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Don Maloney started his GM search with more than 30 candidates, Conroy suggested there will be a wide net cast for his coach.

One name that isn’t likely to surface for that particular role is Conroy’s work bestie Jarome Iginla, who remains coach of his son Joe’s team in Kelowna for one more year. He may join in some capacity but his inevitable full-time future with the Calgary Flames will come down the road.

A couple of former Iginla linemates, Alex Tanguay and Marc Savard, are among the more under-the-radar names being tossed around along with some of the usual suspects. Andrew Brunette is talked about because he happened to be at the helm in Jonathan Huberdeau’s best statistical season before the winger’s sudden plunge with the Calgary Flames last year. Gerard Gallant, Bruce Boudreau and Peter Laviolette are experienced coaches who are available, but a couple of the best options might be internal — like Conroy was.

Mitch Love, who guides the AHL affiliate Calgary Wranglers, and current Flames assistant coaches Kirk Muller and Ryan Huska will get looks.

But Conroy suggested experience was secondary to the other qualities he’s looking for.

“I want someone who’s a leader. You want someone to have that passion and be a visionary and bring that to the team,” Conroy said. “We want a guy who can communicate with the players. He’s got to be able to make this environment a fun place to be. I always came to the rink for 17 years and always had fun, and I would look at the bench sometime (this season) and think, ‘Are the guys having fun?’

“I couldn’t tell.”

It looks like that’s about to change.

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