What losing Glen Gulutzan means for Canucks

Jun 17 2016, 11:14 pm

The Calgary Flames officially named Glen Gulutzan, the Canucks’ assistant coach for the past three seasons, the team’s new head coach on Friday.

Good hire? We’ll have to wait and see.

Here’s a look at some of the successes and concerns during Gulutzan’s coaching career so far.

He’s ready for the Grind (literally)

Here’s Gulutzan after the hiring was announced, speaking with Sportsnet:

“They wanted to test me physically,” laughed the 44-year-old fitness fanatic who looks more like 25.

“I flew to Calgary twice – both times they got me up at 5 a.m. to test me to see if I could make the plane. I made it.

“Then Brad chatted to me for five-and-a-half hours on the phone and then six straight hours (at the Saddledome). They only gave me a glass of water from noon to six and then flew me back to Vancouver. Through the interview process I’m pretty prepared already for the start of the season now.”

While testing Gulutzan’s physical conditioning might seem funny and irrelevant to you, to the Flames it’s serious business, apparently…

Sounds more like the type of interview test Trevor Linden would give, doesn’t it?

Great with players

In Vancouver, we’ve heard a lot about Gulutzan’s ability to connect with players and develop younger ones. It’s all anecdotal, of course, but when enough people have good things to say, you have to listen.

According to an article on Sportsnet, Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, and Brenden Dillon credited Gulutzan for helping develop them as players in Dallas.

Here’s what Deryk Engelland, who had Gulutzan as a coach in the ECHL, said to the Calgary Herald:

“I think he was a big part of me taking a big step in my career,” said Engelland. “I came in and he had me slotted as a six, seven defenceman. By the end of the year, I was playing in a top-four role in all situations. A big part of that was him helping me develop and doing the little things after practice.

“He’s a great guy and brings a lot of things to the table as a coach. If he’s (the Flames) guy, I’ll be excited to see him.”

With so many young players entering the Canucks’ system, fans here shouldn’t be excited to see him go.

Great flow

According to Rob the Editor Guy, Gully’s got some of the best hair in Canucks coaching history.

(The referenced tweet from Sportsnet:)

While Crawford sports a great “I just drove two hours in a convertible” look, Gully’s got movie-star hair.

This is of utmost importance if you’re going to be an NHL coach.

Results in the minors

On a more serious note…

Coaching success in the minor leagues doesn’t always translate to the bigs, but it’s something anyway.

Gulutzan led his AHL Texas Stars to the Calder Cup Final in 2009-10. During his two years coaching in Texas, Gulutzan’s team had a record of 81-56-17.

Before Texas, Gulutzan coached the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers, winning the Coach of the Year Award in 2008.

His record with the Wranglers was 254-124-53.

Not great in Dallas

After serving as assistant to Marc Crawford with the Dallas Stars, Gulutzan took over as head coach for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

His record over that time was 64-57-9 and Dallas missed the playoffs both years.

The underlying stats weren’t pretty either, as the Stars ranked 20th in the league in even strength shots over those two seasons and were ranked 21st in even strength shots-for percentage (the ratio of shots for vs. shots against).

Their shot attempts (corsi) percentage (including special teams) was also ranked 21st in the league.

Special teams success

Gulutzan ran the Canucks’ power play during his first year in Vancouver. While their conversion rate was horrible – 26th in the NHL at 15.2 percent – they were top-10 in power play shot attempts, meaning perhaps they didn’t get the bounces.

Over the next two seasons, Gulatzan ran Vancouver’s penalty kill. During the 2014-15 season, the Canucks had the league’s second-best penalty killing unit, and though that success rate fell to 17th in the league in 2015-16, they maintained the sixth-lowest shot attempts in the NHL.

With a great track record of player development and the potential to make special teams better, the Flames may have found a steal for their young, developing team. Now all they need is a decent goalie.


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