After a rollercoaster couple weeks, the Calgary Flames are somehow once again contenders in the Pacific division after a massive trade made by Brad Treliving. With the Flames very much sitting in a win-now situation, the Flames may not see a better chance to win a Stanley Cup for a long time depending how the next couple years ago.
In particular reigning Jack Adams winner Darryl Sutter has just one year remaining on his current contract, with no word if he will be returning past that. The Flames must do everything they can to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, and so far they have set themselves up pretty well.
Well how about taking another step forward and bring in the greatest player in franchise history behind the bench? Jarome Iginla continues to add to his small but young coaching resume, and if last year’s Montreal Canadiens were any sign, legendary players can fit behind an NHL bench.
NHL players can coach
Now at first glance this may seem a little far fetched considering Iginla has never coach at the NHL level. In fact, he’s never even coached at a professional level at all. Iginla’s coaching experiencing starts and ends at coaching his son Tij’s teams.
Iginla spent a year behind the bench of the Boston Jr. Eagles Peewee team in 2018–19 as the team’s assistant coach, and then spent a year as the head coach of the RHA (Rink Hockey Academy) Kelowna U15 team this most recent season in 2021–22. With his son off to the WHL after being drafted Iginla is likely a free agent coach once again.
Jumping from a U15 team to the NHL seems like a massive stretch, however, we saw that exact scenario play out just this season to some serious success. Marty St. Louis was brought on board to be the interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens midway through the 2021–22 and has since earned a promotion to the full time head coach of the team.
His coaching experience before being hired by the Habs? One year as an assistant coach and one year as a head coach for his son’s peewee team in 2015–16 and then 2017–18. Most recently, he was assistant coach for his sons U13AAA team this most recent season in 2021–22. In fact St. Louis’ sons team played in the same league in 2015–16 and 2017–18 that the Boston Jr. Eagles team that Iginla was an assistant coach of played in.
If St. Louis can do it, why can’t Iginla? Both are Hall of Famers with storied careers as players, and as St. Louis showed this season that can translate to a role behind an NHL bench. St. Louis made the jump right to a head coach, Iginla would only need to make the jump to an assistant coach.
The team can certainly use a new coach in charge of their power play after the disastrous Kirk Muller play from the 2021–22 season. Iginla knows a thing or two about a successful power play, as he’s scored the 21st most power play goals in NHL history.
Iginla is a perfect fit with Darryl Sutter
Darryl Sutter will be back behind the Flames bench for at least one more season as he has a year remaining on his three-year contract. Sutter was brought out of retirement by the Flames, so there’s a chance he could be looking to staying on for the long haul. Well who better to learn under him and then take over in a couple years than Iginla?
Iginla and Sutter are very familiar of course, as Sutter coached Iginla for three seasons in Calgary and was then his general manager for another five seasons after that. With a spot now available alongside Sutter on the Flames bench, why not bring in someone who is very familiar with Sutter in Iginla? Who better to learn from than one of the greatest coaches of all time in Sutter?
Sutter can show Iginla the ropes for a couple seasons, and then take a step back to the ranch while Iginla takes over as head coach. Is there a more perfect story possible?
Why not Iginla?
Really what do the Flames have to lose by bringing Iginla on board? He’s a franchise legend beloved in the city and the most iconic player in the history of the team. He wouldn’t need to take on head coaching duties, and could learn under one of the greats and someone he’s familiar with in Sutter. All while providing a plethora of NHL playing experience behind the bench.
It’d be a draw to go to the Saddledome just to see the beloved player turned coach too. If Iginla shows success early on, the Flames can even look to building out the bench with him and the likes of Mitch Love, the reigning AHL coach of the year. There’s just as much merit to this possible coaching decision as there would be fanfare.
Just this season we saw a former superstar and current hall of famer make the leap from peewee coach to NHL coach and have success. Why can’t Iginla be next? It would certainly add even more excitement to an already exciting time for the Flames franchise.