Calgary Flames

Brad Treliving’s journey to the top of NHL front offices

“The Summer of Brad” as Calgary Flames fans have coined it, has been one for the books to say the least. Arguably the most turbulent offseason in franchise history ended with an overhaul of front end top-six talent, and additions to the backend have slotted the team’s defence corps as a top three group league-wide.

Along with a returning starter that was a Vezina finalist last season, the Flames have positioned themselves as a cup contender entering 2022–23. From a fan perspective, you couldn’t have asked for much more out of the front office. “The Summer of Brad” has most certainly solidified Brad Treliving as a front office mastermind and one of the most talked about names around the league. But, how just how did the long-tenured Flames general manager get his start in the hockey world?

Let’s breakdown his entire hockey career timeline.

Penticton and pizza

Many people outside of the hockey world would recognize the Treliving name, not for Brad, but his father Jim. Jim Treliving is easily recognizable by Canadians as the Dragon’s Den investor and owner of the Boston Pizza restaurant chain. Jim’s purchase of his first Boston Pizza franchise came in 1968, one year before his son Brad was born.

Brad was raised in Penticton playing hockey as his father quickly expanded his business ventures, purchasing the Boston Pizza chain only 15 years after his first franchise. You would assume being raised by a self-made business mogul would instill a certain work ethic in you. Combine his father’s business expertise and aggressiveness with Brad’s love and knowledge for hockey and you get a perfect recipe for a general manager.

Jim’s business website quotes him saying, “I make decisions about work with my heart, about money with my head, and about people with my gut,” something evidently reflected in his son’s career as well.

From the ice to the office

Treliving went from the juniors to the pros throughout his career, making it as high as the AHL before retiring in the ECHL.

Treliving’s junior career

Treliving’s junior hockey career began in his home town with the Penticton Knights of the BCHL (then known as the BCJHL) in 1986. In four years at the junior level, Brad played in both the BCJHL with Penticton and Ladner Penguins, and in the WHL with the Portland Winter Hawks, Brandon Wheat Kings, Spokane Chiefs, and finally the Regina Pats.

Treliving recorded 52 points and 332 PIM in 155 games over his four-year junior hockey career. The big framed defenscemen averaged just over 2 PIM per game and only 0.33 points per game, bouncing back and forth between the two leagues. Treliving went undrafted after his final season with Ladner and started his professional career in the ECHL with the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds.

Treliving’s professional career

Unfortunately Brad’s professional career paralleled his junior days, bouncing between five ECHL teams, a short 14-game stint in the IHL and only two AHL stints of eight and seven games respectively.

Brads aggressive playstyle also transitioned to the pros finishing with a single season high 234 PIM in only 56 appearances. That’s over 4.1 PIM per game. For comparison, enforcer Tie Domi‘s NHL career-high PIM season came in 1997–98 where he averaged 4.5 PIM per game.

Transitioning to executive roles

Following Brad’s final season in 1995, he headed to the boardroom helping co-found the Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL). After serving five seasons as the league’s VP and Director of Hockey Operations, Treliving was crucial in the WPHL’s merger with the Central Hockey League (CHL). He served as president for the league until 2003 when he was recruited to NHL by the Arizona Coyotes.

Treliving’s front office journey began in the dessert where he served as the assistant GM under Don Maloney. At the same time Brad was full time GM of the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. In 2014, former Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke hired Treliving as his replacement after serving as interim general manager to close out the season.

Treliving’s tenure with the Flames

Treliving took the reins in Calgary entering the beginning of a rebuild in 2015. Brad’s moves in his first full season would work out great in the long run, acquiring picks for Curtis Glencross and Sven Baertschi.

Those picks would eventually turn into Rasmus Andersson as well as draft assets to move up for Oliver Kylington—both selected in the 2015 NHL draft. Brad’s rebuilding plan continued in 2016 adding a second-round pick in Dillion Dube, and a sixth-round pick in Matthew Phillips.

Following 2016 Brad’s decisions waivered with fans as he added Curtis Lazar and Michael Stone as the biggest names in the next three years.

2021 was Brad’s opportunity to redeem himself with Calgary faithful as he again, turned noses trading away Sam Bennett for a second-rounder. The pick acquired was used to draft Emil Heineman, who was flipped at this year’s deadline for Tyler Toffoli.

The Summer of Brad

As we all know, everything came to a head this summer. Johnny Gaudreau was the biggest prize of free agency and after a bizarre decision to head to the state of Ohio, it looked as though the sky was falling.

Brad’s press conference after Gaudreau’s decision to test free agency left people concerned for his health as it looked as though the 53-year-old had witnessed a tragedy firsthand. We all know what followed on July 13, as one of the biggest trades in franchise history was executed. A highway robbery was pulled off sending Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for two elite players in Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, a first-round pick, and prospect Cole Schwindt.

After sending Sean Monahan and his lofty cap hit to enjoy poutine and bagels (or perhaps dry toast) in Montreal, Treliving was able to keep fan-favourite Milan Lucic in the locker room and still sign the biggest free agent left on the market in Nazam Kadri to a seven-year, $49M deal. All said, he fully replaced the numbers on paper that were lost in Tkachuk and Gaudreau.

Time will tell how “The Summer of Brad” really works out, but at this point Mr. Treliving deserves a pat on the back and and maybe even an extension with Calgary. The whole league saw what happened, and Treliving has officially penciled himself into the Flames faithful’s memory forever with this offseason. I think I speak for everyone when I say he deserves to see this team succeed on the highest possible stage.

Unfortunately, the 2022-23 season didn’t go the way that anyone expected. Despite putting in the work off the ice, Treliving’s work was not able to consummate on the ice. As a result, he opted to not renew his contract with the team and look for other work. It looks like the stars are aligning with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which means Brad is almost back in action.

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