Calgary Flames

Could the Toronto Maple Leafs scoop up Mitch Love from the Calgary Flames organization?

The Calgary Flames finally announced the hiring of their 24th head coach in franchise history on Monday afternoon with the appointment of Ryan Huska. A well-deserved promotion for a hard working member of the Flames organization that surely deserved a place leading the team. 

Time will tell if he was the right decision, but a large portion of the fanbase appear to already be hard on the decision for one main reason: it wasn’t Mitch Love.

Love—the current Calgary Wranglers head coach and two-time AHL Coach of the Year winner—is still under contract with the team and was well noted to be one of the four finalists for the job. He was the more popular choice among the fanbase.

General Manager Craig Conroy noted in his press conference today that Love was not selected for the position due to his lack of experience at the NHL level. Conroy admitted that Love would be an NHL head coach one day, it just wasn’t the right time for him to fill that role in Calgary.

Now it doesn’t close the door completely for Love in the NHL with the Flames, as he will be interviewed for a role on the coaching staff under Huska. The real question becomes, is that something that he would even entertain or will he look to another organization?

Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The fit with Toronto

Although it may make Flames fans cringe, the stars align quite well with Love joining the Maple Leafs coaching staff. 

First off, although Love has familiarity with the Flames organization, he has only been with the team for two seasons. They did give him his first pro-hockey head coaching job two seasons ago with the Stockton Heat, but it’s not on the same level as Huska who has been with the organization since the 2014–15 season. 

Love has been reported to be considering all options, but if he’s looking for a larger opportunity, he’s not required to take his first NHL job with the Flames. 

He does however have familiarity with Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving, who was likely heavily involved in bringing him to the Flames organization in the first place. Love may feel stung by the Flames not selecting him for the head coach role, so a call from his former boss could be perfect timing.

Toronto has at least one coaching vacancy with the departure of assistant coach Spencer Carbery, and could grow depending on what happens with Sheldon Keefe. Carbery ran the team’s offence and special teams, something that Love has been well known for in the AHL.

Additionally, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities that Treliving was waiting to see how the Flames coaching decision shook out before making a decision with Keefe. Love as head coach in Toronto would be a stretch, and perhaps diverting away from the team’s “experience” mentality, but we have seen crazier things happen.

You also cannot deny the financial aspect of this decision. The Flames hired internally because they will be paying Darryl Sutter around $4M a season for two years to not coach the team, they needed a more cost effective coach. The Leafs have a much larger bank to deal with and a lucrative assistant coach role may be too much to turn down for Love.

Say it ain’t so

It would be truly awful to see Love leave the Flames organization, but would also be completely understandable. He is up and coming, and although he may lack NHL experience, if the Flames were looking to solidify their coaching role they could have hired for now and the future with Love. Look at Jared Bednar in Colorado, never had NHL head coaching experience but they hired him and stuck with him and it led to a Stanley Cup. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs will always have the allure, but they also have an immediate fit that Love can fill. It would be a spicy move for Love and Treliving, but would also be a no-brainer. 

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