CALGARY — The Calgary Flames are on the hunt for a new general manager after it was announced on Monday that Brad Treliving had left the team after nine seasons.
“The Calgary Flames and Brad Treliving have mutually agreed to part ways. Brad’s contract expires on June 30 and he will not return as the Flames general manager for next season,” said John Bean, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation president and CEO, at Monday’s press conference.
“On behalf of the Flames ownership, management, and fans, we want to sincerely thank Brad for his nine years of dedication to our organization and our city,” added Bean. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a harder worker, and a harder manager than Brad. He brought the best to the rink each and every day and for that, we’re very grateful.”
Leading that search will be Don Maloney, who has been promoted to president of hockey operations and will also act as interim GM.
“Today’s not a good day for me, it’s not. Stanley Cup playoffs start tonight and we’re not playing,” said Maloney.
Maloney, 64, has worked closely with Treliving since he joined the Flames as a pro scout in 2015 and later was promoted to vice president of hockey operations, a title he held the past five seasons. The two also worked together previously with the Arizona Coyotes.
“Brad Treliving is a good friend and I think a very good hockey man,” said an emotional Maloney, his voice cracking. “He left us for his reasons. But we move on.”
The organization had offered Treliving an extension back in training camp, which he turned down, preferred to delay his decision. It was last Wednesday that he made his decision final.
“I thought for sure that Brad would re-sign,” said Maloney. “And I was as close to him as with anybody. When he told me Wednesday that he couldn’t do it, that was the first time that the reality was that he just needs to take some time.”
Bean did not elaborate on the reasons Treliving gave for leaving the organization.
“Decisions like this are really difficult and there’s lots of layers to the onion,” said Bean. “We had good conversations with Brad, Brad and I will remain friends. There’s no door slamming. But we agreed that we’re going to part ways.”
Maloney says no timeline has been set for the hiring of a new GM.
“I’m still in the evaluation process of the team,” said Maloney. “Now it’s a deep dive for me to get to the players, get to the staff, and find out from them firsthand what they think the issues are. Why we’re sitting here today and not suiting up for a game that we’re playing tonight.”
Calgary made the playoffs five times during Treliving’s tenure, and reached the second round in 2015 and 2022. The Flames fell short of the playoffs this season, however, with a 38-27-17 record.
Assistant general managers Craig Conroy, Brad Pascall, and Chris Snow — who continues to battle ALS — remain under contract.
“They’re certainly candidates and strong candidates for the position,” Maloney said. “But we also realize it would be short-sighted to not go out there and find the best candidate, and maybe one of them is, but we haven’t even started that process yet.”
The Flames went 324-238-58 under Treliving and twice topped the Pacific Division with 50-win seasons (2019, 2022).
Treliving inherited Bob Hartley as a head coach and hired four: Glen Gulutzan, Bill Peters, Geoff Ward and Darryl Sutter.
Sutter previously coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006 and was GM from 2003 to 2010. The Flames hired him again in March of 2021 when Ward was fired.
Asked about Sutter’s status and whether he would be back behind the bench next season, Maloney remained tight-lipped, saying only that he would be meeting with Sutter on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week.
“I am reviewing everything in the organization — management, coaching, players, scouting,” said Maloney.
Treliving wasn’t afraid of chasing big fish with large cheques, or making blockbuster trades.
His most recent headliner was dealing Matthew Tkachuk, who wanted out, to Florida for Jonathan Huberdeau and signing free agent Nazem Kadri last summer to help fill the void left behind by the departure of Johnny Gaudreau in free agency.
The Flames invested a combined $133 million and 15 contract years in Huberdeau and Kadri and looked like a contending team on paper this season.
But both forwards were well off their career-high points of last season. Sutter demoted Kadri to his bottom-six forwards late in the season.
“You think back to last summer and the difficult challenges that we had with the players that were leaving us and the job that Brad did,” said Maloney. “That’s him. The work he put in, and the agents, and the players, and the teams, and the trades.
“I’m on the sidelines trying to help, but he’s the one that’s making all the calls till midnight. And I really do think that it took its toll and after eight, nine years, he just needs a break from what he was doing.”
Among his other notable moves was signing Gaudreau out of college in 2014, and trading Calgary’s first-round pick in the 2022 NHL entry draft to Montreal to get Tyler Toffoli.
Treliving also got goaltender Jacob Markstrom under contract in 2020 for six years and $36 million.
Despite the disappointing season, Monday’s changes do not necessarily represent a change in direction.
“We’ve got a great lineup that underperformed,” said Bean. “I’m not allowed to ever use the word ‘rebuild,’ but no, we’re not going to overreact here. Take our time, do the analysis, and come up with the next step.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Apr. 17, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press