Fleming departs: Another chance for Flames to blow it!
So, just as main camp begins, redundant assistant coach Wayne Fleming departs the Flames to coach Omsk of that KHL league in Russia.
It’s just as well. I’m not sure exactly what Fleming has handled during his time with the Flames, but it’s been a time where areas traditionally handled by assistant coaches — specialty teams, defensive assignments, systems, that kind of thing — have often been lacking. With the Flames, it’s been one year under Nervous Jimmy, one under Mike Keenan and done.
Fleming’s a guy whose appeal has always kind of confused me. He spent several years with Hockey Canada, but never in a role more important than head coach at the world championships. He’s pals with Ken Hitchcock, and served under him during underwhelming years in Philadelphia. Last time he was a head coach? Leksands IF (hey, WI!) in the early 90s.
The Sutter Flames have shown very little interest in developing coaches at the NHL level. Rich Preston, the most boring interview in hockey (and clearly not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer) has served as a yes-man for three consecutive coaches now. Nervous Jimmy is relatively young as a coach, but was obviously not comfortable head guy and has settled into a career as a supporting man.
So why do we have this situation? This is a team that has nobody who might relate to the players’ situation behind the bench, all coaches either long removed from playing in the NHL, or never having been there (save for new goaltending development guy Jamie McLennan.)
Ryan McGill, a very good coach who’s excelled both in Major Junior and the AHL, is the head coach in Quad Cities. He was knocked out of the NHL in the early nineties with an eye injury and, frankly, can’t be far away from a good job in the league. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the Flames, whose press release doesnt’ exactly make it seem sad to lose Fleming: Is it time to promote McGill? Probably, but the guess here is that Fleming’s position — which as I already pointed out was redundant when Playfair was demoted — probably just won’t be filled.
Wouldn’t want someone who won’t bow down to Darryl Sutter behind the bench now, would you.