- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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Bob Hartley has been hired as the new coach of the Calgary Flames, the team announced on Thursday.
"Bob Hartley is a winner. Bob has won at every level he has coached, from the QMJHL to the AHL to the NHL to Switzerland, and we are confident he is going to continue his winning ways in Calgary," Flames general manager Jay Feaster said in a statement. "He is a tireless worker, an outstanding motivator, a great bench boss and game strategist, and a teacher at heart. Moreover, he is a great person as well."
The former Atlanta Thrashers and Colorado Avalanche bench boss coached in Switzerland with Zurich this past season. Hartley last coached in the NHL in the fall of 2007 after being fired early that season by the Thrashers following an 0-6-0 start.
He agreed to a three-year deal with Calgary. The Flames had to secure his release from his Swiss team because he had a year remaining on a two-year contract.
Hartley said he was in talks with the Montreal Canadiens about their coaching vacancy, but informed them this morning he would join the Flames.
"I am back in the NHL, but I am in a great Canadian market in a very proud community, very supportive community of their hockey club," Hartley said.
Hartley has a long-standing relationship with Feaster dating back to their days in Hershey of the AHL, Colorado's farm team at the time.
"It's great to return to the league in a city, a community and an organization that has such an outstanding reputation and passion for hockey and success," Hartley said in the statement released by the team.
The Flames parted ways with Brent Sutter at the end of the season, his contract having expired. Calgary narrowly missed the playoffs under Sutter for three years in a row. The Flames finished ninth in the Western Conference this season with a record of 37-29-16.
"One of the teams in the Stanley Cup finals, the L.A. Kings, just finished five points ahead of the Calgary Flames," Hartley said. "It's just to show you the difference between being a Stanley Cup winner and a non-playoff team is very, very slim.
"There's special expectations that come with a Canadian market. Growing up in Ontario, I've won many Stanley Cups playing pond hockey or in the street. I was very fortunate to win a Stanley Cup with Colorado and that's the kind of attitude I want to bring to this dressing room.
"I can promise you and I can promise the fans that we will not only give you entertaining hockey, but we will make sure that the Calgary Flames are a top team in the National Hockey League."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
8dScott Burnside and Craig Custance