In this edition of Calgary Flames News & Rumors, we discuss another coach who might be making his way to Cowtown; there is talk that Rick Tocchet will join the team as an assistant. Meanwhile, Geoff Ward has found a new job with the Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach to Dallas Eakins. He isn’t the only former Flame to find a new job. Defenceman Nikita Nesterov inked a one-year deal in the KHL last week. Last but not least, prospect Jakob Pelletier was named a finalist for the Michel-Briere Trophy, given to the QMJHL’s regular-season MVP.
Tocchet Coming to Town?
According to SiriusXM NHL Network Radio Host Jonathan Davis, the Flames may land Tocchet as an assistant coach for the 2021-22 season. Tocchet, who spent the past four seasons as the Arizona Coyotes’ head coach, is considered a frontrunner for the Seattle Kraken’s head coaching vacancy. If that doesn’t work out, however, he may join Darryl Sutter’s staff.
This would be a massive hire for a team that just added another well-known coach in Kirk Muller. Like Muller, Tocchet had a lengthy playing career and has served as both an assistant and head coach in the league. On top of his most recent stint with the Coyotes, he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche.
Ward Lands New Gig
After he was let go by the Flames in early March, Ward did not find a new NHL job during the rest of the 2020-21 season. However, the Ducks announced last Tuesday that the 59-year-old will be behind their bench for the 2021-22 campaign.
Ward was given the Flames’ head coaching job – his first in the NHL – early in 2019-20 after Bill Peters was fired. He had a successful first campaign, and the interim tag was removed last offseason when he was named the team’s official head coach. Unfortunately, the Flames’ inconsistent play led to him being replaced by Darryl Sutter. While it might not have worked out in Calgary, there is no denying his abilities as an assistant coach. This will be the fourth team as an assistant, after stints with the Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, and the Flames before he was named head coach.
Nesterov Headed Home
Last offseason, general manager Brad Treliving made a low-risk, high-reward signing with Nesterov, who wanted to give the NHL another shot after a failed stint years before. By all accounts, it seemed like a reasonable bargain, given that many reports indicated that the now 28-year-old had improved his game in the seasons he spent in the KHL.
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However, despite the optimism, Nesterov again didn’t impress and suited up for just 38 of Calgary’s 56 games this season, with four assists. He will return to Russia on a one-year deal with CSKA Moscow, the team he played for from 2017-2020. This could be the last we will see of him in the NHL.
Pelletier Recognized for MVP-Caliber Season
Since he was selected by the Flames 26th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, we’ve all been aware of Pelletier’s offensive skills. That skill was on display again in 2020-21 with 13 goals and 43 points in 28 regular-season games for Val d’Or Foreurs. Thanks to a great season, he was nominated for the league’s MVP award alongside Cedric Desruisseaux and Colten Ellis of the Charlottetown Islanders.
The award was given to Desruisseaux, and rightfully so after a remarkable 42 goals and 78 points in just 40 games. However, Flames fans have reason to be very excited about the 20-year-old Pelletier, who has star potential. He will turn pro in 2021-22, although we don’t yet know if that will be in the NHL or AHL.
Former Jr. A player turned blogger. At-large writer covering mainly the Calgary Flames. Co-host of Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.