The Calgary Flames have decided to keep head coach Geoff Ward.
The Calgary Flames named Geoff Ward as the head coach for the 2020-21 season just under a month after the Flames were eliminated from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ward had been acting as an Interim Coach since November when news broke of former Flames Coach Bill Peters’ racist treatment towards Akim Alieu, which ultimately led to Peters’ termination.
Ward was able to bring success to his team this year even before the global pandemic set in. His earned a winning record of 25-15-3 since taking over as interim head coach and got the Flames through the coaching change and improved for the better.
In the first few games as Interim Coach, the Flames went on a six-game winning streak and were on pace to make the playoffs if the season had finished in a conventional way.
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Through the post-season in the bubble, he earned a .500 record going 5-5 between the Winnipeg Jets qualifying series and Dallas Stars divisional semi-finals. In press conferences, he stood up for his team and his decisions when he faced criticism such as pulling Cam Talbot in Game Six against the Stars and replacing him with David Rittich, who had not gotten any game action since March 8th.
Ward has been with the Flames since the 2018-19 season where he was first named as an associate coach. Prior to that, he spent 10 years with the Boston Bruins as an assistant coach. The 58-year-old has yet to claim a championship in the various leagues he has coached in but was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award for his outstanding coaching abilities in the 2002-03 season when he coached the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL.
He is a calming presence on the bench unlike some of the Flames coaches in recent years and is highly regarded by team leadership and the remainder of the players.
Up to this point, there was some debate on whether or not the Flames should invest more money into some of the more renowned coaches looking for employment next season.
However, Flames General Manager Brad Treliving felt most comfortable promoting Geoff Ward. He told Flames media, “I felt Geoff was the absolute best person to carry us forward,” and that Ward had the key components they are looking for in a head coach such as the ability to teach, to inspire and to be disciplined and accountable.
With more team announcements to be expected in the near future, it will be interesting to see which new and returning players he will have to work with for the upcoming season.
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The decision to promote Geoff Ward may prove to pay off as the team does not need to learn a new coaching style going into the next season. Until then, the decisions are in the hands of Brad Treliving and the coaching staff.