Valji: Calgary Flames Geoff Ward gears up for season start Jan. 1


Calgary Flames head coach Geoff Ward said the league is announcing its teams that there will be a 2021 season, despite reported disagreements between the National Hockey League and NHLPA over financial concessions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We move forward as if there was going to be [a season]”He said in an interview with TSN this week. “The league is definitely saying there will be a season. So as a coach and coach of our team, our staff do a tremendous amount of work to make sure we are prepared. Right now we are preparing as if it would be January 1 until we hear otherwise. ”

Given the uncertainty surrounding travel between Canada and the United States, Ward also began to consider the possibility of an all-Canadian division.

“Again, you know, I think a lot of the work that we’ve done in the offseason, they can do whatever they want in terms of what the league is going to look like,” he said. -he declares. “I think with the current look of 40s, a Canadian division seems to be becoming more and more of a reality and it’s going to be great.

Ward, who is in Calgary, was speaking on his first anniversary of being named interim head coach of the Flames after Bill Peters resigned.

“Until you reminded me a few days ago, I really didn’t realize it had been a year,” he said. “It passed pretty quickly.”

A game behind the NHL bench as an assistant since hiring the Boston Bruins in 2007, Ward guided the Flames to a regular season record of 25-15-3 and a return victory in the qualifying round. against the Winnipeg Jets before being eliminated. in the first round by the Dallas Stars.

In September, the Flames rewarded him by naming him the club’s 20th head coach.

“For me, it was really business as usual,” he said, taking on the role despite the circumstances. “My goal last year after taking over was to make sure we were doing everything we could to prepare our team. I was really focused on our team more than anything else.

Ward praised last season’s roster for being a tight-knit group.

“We have great team chemistry,” he says. “It was one of the things that I thought was a strength of our team last year.

With Ward at the helm, the Flames were third in the NHL in power play percentage, ninth in five-on-five save percentage and 10th in goals per game.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving praised Ward for making the most of the squad given the situation he was handling in Calgary.

“Its ability to pivot is of great quality right now,” Treliving said in an interview this week.

“Under difficult circumstances, I thought Geoff and his team had done a very good job.”

When the puck falls again, Ward will have a squad that now includes one of the best goalies in the league in Jacob Markstrom, the ex-Vancouver Canuck who hopes the Flames will be the answer to the franchise’s perpetual questions in goal.

“You can’t be very successful in this league without having good goalies,” Ward said. “We have the feeling that we have acquired a very good goalie in the league… it allows us to play with confidence.

With his provisional beacon up, Ward doesn’t think his players will need a long adjustment period once training camps begin.

“The fact that we’ve been able to establish a style of play and have some confidence in it and the guys know what to expect in terms of what we’re doing on the ice, it gives a little less communication because we know exactly. where will our take-off point be when we all meet together here in Calgary, ”he said.

The COVID-19 situation has deteriorated rapidly in Alberta over the past two weeks. This week, Hockey Canada suspended its world junior selection camp in Red Deer and quarantined players and staff for two weeks after two players tested positive for COVID-19.

Despite this, Ward predicts the new season is approaching.

“We act as if training camp is going to take place on December 15th and the season starts on January 1st,” he said.

“For us, we are putting in place everything we need for these dates. And if the wait is a bit longer, we know we have all the work done and can adapt more easily that way.


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