Calgary Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas (right) goes over a drill during training camp in Calgary on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.
Photograph by: Jeff McIntosh, Canadian Press
VANCOUVER - He was a heart-and-soul player and now Marty Gelinas, one-time Vancouver Canuck team MVP, is bringing his wisdom and work ethic to the coaching ranks.
Gelinas is an assistant on the staff of new Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley. He is almost starting at the top, never having stepped behind the bench of any team before. It's nice work if you can get it and the 42-year-old Gelinas is about as nice an indivdual as you'll meet in the business.
Gelinas retired as a player following a 27-game stint in 2008-09 with Bern of the Swiss League. He was then hired by the Nashville Predators, another of his former clubs, to be their director of player development, a position he held until Hartley and the Flames came calling last summer. Gelinas had been based in Calgary while working for Nashville so he didn't even have to uproot his family – he has three kids – to make the switch.
Former Flame teammate Craig Conroy, now a special assistant to Flames GM Jay Feaster, made the first overture.
“Craig is a friend of mine and he knew that at some point Calgary would be a good fit for me to come back,” Gelinas explained Wednesday prior to the Flame-Canuck game at Rogers Arena. “I was spending more than 20 days a month on the road with Nashville. Then I got a call from Jay Feaster and Bob asking me if I wanted to talk about an assistant coaching job. I like the way Bob thinks and his philosophy, and so on, so I took the job.”
Gelinas said he received a little taste of the coaching life with the Predators and their farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals, during his time there.
“In Milwaukee, I'd go on the ice with the young players and help out and even Barry Trotz (Preds head coach) would invite me on the ice sometimes with the main team so that's kind of where it started,” he said.
His specific duties under Hartley include working on both the power play and penalty kill units with fellow assistant Jacques Cloutier. During games, he is on the bench although he doesn't change lines. Hartley takes care of the forwards and Cloutier the defence.
“I'm kind of between,” Gelinas said. “Whatever I see, I kind of pass on. So it's a good transition. Bob is a good teacher. He's taken me under his wing and it has been a good fit so far.”
Gelinas was a Canuck from 1993-98 until traded away to Carolina by Mike Keenan. He also suited up for the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques and Florida Panthers in addition to his time with the Canucks, Flames and Preds. He won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1990, his rookie season, and appeared in three more finals (Canucks, Hurricanes and Flames) but never won another.
He finished his career with 1,273 regular-season games on his resume and another 147 in the playoffs. He was a two-time Canuck unsung hero and then team MVP in 1996-97 when he netted a career-high 35 goals.
According to Hartley, hiring Gelinas was an easy decision for him.
“I wanted someone who could communicate and another voice to bring energy,” Hartley said. “You know how passionate Marty is about the game and how hard he works. I feel he is eager and he wants to learn and he can share his passion of hockey with the players. He's a great addition to our coaching staff.”
Gelinas has apparently learned how to bag skate players too. Captain Jarome Iginla was one of his victims in last week's run-up to the new season.
“They were pretty tough and he was pushing me through it,” Iginla said, smiling. “I think it might be a positive if you don't get him on those because he runs them pretty hard. The problem is he's still in great shape and can do them himself. So you can't complain too much, you know.”
FLAME BIT: Left winger Matthew Gelinas, Marty's 17-year-old son, is playing midget Triple A in Calgary and is property of the WHL's Tri-City Americans. Matthew has appeared in two games this season with Tri-City on a callup basis. He was born the day Rogers Arena (then GM Place) opened – Oct. 10, 1995 – a game Marty missed for the birth.
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