Flames coach Geoff Ward seeking player empowerment with new approach

Representative of the new coaching approach that’s slowly been taking over the game, one of Geoff Ward’s first acts as interim coach of the Calgary Flames revolves around empowering the players.

The former high-school teacher met with the team’s leadership group before Tuesday’s practice to get their feedback before starting a series of one-on-ones with every player.

He wants their thoughts on everything from line combinations to upcoming days off, while also getting to know them better as people.

“We’ll talk to them about everything – I think it’s important they know the direction we’re potentially moving in and I think it’s important they know the reasons why we may be moving in that direction,” said Ward, an assistant throughout his 12-year NHL career, who was thrust into the Flames top coaching job Friday following the departure of Bill Peters.

“As a staff we’re as much accountable to them as they are to us. I wanted feedback from them on where they felt we were at this point in time. I wanted feedback from them on our upcoming schedule. We’re obviously going to try to empower them as much as we can to make decisions in areas of the program where they can, so they can take more ownership in it. I also wanted them to know what they can expect going forward from me and the staff.”

It’s a fascinating departure from the old-school coaching mentality in the NHL that the coach knows best and that when he says jump, the players say, “how high?”

Fact is, today’s players now have a different question: “why should I jump?”

Ward wants open lines of communication to help answer that question, as players in today’s multi-billion dollar hockey business, quite frankly, deserve to know.

It’s a particularly interesting approach given Glen Gulutzan …read more

Source:: Sportsnet.ca


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