Veteran coach Bob Hartley is headed back to the professional ranks. European hockey insider Igor Eronko reports that Hartley has been hired by Avangard Omsk of the KHL. This marks his first pro head coaching job since he was fired by the Calgary Flames back in 2016.
Hartley has had a highly successful coaching career and brings an immense amount of pedigree to Omsk. After working his way up through the QMJHL and AHL, Hartley was given his first NHL head coaching gig by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998. In his first four seasons with the Avs, Hartley guided the team to four straight conference finals and a Stanley Cup championship in 2001. When Hartley was fired mid-season by Colorado in 2002-03, he was hired almost immediately by the Atlanta Thrashers, where he coached for parts of six seasons. Hartley was out of the NHL for just one season – during which he won the NLA championship with the ZSC Lions – before he returned as the head coach of the Calgary Flames in 2012. Hartley won the 2015 Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the league for his work reinvigorating the Flames. Altogether, Hartley has a .568 winning percentage in the NHL and has reached the postseason six times.
For the past two years, Hartley has been working for the Latvian national team. He was the head coach for each of their past two World Championship entries and also consulted on their junior program. In this most recent World Championships, Latvia surprised many with a 3-1-1-2 record and seventh-place finish. Hartley’s coaching was back in the eye of the mainstream media and it is no surprise that he has landed a new job as a result. With Avangard, Hartley will take over a roster that has some good pieces, including a very solid defense, but is quite far from being a true contender. If he is able to turn the team around and improve on a twelfth-place finish last year without any further additions to the roster, it will be yet another impressive addition to his coaching resume. Don’t be surprised to see Hartley back in the conversation for an NHL job in the near future if he finds success during his KHL tenure.