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Former Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley speaks to the media in Calgary, Alta., on March 27, 2013.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Most times, when NHL teams fire their coaches, they wrap the decision around a series of meaningless platitudes and generic hockey talk. On Tuesday morning, when Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving dismissed the NHL's reigning coach of the year, Bob Hartley, he gave a lot of specific reasons for doing so.

Some 3 1/2 weeks after the Flames missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, and after what Treliving described as a long and thorough review, he fired Hartley, who unexpectedly led the team to the postseason last year.

Treliving stressed that while Hartley did some good things in Calgary – building a foundation for the organization, putting his heart and soul into the team every day – he also believed he had taken the team as far as he could take it. Rather than allow Hartley to come back and fulfill the final year of his contract, Treliving decided to make a change now.

The timing, he said, did not have anything to do with the fact that one of the most successful coaches in recent NHL history, Bruce Boudreau, suddenly joined the unemployment ranks last week, let go by the Anaheim Ducks. Boudreau has already been linked to job openings in Ottawa and possibly Minnesota, which is still pondering what to do with interim coach John Torchetti.

"Today's decision wasn't based on anybody sitting in the on-deck circle," Treliving said. "Today is about Bob. This isn't about 'Is there a prettier girl at the dance?' That's not what this is. Today now starts the process of finding the next coach."

The search will be fascinating, given the number of available options out there. Treliving's boss is Brian Burke, the Flames' president of hockey operations. Several ex-NHL coaches from Burke's orbit are currently seeking work – Ron Wilson, Randy Carlyle and Marc Crawford.

Treliving apprenticed for the Calgary job with the Arizona Coyotes, who have one of the top-rated assistant coaches, Jim Playfair, on their bench. Playfair worked one season as the Flames' head coach, in 2006-07, and guided them to the playoffs.

Probably the most intriguing candidate out there is former Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger, who, in his one year behind the Oilers' bench, appeared to have a positive impact on their younger players.

Whoever gets the job next in Calgary will inherit a young team with potential to grow, once a quality netminder is found to fill the gaping hole in goal.

Hartley, who in four years as Calgary's coach posted a 134-135-25 record in the regular season and a 5-6 record in the postseason, was hired by Treliving's predecessor, Jay Feaster. Hartley is known as a hard taskmaster: He got a lot out of the team's young nucleus – Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Sam Bennett and T.J. Brodie – but over time the message of a taskmaster can eventually fall on deaf ears.

The Flames need to sign Gaudreau and Monahan to contract extensions this summer, now that their entry-level deals have expired. Brodie and the two other core defencemen – team captain Mark Giordano and last year's top off-season acquisition, Dougie Hamilton – are signed to long-term contracts.

Treliving acknowledged that the information he gathered in his player-exit interviews contributed to his decision, but added: "Like any information, you have to filter through it. This is not letting players off the hook – quite the contrary. This is on a lot of other people who need to take responsibility as well, myself included, our players included."

Philosophically, Treliving was clear that he and Hartley differed on the matter of playing style and approach. Under Hartley, the Flames were among the poorest possession teams in the league, but blocked a lot of shots, mostly because they didn't have the puck a lot.

Moreover, until a late-seasons spurt on the power play, the Flames had the worst special teams in the league, and finished last in both penalty killing and goals against.

"I don't want to characterize this as 'I'm standing in one corner and Bob's standing in the other, and one's talking chess and the other's talking checkers.' That's not necessarily it," Treliving explained. "But in today's game, I think you need to have the puck. You've got to work like hell to get it, and when you get it, you've got to hold onto it and you've got to play with it.

"How you defend in the league is another area we looked at. We spoke a little about our goaltending, but if you really break down the type of chances we give up, you've got to be able to defend in this league."

"Our goaltending was not good this year," he added. "That falls on the general manager. I need to fix that. But the way we play in front of the goaltender needs to be fixed as well."