Sometimes, sitting back, opening a cold one, and reflecting on things is all you need to recharge. Apparently, that’s exactly what the Calgary Flames needed to do a 180 during the 2016-17 season.
After a fourth-straight loss in January, Flames head coach Greg Gulutzan ordered travel attendants to keep all alcohol on ice. But after checking in with coaches, players, and staff alike, he decided to reverse course (via Calgary Sun):
“And then I left,” Gulutzan said. “I just said, ‘I’m putting the beer back here and you guys are going to sit down with your headphones off and you’re gonna figure this out. We’re gonna figure this bleeping thing out. Because we’re a good team, you’re gonna figure this thing out.’ That’s exactly what I told them.”
Beer served as a perfect motivator. Following the decision, the Flames (pardon my pun) were on fire. Quickly climbing the Western Conference, Calgary would win 21 of its next 28 games, including a nearly month-long win streak between February and March. On Friday, the Flames clinched a spot in the playoffs.
YOU CAN PUT IT IN THE WIN COLUMN! YEAH BABY! PLAYOFFS! pic.twitter.com/FQhtX0Nrtq
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 1, 2017
Beer or not, the Flames’ rise to relevance has been one of the better stories in the NHL. Early in the season, there were cries to fire Gutuzlan. Now, he’s a Coach of the Year candidate.
Thanks to an outstanding top-six, a return to form by goaltender Brian Elliott, and much-needed guidance (and beers) from Gutuzlan, the Flames are heading to the playoffs. Beer was the secret stuff Calgary needed.