Five questions: Flames' Treliving eager to get started
NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving:
Before spending the previous seven seasons as the assistant general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving lived a minor-league life with major-league aspirations.
Treliving, who was hired by the Flames last week, played in the International Hockey League, the American Hockey League and the ECHL.
Once he was done playing in 1996, Treliving, 26 years old at the time, founded the Western Professional Hockey League, which later merged with the Central Hockey League. Treliving was the president of the CHL for seven seasons.
Even during his time working with Coyotes GM Don Maloney, Treliving was in charge of Phoenix's AHL affiliate, currently the Portland Pirates and formerly the San Antonio Rampage.
Now, after nearly two decades of apprenticeship, Treliving is in the big chair, the executive in charge of making the important decisions.
Treliving's challenge is to make the Flames a contender again. He spoke about that and more during a phone interview with NHL.com:
Here are Five Questions with … Brad Treliving:
Is this a rebuild in Calgary, or is it a build-up?
"I like how you phrased that. So often this terminology gets thrown out. Ultimately where we're at right now is we've got a team that's going through a lot of change and we've got to grow it. We've got to build this team up. Whether you call it a rebuild or a refresh, whatever terminology you pick, we're in early stages of a team that's gone through some transition over the last couple of years and we have to introduce some young players into our program, add some young assets, but the idea that we're going to sit here for 10 years and wait for players to get older after we draft them is … we want to move it along. It's hard to put timeframes on these, but we want to be aggressive on all fronts, and you don't necessarily know when things are going to click. But we want to go down that path without all of a sudden saying, 'How do we get better,' in November and then sending two 20-year-olds out the door for somebody that's going to help us for a year. We're not going to do that. But we're going to look at every available avenue to make sure we can get better as soon as we can get better."
Your new boss is Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, who obviously has a long history as a general manager. People will look from the outside and say, 'Well, Brian is definitely going to get involved.' How do you view this relationship with Brian Burke, and how will this relationship work?
"I think it's like anything, the reality is we're going to have to see how it goes. We've got to get to know each other. To me, the biggest strength I had in Phoenix with Don was there was chemistry and it worked to the point where we were almost finishing each other's sentences. It's like any new relationship, we're going to have to get to know each other and find that balance. But I've got zero hesitation going in. I want Brian very involved.
"As we've talked through the process, quite frankly, Brian has been very clear in saying, 'You're the general manager. You've got full authority, as would be any general manger in the League, and I'll be off in the distance.' It was sort of me pulling him back and saying, 'Brian, I want you very close and involved.' He's my boss, but the experience he's got, the success he's had, I think it's going to work great. I just think there are so many positives for it.
"For a guy in my position, I think you couldn't be going into a better situation. I think I've had the opportunity to be included as much as anybody as close as you could be to that first chair, but it's still different when it's ultimately you making that final call. It's great to throw out ideas and have suggestions, but when you're the one making the call it's different. So, having someone to lean on and draw from is critical and I think it's a perfect situation."
How much studying did you have to do on the Flames organization when you know you're going in for the interview and even when you get offered the job?
"You do [study], but it was quick just because it happened so quick. To give you a sense, our season ends on a Sunday and Monday or Tuesday, Don meets with me to let me know that Brian had called, lets me know that he's given Brian permission to meet with me. But I already had a baseline knowledge. In my job [with the Coyotes], I always had to be ready to talk and be like, 'Something is going on with Calgary, who do we like, who do we want?' Part of my job was to figure out who we liked and also create ideas on what we could do and what's realistic. So there is a baseline knowledge and there is a baseline opinion.
"You do dig a little more to say where you see the team now and a plan you'd like to chart, but there's more questions that I have right now than answers. I need to know more about the people. I need to know more about how they've gotten here. I need to know more inside stuff about the players. You study because you want to be articulate when you go in there [for the interview], but if you don't have the answer to the question, don't make up an answer. I would say, 'I don't know. Here is what I think, but I don't know.'
"The process was quick, but it was real deep. Over a short period of time, Brian and I spent a lot of time talking … talking about opinions, talking about philosophy, talking about where we see the team now and how we get to where we want to get to. It was an interesting few days."
The Calgary GM job was open for quite a while after Jay Feaster was let go. Is that a job that you eyed as a guy who was considered one of the up-and-comers in the GM community and perhaps the next guy to get a job?
"I guess when a job comes open, the first thing you think about is that guy who gets let go. He's got a family, and somebody's life just got turned on its ears. You feel for that guy. And in this business you know most, if not all the guys. So you're thinking about that.
"I wasn't necessarily really eyeing anything, and maybe this isn't with everybody, but you're too busy to eye anything else, at least I am. If you're eyeing something else, three things are going to go south on you at your job. It's naïve to say you're not aware of it. You're aware of it. And you probably put in a couple of minutes to think that down the road there might be interest there, but I always say to guys, even young players asking where they should go play to get noticed, 'Just go play.' If you do something well enough, somebody is going to notice you. That was my thought on it. I never really spent a whole lot of time worrying about any open jobs. I was worried about us [in Phoenix] and how do we help ourselves. If somebody has got interest, they'll call me. I want to make it clear [that] I could have been in this job [in Phoenix] for a long, long time. I really, really enjoyed what I was doing. It wasn't like I was trying to get out of it."
Is this the career path you thought you'd take?
"When I was playing, I was smart enough to realize this playing thing is not going to get me very far, so what else can I do? Like anybody, you play and if you were honest enough to know that this isn't going to get you fed, you ask, 'What can I do?' You think about coaching when you're younger, but I was always intrigued by management. I was always intrigued by the mind side of the game, where you can create and build and those types of things.
"My path is unique, non-tradition in getting involved at the minor-league level. It served me well. At the time I was doing all of that I was like, 'What the heck is this ever going to do for me? Where am I ever going to draw on these experiences?' Now, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've done a lot of things that a lot of people haven't had the opportunity to do. This is where I always wanted to be and go. Whether I got there and whether it happened, that was another matter, but this is something that I was hoping I'd get an opportunity to do."
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Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer