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Huska reflects on first year as NHL head coach

The Kootenay’s Ryan Huska has finished his first year as head coach of the Calgary Flames after taking over for Darryl Sutter in the offseason.

Huska was born in Cranbrook but grew up in Trail.

He’s had a long coaching career at the WHL and AHL level, but this is his first head coaching gig at the NHL level.

In an end-of-season media availability, Huska said his time as an assistant coach for the Flames helped prepare him for his current role.

“I think when you’re a young coach you always feel like you’re ready to step into a job,” he said.

“I feel like I was given a head start because of the people I got to work with here. When I was an assistant coach, the guys that I had a chance to learn and watch under were really good at different areas of the game. Those guys allowed me to be more ready than I was at any other stage of my career coaching.”

The team has gone through a lot of player turnover in recent years, but Huska said he’s happy with how this team has grown over the course of the season.

“We brought some youth into the mix and were able to incorporate them into the lineup. That was important for us,” he added.

“I was pleased with the leadership group that developed and continued to get stronger as the season went on.”

But there is still a lot of work to do.

“There’s all sorts of things we can improve on and that’s up to us first and foremost as a staff to figure that plan out and then go through the leadership group and the team to make sure we improve on those areas for next year.”

The Flames just missed out on a playoff spot this season, however, Huska says that’s still the main goal of this team.

“I think we’re in a position where we have a good group of older players that are going to continue to push and they want to get better and they want to be in the playoffs and they’re going to drag people along with them because that’s what has to happen.”

Huska ended his first year as head coach with a 38-35-5 record.

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