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Ryan Huska was named head coach of the Calgary Flames on Monday after spending the past five seasons as an assistant with the NHL club.

The 47-year-old Canadian replaced Darryl Sutter, who was fired last month after the Flames missed the playoffs for the second time in his three seasons guiding the team.

Huska will serve as an NHL head coach for the first time.

“I know these players and I look at that as a positive thing,” Huska said. “There is a lot of good people in our dressing room and there are excellent hockey players who want to win and they will do anything they can to succeed.

“I’m a big believer in that group of people and their ability and my job now as a head coach is to make sure I push them every day to get the best version of them and push them to another level as individuals and as a team.”

Huska oversaw defensive work and penalty killing by the Flames, who allowed 27.3 shots against per game, third fewest in the NHL, and ranked fourth in penalty killing.

“He has put his time in, done everything he can. The only thing he hasn’t gotten is the chance to be an NHL head coach and now he is,” said Flames general manager Craig Conroy, promoted three weeks ago from an assistant role to replace the fired Brad Treliving.

“I wanted a good communicator, a leader, someone who can inspire this group, play sound defensive hockey with structure… as we narrowed the search down it became more clear to me that Ryan and I had the same vision.”

Huska was a head coach for the first time with the Western Hockey League Kelowna Rockets and guided the junior team to a league crown in 2009. He was named to coach the Flames’ top developmental club in 2014 and joined the Calgary staff in 2018.

The Flames have not gone beyond the second round of the NHL playoffs since losing the Stanley Cup Final to Tampa Bay in 2004.

Only two NHL coaching vacancies remain, with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers yet to select a bench boss.

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