Perspective. It’s helped keep Bob Hartley sane.

“You know, hockey has given me everything,” the Calgary Flames’ boss is saying Wednesday, game-day morning of a Vancouver Canucks’ visit, one more playing-out-the-string day waiting to be stricken off the calendar. “I love the game. I OWE the game. We’re in the business of winning here. That’s my job. The only gauge. I understand that.

“So I’m as disappointed, as frustrated, as anyone when I leave the rink after we’ve lost a game. It hurts. Everyone. The fans. Players. Coaches. I’m as competitive as anyone.

“But when you’re the head coach of a team, you’re the mirror to everyone around here. Players. Trainers. You name it.

“So if I drag everyone down, it’s only going to get worse.”

Through the suffering this season, that 13-game road losing streak, the laxative-like defensive play, the realization that the playoffs were once more nothing but a pipe dream, Bob Hartley has remained remarkably even-keel.

He told us early on: “You’ll find out, I’m always the most optimistic guy in the room.”

And in that, he’s been true to his word.

Hartley hasn’t yet burst a blood vessel. Or thrown a hissy-fit. Overturned any tables or called out any of his lollygagging troops.

At least outside the thickly-insulated walls of the Calgary Flames’ inner sanctum, anyway.

There are far worse things in this life, he knows, than a blown lead or a wet-noodle power play or even the extended pain of a full-on rebuild.

He doesn’t go home and weep silently into his pillow at night or scour the neighbourhood for a cat to kick.

“That,” he says pointedly, “wouldn’t do anybody any good.”

For balance, for a sense of proportion, he needs do nothing more than remember back to Sept. 29th, 2003, the day Atlanta Thrashers’ defenceman Dan Snyder was critically injured after his Ferrari 360 Modena, being driven by his friend and teammate Dany Heatley, crashed into a brick pillar and iron fence.