December 28th, 2010 | Posted in Commentary
By: D'Arcy McGrath
The death watch is complete; Darryl Sutter has stepped down as General Manager of the Calgary Flames ending a long and somewhat painful march towards the inevitable.
In his tenure he went from coach to both roles to the GM chair solely, and transformed the Flames franchise from laughing stock to surprise Cinderella, to contender, and then finally a club that just couldn’t put it together on the ice and be the sum of it’s parts.
Jay Feaster the teams assistant GM was named acting GM in the process.
Sutter had pretty much started his own process at the end of last season when he and President Ken King delivered a “everything is fine” press conference after missing the playoffs last season. Missing the playoffs in Calgary with expectations high was a big deal, and a media cabal looking for blood was enraged at the senior Sutter’s choice to not admit mistakes and failure last season.
The clock started ticking.
This season the Flames have been plagued by injuries early, and inconsistency consistently as they carved out a spot near the bottom of the Western Conference. Frustratingly playing better than the results dictate most of the time, the team is a long shot for a playoff spot this season again.
“Darryl has performed valuable service to the Calgary Flames organization for 8 years”, King stated in a press release today, “He was the leader that ignited a renaissance of Flames hockey, moving us from an non-playoff team to an organization that was viewed as a respected and popular contender each year”
The fact that Ken King was chosen for the release today suggests he’s survived the change in direction, a change that is most likely a push and not a voluntary step down as the release suggests.
The good news for Flames fans is the presence of Feaster and the change itself. Given the fact that Feaster isn’t responsible for the current roster, he can move to shed bodies in advance of the trade deadline and manoeuvre the team for the future; something that Sutter may have been more reluctant to do given his architecture.
The most interesting point to watch now is the “acting” designation in front of Feaster’s name plate. Will that last the season without being made more permanent? Will the team be actively seeking a different name for next season?
And also interesting; do they regret not moving on Steve Yzerman as rumours suggested last summer?
Personally I think Darryl Sutter’s name in Calgary will be similar to American presidents after some water under the bridge; vilified in the short term, and then remembered fondly once time has cured more recent wounds.
At least that’s how I’ll choose to look at his time in Calgary.
Thanks for bringing the franchise back to the forefront Darryl, but it’s probably time someone else take the wheel.