Three years ago when the
newly hired Flame general manager was
looking for his first head coach, jaws
dropped when the still warm corpse of Brian
Sutter was added to the list.
Brian Sutter was an
experienced coach, a man known for getting
the most out of his players, and a winner
everywhere but Calgary, but to interview a
guy that that organization had just fired?
But I guess he was serious.
Two and a half years later Craig Button,
has announced that Brian's little brother
Darryl will be taking over the reigns of
the Calgary Flames.
Button finally got his man
... er ... family.
One has to wonder if Brian
kept his old notebooks from his tenure in
Calgary, surely he'd love to give his sibling
a leg up. Truth be known there are very few
similarities between the team that Brian
Sutter was forced to leave and the edition
that Darryl Sutter is ready to take on. In
fact the only remaining players from the
last Sutter Flames team include Jarome
Iginla, Robyn Regehr and Denis Gauthier.
Chris Clark, Oleg Saprykin and Steve Begin
played limited roles in their rookie
seasons that season.
The hiring brings much
light to the tangled coaching odyssey that
Flame fans have been forced to endure for
the last three and a half weeks. In hiring
Sutter the Flames were forced to wade
through two different types of
First, Sutter, having
recently been disposed by conference rival
San Jose, was still under contract by the
Sharks through to the end of next season.
Taking another NHL job would have nixed the
end of that deal, something the Sharks
would have loved, but something Sutter no
doubt wished to negotiate. This time frame
likely gave both parties a meet in the
Secondly, the hiring of
Sutter represents a large break from the
Flames recent coach selection plan. The man
doesn't come to cheap, and he will and
would have other teams interested in him.
The Flames last three coaches have all come
with lesser tickets, and virtually no
demand. Darryl's brother Brian was coaxed
out of semi-retirement in rural Alberta.
Don Hay was pulled off the scrap heap from
a fiery end in Phoenix, and finally Greg
Gilbert was given the job with no NHL head
To nab Darryl Sutter the
Flames dysfunctional management group was
likely forced to jump through some hoops.
"Put it this way, I'm
not going into a situation where I can't
have a long-term relationship with my
GM", Sutter told the Calgary Herald.
A statement that basically
points to the fact that he wasn't thrilled
to be joining a team that is seemingly
pushing it's GM to the side with no clear
plan in place beyond this season.
"What they need there
is some stability, that's one of the
reasons Edmonton is a good team because
they have Kevin (Lowe) and Craig (MacTavish).''
Ah stability, that magic
word rarely practiced in Calgary. Where you
hire a guy to do a job and then trust that
he will and can do said job without pulling
the rug out from under him prematurely.
With Sutter at the helm the
Flames will likely be forced to get a heck
of a lot better in their own zone. They'll
play with passion, and they should be on
the same page.
"There's no point in
looking back on what's happened with the
Flames this year. I wasn't here. I plan on
putting a stamp on the team starting
The Calgary Flames today,
at their best, are a fast skating, hard
fore-checking team that isn't a lot of fun
to play against - a style and persona that
will not be dropped by the incoming coach.
At their worst they're a
squad that seems to come out flat far too
often, run around in their own zone, and
lacks the cohesion and harmony to sustain
an offensive attack.
The biggest issue with the
Flames however, can be found in the club's
best players. Through heightened
expectations, pressure or injury none of
the club's best players have been consistently
their best players this season.
The focus falls on Jarome
Iginla, but Craig Conroy, Chris Drury and
Roman Turek have all had their extended
periods of disappointing hockey.
Brian Sutter had a knack
for getting the most out of his most
talented players when in Calgary. He drove
Theo Fleury to new heights, rejuvenated
Phil Housley's career, and found the
buttons for Val Bure.
Can Darryl do the same with
an equally skilled, but more gritty core of
this current edition?
It looks like the arrival
of Sutter will add stability on and off the
ice, and perhaps go a long way to pumping
some of the pride back into a franchise
that has long come screaming off the
And in the nick of time