Darryl Sutter “Steps Down” aka Darryl Sutter is FIRED

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I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. After a disastrous start to the 2010-2011 season, the Calgary Flames announced today that Darryl Sutter has resigned as the Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the team. Jay Feaster will assume acting duties as General Manager of the Flames.

I’ve seen this before, so don’t let the “stepping down” rhetoric confuse you. Sutter was fired, pure and simple. However, when someone has a good relationship with the team they manage, including the ownership and “Presidency” they save face by saying that it was actually their choice to leave instead of “being fired”. You’ll notice in the note on calgaryflames.com that Darryl Sutter isn’t quoted. The only two quotes are one saying that Jay Feaster will be the new GM and this one about Sutter:

“Darryl has performed valuable service to the Calgary Flames organization for 8 years,” said King. “He was the leader that ignited a renaissance of Flames hockey, moving us from a non-playoff team to an organization that was viewed as a respected and popular contender each year. We thank Darryl for his leadership and his important contributions to re-establishing the Calgary Flames as a model franchise. As we enter the next phase of our growth in the NHL, we are restructuring our leadership and processes. We are pleased that Darryl has agreed to assist in an orderly transition and will provide his valuable guidance in the process. He remains dedicated to the success of the team he worked so hard to build”.

I think that a lot of what King says is true, but the part that Sutter failed to do was manage the team to be a true contender. On paper, the Flames should be a contender, but in reality, they were not. It’s relatively easy to put a “paper contending” team together by promising everyone more money than they are worth and giving them no-trade clauses in their contracts. But it is very difficult to lead a team and create a winning culture that makes it truly a contender on the ice.

Darryl Sutter needs to be congratulated for a few good moves, including getting a gritty Flames team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004, but his legacy will show more of his shortcomings than his successes. By giving away too many draft picks and signing the wrong players to big, long-term contracts, Sutter has condemned the Flames to mid-level mediocrity for years to come. I’ll be surprised (though very happy) if they actually manage to win a cup before 2015. The Sutter-built team of mid-level talent should ensure that the Flames either scrape into the playoffs or just barely miss them for long enough to not get any serious young talent in the draft.

So Flames fans, what do you think?

About Greg Hounslow (558 Posts)

Greg is the founder of Red Mile Blog has been following the Flames through good times and bad since they arrived in Calgary in the early 80s. He has written hundreds of articles on the Flames since 2005 and considers himself an expert on hockey inconsistency and frustration. He shoots right and usually plays defence, but has been known to jump up in the rush. He is a 2-time CAHL men's league champion and knows the sweet taste of beer from a Cup.


  • Oldebuffalo

    Unfortunately the Flames have been forced into playing the kind of hockey that brought success to the Sutter’s as players. However, that old style of dump and chase hockey is out of date; is easily defended against by other teams and has forced the Flames to spend too much time trying to re-gain possession of the puck after giving it up by dumping it into the offensive zone. Today’s hockey is a possession style that requires skilled players to be able to stick handle, pass accurately and be able to think ahead of the play. Sutter hockey takes away the players creativity and wears them down physically and emotionally. And when hockey is no longer fun, it’s a difficult game to play, especially against other teams that are having fun.

    Last night in the third period the Flames began playing creative, skilful hockey and they began having fun. I think they knew the writing was on the wall for the Sutters and showed how skilful a team they really are, and to hell with the way Brent wanted them to play.

    Another old school coach isn’t the answer to the Flames coaching problem. They need a young forward thinking coach that will let them use some of their skills and creativity. I don’t have a problem with the players except when they’re being forced to play dumb assed, kitty bar the door hockey with no emphasis on offence. Last night in the third period the Flames showed just how effective and dangerous they can be when they use their skills and that includes Jokinen and a few of the others that I think have been frustrated for too long. It’s not likely they can trade older players that are nearing the end of their careers for young up and comers, so the Flames are going to have to use the players they have now, but begin playing a better style of hockey. They’re very capable of playing much better hockey, hopefully under a new coach – and sooner than later.

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