The Calgary Flames fired Head Coach Geoff Ward on Thursday. That wasn’t a huge surprise considering the team’s struggles. What might be a shocker is that the organization has brought back Darryl Sutter to take control. And, he’s not just coming in to finish the season. Pierre LeBrun reports Sutter has signed a three-year deal, this season plus two more.
The Flames pulled out a big win over the Senators on Thursday night, but still currently sit in 5th place in the Scotia North Division. Although they’re just two points out of a playoff spot, they have not lived up to their own expectations. Flames fans and media have been saying for a while now that Ward was too much of a players’ coach. He’s been heavily criticized for not giving enough opportunity to players like Sam Bennett, while giving lots of ice time to Milan Lucic.
As such, Flames’ General Manager Brad Treliving made a change and already had Sutter’s deal ready to go, well before the Flames won Thursday night.
Sutter Won’t Debut Right Away
While the direction of the team will be interesting to watch under the guidance of the new coach, how the team responds to Sutter won’t be known right away. He won’t be coaching as the Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night.
COVID protocols will force Ryan Huska to run the bench on Saturday and Sutter’s debut will have to wait until the new coach can get through all the medical testing that would allow him to join the team.
When he does debut, this will be Sutter’s second stint with the Flames. He noted in an interview after the announcement that he sees this as “unfinished business.” He was both the Coach and General Manager during Calgary’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since leaving the organization in 2010, Sutter has won two Stanley Cups, both as the Coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
Coaching Changes Throughout the NHL
Some will wonder if Sutter is the right choice, but credit goes to Flames management for making a big move while they still have time. This season is not lost yet. With the likes of Matthew Tkachuk, Mark Giordano, Johnny Gaudreau, and Jacob Markstrom, you should never sleep on the Flames.
Ward is the second coach in the NHL’s Scotia North Division to be fired in as many weeks. The Montreal Canadiens did away with long-time bench boss Claude Julien just over a week ago, replacing him with Dominique Ducharme.
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