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Players Ready to Leave Flames if Sutter Remains Coach?

Nazem Kadri likely won’t be among them, but his comments suggest there are some players ready to leave the Flames if Sutter stays.

Speaking on his latest 32 Thoughts Podcast, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discussed the issues going on in Calgary and with the Flames as head coach Darryl Sutter has come under fire and GM Brad Treliving’s job with the team next season is anything but secure. The Flames are underperforming and a recent 8-2 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings only put an exclamation point on how badly this season has gone for them versus expectations.

Recently, forward Nazem Kadri spoke about the struggles of the teams and noted that things are not good behind the scenes. Friedman noted, “I’ve heard that Kadri’s been very vocal about what he sees going on in Calgary and why they aren’t firing on all cylinders.” He added, “He’s been very blunt about the communication between players and the coach there. So, I’m betting some of that frustration boiled over in that game on Saturday night. I’m curious to see where this is all going to go.”

Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames NHL
Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames NHL

Kadri isn’t the first person to suggest there’s an issue in Calgary. Recently, NHL agent Allan Walsh seemed to throw the coaching staff under the bus when defending his client Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau has struggled this season, especially when compared to his previous campaign in Florida. He’s among a couple of players rumored to be disappointed with the system and style of play the Flames employ. Rumors of friction between the coach and the forward have been out there for a while.

The loss to the Kings only made things worse. Boomer from the Flames Barn Burner Podcast added, “this goes beyond that (Elliotte’s report). What I’m hearing is that there’s some players that have basically said “I’m not coming back if this guy is behind the bench. I’m f—ing done.” Which players are thinking this were not made public and if he was referring to exclusively pending UFAs, but the Flames have a few key players who are coming up to the end of their respective deals. Key among them are Elias Lindholm (expires end of 2023/24), Tyler Toffoli (2023/24) as forwards, and defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev (2023/24).

Boomer suggested it would be a shocker if Sutter comes back next season and wonders at this point if the coach even wants to return with the way things have gone. That said, he’s unlikely to quit based on the recent contract he signed. It would take the GM moving on, which Brad Treliving has said in the past he won’t do. Then again, it might not be Treliving’s decision to make. If he refuses to fire Sutter, that could lead to a decision to change out the general manager. If he is willing to let Sutter go, it could save Treliving’s job. Some of that could depend on how vocal the players ultimately get with all of this.

Julian McKenize of The Athletic writes:

It might not be something these next 10 games will solve — perhaps the damage has been done already — but these next few games are an ideal time to see the team, Treliving and even Sutter take a moment of reflection to consider what is best for the Flames and themselves going forward.

Next: 3 Takeaways from Maple Leafs 7-2 Beat Down by the Islanders



  1. Chris

    March 22, 2023 at 1:29 pm

    I’ve always thought Sutter was a main contributor to Tkachuk leaving. I also suspect he was told he wouldn’t make captain. Once Johnny departed, breaking up a very competitive team, Matthew didn’t have much reason to brave the cold or Canadian taxes anymore. Treliving’s gargantuan mistake was not signing him earlier, the guy’s who’s single-handedly trying to drag the Panthers into the playoffs. Yes, he had some up-and-down seasons, but the talent and compete level were always evident.

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