You have to admit, you're waiting for it.
Yes, Darryl Sutter met for one-on-one's last week with the Calgary media but did little to dispel the one thing we were all waiting for.
The fate of Mike Keenan.
Sutter never came out and openly backed Keenan, but he sure as heck never gave us an inkling of how he really feels on the situation. He's mastered the art of, well, flat out lying to the media to try and keep them off his tail. The trade-deadline interview with Jermaine Franklin of TSN is probably the most glaring instance of this all-to-familiar Sutter act... although I found it quite humorous.
Regardless of all that, the fact remains that there will be a shake-up in Cowtown. And, barring substantial trades of big-name players, which is the only thing Sutter really addressed, saying it wouldn't happen; we all know what the shake-up SHOULD be.
Need more proof? Take a glance at my off-season preview blog and notice the salary cap figures and free agent situation of the Flames:
Hardly any wiggle room.
A shake-up there will be!
But, seriously, what's with the hold-up?
Another question that's been dogging Flames fans since the end of the season.
I feel this reason is three-fold.
1) The Calgary Flames did not want to steal headlines from the Calgary Hitmen on their race for a Memorial Cup birth. Well, that's over now as the Hitmen fought hard, but came up short in a game 6 overtime loss. Yes, the city of Calgary should have been focused on the run by the Hitmen, and any news on the coaching front for the Calgary Flames would have been detrimental to attendance on a team owned and operated by the Calgary Flames.
2) Where there's smoke, there's fire: Rumors were swirling last week about a news conference the Flames were "supposedly" calling to announce the firing of Mike Keenan. It could've started anywhere, on any number of blogs, or even just word of mouth. But, we all know the old saying. Let's just hope it wasn't wishful thinking from the fans.
3) Coaching Candidates: The usual names have been coming up; Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and even Brent Sutter. I've got another name to add to that list and, in keeping with Sutter's loyalty, he just happens to be a former Calgary Flame captain and technically an employee of the Calgary Flames. That's right, current Hitmen coach Dave Lowry will surely get an interview at the very least for this position should it become available. Announcing anything of the sort during the WHL finals would be ridiculous.
To address Dave Lowry; he was a Calgary Flame for parts of 5 seasons. He captained the club from 2000-2002, alongside Craig Conroy and Bob Boughner (current coach of the Windsor Spitfires; do we add him to the list too?). In the Stanley Cup run of 2004, Lowry played in integral leadership and defensive role for the team that fell one game short of the Cup. Before the Flames? He was with the San Jose Sharks who were, coincidentally, coached by Darryl Sutter. For a team that lacked defensive stability and, more surprisingly, leadership; Dave Lowry would be a nice fit to address those needs. The knock on him at this point has to be his lack of experience as this was his first season as head coach after spending the previous 3 seasons as assistant/associate coach.
The debate will rage on until Darryl Sutter finally addresses the coaching issue. But let's not assume anything for now. Keep in mind that last week was spent doing post-season interviews with players and management, and then players/coaches and management. These interviews are just part of the process and Sutter will use the information gathered to make his final decision.
We're talking about Sutter firing a mentor. Someone who gave him his start. And Mike Keenan didn't do Sutter any favors by going to the media and proclaiming that he expects to be back next season.
Let's face it, whether we like it or not, Sutter has a big decision ahead of him and all the speculation in the world is just that... speculation.
So here's hoping that with the Hitmen's season officially over, we will finally find out this week what's going on with the coaching staff.
If there's no announcement, well, I'll just be looking for another reason... or maybe just another excuse to write...
Scouting Backlund, Grantham and Nemisz at the Memorial Cup?
With Sutter, you never know... just don't ask him about it.