One week after being ousted out of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Calgary Flames have packed up their bags and headed off to their respected off season homes. Let’s talk about the front office and bench bosses for the Flaming C.
Darryl Sutter was brought into the organization in 2002 to be the Flames head coach and General Manager. In his first full season in 03-04, we all know he took us within one measly win of Lord Stanley’s Cup. He coached for one more year until resigning as head coach to assume the full time GM role and handed the reigns to assistant Jim Playfair. Sutter has done a decent job as a General Manager over the past 6 plus seasons in developing a good group of depth players and signing the core of the team to long term contracts. On the other hand he has had his share of miscues with the Reinprecht for Boucher(now backing up the Sharks) and Mike Leclerc(now waiting table at Denny’s) deal in 06’,the Ference Kobasew (both important players for the Bruins right now) for Stuart(Red Wings) and Primeau(Chronically injured) trade in 07’. We lost three players that I think would be great, and cheaper, additions to our team right now in Reinprecht, Ference, and Kobasew. Most recently the Jokinen deal this year, and people know how I feel about that trade. Now Sutter laments that he has been looking for that kind of center man for the past 3 seasons, but he was not the right fit for this team. Sutter took a team that had a 14pt lead in the division with 20ish games remaining and somehow screwed with the chemistry enough to lose it. Sutter needs to be held responsible! In a results driven business like the NHL, winning is everything, and this team is not meeting expectations. How long does the 04’ grace period last? It becomes the classic “What have you done for us lately?” What does it take for his head to be on that platter, another first round exit? Missed post season entirely? What I ask you, WHAT?
Well, with the recent news of Team President Ken King fully endorsing Sutter it looks as if he is going to be around for at least another season. Maybe his last if the results do not change?
After Sutter stepped up to the press box full time, Jim Playfair took over and subsequently could not control the team, had a horrible road record and was, except for the heroics of his goalie, outplayed and out coached by the high powered Red Wings in the first round. Sutter than shocked everybody by hiring “Iron” Mike Keenan; a decision that was met with its share of debate. Keenan did no better than Playfair and lost to the Sharks in 7 last year and to the Hawks in 6 this year.
So what needs to be done?
All of the coaching contracts, save Keenan, expire at the end of this year. Rich Preston, who has been with the Flames for the last 5 seasons and had a stint with the Flames for 3 years in the late 90’s, needs to go. He is the power play “Guy” shall we say, and we all know how horrifying the Flames time with the man advantage has been. Iginla was even quoted as saying that at points down the stretch having the power play was a bad thing and the team would lose momentum during the game. Is it the players fault or the coaches’ approach to the situation? Apparently Keenan and Preston did not even believe in practicing the power play very often or even at all at points in the season. How can you expect to be good at something if you do not practice doing it? This is the old school way of thinking that was brought in by Sutter and used by Keenan and Preston, which needs to go.
The problem though lies with Sutter, in that he and Preston are pretty much inseparable. They were together in San Jose and when Sutter was brought into Calgary, he brought Preston with him. Sutter needs to bite the bullet and can his good buddy.
Maybe, though, the easier thing to do might be to send the entire coaching staff packing and bring in a whole new system. A NEW way of thinking, a DIFFERENT way of thinking! And if for that to happen, Sutter must go, than maybe that is what needs to be done.
This coaching group has had their chance to make hay with this team of players, and has failed in doing so.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames