Sutter ups the ante

Jean Lefebvre
May 26 2009 08:56PM

sutter_thinks

To say Darryl Sutter typically plays his cards close to the vest isn’t quite a strong enough statement. It’s slightly more accurate to say that Sutter will not only protect his hand but also refuse to commit to a specific card game — poker? Canasta? Euchre? Go Fish? — until he’s darn good and ready.

That’s why it was so interesting Tuesday when the Flames general manager uncharacteristically showed everyone one — just one, mind you — of his hole cards. Sutter says he’s eyeing three solid candidates for the coaching vacancy who may or may not be available to him and that if he strikes out on that front, then he himself is the best man for the job.

Just for the fun of it, let’s take Sutter at face value on this one. What does his public acknowledgment of the situation say about the chances Sutter thinks he has of landing one of his Big Three? If any of that unnamed trio was considered a seriously legitimate possibility, would Sutter ever admit he’s considering himself as an option? Logic says no.

Sutter on Tuesday also essentially ruled out the Jacques Lemaire scenario, if only indirectly. When asked if Lemaire — who is being championed by many fans and a few media outlets —was a candidate, Sutter replied by stating how much energy it takes to be a coach. AN NHL bench boss has to be young, Sutter hinted, or at least has to think young. The clear implication was that Lemaire, who’ll be 64 before the next season starts, isn’t willing to put himself through the grind anymore and is committed to semi-retirement. It still seems far-fetched that Lemaire — who despite a long career behind the bench has never been fired — would have been a candidate even if he was 54, 44 or 34.

One last thing, a clarification on a comment about the assistants in the earlier post today. As RossCreek correctly points out, the assistants — Rich Preston, Rob Cookson and David Marcoux — have all been told they’re out. What remains under review is the status of former associate coach Jim Playfair and former farm club skipper Ryan McGill.

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Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#1 RossCreek
May 26 2009, 11:05PM
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Thanks for the shoutout lol. I'm working on the new Stoney Trail and listen to the Fan960 all day (Team1260 in Edmonton when I'm around there) and heard all. Also caught a bit of the Oilers presser on CHED. I'm under the impression that Ryan McGill will be an assistant and Jamie McLennan will be the new goalie coach. Also, if Playfair decides not to take the Abbotsford gig, Dave Lowry was mentioned by Darryl himself as another possible candidate. As for other possible members of the coaching staff, here's some names of interest IMO: Brent Sutter, Peter Laviolette, Brad McCrimmon (all 3 currently technically under contract). Memorial Cup winner, and former Flame, Bob Bougner could come in as an assistant IMO as could Lowry. Marc Habschied is another name I personally wouldn't mind seeing come up. Having said all that, Darryl himself may indeed be the man.

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#2 Iggy12
May 27 2009, 11:26AM
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It's clear that the Oilers aren't of the mind that a young coach is key. How old is Pat Quinn anyway? 145?

I think that Sutter needs to take the reins.

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#3 Blazing Ace
May 27 2009, 01:11PM
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I really like your point Jean that Sutter wouldn't be making mention of the possibility that he takes the reins if he thought there was a real chance of landing one of his "big three."

I also agree with the point that there is a difference between playing your cards close to your chest and not even admitting you are playing cards in the first place. I remember Sather in Edmonton during the mid 1990s when he wouldn't even admit he was the GM of the Oilers on camera. I always thought it was a bit much then.

I hope Sutter doesn't keep everyone in the dark during the search. What harm does it do to admit you are looking at coaches when you have already fired your existing coach? It isn't exactly a state secret at that point. His statement that he makes moves on his agenda not the media's is a bit antagonistic too IMO

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#4 Tach
May 27 2009, 01:48PM
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Maybe I am late to the dance here, but I thought Playfair was offered (and took?) the AHL gig in Abbotsford.

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#5 Lefebvre
May 27 2009, 08:38PM
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Tach wrote:

Maybe I am late to the dance here, but I thought Playfair was offered (and took?) the AHL gig in Abbotsford.

Offered, yes, but no public word on his answer.

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#6 b1ackhat
May 28 2009, 12:59AM
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I would have to think he would take the job... though there has been a lot of movement in Coaches in the league of late - would he ever be up for a head coaching job in the NHL?

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#7 New Frontier
June 02 2009, 08:25PM
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And how old is Darryl, again?

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#8 Blazing Ace
June 03 2009, 02:57PM
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@ New Frontier:

In earth years?

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