This Sutter or the other?

Jean Lefebvre
June 17 2009 08:51AM

coachsutter

So Alain Vigneault is leaning back with a snifter of Remy Martin after his meal at the annual Northwest Division Coaches’ Dinner and he lights up a Diamond Crown. After blowing a few smoke rings, he looks around and casually asks: “Solitaire, anyone?”

Of course, that lonely feeling for the Canucks skipper simply couldn’t be helped. The invitations to Craig MacTavish, Mike Keenan, Jacques Lemaire and Tony Granato were all returned “Addressee Unknown” and it was just too late to ask Pat Quinn, Todd Richards and Joe Sacco to the party.

It hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention that the Flames are the only Northwest club that has yet to fill its empty suit, and please feel free to speculate amongst yourselves on the reasons for delay. Here’s a few conversation-starter suggestions:

  1. Darryl Sutter didn’t want to steal the thunder from the NHL by making his announcement in the middle of the Stanley Cup final.
  2. Darryl Sutter likes to do things in his own good time no matter what anybody, especially a media parasite, has to say about it.
  3. Darryl Sutter is having a tough time convincing his ideal candidate to take the job. This one might apply even if he’s settled on himself as the best man for the job.
  4. The man Sutter had in mind was otherwise engaged until the approximate moment this past Friday night when Sidney Crosby forgot to shake Nicklas Lidstrom’s hand.
  5. All parties are allowing for a reasonable and respectful amount of time to pass before Brent Sutter, who was too busy to coach the New Jersey Devils, decides he isn’t too busy to coach the Calgary Flames.
  6. The recent availability of Dave Tippett has added a level of complication to the not-so-exhaustive coach search.

There are no wrong answers here at the FlamesNation, but the most correct responses we can come up with to the above possibilities are A) maybe, but not likely, B) that of course is always a consideration when the Ol’ Cowboy is calling the shots, C) doubtful, although it’s fun to imagine that Darryl Sutter might be one of the few men who could say no to Darryl Sutter, D) doubtful — regardless of how good a head coaching candidate Paul MacLean is or isn’t, the Walrus and the 2009-10 Flames are not a very good fit, E) you could be on to something here and F) Tippett is not a very good bet to take the Flames job but it would be shocking if Sutter didn’t at least think about looking up the former Dallas skipper’s number.

All those considerations aside, Darryl Sutter remains the prohibitive favourite to double the number of titles on his business card. The timing and tone of Brent Sutter’s exit from Newark, however, does give one pause. In leaving the NHL coaching fraternity, Brent left just enough bread crumbs to find his way back. The fortunate proximity of Sylvan Lake to Calgary will allow Sutter to insist he was sincere about wanting to be closer to home should he accept the Flames gig.

If you need one strong argument against Brent being tabbed as Mike Keenan’s replacement, maybe it’s that Brent fancies himself as a self-made man — and not without justification — and that he’s not ready to put himself under Darryl’s thumb.

So write this down (in pencil, please) — Darryl Sutter will announce he’s taking over the coaching reins on June 29.

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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 Matt
June 17 2009, 10:30AM
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If you need one strong argument against Brent being tabbed as Mike Keenan’s replacement, maybe it’s that Brent fancies himself as a self-made man — and not without justification — and that he’s not ready to put himself under Darryl’s thumb.

Word.

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#2 Kent
June 17 2009, 10:49AM
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I think I'd prefer Tippett over Darryl if Brent isn't/won't be coaching the Flames. Is there any particular reason you see Tippett's hiring as unlikely Jean?

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#3 Lefebvre
June 17 2009, 11:24AM
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@ Kent: I can think of several reasons, but the biggest is that I believe Darryl Sutter had already made up his mind about who came next before Tippett became available.

The second reason is that I think any coach with multiple options (and I think Tippett is part of that group) will steer clear of Calgary given the scenario of having the other Sutter an hour north and a year away from being free and clear.

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#4 Robert Cleave
June 17 2009, 11:31AM
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Much as I might like to see Tippett, it might be difficult for him to take the Flames' job if he thought his likely replacement (the GM's brother, no less) was just marking time 90 minutes up the highway. Would he be comfortable working in that situation? How would he know if he was getting a fair shake?

Matt and I went back and forth a bit at his place on the "under the thumb" stuff. I'm not so sure that Darryl wouldn't give up some control to his brother if that's what it took to get him in the fold, but I certainly acknowledge your point, Jean.

I'd suspect with all that said that your prediction is probably the safest one. Darryl runs things for a year, and then hires someone else(Brent)next spring, if he doesn't get fired himself.

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#5 Robert Cleave
June 17 2009, 11:32AM
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@ Lefebvre:

I should learn to type faster, I see;)

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#6 Iggy12
June 17 2009, 11:38AM
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Robert Cleave wrote:

I’d suspect with all that said that your prediction is probably the safest one. Darryl runs things for a year, and then hires someone else(Brent)next spring, if he doesn’t get fired himself.

LOL this all seems so cut and dry. This is what I was thinking too.

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#7 Kent
June 17 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Lefebvre:

Very sensible, especially the notion that other coaches might be scared off by Brent being available and just up the road. It's essentially Sutter (or Sutter) or bust, then.

Does anyone envision a scenario where Brent actually takes over half way through the season?

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#8 blade
June 17 2009, 09:39PM
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Kent wrote:

Does anyone envision a scenario where Brent actually takes over half way through the season?

Pretty tough one to envision, as much as Kinger has uber love for Sutter D, at some point the wagons gotta hit the track. A mid season change would seem to indicate a less than stellar performance by the team at large.... so if its sutter D stepping back upstairs a major credibility hit is gonna take place or a well tailored admission of failure..... I just cant see it.

If its Brent replacing someone else we are bordering on a tragic comedy of Ottawa proportions with 3 guys under contract for the same job within a half year span. Might as well have kept keenan for continuities sake and dumped him half way for sutter D or sutter B.

Disturbing.

Go flames go.

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#9 ryanr2009
June 18 2009, 10:18AM
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At what point does this proud franchise become more about nepotism than results?

WIN MORE GAMES!!!!

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#10 Brent Sutter to coach the Flames… - OilersNation.com
June 20 2009, 12:09PM
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[...] to TSN sources, which tend to be fairly accurate about stuff like this. While Jean made a good argument as to why Darryl would back behind the bench a little while ago, this move doesn’t surprise [...]

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