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:
- Darryl Sutter didn’t want to steal the thunder from the NHL by making his announcement in the middle of the Stanley Cup final.
- Darryl Sutter likes to do things in his own good time no matter what anybody, especially a media parasite, has to say about it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.