Flames: terrible! Blue Jackets: also terrible! Excitement: palpable!
Well the knives are finally out for the wider world to see.
In this insular little blogging culture of ours, we sometimes forget that while our opinions are always correct, almost every hockey fan (statistically speaking) doesn’t know what goes on here on the internet.
They may have Twitter, they may even read TSN and other major sports sites, but don’t read up on CORSI and qualcomp stats and they sure as hell don’t obsess over them.
So when we were all calling for Darryl Sutter’s job last year, this summer, and then after pretty much every game right up until this very second, most people were blissfully ignorant that we had everything from scoring chance spreadsheets to even strength head to head pie charts proving exactly what this team needed (namely, a rebuild run by a competent general manager).
Yesterday was the day George Johnson wrote a brutally punishing takedown of Darryl Sutter’s management not just of the Calgary Flames, but the organization in general. The big club ineffective, the AHL team littered with has-beens and won’t-bes, the junior and college cupboards appallingly bare, with a conga line of coaching casualties left in his hack-and-slash, it’s-not-on-me wake. So the real question is: How did it take so long?
Was it not painfully evident after, just picking a date arbitrarily, the Phaneuf trade? Or, I don’t know, the Jokinen signing? Or, let’s say, the White trade? The asset management has been remarkably, almost impossibly bad, and his management of the big club, well, the record the last two years speaks for itself.
Johnson hinted at a hell of a good point in that article, saying six years ago, the city was at Daz’s feet, and now it’s at his throat. A hell of a goddamn lot has changed in those six years, but the biggest change has been to Sutter’s ego, or at least our perception of it. When the Flames made the Cup Finals — let’s just admit it at this point — it wasn’t a team that deserved to be there.
A series of past-their-prime second line guys, more brainless thugs than you could shake a stick at, a good but not great young defense, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff. That’s all that team was, and that it pretty much got screwed out of a Cup win in Game 6 was, honestly, far better than it deserved. But it just gave Sutter all the resolve he needed to pick apart what was, at the time, a burgeoning if underwhelming system and using it to improve the big club for the purposes of making it back to where he thought they should be.
He simply bulldozed his way through big- and medium-name acquisitions for what, in the end, amounted to zero series wins and a playoff DNQ last season, and probably another this year.
That he’s been able to keep his job this long proves the city’s been at his feet much more recently than six years ago. Hell, in his mind, it’s still there.