Some want Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter to be sent packing after a disappointing season. Some believe it would be too hasty to make a change, and at least another year is appropriate. And some are still rocking the "In Sutter We Trust" T-shirts.
This piece isn’t here to debate any one side… but what if the Flames did decide to go in a new direction? Just who is the right choice to step in as Darryl’s replacement? And who are the candidates?
To set the table, the GM position seems to be going in a similar direction as the Head Coach position. A lot of NHL teams are fine with hiring fresh, young guys for the bench boss position. From Joe Sacco and Todd Richards to Bruce Boudreau, Cory Clouston and Dan Bylsma, it’s all about new blood in the coaching ranks.
One look at the Northwest Division, and the same conclusion could be made at General Manager. Every team currently boasts a first-time GM, although Calgary’s Sutter is probably not thought as such with his tenure. However, Vancouver’s Mike Gillis, Steve Tambellini in Edmonton, Colorado’s Greg Sherman and Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher are all finishing either their first or second year at the helm.
With that being said, here’s who I can think of in the event a change was made. This has been compiled from suggestions and scuttlebutt from emailers, phone calls and just straight up media speculation.
Brent Sutter – Hey, they’ve gone the coach-GM route before. Brent has been in a player evaluation role before, with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and coaching Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. It would be quite the leap for Brent, who just finished his third year at the NHL coaching level. He hasn’t stopped being involved with the Rebels, so his knowledge of the junior ranks is still there.
Jim Nill – The current Assistant General Manager in Detroit has been thrown around as a potential replacement for numerous different positions, including the one here. Why not? He’s been a huge part of the development system of the Red Wings since joining the team in 1994, and continues to work very closely with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. His knowledge of North American and European prospects is very strong, and the number of Detroit drafted and developed players on their team right now is fairly good proof. He’s paid his dues in scouting and in the assistant role, and seems more than qualified for any GM job.
Steve Yzerman – There was a rumour (and I stress RUMOUR) that Yzerman was linked to the Flames job. It was total unsubstantiated speculation and kind of took on a life of its own from there. But it’s an interesting name to throw out there regardless. Yzerman currently serves as Detroit’s Vice President and Alternate Governor, and many believe he’s being groomed to take over for Ken Holland whenever the incumbent GM decides to step down. Yzerman just finished fronting Team Canada’s Olympic selection in Vancouver, and we all remember how that turned out.
Jay Feaster – This one kind of comes out of left field, but why not? The former Tampa Bay Lightning GM resigned in July of 2008 and has seemingly removed himself from the hockey world, at least in an affiliated sense. Feaster is currently blogging with The Hockey News, so it’s not as if he’s not up with what’s going on. I always liked the way he went about business, though.
Who knows if any change will be made at the GM position for Calgary, and if there is, none of these candidates may even be accurate. But I thought I’d throw them out there as the discussion rages on.