Flames Release Brent Sutter



The Calgary Flames announced today that they have decided to go in another direction behind the bench. Assistant coach and former Flame Dave Lowry has also been let go.

From the official release:

“Brent Sutter and I met and discussed a number of issues regarding the hockey team and the future,” said Flames General Manager Jay Feaster. “Brent and I explored many options and ultimately determined that it is best to proceed in different directions. Brent is a great person and an excellent hockey coach. On behalf of the Calgary Flames, we sincerely appreciate his hard work, dedication and commitment to our organization, and we wish him every success. We also appreciate the important contributions of Dave Lowry.”

That leaves Craig Hartsburg in place. It’s unknown whether he’ll step up to be the head honcho or if the club will look for someone else. A lot of attention has being focused on Abbotsford Heat coach Troy Ward recently (he was lavishly praised by Feaster in the press conference the other day), so it’s possible he is in line for a promotion.

Over his three seasons here, Brent Sutter never converted me to a full fan of this methods. To some degree I think he was hampered by the tools he was given, but then he also never really diversified his methods or improved the club beyond it’s station in any meaningful fashion. In the end, he struck me as an altogether conventional, middle-of-the-road NHL coach.

I guess that means the next guy could certainly be better. He might be worse too.

    • RexLibris

      Very well, here I go, ahem…

      Sutter left because Feaster wants to go in a new direction and he’s thinking of bringing in a coach that he’s familiar with, like Barry Melrose.

      Nah, that’s kind of weak. How about this:

      Sutter deliberately threw the season so he could get out of town. He wanted to line-match but he knew the success would force him to remain with the Flames and he desperately wants to get back to coaching the Rebels.

      Still pretty flimsy.

      Alright then:

      Jarome Iginla and Murray Edwards are THE SAME PERSON! It’s Clark Kent and Superman all over again and Brent Sutter is Iginla’s Lex Luthor.

      Let me sleep on it and see if I can come up with something better.

  • Graham

    I am in no way advocating that Sutter was the coach we needed in my post however. He was still a bad coach that couldn’t line match, couldn’t zone start effectively, and some of his line combinations were odd at the best of times, same thing where he used guys in the lineup.

  • Graham

    Wow these seem to be depressing times in Cowtown. Tuesday I stubbed my toe kicking a post after I heard the Oilers won the lottery. Christ, why cant the Flames ever move up in the draft by even just a little. Oil have a great future & Flames are going the other way & we are going to pass each other so fast we are going to have another 15 years on meaningless BOA.

    I’m trying not to get too depressed again reading too much into this & these are thoughts that cross my mind:

    1/Brent Sutter just didnt work, time to move on, rebuild or contend, it didnt really matter. Time to turn the page on this one.

    2/If we go out & hire a new coach like a Dave Tippett if the stars align & we were to get that lucky, any new coach will get at least a 3 year deal. Anyone really think Troy Ward is going to hang around that long for a coaching position to open up in Calgary. Dont think so & he “will” get poached by another team, maybe even the Oilers. This man has done magic in Abbotsford, players swear by him down there. Feaster loves him, we all want young, up & coming & new blood as opposed to the old Sutterish/Keananish garble we have had for how long now. If we are rebuilding/youth movement we will need this guy here. I have no problem seeing Ward as head coach here.

    3/Does this mean Iggy stays. I dont think so. He may be here come fall & not moved until the trade deadline. Speculate all you want about what his return is but if the offers suck as some say, his best value may be as a rental, meaning he will be here for 40-50 games next year. Brent may have told Feaster he has to go this summer. Right there I see irreconcilable differences. Now, would it not be cool if Philly spanks Pitt & upset them in the 1st round. Suddenly, Sid goes to management in Pitt & says, man would it be nice to have Iggy on my line & with Neal on Malkins, what a 1-2 punch that would be. Solution, J Staal to Calgary who suddenly becomes our #1 centre & watch his offensive game flourish once he’s out of Malkin & Crosby’s shadow. Like I say, I’m trying to wishfully think myself out of my depression I have had the last few days.

    Big changes are coming & no way Feaster trys to make out Butter was the reason. They know this whole thing is a start over, this was just the first & most obvious, easiest place to start.

    • RexLibris

      The Oilers are either going to bring back Renney on a two-year contract or would bring up Todd Nelson from OKC. He’s done a better job than Ward and has worked within the Oilers’ system and knows many of their prospects already.

      My guess is that the final decision will be something closer to the former than the latter.

      But I don’t really think Troy Ward (or Brent Sutter, for that matter) is what the Oilers would be looking for right now. No offense.

          • Vintage Flame

            I have a good reason for my trade. He has no reason to act like a child.

            Psst… J. Blows is playing in the WC. Kevin Lowe is the GM for the team. OMGWTFBBQ.

          • RexLibris

            I really don’t think Kevin Lowe is assembling the team to determine who he would like on the Oilers, but rather who of the current group of available talent is willing and, in the end, capable of playing for Canada at upcoming international competitions. This could be Bouwmeester’s last best chance to secure some interest for Sochi unless he has a strong year next season.

            It looks like Bouwmeester is the only Flame attending. I have to wonder if Iginla was invited or declined. Were there any serious injuries that he reported at the bag-day availabilities?

            P.S. The Oilers aren’t going to ask for Bouwmeester, they aren’t likely to trade Paajarvi at this time, and there is now way he ever waives his NTC to come to Edmonton. He has been very clear about not wanting to play in front of the home crowd, and with some justification given recent experience.

      • Parallex

        I wouldn’t say it’s way to high… sure he’s overpaid a bit but despite what the haters want to try and have folk believe he’s still a really good defenseman which the Oilers really need and by the time the premium young guys hit RFA status his contract would be expiring. Plus Paajarvi isn’t as good as folk were making him out to be a few years back.

        Honestly, at this point I’d rather have Bouwmeester anyways.

        • RexLibris

          Essentially its a moot point because I highly doubt that Bouwmeester waives his NTC to come to Edmonton.

          That being said, if Flames fans would rather have Bouwmeester I know that Oiler fans would rather have Paajarvi, so discussions of a trade are all hypothetical.

          Paajarvi may become a top six forward, and certainly has the tools. I suspect that his best position will be as a swing forward on the left wing between the third and second line. Right now the LW depth chart is Hall, Paajarvi, Smyth, Petrell, Hartikainen, and perhaps eventually Curtis Hamilton. Smyth is likely playing third line next season so Paajarvi moves up and may end up playing on a line with Gagner and Yakupov (assumed). We’ll see.

          Bouwmeester may end up anchoring and mentoring for a younger defense corps next season in which case his experience and calm defensive play will be an asset. But I don’t know that fans should expect an offensive season out of him.

    • jeremywilhelm

      Please do tell me how awesome J Blows is.

      At this point they might as well bury him in the minors.

      Do you watch Flames games, or just listen to the cliched spew the FAN960 says afterwards?

  • T&A4Flames

    ahhhh the winds of change. the coach is canned, thats how many now? time to get rid of captain caption.gee schucks we need a bounce back season. one freakish playoff run in 15 years and iggy gets the keys to the city.looks like butta fell victim to the calgary icon. mind you, butta’s lack of game management skills may have helped. wait til hartsie takes the reins and tries to bag skate these clowns like he did in ottawa.feaster will be searching for a replacement come december.

      • Mitch2

        grapes wouldn’t put up with iggie’s selfish play for long. and he would at least entertain you with his antics. associate coach craig hartsburgh will be the new head coach,the remainder of the staff were merely assistant coaches, go figure. hartsie stunk in anaheim, the soo, and ottawa then in everett. has the emotions of a mortician.

  • RonR

    To me, Troy Ward is the man. He has the Heat currently on an 8-1-2 run, including 5 straight wins. He has done a great job moulding players going nowhere, and straightening them out.

    I do suspect though, he will be busy for a bit, because I see them going deep in the AHL Playoffs.

  • Mitch2

    Bill Barber will probably be named coach.

    Feaster never hired B Sutter. D Sutter did.

    Feaster had a close relationship with Barber in TB. Barber won the Jack Adams in 2001 and he is currently in scouting in Philly.

    I think he would take the job… and it will be a mark of Feaster putting his name on the team…

  • Mitch2

    An extremely bad move on the Flames part! Brent knows what he’s doing!!!!! If this is the only major change this off season I will be ticked off. I could care less about the coach. Brent Sutter is a great fault and it’s not fault that the problems are coming from the room.

    I don’t want to see both of Kipper and Iggy go. But I definately want to see one of them moved. Seriously, no Edmonton-style rebuild is required, but at least partially rebuild.

    Three seasons without the playoffs is unacceptable in a hockey town like Calgary. I also like Feaster but sometimes I think he can be a bit too hesitant. I’m sure that was for good reason at the deadline.

    FLAMES DRAFT 2012!!!

  • Get The Puck Outta Here

    My thoughts.

    Reading these posts its obvious that if nothing else, coach polarized the fan base. I am no exception.

    Just my opinion but here goes.

    1-If a person takes the job to coach a team that in the previous year MADE the playoffs and do your job for 3 YEARS and do not make the playoffs it should spell-FIND THE DOOR.

    2-If an organization has to choose between a franchise player that is in the record books and will be inducted into the hall of fame, and has done nothing but make ooodells of $$$$$$$$$$$$$ for a business versus point #1 they should choose as they did today.

    3-Jay Feaster is the right man. He will bring this burning mess from the abyss. He stumbled twice this year-#1 guarenting playoffs and #2 trade deadline fool me once comment but make no mistake. He will right this ship. We have been as patient as possible for 3 years now. He is running out of time also as judgement day comes to him but his hands are starting to free. For once there is some hope!!

  • RKD

    Brent was the scapegoat for the Flames and Feaster’s shortcomings so far or more like all of Darryl’s shortcomings.

    I don’t think Brent is a bad coach, but at the same time I don’t think he’s a great coach. Probably a good coach.

    Brent had three years to get this team to the playoffs and didn’t succeed, probably in large part to the personnel on the ice.

    However, under Keenan who refused to practice the powerplay and had a rocky relationship with Kipper got the Flames to the playoffs. Jim Playfair who the players hated got the Flames to the post-season with 30 home wins.

    Anyways, I think hiring Hartsburg would be a big mistake. It would show the organization didn’t make any effort to find a talented head coach. I don’t know much about Troy Ward, but I feel he could be rushed and doomed like Playfair.

    • RKD

      Playfair was doomed & D Sutter was calling all the shots from GM office. You cany compare what Ward will be handed versus how Playfair got bent over. I think Ward is a way better coach anyway.

      Pile of Red: I think you are the glue sniffer now. Turned on to Global & Grant Pollock suggested 3 potential candisates, Hartley, Ward & Tippett! So up your nose with a rubber hose potlicker!

        • Vintage Flame

          What does that have to do with my post?? You saying Ward or Hartley or Tippett wouldnt want to coach in Calgary because we are a mediocre team that needs to go thru big changes? You sir are a goof if you think that. So how did the Oilers manage to get any any coaches these last few years? I assume you are an Oiler fan.

          • RexLibris

            The Oilers really only had two coaches since 2009. MacTavish was in Edmonton for eight years and then they brought in the tandem of Quinn and Renney with Renney taking over from Quinn after year one. So basically, in the time that Edmonton has had three coaches Calgary has had Don Hay, Greg Gilbert, Al McNeil, Darryl Sutter, Jim Playfair, Mike Keenan and Brent Sutter.

            I’m not trying to be overly negative here, just saying that seven coaches in twelve years speaks to a serious issue in the organization.

            That being said, at least Calgary tried to fix the coaching. The Oilers spent years sticking with MacTavish because every year he got them close to or in the playoffs. Never far, but always on the cusp. Sound familiar?

            As to those candidates, while I don’t think that the lack of success would be a serious detriment to any coach taking the job, I do think the relatively short-lived careers of those who have taken it in the past might dissuade some.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        My, my, that’s your defense, cuz Global and Grant Pollock said so? The 14 teams that didn’t make the playoffs may be in the market for a new coach. Tippett I’m sure has a checklist like any other UFA. If you made a checklist how would we stack up against the other 14? Put that plastic bag down and get some fresh air.

        • everton fc

          I guess you missed my point. You slammed me for being so far out to lunch to even fathom Tippet coming here as being a glue sniffer, well I dont think its as far out as you think. Lets put it in another context for the likes of you & Diehard, there are only 30 NHL coaching jobs in the world period. Simple supply & demand takes the selctive process out of those wanting to be an NHL head coach. So if Tippet likes the west & doesnt want to go to Quebec, I would think he would have to seriously consider any opportunity that would be available, regardless if the team sucked or not.

          On J Staal, yeah I know that was pipe dream & wishful thinking, so what, my perogative just like its yours to be a needle dick.

  • RKD

    Ward has had one GREAT season as the Heat head coach and we are gonna promote him and he’s gonna be the savoir…. Wait till he gets a load of Iginla. Ward has been great with the young guys, but they have to listen to him, he’s a great development guy. But let’s give him another two years before we give him an NHL job.

    • RonR

      I think you have to get abit more familiar with Troy Ward’s overall resume. He has been coaching for over 20 years, he has 3 years at the NHL level as an Assistant with the Penguins, and many years in the AHL. During his years his teams have consistently over achieved, and with the exception of one year when he took over the Victoria Salmon Kings in mid season, (even there he improved their record in a short time), he has been a winner where ever he has gone.

      He won’t be at Abottsford in two years – believe me. Someone will nab him if not this year, then in a year for sure.

      Given that the Flames need to get young players developed and managed at the NHL level, Troy, in my opinion, is the perfect choice to get to the Flames, grow into the job and manage the players to achieve their max, which is obviously something he is outstanding at.

  • I assume Hartsburg is still under contract and that is why he wasn’t let go today. I also assume he won’t be the next head coach, and that whomever is will be given the option to hang on to him or relieve him of his duties.

    As for Troy Ward, I wouldn’t promote him at this time. If he’s done such a wonderful job in Abby, why not keep him there? I don’t think he’s in danger of being poached at this time, not do I think he’s ready to make the jump – his resume doesn’t exactly scream “READY OR NOT”.

    Bob Hartley being Jay Feaster’s son’s Godfather obviously throws him near the front of the list. I’d like to see Nashville’s Associate Coach Peter Horachek on that list. Dallas Eakins, too. And of course, any potential firings to come (from the playoff teams) would be of interest as well.

    • everton fc

      Good call on Hartley, though he is seen as a tough coach, tough on players… And if he’s tied up in Sweden… I think Hartley’s better suited for Montreal than here. But there is that connection to Feaster… Which is what bothers me about Feaster.

      He hurt the Bolts signing Richards to that insane contract years ago… Then goes after Richards again, with another insane contract. Give this some real thought, people…

      I have mentioned both Eakins and Horachek in prior posts. Also Jon Cooper in Norfolk and John Hynes in Wilkes-Barre. And Troy Ward, as well. To me, Ward is the type of coach you need for a rebuild. He is nothing like Playfair. If we are heading towards a rebuild… Ward may be our man. He certainly won’t be around long, as some team will scoop him. Ditto Cooper. Hynes. (I think Nelson in OKC may be the next Oilers coach – Rex, would you concur this might be a strong possibility?)

      What I like about Ward – he gets the best, if not more, from his players… Often. We need this here. Now.

      Hartley, to me, is just another coach who’s been there, done that. Sometimes it works, like Hitchcock in St. Louis. Many times, is doesn’t (see Crawford’s last two assignments) I hope Hartley’s not the choice…

      There’s no way Hartsburg is our next coach. Nor will Ron Wilson. Nor Tippet.

      This is a very important decision for Feaster. If he blows this one, he’s done. Plain and simple.

      I, for one, am pulling for Ward. Look what he’s done w/Aliu. Howse. Kolanos….

      @ Jeff Lebowski

      “Sutter is an honorable guy and a winner so we probably won’t hear from him what he wanted changed.”

      Agreed. I wish Brent the best.

      • RexLibris

        “(I think Nelson in OKC may be the next Oilers coach – Rex, would you concur this might be a strong possibility?)”

        Yep. Most of the rebuilds that have come in the last ten years have made one coaching change (Savard to Quenneville, Therrien to Bylsma) and given Tambellini’s style it is highly unlikely that he starts a revolving door of coaches trying to find “the perfect fit”. My guess, and this is also in line with my own opinion on the matter, is that Tambellini feels that Renney and his staff still have at least one more year of lessons for this young group to learn (and the continuing influx of young players bound to start the season next year) and that Nelson is likely the de facto replacement-in-waiting at this time. Unless Detroit fires Babcock, I can’t see there being any coaching prospect on the horizon that are a better fit in terms of teachers and communicators than Renney at this time.

        The advantage with promoting Nelson is also, as I stated earlier, that he knows the system, the players and is also a teacher. He has made a point of finding a role for each and every player in OKC and while he has leaned on the AHL veterans so that the Oiler prospects’ numbers aren’t eye-popping, they are involved in the game doing the little things like the forecheck, the penalty kill, and so on that will help them become more well-rounded players as they mature. Prospects like Hamilton, Pitlick, and now Marincin have the talent, but based on their scouting and draft pedigree they need to learn how to make the most use of it. Nelson excels at that and to my mind he is a strong candidate to graduate to the NHL, and likely with the Oilers.

        If Ward is the same kind of coach then is there a point in bringing him up next season if Feaster isn’t going to give him the roster to match his strengths? What good is a teacher in a roomful of stubborn veteran players? If they brought up Ward as an associate coach alongside another so that they could transition is the wheels fall off the 2013 season then that would make sense, but Feaster can’t say he’s going to make the team younger by putting in a young coach with a philosphy of teaching and developing and then go and outfit the roster with established veterans who feel they have passed that phase of their career.

        • everton fc


          With Ward… Perhaps Harstburg is a defacto one year coach… with Ward as the associate…

          That’s make some sense.

          So is Renney retained for all the work he’s done? Say, in a front office position??

          • RexLibris

            I think Renney coaches this year and then perhaps the next year he is asked to take on Todd Nelson as an associate coach. After that the team probably will just wait to see if the team can win at that point before plotting a new trajectory in the coaching ranks.

  • Well it looks like Jarome had a chat with all his peasants (King, Edwards, Feaster) and decided that the only change that his club needs is a new coach. What’s that, 4 or 5 different coaches in the last 10 years? I know I’m being a little over-the-top here but come on. Have a look at Dreger’s twitter page. Makes the comment about there being not much in the way of changes to the Flames at all. Dreger’s not gospel but he did speak to Sutter (or so he says). More of the same for the 2012/13 season.

  • Greg

    I have to admit this makes me a bit nervous. I’m not sad to see him go, but I do still believe he’s a great coach with young kids who will do whatever the coach says. That, his comments about this being a tough group to coach, and the admission they didn’t agree on direction tells me there aren’t any real changes coming. I’ve liked Feaster thus far, but he and Butter clearly werent on page with the Babchuk signing so I’m really getting nervous about what direction this means he’s going to try to go. I’ll be happy with a top 6 seed or a top 6 pick, but if this is the indication it feels like another 9-11th finish yet again. Which just means 1 more year of delaying what should have started last year. Ugh.

    Anywho, I’m hoping the stars align and Tippet becomes available. I think he might be able to do something with this group, and I’d like to see ward stay a bit longer in abbottsford and work on developing prospects more.

    Also, I am willing to bet Butter is a jack Adams finalist with the oilers next year. Any takers?

  • Reidja

    All you Iginla haters need to wake up!

    How do you blame a guy who is 35 years old to carry a team. This guy will go into the HHOF as a flame and has not once bad mouthed this organization or its fans. You should be ashamed!

    Brent Sutter is a good coach however he did not make the playoffs for three years when other teams with less talent did! Sutter will do well with a different team. Iginla will do better with a new coach.

  • Reidja

    This is the right decision: why would you bring back a coach who has missed the playoffs all 3 seasons and when the team has not shown any improvement in those 3 seasons. People are being conspiracy theorists in my opinion, saying how this decision was made because of Iggy and personally I don’t see it. It’s a logical move, it’s not like they let him go when he still had a contract; his deal was up and this was the right time for Sutter to go. This is the first of many changes in my opinion, and I don’t think just because Sutter won’t be back means that things will remain status quo. I guess we’ll see come Draft time.

    Also, I miss playoff hockey. These playoff games are awesome.

  • Reidja

    If Darren Dreger is right, this does signify that we are going the same “renovation” route instead of the full rebuild that is required.

    God I hate my life as a Flames fan.

    • Vintage Flame

      Agree with you Ron. This team is going to have a lot of young players & Ward is a newer version of Tippet when it comes maxing out performance of marginal players. Like I say, any new coach will get a 3 year term & Ward will be off to NHL greener pastures before that term is over. Yeah, if Sutter had 1 more year & Troy had 1 more year in Abbotsford, that would have been perfect but it is what it is.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I’ve been a defender of Iggy. I doubted heavily when people suggested Iggy was anything less than a warrior for this team. However Brent’s comments about needed changes seemingly point to Jarome. Management, it appears, didn’t agree with Brent.

    Early this season, I posted how Iggy doesn’t want to give up the puck ie dump n chase. Brent thought the team had to play that way. Given the talent, who is right? An argument can be made either way. However, I feel Iggy let the team down this year even though I agree with him philosophically (the team needs him to score, not play a defensive dump n chase game).

    I think Feaster realizes that offense is the scarcest commodity in the league. You don’t get rid of proven goal scorers (how many consecutive 30 goal years) but again, Iggy’s line gave up more than they got. I don’t know if that is entirely Iggy’s fault. When David Moss (who I like) is indispensable, you know you are not deep.

    Sutter is an honorable guy and a winner so we probably won’t hear from him what he wanted changed.

    I hope Feaster has a great offseason.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    The new coach won’t be Hartley because his team in Sweden, or wherever it is, said they won’t release him from his contract. He’s got another season there.

    If Marc Crawford is the next coach of the Flames, I will become a TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS fan, I hate him that much. He thought Cloutier was a good enough goalie to bring him from Vancouver to LA. Crawford is an idiot.

    Rumours of Tippet wanting out of the desert are exciting.

    Outrageous Speculation:

    Feast wanted to go full rebuild with a coach known for his success with young players (Brent). King kyboshed that by forcing Feast to keep Iggy and Kipper. Brent was done with Iggy and his lazy ways so he didn’t sign on for another term.

  • RexLibris

    Here’s a little prognostication for everyone:

    “The Calgary Flames are proud to announce the hiring of our new head coach. Craig MacTavish has been an assistant coach and head coach in the NHL for many years. A resident of Alberta, he has experience with veteran and rookie rosters and is an excellent communicator having just earned his MBA at Queens University in Kingston. Craig MacTavish brings a wealth of experience both as a coach and a player to the job. Aside from spending some time on TSN’s experts panel, he has most recently been working with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, where he led the team to third in the Western Conference with a record of 40-27-3-3 for 86 points.”

    Just saying, it might not be a bad idea. He’s done wonders with challenged rosters and can work with both rookies and veterans and would be a good candidate if management decides not to take the whole thing apart.